Jack is out of the office today but will return tomorrow with the Cafferty File.
By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
With Isaac drawing a bead on the city of New Orleans, the Republican National Convention is no longer at the center of this week's media storm.
Nonetheless, the GOP needs to shine during its abbreviated three-day convention if it wants to recapture the White House.
And while national conventions these days are highly scripted affairs, there's still a little room for a politician to surprise us, in a good or bad way.
Politico takes a look at past conventions and how they've been the breeding grounds for both rising stars and unintended screwups.
Barack Obama's keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention propelled him into the national spotlight and started talk of him as presidential material.
At the other end of the spectrum was Bill Clinton's 1988 convention speech. It went on for twice the allotted time, and delegates didn't pay much attention - except for cheering when Clinton finally said the words "in closing."
As for the Republicans' Tampa convention, there are high hopes for keynote speaker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the candidate's wife, Ann Romney.
This convention could be the Republicans' last best chance to introduce Mitt Romney to the country on their terms.
New CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll numbers show that although the race is a dead heat between Romney and President Obama, likely voters believe the president cares more about people and better understands their needs while Romney is perceived as better able to handle the economy, always the most important issue in any presidential election.
And while the temptation might be to try to make Romney seem warmer and fuzzier, he is resisting, saying, "I am who I am." At the end of the day, it's probably easier to be true to yourself than try to be someone you're not.
Here's my question to you: What's the greatest risk Republicans face at their convention?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Only one in ten Americans thinks Congress is doing a good job.
With numbers like these... it's hard to imagine how any of our lawmakers will get re-elected in November. But sadly many of them will.
According to a new Gallup poll, Congress gets a 10% approval rating, which ties its all-time low for the past 4 decades.
83% disapprove of Congress.
What's more, Congress' approval rating is down among all political groups... at 9% for Democrats, 11% for independents and 10% for Republicans.
While experts say it's hard to pinpoint exactly why Americans are so negative about Congress, the answer is probably "everything."
There's the economy... including the skyrocketing national debt, the rapidly approaching fiscal cliff, the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts and unemployment topping 8% for the last 42 months in a row.
There is no longer any compromise in Congress. Hyper-partisanship means all Congress does is bicker while accomplishing nothing.
Currently Congress has decided to reward itself with another 5-week vacation, despite all of these problems they're refusing to address.
The country is on the road to ruin, and Congress bears much of the responsibility.
Yet chances are if you check back in after the election, many of these same lawmakers will be right back in Washington.
Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.
Here's my question to you: Why won't Americans vote Congress out of office?
By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
They looked like two peas in a pod.
When Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate Saturday morning, some people thought they were seeing double.
Writing for the Daily Beast, Robin Givhan suggests Ryan could easily be mistaken for one of Romney's five sons.
She says that the Republican running mates - in their matching white shirts and black pants - lacked dazzle or texture.
She describes them as "two white guys defined by political expedience, professional uniforms and perfectly pomaded hair."
And it's not just their appearances that are similar.
Politico suggests Ryan could just be "Mitt squared." The writers say it's easy to see why Romney - the 65-year-old "numbers nerd" - wanted Ryan - the 42-year-old "budget wonk" - on the ticket with him.
Like Romney, Ryan isn't the most exciting speaker. It's possible Romney was looking more for a youthful double of himself than for someone to balance the ticket.
Speaking of doubles, consider these two back in high school.
In his Janesville, Wisconsin, high school, Ryan was voted "biggest brown noser" by his senior year classmates.
He was also the prom king and junior class president, not to mention an athlete and in the Latin club - a pretty well-rounded guy.
As for Romney, he attended a boys' prep school in Michigan, the state where his father was governor.
According to one classmate, Romney was in the glee club and the pep club and was chairman of the homecoming committee.
What he didn't do was play middle linebacker on the football team.
Here's my question to you: Who ranks higher on the charisma scale, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?
Sixty-four percent of Americans say they've given "quite a lot" of thought to the upcoming presidential election.
How can you not think about it? It's impossible to escape it.
According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 64% is down from the previous two presidential races, but higher than Americans' engagement in the 2000 election.
These numbers suggest voter turnout will be lower this year than in 2008 or 2004.
Republicans are more revved up than Democrats, with 74% of Republicans saying they think about the election "quite a lot," compared to only 61% of Democrats.
This 13-point GOP advantage is the highest this poll has measured in recent presidential elections.
It's possible that Democrats just haven't tuned in yet and that Republicans are more engaged because of the primaries.
Typically Americans start thinking more about the election as it gets closer - once the conventions, debates, etc. start happening. And interest traditionally really starts to rev up after Labor Day.
If the higher GOP interest keeps up, it could mean higher turnout for the Republicans come November.
It's clear Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan over the weekend has jump-started the party's base.
The crowds at Romney's events have grown larger - perhaps as high as 15,000 at one North Carolina rally - and they've also grown more energetic.
Reminds you a little bit of President Obama's crowds back in 2008. But he's not drawing those kinds of crowds this time around.
Here's my question to you: How often do you think about the presidential election?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
By CNN's Jack Cafferty
More than 100 million people in the United States of America get welfare from the federal government. 100 million.
According to the Weekly Standard, Senate Republicans say that the federal government administers nearly "80 different overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs."
This figure of 100 million people does not include those who only receive Social Security or Medicare.
The most popular welfare programs are food stamps and Medicaid, with the number of recipients in both these programs skyrocketing in the last decade. Food stamp recipients alone jumped from 17 million in 2000 to 45 million in 2011.
And these 100 million people on welfare include citizens and non-citizens.
In fact, a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies finds that 36% of immigrant-headed households get at least one form of welfare. That's compared to 23% of native-born American households.
Immigrants from some countries rely on welfare more than others: more than half of those coming from Mexico, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic get welfare.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is accusing President Obama of loosening welfare requirements.
A new ad charges the president with gutting the 1996 welfare reform law that requires recipients to work in order to collect benefits.
But President Obama's campaign, the White House and former President Clinton - who signed welfare reform into law - are all pushing back against the Romney ad calling it false and misleading.
Here's my question to you: Where is the U.S. headed if more than 100 million people get welfare?
Turns out the golden years aren't so golden anymore for a lot of people.
A new study finds that many Americans die with "virtually no financial assets.” For more than 46% of us, that translates into less than $10,000.
The study - put out by a nonpartisan outfit called the National Bureau of Economic Research - finds that many Americans spend their golden years dependent on the government.
Researchers say many older Americans have no housing wealth and rely almost entirely on Social Security.
Since many seniors have so little in financial assets, they are unprepared to deal with unanticipated financial needs, such as major health-related expenses. Things like entertainment and travel are out of the question.
All this raises more questions about the future of Social Security.
If the government were to reduce benefits for seniors, it could directly affect the day-to-day lives of millions of older Americans who rely on these payments just to get by.
This study also highlights a connection between health and wealth, finding that healthier seniors are likely to have more assets than those who aren't as healthy. And, no surprise here, wealthier seniors are likely to live longer than poorer seniors.
One more thing to remember: Marriage might help you out in old age. According to the report, single seniors had a significantly lower median wealth than continuously married senior citizens. For some of us, that would seem to be counter intuitive.
Here's my question to you: What does it mean if almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets?
It's election time and politicians will do - or say - anything to get your vote.
Starting with President Obama and Mitt Romney all the way down the line, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want you to believe that they feel your pain.
But it's an open question if any of them really do.
Ron Paul was the rare candidate who actually connected with voters these past two election cycles. He attracted a ground swell of support from people who were looking for some real answers. But it was never enough to propel him to the next level.
As for most of us, the two major political parties - Democrat and Republican - often seem interchangeable.
And a new poll suggests that the vast majority of voters are staying loyal to the party they supported four years ago, with just a little switching sides.
The Gallup Poll shows 9 percent of 2008 Obama voters have switched to supporting Romney this year, while 5 percent of McCain voters have switched to Pres. Obama.
The groups most likely to either switch presidential preferences - or be undecided - include: Hispanics, Asians, independents, political moderates, Eastern residents, those with a high school education or less and unmarried men.
Pollsters say that because loyalty to the president is slightly less than loyalty to the Republican candidate is the reason the race appears to be tighter now than in 2008.
The deepening mystery is why after continually being disappointed by both parties so many people continue to support them. What is wrong with us?
The list of problems the country is mired in suggests the two major parties are the problem, not the solution.
Here's my question to you: How much do the two major political parties really care about you?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
It's tough enough to hold a job these days without having to constantly worry about losing it.
CNBC.com reports on the five tell-tale signs that your job might be on the chopping block:
1) So-called mergers can spell trouble - because many jobs get duplicated.
2) Getting passed over for a promotion is a bad sign - especially if you're more qualified than whoever gets picked for the job.
3) There may be a pink slip in your future if you're asked to share your files or update another team member on all of your projects. This includes being asked to share passwords, client lists and contact information.
4) If you're assigned to a short-term project that has little to do with your regular job, it could mean your job won't be waiting for you when you're done.
5) A computer can do your job.
Human resources experts suggest there are some things you can do to help keep your job - like asking for feedback, tracking your goals and building a portfolio of all your accomplishments.
But even if you do all the right things, you could still wind up on the street. The U.S. is facing a long-term unemployment crisis. There are nearly 5.5 million people who have been out of work for more than six months.
That's about 43% of all the unemployed. Economists call it a national emergency.
And if you're not already worried about losing your job, all you have to hear is that statistic that the net worth of the average family has declined 40% from 2007 to 2010 and you'll be volunteering to work nights and weekends.
Here’s my question to you: How worried are you about losing your job?
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.
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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