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March 26th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

What should U.S. do about North Korea's planned missile launch?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says "there will be consequences" if North Korea goes through with a planned missile launch. This comes after North Korea placed a long-range missile on a launch pad, and said they will launch it to send an experimental communications satellite into orbit. But the U.S., Japan and South Korea say it's a cover for testing a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile. The launch could come within a few days.

S. Korean activists burn cut out N. Korean missiles and images of Kim Jong-Il. S. Korea has urged N. Korea to drop its nuclear weapon and missile ambitions.

The U.S. says such a test would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution; and that's why the U.S. is warning it would seek punishment through the UN, probably more sanctions, against North Korea. Japan would also press for new sanctions.

But North Korea insists that any more sanctions would make it quit the six party talks and potentially restart a nuclear plant that makes weapons-grade plutonium. If they successfully launch this rocket, it could show they have the technology to send a missile as far as Alaska or Hawaii.

American officials have said the U.S. is capable of shooting down a North Korean missile heading for our soil. But Secretary of State Clinton says the U.S. has no plans to shoot down this particular rocket.

This is President Obama's first big test when it comes to dealing with the regime of Kim Jong-Il - and we may learn a lot about our new president by watching how he responds.

Here's my question to you: What should the U.S. do about North Korea's planned missile launch?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: United States
March 26th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Time for U.S. to legalize drugs?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As drugs and related violence from Mexico continue to infect 230 cities in the United States, some politicians, economists, and even drug law enforcement leaders say legalizing drugs may be the answer.

One Texas city councilman tells CNN "it's the least worst option to ending cartel violence." He says decriminalizing drugs would take away a lot of the financial incentive for the cartels to kill. Arizona's Attorney General says 60 percent of the battle is marijuana - and he's called for "at least a rational discussion" on ways to take the profit out of weed.

Some insist legalizing drugs like pot would help our economy. One California congresswoman says it would pump $1 billion into her state's budget alone every year. A senior economics lecturer at Harvard says federal, state and local governments spend $44 billion a year to enforce drug prohibition. If drugs were legal, they could be making about $33 billion per year in tax revenue.

Jeffrey Miron describes how prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. He says the same was true with alcohol; and is also the case for illegal gambling or prostitution. He says prohibition of drugs also corrupts politicians and law enforcement, which is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for industries that are prohibited; but rare in other cases.

But critics say the consequences of legalizing drugs would far outweigh the benefits. Some focus on the moral and health related concerns about drug use. One former special agent for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration told CNN "No way. We would lose a generation." Some wonder if drug use itself can cause violent behavior; and others aren't sure if decriminalization would make much of a difference in the Mexican drug war. However, the country has managed to survive the repeal of Prohibition almost 80 years ago.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time for the U.S. to legalize drugs?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Law Enforcement • United States
March 26th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Palin still relevant to national dialogue?

Here's a couple of quotes - see if you can guess who said them. In regards to last November's election, "And there was that media slant this go round. And unless things change, the GOP had really better can stand together, 'cause we got that on the battlefield also. I call it like I see it and like I lived it on the campaign trail. Not complaining, but dealing with reality."

Or how about: "Some in the media actually participated in not so much the 'who-what-where-when-why' objective reporting on candidates and positions, those five W's that I learned when I had a journalism degree so many years ago in college, when the world of journalism was quite different than it is today."

Give up? It's vintage Sarah Palin. In a speech to a GOP dinner last week, the Alaska Governor spoke about why the Republicans lost in November and seemed mostly to blame the press. At least I think that's what she said. The former Republican vice presidential nominee said she's not whining about it; but rather calling it like she sees it: "Sometimes it gets me in a lot of trouble when I speak candidly, and I speak from the heart and I do such a thing. But I am going to." Painful.

Palin mocked the Obama administration's elimination of the word "enemy combatant," while praising President Bush's efforts to fight the war on terror - even though "the political and media elite ridiculed and mocked him."

As for the future of her party - which she no doubt would like to shape - Palin rejected the idea that it become more moderate; instead saying Republicans need to communicate their ideas better. Now there's an idea.

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

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Sarah Palin
March 25th, 2009
05:30 PM ET

Should Pres. Obama get what he's asking for in budget?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In last night's news conference, President Obama said that his $3.6 trillion budget is "inseparable" from economic recovery. But not everyone would agree with the president on that one. Republicans have been highly critical - with House Minority Leader John Boehner calling Mr. Obama's budget "the most irresponsible piece of legislation" he's ever seen - Boehner is calling for a "do-over."

And it's not just Republicans. A group of centrist Democratic senators took the red pen to the president's budget; making hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts. North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad and others have raised concerns about the long-term impact of the president's spending plan on the deficit. Conrad says their version, which saves $608 billion over five5 years, will help reduce the deficit while also maintaining the president's priorities of education, energy and health care.

The plan cuts out money that was set aside for future bank bailouts, provides only a temporary fix for the alternative minimum tax and doesn't account for some major health care and energy initiatives. Republicans were also critical of Conrad's plan; saying it stripped out some items that may have to be funded anyways. Mr. Obama said last night that they never expected Congress "would simply Xerox" his budget and vote on it; and White House officials tried to play down any differences with Democrats, saying they were satisfied with the plans coming out of Congress.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to the budget, should President Obama get what he's asking for?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • President Barack Obama
March 25th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should government be involved in saving newspapers?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The government might step in and help rescue the struggling newspaper industry. Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin has introduced a bill that would allow newspapers to operate like nonprofit organizations - kind of like public broadcasting stations.

The "Newspaper Revitalization Act" would let newspapers choose a tax-exempt status; they wouldn't be able to make political endorsements anymore, but could report on all issues - including political campaigns.
Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt; and contributions made to help support coverage would be tax deductible.

The Maryland senator says his bill is aimed at saving local newspapers, not large conglomerates. He calls the demise of the newspaper industry "a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy." And he's right.

The head of the newspaper industry's trade group calls the bill a positive step; although he agrees the approach may not work for all newspapers. Newspaper subscriptions and advertising revenue have dropped significantly in the last few years with more people getting their news from the internet or cable TV. Several newspapers have either stopped daily publications or announced they may have to stop publishing; while others have filed for bankruptcy protection, had layoffs, or announced employee furloughs.

Here’s my question to you: Should the government be involved in saving the newspaper industry?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • Journalism • News Media
March 25th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Mexican drug cartels operating in 230 U.S. cities

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Obama administration says it will send hundreds of federal agents and crime-fighting equipment to the Mexican border in an effort to prevent drug-related violence from spilling over into this country. It's a little late - the Mexican drug cartels are already active in 230 American cities.

A section of the U.S./Mexico border fence crosses previously pristine desert sands between Arizona and California. Homeland Security may respond to escalating violence of warring Mexican drug cartels by deploying military personnel and equipment to the region.

$700 million meant to bolster Mexican law enforcement and crime prevention efforts probably can't come soon enough. The mayor of Phoenix says it's a great first step, but "a drop in the bucket in terms of what's needed." Crimes like drug-related kidnappings and torturing are overwhelming the Phoenix police department. And Texas Governor Rick Perry had asked for a thousand more troops for parts of the border, saying he doesn't care what kind of troops they are as long as they're properly trained.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has identified 230 U.S. cities where the Mexican cartels "maintain drug distribution networks or supply drugs to distributors," and we're not just talking about cities along the border here; they include places like Anchorage, Alaska, Atlanta, Boston and Billings, Montana.

This mess is the net result of President Bush's failure to secure the borders, among other things. They're still not secure and nothing has happened to diminish the appetite for illegal drugs in this country. Drugs flow north and money and guns flow south into Mexico.

The open border advocates think it's fine that illegal aliens come and go in and out of this country pretty much as they please. I wonder if they think it's also okay that Mexican drugs are poisoning their children here and increasing crime at home.

Here’s my question to you: What should be done about the fact that the Mexican drug cartels are now operating in 230 American cities?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: United States
March 25th, 2009
01:06 PM ET

Jack talks "Now or Never"

Listen here to Jack's interview with radio station KLAA in California about his new book, fear mongering during the Bush era, why the American people love President Obama, personal stories like how he raised his four daughters, and much more.


Filed under: Uncategorized
March 24th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

What's the dollar worth?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

First came Russia - and now China. The Chinese Central Bank wants to dump the dollar as the international reserve currency... and replace it with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund. China says the goal is to create a reserve currency "that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run." Translation: Beijing is worried that actions being taken to save America's slumping economy will wind up hurting them.

It's also another sign that the Chinese are becoming increasingly concerned about holding more than $1 trillion of our debt. However, China did make a separate announcement yesterday that it would continue buying U.S. Treasuries. China wants a basket of currencies based on the value of the dollar, yen, euro and sterling. After Russia initially proposed the idea of replacing the dollar - it said China along with other emerging nations were on board. Also, A UN panel of experts is looking at increasing the use of a new international currency.

Most analysts don't think the dollar will be replaced as the world's leading foreign exchange reserve in the near future; but it may be a sign that China is flexing its muscle. The timing is also interesting; just a week before the G20 summit of the world's largest economies in London.

Here’s my question to you: What's the dollar really worth these days?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy
March 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

More optimistic about economy these days?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the first few days of spring, there seems to be some sparks of hope on the economic front. A new Gallup poll shows optimism about the economy is at a 20 month high. Although it's still relatively low - with only 27 percent of Americans saying the economy is getting better, and 67 percent saying it's getting worse - that's better than anything we've seen since July 2007. The groups with the biggest increase in optimism include Republicans and people making $90,000 or more.

Another silver lining the last few weeks has been the stock market. The Dow was up almost 500 points yesterday, and the S&P 500 is coming off its biggest two week gain since 1938. One investor tells Bloomberg News that a new bull market has begun, and "you have to be careful not to miss the opportunity." Another strategist calls it a "helluva rally."

There's more: Existing home sales showed an unexpected increase in February; seen by some as a sign that the real estate market may be bottoming. The average price was down more than 15 percent from the year before - but economists are hopeful the bargain hunters will start to be lured in.

If the housing market bottoms out and the Treasury plan to get credit flowing at major banks again works, we might start to see the beginning of something good. That would mean small businesses could get loans. Mortgages would become more available and maybe Americans who had been holding off will finally walk into that car dealership and plunk down a few dollars for a new ride.

Here’s my question to you: Are you feeling more optimistic about the economy these days?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy
March 24th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Questions for Pres. Obama tonight?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The economy will no doubt be issue number one when President Obama holds his second primetime news conference tonight. It's been only six weeks since his first primetime newser - but a very busy six weeks it's been. In that time, the president signed the $787 billion stimulus bill into law, put out his $3.6 trillion budget, started facing outrage over the AIG bonuses, and announced plans to bring troops home from Iraq in 19 months and redeploy 17,000 troops to Afghanistan among other things.

With Mr. Obama's approval ratings holding steady, one Democratic pollster tells NBC news, "The American public is rooting for him. They want him to succeed. But against that, they want answers."

So what do they want answered? Expect more on AIG; including maybe what the president thinks about the House's legislation to tax bonuses at 90 percent. By the way, that's going nowhere. Also on the economy - Pres. Obama will likely face questions on the latest Treasury plan to help buy as much as 1 trillion dollars in toxic assets from banks to help get credit flowing again - a plan that Wall Street seemed to like. Witness the 500 point rally yesterday.

And, as the president gets ready for his first big overseas trip next week - including stops in London, Prague and Istanbul - he might be asked about international issues, which have largely been on the back burner due to the economic meltdown at home. Look for questions about his televised message to Iranians on their new year or his plans to call on NATO to do more in Afghanistan.

Here’s my question to you: What would you ask President Obama at tonight’s news conference?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
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