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What should Occupy Wall Street's next move be?
November 17th, 2011
03:45 PM ET

What should Occupy Wall Street's next move be?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As Occupy Wall Street marks two months of protests, there are questions about exactly what the activists want and more importantly, how they plan to get it.

Patience is wearing thin in cities around the country as officials begin to move against the demonstrators in places such as New York; Oakland and Berkeley, California; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City.

While getting an "A" for perseverance, the occupiers' tent cities are starting to get on people's nerves, which is part of the idea. But some of the tent cities have spawned drugs, crime and violence, things that are not conducive to generating sympathy for their cause.

And speaking of their cause, what exactly is it? With the protesters so widely dispersed, you have to wonder how focused and concentrated their message is. After two months, a lot of us remain unsure of what exactly the message is. More is needed than a vague complaint against corporate greed if they are to remain relevant.

That brings us to something else the movement has been lacking so far: Leaders. Putting a head on this group would perhaps allow them to crystallize their message a little more.

Finally you could make a very strong argument that the major source of our country's problems is Washington. So why are these folks content to wander around places such as New York, Denver, Seattle, Oakland and other places outside the real scene of the crimes.

If you want to fight a fire, you have to go to where the fire is.

Here’s my question to you: What should Occupy Wall Street's next move be?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar • United States • Wall Street
Can President Obama win re-election if almost two-thirds of whites are opposed to him?
November 16th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Can President Obama win re-election if almost two-thirds of whites are opposed to him?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With just about a year to ago until Election Day, the U.S. is a racially divided nation when it comes to President Barack Obama.

Consider this: A new CNN/Opinion Research Poll shows 61% of whites disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job vs. 36% who don’t – that’s almost two-to-one. For non-whites, it's almost the mirror image. Only 32% disapprove while 67% approve.

For a president who was supposed to symbolize a post-racial America, this is not good news. When Obama defeated John McCain in 2008, he did it with significant support from white Americans.

Exit polls showed Obama won 43% of white voters. That was the largest share of white support in a two-man race since 1976. Among young white voters, Obama did even better, getting 54% of their support. If Obama wants a second term, he needs to win back support from more white Americans in the coming months.

Meanwhile our new poll shows other results that could spell trouble for Obama. Overall, he gets a 46% approval rating, with 52% saying they disapprove.

When you compare that rating with recent incumbents running for re-election, the president ranks only above Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. They both lost their re-election bids. Most incumbents who win re-election had an approval rating above 50% a year before the election.

Finally, the poll shows 54% of the crucial independent voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing.

The president has got his work cut out for him.

Here’s my question to you: Can President Obama win re-election if almost two-thirds of whites are opposed to him?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

How much will Newt Gingrich's personal baggage affect his run for the White House?
November 16th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

How much will Newt Gingrich's personal baggage affect his run for the White House?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was only a matter of time. It always is.

With Newt Gingrich suddenly rising big time in the polls, his opponents are starting to make an issue of his personal baggage. The tabloid stuff - like the fact that the former house speaker is on his third marriage and is an adulterer.

Politico reports that there's a flyer circulating in Iowa from a group called Christian Leaders in Government.

Among other things, it asks: If Newt Gingrich can't be faithful to his wife, how can we trust him to be faithful to conservative voters?"

Airing a candidate's dirty laundry is nothing new... especially in the primaries in early voting states.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that while there have been several presidents unfaithful to their wives, Ronald Reagan has been the only divorced president. Gingrich has both strikes against him.

Experts say Gingrich will have to address his personal past, but some believe voters won't dwell on it. Like him or not, Gingrich is a smart guy who might be the most capable of the current GOP batch of dealing with the critical issues we face. The bar isn't exactly high.

Plus half of Americans get divorced these days. And if every politician who has been unfaithful left office, Washington would be a ghost town.

But not everyone thinks it's not that big a deal. A columnist at Salon.com writes that Gingrich "committed so many political and ethical transgressions that his baggage has baggage."

Gingrich is twice divorced. He left his first wife after her cancer treatment and he left his second wife for a staffer.

UPDATE: We heard from Newt Gingrich’s daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman. She says that Newt Gingrich and her mother (his first wife) were in the process of dissolving their marriage weeks before her mom went into the hospital to have a tumor removed. She says the tumor was benign; there was no cancer. Gingrich Cushman suggests that time and the media have created an inaccurate impression of what really happened.

Gingrich says he expects questions about his three marriages and infidelity. But he insists he's happily married and has reconciled all this with God.

Here’s my question to you: How much will Newt Gingrich's personal baggage affect his run for the White House?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Newt Gingrich • White House
When do you think the job market will improve?
November 15th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

When do you think the job market will improve?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

More bleak news on the job front: A new Gallup poll shows a whopping 90% of Americans say now is a bad time to find a quality job. That's up from less than 50% before the recession in January 2007.

Only 8% think now is a good time to find a quality job. Gallup says these perceptions of the job market are the worst in a decade.

Younger Americans are slightly more optimistic about finding quality jobs while older people and those with postgraduate education are more pessimistic.

The key word here is "quality" jobs, and it might represent a bigger story than the actual unemployment numbers. A lack of quality jobs reduces people's current earnings as well as their future earnings since they're not getting the right experience.

Companies sometimes complain that they can't find employees with the right skills. Part of this is due to education, but the other part is that Americans aren't getting "quality" jobs where they can learn those skills.

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate dropped to 9% in October. The good news is that's the lowest it's been since April. Also, jobless claims fell again last week.

The bad news: More than two years after the recession officially ended, only a quarter of the 8.8 million lost jobs have been recovered.

Last month alone, nearly 14 million Americans remained unemployed, and 42% of them have been out of work for more than six months.

Here's my question to you: When do you think the job market will improve?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Economy
What will it mean to Pres. Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law?
November 15th, 2011
04:17 PM ET

What will it mean to Pres. Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Expect the Supreme Court to light up the 2012 presidential race when it rules on President Obama's health care law just months before the election.

The high court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the president's signature piece of legislation. The legal challenge comes from a joint filing by 26 states led by Florida.

The justices will hear two major questions:

Whether the so-called individual mandate is unconstitutional - can the government force you to buy insurance? And if so, whether the entire 2,000-plus page law should be scrapped.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in late February or March and rule by June. If they strike it down, it would be a huge embarrassment for President Obama.

Yet the White House says it's confident the law will be found constitutional, and Politico reports that the president is so confident that he didn't even try to stop the Supreme Court from fast-tracking the case.

Mr. Obama is gambling that if the court upholds the law, it will validate his epic, two-year battle with Congress. And if they strike it down, it will fire up the Democratic base and energize party donors.

But there are also risks: If the court upholds the law, it could fire up the president's opposition even more. Remember the tea party?

The revival of the health care debate could also hurt the president in some swing states where his health care push alienated Independents.

Finally, if President Obama can't run on health care, it's not exactly like he can run on the economy or cutting the national debt.

Here's my question to you: What will it mean to President Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

What role did the outsized influence of college sports play in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal?
November 14th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

What role did the outsized influence of college sports play in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the Penn State child sex abuse scandal continues to grow, there are more questions about how the situation got so out of hand.

And at least part of that answer lies in the outsized influence of sports teams on college campuses around the country.

At Penn state, football is a religion; and for almost five decades, legendary coach Joe Paterno was a god.

That could be why officials looked the other way when they learned an assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was allegedly raping little boys.

It appears that Penn State cared more about protecting the football program than protecting the children - sort of the same way the Catholic Church responded to its own child sex abuse scandal.

Of course, big sports also means big money for these colleges. With big money comes the potential for corruption and misplaced priorities. Oftentimes, people affiliated with these sports programs develop a sense of entitlement.

As one expert tells The Boston Globe, "You're making a deal with the devil. These programs become larger than life. It has nothing to do with higher education."

What's ironic is that Penn State was a college known for running a clean football program, yet it has still managed to land itself in what is arguably one of the worst scandals to ever hit a college campus.

Some people think it's way past time to take a hard look at the role of college football or basketball teams. But others say it won't make much of a difference; that the culture is way too powerful and deeply entrenched.

Here’s my question to you: What role did the outsized influence of college sports play in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Scandals
How do you see the super committee concluding its business?
November 14th, 2011
03:55 PM ET

How do you see the super committee concluding its business?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The so-called super committee is turning out to be anything but.

With little more than a week to go before its deadline, things are looking pretty grim for the bipartisan panel tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion from the national debt over the next decade.

For starters, Politico reports the committee has "all but abandoned" its full-panel meetings. Instead, a series of small bipartisan groups now dominate the negotiations.

And the six Democrats on the panel can't even come to a consensus. That makes chances they'll be able to agree with Republicans slim to none.

Plus, key lawmakers are talking about dragging out the process.

They're now talking about a "two-step process" to reform the tax code and entitlements.

The super committee would set a figure for increased tax revenue; but then individual House and Senate committees would have to craft the legislation. In an election year? Yeah, that'll happen.

This is outrageous. If it happens, it would make the super committee just one more group of politicians to kick the can down the road when it comes to our nearly $15 trillion national debt. And we can't afford that.

Oh yeah - and remember that automatic trigger that's supposed to go into effect if the super committee can't agree to cuts? Well, our lawmakers are trying to weasel out of that one too.

One super committee member says it is "very likely" Congress will try to dismantle those across-the-board cuts to defense and entitlement spending.

All the while, both sides are busy trading accusations about who would be to blame if the super committee fails.

Our government is broken, and we are losing the country because of it.

Here’s my question to you: How do you see the super committee concluding its business?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Is it time for Rick Perry to withdraw from the presidential race?
November 10th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Is it time for Rick Perry to withdraw from the presidential race?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Not since Sarah Palin sat down with Katie Couric has a candidate for the nation's highest office looked as bad as Rick Perry did Wednesday night.

Here’s what the Texas governor said:

"I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the - what's the third one there? Let's see. OK. Commerce, Education, and the ... "

"EPA?" Mitt Romney offered.

"EPA, there you go," Perry said.

When pressed by the moderator, Perry admitted it wasn't the EPA.

Then he tried again:

"The third agency of government I would – I would do away with Education, the Commerce, and, let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."

Right after that debate on CNBC, Perry rushed to the spin room where he tried to make light of what he had done.

"I'm glad I had my boots on tonight. I really stepped in it."

Note to Mr. Perry: It's time to go away now. This wasn't the first time you came off as an intellectual lightweight in these debates.

This "aw shucks," grade – school stuff may play in Texas - but I, sir, don't want you anywhere near the nuclear launch codes.

We have a world on the brink of economic collapse and a Middle East on the brink of another war.

There is trouble all around, and you lay claim to being able to run the country with what amounts to half a loaf.

The saying is, "Half a loaf is better than none."

In Rick Perry's case, that's not true. Please just go away.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time for Rick Perry to withdraw from the presidential race?

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.

How can Penn State University restore its reputation?
November 10th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

How can Penn State University restore its reputation?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Penn State is having its own Catholic Church moment.

The university has been rocked to its core by the child sex abuse scandal.

A scandal that escalated because those in power seemingly either looked the other way or helped cover up what was going on in order to protect one of their own.

The legendary football coach Joe Paterno was told back in 2002 that a graduate assistant had seen his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, rape a young boy in a shower at the football complex. Paterno told his boss, which was apparently all that the law required, but he didn't tell the police.

According to grand jury testimony, Sandusky allegedly fondled and had oral and anal sex with boys for at least 15 years. Fifteen years! And Penn State officials could have stopped it nine years ago.

The university's board is cleaning house, as well they should. They fired Paterno and the school's president, Graham Spanier.

Paterno had wanted to coach the team's last home game of the season Saturday and then resign after the football season ended. You have to give credit to the Penn State board for saying: You're not resigning, you're not retiring, you're fired - get out!

As for the hundreds of Penn State students who rioted on the campus Wednesday night - they ought to be kicked out of school. How dare they act like this because they like a football coach?

These punks are not intellectually equipped to attend an institution of higher learning. How would they feel if it was their little brother who was raped? Their behavior is disgusting and a testament to the outsized role sports plays in American society.

Granted, this is a sad way for the winningest coach in major college football to end a storied career.

But it didn't have to end this way. Joe Paterno himself could have prevented it by applying the same life lessons he preached to his players for 46 years to himself.

Here’s my question to you: How can Penn State University restore its reputation?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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.

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Filed under: Scandals
In the GOP race for president, is Gingrich the tortoise and Romney the hare?
November 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

In the GOP race for president, is Gingrich the tortoise and Romney the hare?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Newt Gingrich says he's the tortoise - and Mitt Romney is the hare.

The former House Speaker is comparing the Republican presidential horse-race to Aesop's Fable:

"The bunny rabbit runs by and falls asleep. The tortoise just keeps coming. So hopefully in this game, Mitt Romney will be the bunny rabbit and I'll be the tortoise. That would all work out perfectly."

And Gingrich has reason to be hopeful:

He's seen a jump in the polls - along with a spike in his fund-raising - in recent weeks.

Gingrich is now polling in the double digits, which puts him in third place behind Romney and Herman Cain in several national polls. He's also in fourth place in Iowa.

Gingrich believes there's a "big opportunity for an alternative candidate" since Romney seems stuck at about 25% in the national polls. And Cain risks fizzling out with recent sexual harassment allegations. Gingrich thinks there's more room in the race for him.

He has performed well at the eight GOP debates so far, acting the role of the elder statesmen while some of his rivals bickered with each other. He will have another chance when the Republicans again debate tonight.

Gingrich's campaign was left for dead by many in the Spring. Several of his advisers quit after he took two weeks off to go on a Mediterranean cruise.

Meanwhile, this Republican race has been a volatile one - with many conservatives hoping for "anyone but Mitt."

Several candidates have seen temporary jumps in popularity - from Rick Perry to Michele Bachmann and now maybe Herman Cain.

All the while other Republicans held out hope for a candidate like Chris Christie to run.

Here’s my question to you: In the Republican race for president, is Newt Gingrich the tortoise and Mitt Romney the hare?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Republicans
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