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July 19th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is the war in Afghanistan really worth it?

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U.S. troops carry a wounded Afghan National Army soldier to a U.S. Army MEDEVAC helicopter in Qandahar, Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Nearly nine years into the war in Afghanistan... and it seems there are more questions than ever about what exactly the U.S. is doing over there.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Afghanistan to lead the American delegation to the Kabul Conference.

The Afghan government is supposed to talk at this international meeting about how it will tackle a deteriorating security situation and crack down on corruption.

But even as the U.S. has added tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan - last month was the deadliest since the start of the war for international forces. 103 coalition troops were killed, and militants keep attacking every day.

The Obama administration says it will review its Afghan strategy later this year; but there are growing concerns from all corners about where we're headed.

Democratic Senator John Kerry says it's not clear the administration has a solid strategy; and Republican Senator Richard Lugar is criticizing "a lack of clarity" about U.S. goals in Afghanistan. Even the administration's point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan - Richard Holbrooke - acknowledges things are not working out as planned.

Meanwhile a record number of U.S. soldiers killed themselves last month. The Army says 32 soldiers committed suicide in June - the highest in any month since the Vietnam War. Seven of those soldiers were on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army officials say they're not sure what's behind the spike in suicides.

The U.S. is approaching insolvency, yet we continue to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into a nine-year-old war, and no one seems to have a real good explanation of why we continue.

Here’s my question to you: Is the war in Afghanistan really worth it?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
July 19th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How effective is U.S. intel with 1,300 govt. orgs & 2,000 private companies?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the nine years since the September 11 terror attacks, the U.S. intelligence community has become so large that it's unmanageable, redundant and inefficient. Not unlike the rest of the federal government.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/19/art.top.secret.jpg caption="A 'Top Secret' page from the U.S. congressional report on the 9/11 terror attacks."]
The Washington Post reports on a stunning two-year investigation of a so-called top secret America that's hidden from the public and lacking in real oversight.

Examples:

  • There are nearly 1,300 government organizations and 2,000 private companies working in 10,000 locations across the country.
  • There are 854,000 people who have top-secret security clearances.
  • There are 33 building complexes for top-secret work that are under construction or have been built just in Washington, DC since 9/11... totaling 17 million square feet of space.
  • Analysts turn out 50,000 intelligence reports every year... you can bet many of them never get read.
  • And, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11... that of course means hiring lots and lots of people. But don't ask where Osama bin Laden is… nobody knows.

With such a sprawling bureaucracy, it's no wonder they couldn't put together the dots in recent attacks - including the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted Christmas day airline bombing in Detroit.

The government is pushing back against the Washington Post report. The national intelligence director says they provide oversight and work constantly to reduce inefficiencies and redundancies. What would you expect him to say?

A top Obama official adds that they're looking at inefficiencies "and remember, we have prevented attacks." Who does that sound like?

Here’s my question to you: How effective can U.S. intelligence be with nearly 1,300 government organizations and 2,000 private companies working in 10,000 locations?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • United States
July 19th, 2010
01:26 PM ET
July 19th, 2010
01:24 PM ET
July 16th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is it time for Congress to raise the retirement age?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If you like your job, better hold onto it because Congress is thinking about raising the retirement age.

As lawmakers run out of options on how to pay for Social Security, the Washington Times reports how top Democrats and Republicans have been making unusually frank comments on the topic. Usually, politicians talk in generalities about cutting the deficit, and most other things. It's what they do best.

But it seems the flashing warning signs of our skyrocketing and unsustainable deficits have finally gotten their attention.

And now they're getting down to business - with party leaders saying that with people living longer and in better health - the nation can't afford to keep paying out benefits for as long as 30 years after people retire.

House Minority Leader John Boehner suggests raising the retirement age for full Social Security benefits to 70... for those who are now 50 or younger.

Boehner also says we should provide benefits only to those who need them. He says with the government broke, it shouldn't be paying benefits to those who have substantial income from other sources while they're retired.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also talks about raising the retirement age... and providing benefits primarily to the poor.

Government watchdog groups are impressed at how serious both parties seem to be about fixing Social Security. They say leaders now realize that Social Security - which was long considered the "third rail" of politics - is now the "low hanging fruit," meaning it's one of the easier budget problems to fix.

All this comes as many European countries are moving toward raising retirement ages to fix their budget crisis.

Currently, Americans can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as 62.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time for Congress to raise the retirement age?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress
July 16th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Should Dems pop out champagne if Palin most popular in GOP for 2012?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There are five Republicans generally viewed as the most likely contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/16/art.s.palin.jpg caption=""]
Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts - who actually finished his term of office and was a hugely successful businessman. Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, who actually finished his term of office.

See where this is going?

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.

But the most popular of the Republicans seen vying for the nomination in 2012 is... you guessed it... Sarah Palin. And it's not even close.

Palin, who describes herself as a mama grizzly bear, has a whopping 76 percent favorable rating among Republicans, according to a new Gallup poll.

Compare that to Huckabee, who gets a 65 percent favorable rating, Gingrich 64 percent followed by Romney with 54 percent and Jindal with 45 percent.

Palin, who quit her job as governor of Alaska midway through her first term so she could run out and capitalize on her failed bid to be John McCain's vice president, is the darling of the GOP.

If anything could overcome the increasingly sour view of the Obama presidency, it might be this. The Democrats should be positively euphoric.

You see, the problem with Palin is that while Republicans adore her - the rest of the country just doesn't. According to Gallup, Palin has a 44 percent favorable rating among all Americans; and a 47 percent unfavorable rating. And numbers like this don't bode well for the general election.

Here’s my question to you: Should Democrats pop out the champagne if Sarah Palin is the most popular Republican contender for 2012?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Republicans • Sarah Palin
July 16th, 2010
11:58 AM ET
July 16th, 2010
11:57 AM ET
July 15th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

How should the Gulf oil spill affect this country's energy policy going forward?

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Oil covered brown pelicans found off the Louisiana coast wait in a holding pen for cleaning at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. (PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There are thousands of oil wells under the ocean. We have seen the effects of one going terribly wrong.

The economy of the Gulf Coast decimated… the fishing and tourism industries crushed.

If the administration's moratorium on offshore drilling is upheld by the courts this time around, thousands of additional people will lose their jobs in an economy already overrun with folks who can't find work.

Drilling for oil at these depths is risky at best and can be disastrous at worst - as we have seen.

But we need the oil… because for almost 40 years, since the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, this country has failed to develop a coherent energy policy.

We just keep whistling past the graveyard of dependence on the Middle East and deep water drilling… waiting for the next crisis… whether it's another blown well, ruptured pipeline, or war in the Middle East that will interrupt the flow of oil and drive prices through the ceiling.

And it's not a question of whether there will be another crisis… it's a question of when the next one comes and how serious it will be.

But just like with so many of the other challenges confronting our country, the government and by extension we, the people seem content to live in a world of denial… unwilling to make the tough decisions necessary to make our energy future safer and more secure.

Here’s my question to you: How should the Gulf oil spill affect this country’s energy policy going forward?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: BP oil spill • Gulf oil spill • New Orleans • Offshore Drilling • Oil spill
July 15th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How much will the oil spill hurt the Democrats this November?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's way too soon to celebrate… but it's hard not to. After almost three months the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico has finally been stopped… for now.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/15/art.oil.jpg caption="Oil is pictured off of Grand Isle, Louisiana."]
Even if it's stopped for good, the implications of what has happened are huge and probably won't be known for sometime.

The damage to the environment is immeasurable. Some say it will wind up being worse than the Exxon Valdez.

The government wants a moratorium on offshore drilling… one judge already said no… the Obama administration came back with a second one.

The oil spill has come to symbolize everything his critics say is wrong with this president's leadership. As those awful pictures of the ruptured well and the gushing oil filled our television screens day after agonizing day, President Obama increasingly was seen as indecisive and unwilling or incapable of taking charge and managing the crisis. At the end of the day, it was simply another problem this president didn't need. He has more than enough already.

And now as we collectively hold our breath and wait to see if the well will hold, one wonders how all of this will translate to the politics of the midterm elections which will be here in almost the same amount of time the oil has been flowing into the Gulf.

Here’s my question to you: How much will the oil spill hurt the Democrats this November?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: BP oil spill • Gulf oil spill • Offshore Drilling • Oil spill
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