November 30th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Pres. Obama approval rating drops 20% among whites

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

On the eve of his address to the nation about Afghanistan, President Obama could be at a crossroads for his presidency early in his first term. Politically - the stakes for both Afghanistan and health care couldn't be any higher.
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Politico suggests that the president's gift for controlling his image shows signs of faltering; and they point to several anti-Obama storylines gaining momentum.

Including things like:

  • The president thinks he's playing with Monopoly money... the way he's been spending tax dollars to revive the economy
  • That the West Wing is dominated by Chicago-style, brass-knuckled politicians like the public battle with Fox News - which isn't exactly the change Mr. Obama promised on the campaign trail
  • That he's given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi too much power
  • That the president is a pushover (i.e. setting a deadline for health care, which lawmakers in his own party missed)
  • That he should appear prouder of America than he sometimes does when he's overseas
  • And that he thinks too highly of himself

The White House argues that all of these storylines are inaccurate or unfair, sometimes pushed by Republicans or the press. But there is a problem somewhere. The president is losing considerable support among white Americans.

Gallup puts the president's approval among whites at 39 percent - down from 61 percent last February. And a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows the president with a 50 percent approval rating among whites; but that's down from nearly 70 percent in the same poll last winter.

Here’s my question to you: What does a drop in approval rating of 20-percent among whites mean for President Obama?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: President Barack Obama
November 30th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Reality TV gone too far when it comes to W.H. 'crashers'?


President Obama greets Michaele Salahi at last week's state dinner. Turns out Salahi wasn't invited. (WHITE HOUSE PHOTO)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The White House "crashers" are just the latest example of why reality TV may have entered dangerous territory.

Michaele and Tareq Salahi made it past Secret Service and inside the White House for President Obama's first state dinner without being invited. They met the President and the Vice President.

President Obama insists he still has "full confidence" in the ability of the Secret Service to protect his family. But the agency has said it's "deeply concerned and embarrassed" - as it should be.

Some lawmakers want criminal charges brought against the couple. That's an excellent idea.

There are reports the couple wants in the neighborhood of half a million dollars for an interview about their story. They deny it.

And the couple is being considered for the cast of the reality TV show "The Real Housewives of D.C." They had television cameras following them around the day of the state dinner.

Another grab at 15 minutes of fame by people who would live their entire lives unnoticed otherwise. Remember the Colorado father of the so-called "Balloon Boy?"

This loser was trying to get media attention for his own reality show when he made up a story about his six-year-old son being carried away in a home-made helium balloon. He agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge.

Reality TV has given these people the idea that anyone can be a celebrity - and some are committing dangerous, and potentially criminal acts, just to get on the tube.

And to think it all started with a fat, naked guy wading around in the water looking for fish on a CBS program called "Survivor." In retrospect, it seems pretty harmless.

Here’s my question to you: Has reality television gone too far when it comes to the White House "crashers"?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Media Coverage • White House
November 30th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Does Tiger Woods owe an explanation?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

He's the most recognizable name in sports and arguably the greatest golfer who ever lived. But Tiger Woods has a problem.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/30/art.tiger.woods.jpg caption="Tiger Woods has canceled plans to attend his own golf tournament."]

Woods earns millions playing golf and hundreds of millions more in endorsements. One estimate has him as the first billionaire sports star. The mind-boggling endorsement money is based in part on Woods' squeaky clean image and his ability to persuade the rest of us to buy the products he's selling.

But last week a tabloid alleged that Woods has been having an affair with a New York nightclub hostess. According to the Associated Press - the woman has denied having an affair with Woods.

Then last Friday at 2:25 in the morning, Tiger crashed his SUV leaving his driveway - hitting a fire hydrant and then a tree. The neighbor who called 911 said Woods was unconscious at the scene of the accident, and police said he had cuts and bruises on his face. He was taken to the hospital and treated and released.

For three days Woods refused to meet with state police to talk about what happened. He still hasn't and he's not legally obligated to.

The airbags on his car didn't deploy, but his face was cut and swollen. Police say when they arrived they found Woods' wife over him - claiming to have broken out the rear window of his SUV with a golf club to help him escape.

Then yesterday a terse statement from Woods on his web site saying it is all a private matter and nobody else's business.

Finally - late this afternoon, word that Woods has canceled plans to attend his own golf tournament in California because of his injuries.

Here’s my question to you: Does Tiger Woods owe anyone an explanation?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Media Coverage • News Media
November 24th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Any reason not to impeach S.C. Gov. Sanford?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/03/art.sanford.0903.gi.jpg caption="Is there any reason not to impeach South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford?"]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's about time. South Carolina legislators are finally debating whether to recommend impeachment of Gov. Mark Sanford.

A resolution says Sanford engaged in "serious misconduct" that amounts to a "dereliction of his duties." It argues that his actions brought "extreme dishonor and shame" to the governor's office and caused South Carolina to suffer ridicule. So what's to debate?

This all goes back to Sanford's disappearance this summer to visit his mistress in Argentina. The governor lied to his staff about his whereabouts telling them he was hiking the Appalachian Trail - on nude hiker's day.

This impeachment debate is only focused on the idea that Sanford was derelict in his duties as governor. But it comes one day after the state ethics commission charged Sanford with 37 counts of violating ethics laws in South Carolina.

Among other things, Sanford is accused of using taxpayer money for high-priced airplane tickets to travel around the world - and to Argentina. Think he's guilty? While the investigation was going on, Sanford set about amending his ethics disclosure documents to reflect the air travel.

In addition to the 37 civil charges, the state attorney general is deciding if there should be criminal charges. What's to debate?

Sanford's lawyers insist the governor hasn't done anything that rises to the level of impeachment. Apparently it's okay to lie about where you're going and steal taxpayer money for personal airplane travel.

Here’s my question to you: Is there any reason not to impeach South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Mark Sanford
November 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

How will your Christmas spending be different this year?

How will your Christmas spending be different this year? (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Black Friday right around the corner - retailers are hoping for a better Christmas shopping season than last year.

And there are some glimmers of hope:

One survey shows Black Friday shopping is expected to pick up more than 16 percent. The National Retail Federation says 57 million people say they'll definitely head to the stores this year - that's up from 49 million last year.

Some stores even plan to extend hours on Friday so people have more time to get in on the "door-buster" deals.

A new Gallup Poll shows consumer spending is up 11 percent from the prior week... Even more impressive is the comparison to the same week last year. Spending is down 7 percent–that's the smallest year-to-year decline so far in 2009.

That's something when you consider consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

There is also a big difference in how people say they plan to pay for their Christmas shopping this year. The same retail group reports an increase in the number of consumers who say they plan to use cash, debit or check cards. Credit card use is expected to drop by 10 percent.

The reasons include credit card companies reducing consumer’s credit lines and customers’ trying to lower their own debt as the recession drags on.

Here’s my question to you: How will your Christmas spending be different this year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Economy • Spending
November 24th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Do you want govt. more involved in health care?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/24/flushot.jpg
caption="Do you really want the federal government more involved in health care?"]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With more Americans now saying that health care is not the government's responsibility, it's not difficult to see why some may feel that way.

All you have to do is look at the track record of government-run programs.

Here we go:

-Social Security was created in 1935. It will be paying out more money than it receives by 2016. And unless changes are made, it will be gone in 2037.

-The Medicare and Medicaid programs were signed into law in 1965. Medicare will run completely out of money by 2017. The situation for Medicaid is even worse.

-Spending on Social Security and Medicare totaled more than $1 trillion last year - or more than one-third of the federal budget.

-The U.S. Postal Service was created in 1775. It’s broke. It posted a $3.8 billion loss for this year. That's $1 billion more than it lost in 2008 - despite $6 billion in cost-cutting moves in the past year.

-How about Fannie Mae, in operation since 1938; and Freddie Mac, established in 1970? Both broke. The two home loan agencies were seized by federal regulators 14 months ago. Fannie Mae is now asking the government for another $15 billion, which would bring the tab for rescuing both companies to about $111 billion.

-And don't forget the hundreds of billions of dollars in the first round of TARP money that went virtually unaccounted for.

And now the government wants about another trillion dollars to reform health care. A trillion dollars we don't have.

Here’s my question to you: Do you really want the federal government more involved in health care?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Health care
November 23rd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should the wealthy pay more taxes to send more troops to Afghanistan?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/23/soldiers.jpg caption="Should the wealthiest Americans pay more taxes to send more troops to Afghanistan?"]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some top Democrats think the wealthy should have to pony up more taxes in order to pay for a troop increase in Afghanistan.

Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says people earning more than $200,000 or $250,000 a year should pay an "additional income tax."

Levin says richer Americans have done "incredibly well,” and that it's important to pay for a troop surge instead of increasing the federal debt.

Democratic Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, also says
he favors a so-called "war surtax."

Obey says that people making $400,000 or $500,000 per year should be asked to pay as much as 5 percent of their incomes, while lower earners might pay a smaller amount - down to 1 percent.

Obey says if we don't increase taxes, the war in Afghanistan will "bleed every dollar in the budget away from any other initiative." Unless of course the government cut spending elsewhere. Hah!

First they wanted to tax the rich to pay for health care reform. Now they want to do it to pay for more troops for war. This administration also plans to increase the top income tax rate. Pretty soon the rich won't be.

The White House suggests it could cost as much as 40 billion dollars per year to send 40,000 additional troops into Afghanistan. President Obama is expected to announce his decision in the next few weeks. He will meet with his national security team tonight - again.

Here’s my question to you: Should additional taxes be levied against wealthy Americans to pay for more troops in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Afghanistan • Taxes
November 23rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

What can Pres. Obama learn from Sarah Palin?

What can President Obama learn from Sarah Palin? (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With President Obama now below 50 percent approval for the first time, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd suggests the president could learn "a thing or three" from Sarah Palin.

Dowd writes that with the former V-P candidate back on the trail for her book tour, she clearly hasn't boned up on anything and "she still has that Yoda-like syntax."

But Dowd warns it would be foolish for the Democrats to write off Palin. She says that although President Obama is highly intelligent and likable - he's not connecting on a gut level with the public. She suggests he might be getting too bogged down in pragmatism and the details of legislative compromises.

Dowd writes that the president, who she calls the "Cerebral One," might want to take lessons from Palin, the "Visceral One."

She writes: "Palin can be stupefyingly simplistic, but she seems dynamic. Obama is impressively complex but he seems static. She nurtures her grass roots while he neglects his. He struggles to transcend identity politics while she wallows in them. As he builds an emotional moat around himself, she exuberantly pushes whatever she has, warts and all..."

Meanwhile – it's clear Sarah Palin is saying something people want to hear. She sold 300,000 copies of her memoir on the day of its release - one of the best openings ever for a nonfiction book, easily topping people like Hillary Clinton.

As for President Obama - the Gallup Daily Tracking poll puts his approval rating at 49 percent - the first time he's dropped below 50 percent since taking office.

Here’s my question to you: What can President Obama learn from Sarah Palin?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: President Obama • Sarah Palin
November 23rd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Catholic Church denying communion to politicians who support abortion?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/23/patrickkennedy.jpg caption="Should the Catholic Church deny communion to public figures, like Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who support abortion?"]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Catholic Church wants Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy to stop taking communion - due to his support of abortion rights.

The bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, says he told Kennedy in February 2007 that it would be "inappropriate" to keep receiving the Catholic sacrament.

That request is suddenly in the spotlight as the Church gets more involved in the health care debate, particularly regarding the issue of abortion. Kennedy - the nephew of this nation's only Catholic president, John F. Kennedy - revealed the bishop's request to a newspaper over the weekend.

Just last month - Kennedy had criticized the bishops for threatening to oppose the overall health care bill if it didn't include abortion restrictions. The Church called Kennedy's position "unacceptable" and "scandalous."

Rep. Kennedy is not the first Catholic politician to want it both ways. In 1984, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro came under attack from the church for not backing its position on abortion.

Kennedy's father - the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy - along with former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo - both Catholics - were also forced to defend their support of abortion rights.

At 30 percent, Catholics are the largest single religious group in Congress. Look for the Church to keep up the lobbying pressure on these lawmakers. When it comes to the health care bill - that could include not only abortion, but issues like immigrant rights and stem cell research.

Here’s my question to you: Should the Catholic Church deny communion to public figures who support abortion?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Abortion • Religion
November 20th, 2009
06:10 PM ET

Faith in govt. to do something about soaring debt?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/20/deb.jpg caption="How much faith do you have the government will do anything meaningful about the soaring national debt?"]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

The national debt has hit a record high of $12 trillion - which translates to about $40,000 for every person in this country.

And what's particularly troubling is the rate at which it continues to grow... increasing by almost 5 trillion dollars during the 8 years of Pres. Bush... followed by another $1.6 trillion increase so far under President Obama.

It's no surprise when you consider all the spending - wars, bailouts, stimulus package, etc. - under the current administration. Also - the recession and record unemployment mean there are fewer tax dollars coming in to offset spending.

But the debt is also costing us big bucks to maintain: the interest alone on the u-s debt in the next decade is expected to be near $5 trillion. And if interest rates go up, and they will at some point, the price will be even higher.

In 2015, the estimated interest due will be equal to one-third of all federal incomes taxes expected to be paid that year.

Pres. Obama has pledged to take "serious steps" to reduce America's debt. Really? When? Maybe after we spend close to another trillion dollars we don't have for health care reform.

And - with a mid-term election coming up next year, good luck getting the politicians to make tough decisions on tax hikes or spending cuts. The only thing they're willing to cut is the taxpayer's throat.

Here's my question to you: How much faith do you have the government will do anything meaningful about the soaring national debt?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: National debt
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