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July 20th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should Michele Bachmann's health be an issue in the race for president?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Michele Bachmann's on a roll. A new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found the Minnesota congresswoman in second place among Republican candidates for president, behind only front-runner Mitt Romney. It's the second national poll to put her in second place, and she's come out on top of three of the four most recent polls of likely Iowa caucusgoers, too.

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

But her surge in the polls could be coming to a screeching halt. Online news site the Daily Caller reported Tuesday that Bachmann suffers from chronic, debilitating migraine headaches. At times, the migraines have been bad enough that she has had to be taken to a hospital to be treated for them. Three anonymous former aides to Bachmann who spoke to the Daily Caller recalled incidents where she couldn't work and missed House votes because of her condition. Another former staffer told Politico that it's common for Bachmann to retreat to her private office, close the door and shut the lights off – sometimes for hours – to wait for a migraine to pass.

From the campaign trail in South Carolina on Tuesday, Bachmann admitted that she does suffer from migraines and that she takes medication to treat them. But she downplayed the condition and said it does not interfere with her work. And, she said, the headaches have not interfered with her busy schedule as a candidate. But the race has only just begun.

On Wednesday, the Bachmann campaign released a note from her doctor acknowledging her migraines and saying that her overall general health is good.

The news is bad timing for Bachmann, who, despite making gains in polls recently, has been under fire from gay rights groups over her husband's Christian counseling business as well as the "marriage vow" agreement she signed. The agreement was written by a conservative group that opposes gay marriage. Social issues dog candidates on both sides of the aisle in any election, and some candidates are able to overcome them. But serious and potentially debilitating health issues are a different story. Ask Tom Eagleton.

Here’s my question to you: Should Michele Bachmann's health be an issue in the race for president?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Health • Michele Bachmann
July 20th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean that federal workers are more likely to die than lose their jobs?

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski speaks  at FCC headquarters in Washington, DC. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In an economy with 9.2% unemployment, job security is hard to come by. That is unless you work for the federal government.

An analysis by USA Today found the job security rate for government employees at many federal agencies last year was more than 99%. And these workers are more likely to die than to lose their jobs to a layoff or firing. The federal government only fired about one half of a percent of its workforce last year. The private sector in contrast fires about 3% of workers annually for performance.

Just to give you a few examples: At the Small Business Administration, which employs about 4,000, six people were fired last year but there were no layoffs. Seventeen employees died. Not a single federal attorney was laid off last year - there are about 35,000 of them. Just 27 were fired, 33 died. At both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, not a single employee was fired or laid off last year.

The USA Today analysis also found that nearly 3 out of 5 firings among federal workers occur within the first two years on the job, most commonly to the lowest paid workers. Meanwhile, the nearly half-million federal employees earning $100,000 a year or more had a job security rate of more than 99.8%. Nice work if you can get it.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that federal workers are more likely to die than lose their jobs?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • United States
July 19th, 2011
05:44 PM ET

Should smoking be banned in public?

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A sign at the entrance of Manhattan's Battery Park. Smoking is prohibited in New York City's parks, public beaches and pedestrian plazas like Times Square. (PHOTO CREDIT: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Fewer than one-quarter of American adults are smokers, meaning they've had at least one cigarette in the last week. That number has been dropping for years. And while they may be a shrinking minority, when smokers light up, people who don't smoke take notice.

Over the past 10 years or so, as study upon study has revealed the long-term danger of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, smokers are finding they are welcome in fewer and fewer places.

Now comes a new Gallup Poll that shows a majority of Americans, 59%, support a ban on smoking in all public places. That's the highest percentage in the 10 years since Gallup starting doing the poll.

Twenty-seven states have passed tough smoke-free laws. A new law in New York City prohibits smoking in just about any public place, including beaches and outdoor plazas. And increasingly tough laws are in the pipeline in cities and states across the country.

While the growing majority of Americans don’t want to be around people who are smoking, they aren't pushing for an all-out ban on the behavior. Only 19% say smoking should be made illegal. That percentage has been relatively unchanged over the past five years.

But suffice it to say the battle between smokers and nonsmokers will likely continue. And for now, nonsmokers seem to have the upper hand.

Here’s my question to you: Should smoking be banned in public?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar
July 19th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

CEO Wynn: Obama Admin. greatest 'wet blanket' to business, jobs in his lifetime. Is he right?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's pretty safe to say President Obama shouldn't bother sending billionaire and casino mogul Steve Wynn an invitation to his next fund-raising event in Las Vegas.

Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn

During his company's quarterly earnings conference call, Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, went on a rant about the harm he believes the President has done to the economy and business community. Wynn told listeners on the call, "this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime."

Since he was elected, President Obama hasn't had the strongest relationship with business leaders who strongly oppose the health care and Wall Street reform laws he's pushed for during his administration. Wynn says business leaders like himself, who have business opportunities and the capital to act on them, are sitting in fear of the president's policies.

Despite Wynn's tirade, his company Wynn Resorts did well in the second quarter. But Wynn said he could be doing even more if it wasn't for Obama's policies and overall philosophy as president. Wynn claims his company alone could add 10,000 jobs in Las Vegas if it wasn't for this political climate.

Wynn is a self-described "Democratic businessman" but he says he supports both Democrats and Republicans. But he's not happy with anybody in Washington these days. He believes Congress and the administration are so focused on holding their jobs for the next year that the discussion in Washington right now is quote "nauseating."

Here's my question to you: Steve Wynn calls the Obama Administration the greatest "wet blanket" to business and job creation in his lifetime. Is he right?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Obama Administration
July 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

When it comes to the gay community, is Michele Bachmann living in the Twilight Zone?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has been a rising star of sorts in a lackluster field of GOP candidates who hope to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. Bachmann came out on top in three separate polls of likely Iowa Republican voters last week.

But Bachmann is running into a lot of criticism for her rather extreme positions on some social issues. Let's begin with the gay community.

Michele Bachmann's husband, Marcus, runs a Christian counseling business. Former clients have said he encourages homosexual patients to try to change their sexual orientation or at least repress it. Critics call it "pray away the gay." In an interview last week with the Minnesota Star Tribune, Marcus Bachmann did not deny that he and other counselors at the clinic use that technique, but he said they only do so at the request of a patient.

Michele Bachmann has been skirting around her own views on homosexuality. But that party is about to come to an end. She recently signed something called "The Marriage Vow" written by a conservative group in Iowa. It's a vow to be faithful to your spouse. Fair enough. But the vow also condemns adultery, pornography and gay marriage. And it describes homosexuality as a choice. In a speech in 2004, Bachmann said that being "involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle" amounts to "personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement."

Comedians and bloggers are having a field day with all of this of course.

On a more serious note, a group called the Human Rights Campaign - a gay rights group - is vowing to go after Ms. Bachmann and her beliefs in the upcoming campaign. They call Michele Bachmann "the very definition of a target rich environment." If they're serious, she could have a problem.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to the gay community, is Michele Bachmann living in the Twilight Zone?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Gay Marriage • Michele Bachmann
July 18th, 2011
04:25 PM ET

What's your greatest fear if the U.S. fails to raise debt ceiling?

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Blank U.S. Treasury checks are run through a printer at the U.S. Treasury printing facility in Philadelphia. President Obama recently stated he can't guarantee retirees will receive their Social Security checks in August if the House and Senate can not reach an agreement on reducing the deficit. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

On August 3, the U.S. government is scheduled to pay $23 billion in Social Security benefits. But if a deal isn't reached in Congress to raise the debt ceiling, there's a chance those checks won't go out. That's because only $12 billion in revenue is expected to come in that day, which would leave the Treasury a cool $11 billion short, according to Politico.com.

Without an agreement, the federal government's line of credit will run out, and so will its options to write those checks. And when you include other payments scheduled that day, the federal government will be $20 billion short. Wonderful.

That's just one scenario, of course. Talking heads from Washington to Wall Street have weighed in with predictions on what could happen if a deal isn't reached - everything from a financial apocalypse to a nonevent. The administration has used words like "calamitous," "catastrophic" and "Armageddon." But a handful of vocal Republicans say the Obama administration is exaggerating the situation. They claim not a whole lot would happen if an agreement isn't reached by August 2.

But by and large, most economists say if the United States defaults on some of its loans, interest rates would shoot up, the dollar would plummet, stock markets around the world would tumble and our very fragile economy could suffer a mighty blow. Suffice it to say there doesn't appear to be a lot of upside to Uncle Sam defaulting on his obligations.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • National debt
July 14th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Do you feel like you're a member of the burnt-out generation?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

We've got an overworked labor force operating in an under-performing economy... and it could be affecting our health.

A new study released by researchers in Spain finds that working for more than 40 hours a week leaves employees six times more likely to suffer long-term exhaustion, irritability and a lack of interest in their work and non-work lives. It's something called "burnout syndrome." And some of us have been suffering from it for years.

Workers who feel "under challenged" on the job, left to do what they feel are brainless, monotonous tasks, are also at risk of developing burnout syndrome. So are people who have stayed in the same job too long: Those with more than 16 years service in the same position are five times more at risk of developing burnout syndrome than colleagues with less than four years on a particular job.

With the economy in the state it's in, it's no surprise this is a growing problem. It has the potential to become an epidemic.

The Spanish researchers found that having a family, partner or a spouse to go home to at night helps people deal with burnout. I guess there is some benefit to being able to complain to someone when you get home.

But where does it end? Careers are getting longer, and retiring at 65 is not a reality for many of us. With 9.2 percent unemployment in this country, those of us with a job are lucky to have one. Some of us need to work more than one job just to pay the bills each month.

Here’s my question to you: Do you feel like you're a member of the burnt-out generation?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar
July 14th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Did the Casey Anthony trial alter your view of the criminal justice system?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Casey Anthony is scheduled to be released from prison on Sunday. As a free woman, she will reportedly live in a secret location, likely under a new name. According to some reports, Anthony is being advised to dramatically change her appearance.

While her attorneys are aware how hated she is, Anthony may not fully understand that until she gets out. While she's been sitting in a jail cell, she has become a celebrity of sorts, getting letters of support and cash from all over the country. ABC News reports Anthony has nearly $500 in her jailhouse bank account. The money has come in from at least 17 donors since May, mostly from men. What a surprise.

In the grand American tradition, Casey Anthony stands to make millions from telling her story. Not that it would likely be the truth. She's a stranger to the truth.

A producer associated with "The Jerry Springer Show" has offered Anthony $1 million for her first televised interview. However, “The Jerry Springer Show” denies the offer was made to appear on that particular program.

You can bet that at some point there will be an interview, a book or a movie. She stands to become a rich woman while the questions about what happened to her beautiful little daughter remain unanswered. For 31 days, a child is missing, and Casey Anthony parties while lying to everyone about the child's whereabouts.

The trunk of her car was later found to smell of death, her daughter's remains were eventually found tossed in a swamp like so much trash, and the jury found her not guilty of her daughter's death.

She was convicted of repeatedly lying to police. But why would you lie to police if you had nothing to hide?

Here’s my question to you: Did the Casey Anthony trial alter your view of the criminal justice system?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Law Enforcement
July 13th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What does it mean that 42 percent of Americans don't want Congress to raise the debt ceiling?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite that nasty game of chicken going on in Washington over raising the debt ceiling, congressional leaders from both parties have agreed that doing it is necessary.

National debt exceeds $14.3 trillion as the government faces an August 2 deadline to get congressional leaders to agree to a deal.

National debt exceeds $14.3 trillion as the government faces an August 2 deadline to get congressional leaders to agree to a deal.

The argument is over what else goes into a such bill that's tying them up and bringing us dangerously close to defaulting on some of our loans.

But according to a new Gallup poll, 42% of Americans don't want the debt ceiling raised and want their members of Congress to vote against any measure that raises it. Only 22 percent want their lawmakers to vote for raising the debt ceiling. One third of Americans say they are unsure.

When asked which is a greater concern, 51% say raising the debt ceiling without plans for major spending cuts worries them more. Only about 1/3 say they are more concerned with the risk of a major economic crisis if Congress does not take action.

But there are two separate issues here. Republican lawmakers have tied voting to raise the debt ceiling to long term deficit reduction. The fact is, if we don't raise the ceiling by August 2 and the U.S. defaults on some of its loans... interest rates would shoot up, the dollar would plummet, stock markets around the world would tumble. If you think things are ugly now, they could get much uglier.

In a separate poll, the number of Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track rose to 63% this month, up three percentage points from June. And if the United States fails to pay its creditors, it's a good bet that number will go even higher.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that 42 percent of Americans don't want Congress to raise the debt ceiling?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • National debt
July 13th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

A restaurant in Pennsylvania has banned children under the age of six. Is that fair?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: THINKSTOCK)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh, is banning children younger than 6 from its dining room.

The owner of McDain's says he decided to change his restaurant's policy after older customers complained about noise and unruly behavior by children dining with parents who do little to control their kids. The policy goes into effect Saturday. If the place was closer, I would make a reservation today.

McDain's is a small restaurant - it seats about 40 people, and it sits on a quiet golf course. Not exactly Chuck E. Cheese. But nonetheless the decision to ban the little noisemakers has caused an uproar in town.

This isn't the first time a restaurant has gotten fed up with tiny diners who can't sit quietly through a meal.

Last year, a restaurant called The Olde Salty in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, ruffled some feathers after a sign saying "Screaming Children Will Not Be Tolerated!" was posted in its window. And it was magic. While some locals were up in arms about it, that restaurant owner has reported a boom in business. She says diners who are looking for a peaceful meal now seek out her restaurant.

Of course badly behaved kids are not just a problem in restaurants.

Malaysia Airlines recently announced that it's banning infants from first class because of complaints received from passengers about crying babies on long flights. Other airlines catering mainly to business travelers have also been pressured to consider child-free sections of their flights and even child-free planes. We'll see what happens. Airlines need paying customers to fill seats, and kids, poorly behaved or otherwise, are part of that equation.

Here’s my question to you: A restaurant in Pennsylvania has banned children under the age of six. Is that fair?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Children • On Jack's radar
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