By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry does not support a petition for the Lone Star State to secede from the union.
But a lot of people do.
The online petition asking the federal government to allow Texas to withdraw from the U.S. following President Barack Obama's reelection has nearly 100,000 signatures. It appears on a section of a White House website called “We The People" and cites economic difficulties due to the federal government's inability to cut spending.
Supporters suggest that secession would protect Texans' standard of living and "re-secure their rights and liberties."
The leader of the Texas secession movement tells Politico that Obama's reelection was a "catalyzing moment" for his group's efforts to leave the United States. He insists, "This is not a reaction to a person but to policy" and what they see as a federal government that is disconnected from its constituents.
Even though the number of signatures far surpasses the 25,000 required for a White House response, none has been made.
For his part, Perry says he "believes in the greatness of our union and nothing should be done to change it," although he says he shares the frustrations many Americans have with the federal government.
Texas is America's second-biggest state in area and population. It was its own nation for 10 years before joining the union in 1845.
And Texas isn't alone here. Petitions calling for secession of more than two dozen states - including Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Florida and Delaware – have been filed.
Here’s my question to you: Should Texas be allowed to secede from the union?
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.
With 12 days to go and polls tightening nationwide and in several key states, it looks like the 2012 presidential election just might be another nail biter.
That wasn't the case last time around.
In 2008, Barack Obama mopped the floor with John McCain, winning both the Electoral College and the popular vote by wide margins.
But the two presidential contests before that were close ones.
In the 2004 race between incumbent George W. Bush and John Kerry it all came down to the state of Ohio. That could very well be the case a week from Tuesday.
If Kerry had won Ohio, he would have been president.
Going back to 2000, it was even closer. So close it took 36 days and the Supreme Court to decide the winner.
The High Court effectively handed that election to George W. Bush over Al Gore after ordering the re-counting of ballots in Florida stopped.
The five-week drama of counting ballots, hanging chads and legal appeals took a toll on the country.
Fast forward to 2012 and what is by all accounts a tight race. Very tight. Not that long ago, President Obama was favored to win.
But after a monumentally bad first debate for the president and a strong month for Mitt Romney, the challenger now has the wind at his back.
When even The New York Times is out with a piece this week about how Romney has the momentum heading into the home stretch, it's an indication that we might be headed for another election all-nighter and then some.
Here’s my question to you: Which is better for the country: a close election or a clear mandate?
The violence in the Middle East has renewed questions about which countries get U.S. foreign aid and whether they deserve it.
Some House conservatives wanted to strip foreign aid to Libya and Egypt from a six-month funding bill set for a vote today. That's not going to happen because it was too late for any changes to this bill.
Nonetheless, some Republicans are questioning if the U.S. should keep giving money to countries run by "radical Islamists" such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Others say before handing out aid, the U.S. should make sure Libya is helping with the investigation into the attack and murder of our ambassador and three other Americans.
But not everyone agrees. According to The Hill newspaper, senior House Republican David Dreier of California says it would be a "big mistake" to cut funding to Libya and Egypt. Dreier says it's essential now more than ever to "strengthen ties with these fledgling democracies."
It's worth pointing out that as millions of Americans suffer under a weak economy, our government is sending lots of money we don't have overseas to other countries. U.S. foreign aid to Egypt is about $1.5 billion a year. That's second only to Israel.
And Mohamed Morsy, the new Egyptian president, didn't even apologize for the attacks on the embassy in Cairo until today, two days after they happened. That tells us quite a bit.
The U.S. had withheld aid to Egypt this past year when the government was cracking down on protesters. Now a decision will have to be made whether to do it again.
Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. halt foreign aid to Libya and Egypt?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
The polarization of America is like a cancer that is slowly killing us. And like many forms of cancer, there appears to be no cure.
We are more severely divided now than at any time in the last 25 years according to a new pew study.
And it's not the usual suspects of race, education level, income, gender and religion. Political differences are what's ripping the country apart.
This political divide peaked during the last decade - during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The Pew survey finds Democrats and Republicans are most divided on the social safety net for the poor with a 41-point gap between the two parties.
Other issues with huge divisions include: the environment, labor unions, equal opportunity and "government scope and performance."
This deepening polarization is something we see among voters and of course among our so-called leaders in Washington. The government is paralyzed - unable to get over their political differences in order to work together and address the people's business that desperately needs doing.
Perhaps the most serious consequence of partisanship is our skyrocketing national debt - now closing in on $16 trillion.
The Congressional Budget Office says that unless Congress does something about government spending and/or taxes, the federal debt is set to double by the middle of the next decade and will reach twice the size of the whole U.S. economy by 2037. We are committing economic suicide.
But don't expect Washington to do anything about it. There's an election in November.
Here’s my question to you: What can be done about the deepening polarization in America?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
With Memorial Day weekend - and the unofficial start to summer - just around the corner, many Americans have no vacation time in sight.
A recent study shows 57% of working Americans had unused vacation time at the end of last year.
And most of them had about 11 days left over, or nearly 70% of their allotted time off. Who takes only 30% of their vacation?
Well, one of the biggest reasons people skip their vacation is because they feel like they have too much work. Others say they can't afford to travel - no surprise in this economy. And still others say they are afraid to take time off from work in an unstable job market, also not surprising with unemployment stuck above 8%.
Meanwhile, the U.S. plays by different rules than most other developed countries when it comes to vacation. The law here doesn't require companies to offer any paid vacation to employees.
Nevertheless the average American worker gets 13 paid days off. Compare that with Italy, where the average worker gets 42 days off. In France, it’s 37 days off.
And guess what? Nearly 90% of the French use all of their vacation time. Insert your own joke here.
Experts say a lot of this is cultural. Many of these countries also have strong labor unions. Some European cities, such as Paris, practically shut down for part of the summer when everyone goes on vacation.
As for Americans, the trend is for people to take long weekends instead of one- or two-week vacations.
It's understandable that people are worried to leave the office for too long in our shaky economy; but it does make it harder to recharge your batteries and get a mental break from work.
Here’s my question to you: Why don't most Americans take all their vacation time?
Drones aren't just for fighting the war on terror in the Middle East anymore - they might be watching you.
As more and more of these unmanned aircraft pop up over U.S. soil, they may be used to spy on Americans.
There is an Air Force document that says if unmanned drones accidentally capture surveillance footage of Americans, they can keep the information for up to 90 days and analyze it. Where is that in the Constitution?
The U.S. military and the government aren't supposed to conduct surveillance of Americans on U.S. soil without their consent, but if they accidentally capture you on video, that's OK.
They can apparently hang on to that material to determine if you are a terrorist.
There's no question that spying on Americans without a warrant could, and should, raise some serious red flags. But when you allow something like the Patriot Act, the law of unintended consequences is likely to follow.
Make no mistake, drone use is expanding on the home front.
Regulators have approved the use of drones for dozens of law enforcement agencies and universities, including the Department of Homeland Security and local police departments.
These drones can be used for law enforcement, firefighting, news coverage and monitoring wildlife. Or to spy on American citizens.
Lawmakers from both parties have asked the FAA to answer questions about privacy, to make sure the public knows these things are being used and why.
Experts predict the use of drones domestically will increase as more of the technology is brought back from places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Here’s my question to you: Should drones be used to spy on Americans?
"America's problems are still big. It's most of our leaders who have gotten small."
That's a quote from a terrific piece today on Politico by Roger Simon.
He hits the nail on the head in describing a Congress which used to do things, but now specializes in not doing things.
Simon writes that Congress today is about making sure nothing gets done.
Because if something actually gets done, then one party or the other will take credit for it.
What a sad state of affairs. Our leaders, who used to be able to reach across the aisle, will no longer budge.
And those who are seen as bipartisan - people like Republican Senators Dick Lugar and Olympia Snow or Democratic Senators Jim Webb and Kent Conrad - are being voted out or are not bothering to run again.
Simon describes Congress as collapsing "from its former state of sluggishness to one of paralysis."
Even when it comes to issues that both sides support, like low interest on college loans, they can't get it done.
According to The New York Times - this week's Senate vote on student loans was the 21st time Republicans have successfully filibustered a Democratic bill since January 2011.
Meanwhile, our country is drowning in troubles - from skyrocketing deficits and more than $15 trillion in debt, to high unemployment, an ongoing housing crisis, and record poverty and food stamp use.
But the people we elect to represent us turn a blind eye to things that, if left unattended, will bring us down. No foreign enemy will have to fire a shot.
Here’s my question to you: Why won't our leaders focus on the problems that are destroying our country?
The immigration wars will heat up once again tomorrow.
When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona's controversial law.
It requires Arizona officials to check the immigration status of anyone stopped or arrested who they suspect is an illegal alien. But the Obama Administration sued to prevent it from going into effect.
Supporters say it's necessary because of the federal government's failure to secure the nation's borders. States like Arizona have had to deal with serious security issues along with the steep cost of education and health care for illegal aliens.
Critics say the law encourages racial profiling and forces state law enforcement to interfere with federal immigration policy.
The Supreme Court ruling is expected in June, which means like health care, it's sure to be a political hot potato headed into the election.
If the Supreme Court upholds the law, Senate Democrats are reportedly planning to force a vote on legislation that would invalidate Arizona's law.
Of course this has little chance of passing a divided Congress, but it's a way for Democrats to appeal to Hispanic voters before November.
Senate Democrats might be interested to learn most Americans agree with Arizona's approach. A new Quinnipiac Poll shows 68% approve of the Arizona law. Only 27% don't. And 62% say the Supreme Court should uphold the law.
Here’s my question to you: Should states have more to say about their own border security?
As the national debate over the killing of Trayvon Martin rages on, a new poll suggests that a majority of Americans believe the country is divided by race.
The Newsweek/Daily Beast poll shows that 72% of whites and 89% of blacks say the country is racially divided.
And almost four years after the election of the nation's first black president, majorities of whites and blacks say race relations have either stayed the same or gotten worse.
There continue to be fundamental disagreements about when blacks will achieve racial equality. Whites are much more likely to think blacks have the same chance as they do to get housing and jobs.
As for the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black Florida teen, there are more differences along racial lines. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to say Martin's death was racially motivated. African-Americans are convinced that Martin was targeted because he was a young black man, while whites are divided.
Blacks overwhelmingly approve of how President Obama has handled the controversy, while a majority of whites disapprove.
The differences go on and on. It’s a sad statement on race relations in the U.S. in 2012.
Meanwhile, in the latest from Sanford, Florida, the special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin shooting case has decided not to take the case to a grand jury. She says that she's never used a grand jury in similar cases and that the investigation continues.
The attorney for shooter George Zimmerman calls it a "courageous move."
You can bet this decision will fan the racial flames even further. Already, thousands have joined the Florida protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest.
Here’s my question to you: How racially divided is the United States today?
Top Democrats are jumping all over Mitt Romney for comments he made about Russia.
Both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paint the likely Republican nominee as stuck in the days of the Cold War.
This all goes back to President Obama's so-called hot-mic controversy - when Mr. Obama was heard asking Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for some "space" on a European missile defense system. The President said he would have more "flexibility" after the November election.
Romney slammed Mr. Obama after that incident, calling Russia "our number one geopolitical foe."
But now Biden and Clinton are going after Romney for his limited foreign policy experience - and for calling Russia enemy number one.
Biden says it's not the Cold War 1950s. Although we have disagreements with Russia, he says they're "united with us on Iran" and that Russia is one of only two ways the U.S. is getting supplies into our troops in Afghanistan.
Hillary Clinton calls Romney's views on Russia "dated" and says there are more pressing foreign policy issues.
Romney's campaign shot right back at these criticisms, pointing out Russia's "opposition to crippling sanctions on Iran, its obstructionism on Syria and its own backsliding into authoritarianism." Romney insists that President Obama is too open to concessions when it comes to Russia.
The missile defense system has been a prickly issue between the two nations. The U.S. and NATO insist it would be used to protect Europe against an Iranian strike.
But Russia worries it would violate its sovereignty.
Here’s my question to you: How big a threat to the U.S. is Russia?
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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