November 19th, 2009
02:18 PM ET

Could authorities have prevented the Fort Hood shootings?


(PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images)


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

Most Americans think that authorities could have prevented the massacre at Fort Hood... and when the politicians sniff this kind of sentiment, they can't wait to rush into hearings.

A new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows 64 percent of those surveyed say law enforcement or the military should have been able to stop the shooting rampage... 31% say the incident on the Texas Army base couldn't have been prevented. The poll also found Americans are split as to whether the attack was an act of terrorism.

U.S. Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, who is Muslim, is charged with thirteen counts of premeditated murder. He's accused of wounding dozens more.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee held its first hearing into those shootings today. They want to know if authorities failed to "connect the dots" when it came to Major Hasan. NPR reports that Hasan's supervisor at Walter Reed wrote a memo two years ago saying he showed a "pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism."

The committee also plans to look into why federal authorities didn't do anything after finding e-mails exchanged between Hasan and a radical Muslim cleric - with alleged ties to al Qaeda.

Also, there's the question of whether a joint terrorism task force that had information on Hasan shared it with the military and others. Experts say they worry about "political correctness" - and that some signs may have been ignored because Hasan is Muslim.

Pres. Obama wanted Congress to hold off on hearings until federal authorities finished their investigation.

SO HERE'S MY QUESTION TO YOU: Could authorities have prevented the Fort Hood shootings?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Fort Hood
November 19th, 2009
02:17 PM ET

Are you losing interest in health care debate?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/19/reidunveilsbill.jpg caption="Democratic Senators introduce their 2,074 page health care reform bill."]
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

With the Senate health care bill weighing in at 2,074 pages... this means we now have more than 4,000 pages of proposed health care legislation. 4,000.

One Republican senator is threatening to read the whole bill on the Senate floor... that could take up to two days. But –some are wondering if anybody is going to read this thing at all.

Another question is, with Thanksgiving and the Christmas season approaching, are people simply getting tired of this ongoing mammoth debate?

It's been months now - with a lot of media focus on health care reform since those town meetings and tea party protests of the summer... Yet it seems like we're nowhere near the end yet. The Senate and House bills have some significant differences when it comes to taxes, abortion coverage and the so-called "public option."

And If the bill makes it through the Senate – and that's still very much an open question - the two chambers will have to merge the two bills together – and then that final bill has to pass both houses.

But experts suggest that Americans are more tuned in than ever. A Senate historian says what's unusual about this debate is that people have been following it from the beginning - watching the bills go through committees, markups, etc. He says the public has paid a lot more attention to this than almost any other piece of recent legislation.

SO HERE'S MY QUESTION TO YOU: Are you losing interest in the health care reform debate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Health care
November 19th, 2009
02:16 PM ET

Good thing that senator served for almost 57 years?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/19/byrd.jpg caption="Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia is now officially the longest-serving member of Congress."]
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia is now officially the longest-serving member of Congress –ever!


The Democrat from West Virginia - who turns 92 tomorrow - has served for almost 57 years - including 6 years in the House and 51 in Senate... that translates to a record of 20,774 days.

He's served under 11 presidents - coming to Washington during the Eisenhower administration in 1953.

Byrd tops all other senators in the number of votes cast... that would be more than 18-thousand... and the number of leadership positions held - including two stints as majority leader.

He's never lost an election.

Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 40s... later calling it "the most egregious mistake" he'd ever made... and he voted against the civil rights act in the 60s... but he later followed a more traditional Democratic path, blasting Pres. George W. Bush's policies after 9-11 and during the Iraq war.

Byrd is thanking the people of West Virginia for their ongoing confidence in him... He says it's been the "quality and dedication of service" that has guided him and that he looks forward to serving them for quote "the next 56 years and 320 days."

Fine. But this isn't what our forefathers intended. They didn't envision career politicians - but rather people who would give a few years of their life to public service and then go back to farming or banking or whatever it is they did.

But without term limits - in a lot of cases, we wind up with politicians who spend their entire adult lives in Congress. And in many cases the results aren't good.

SO HERE'S MY QUESTION FOR YOU:Is it a good thing that a senator has set a record for serving nearly 57 years in Congress?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Congress • Senate