October 23rd, 2008
04:08 PM ET

John McCain should realize: it's the taxes, stupid

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Frank Luntz
Republican party pollster and communications consultant
Barack Obama will be the next President. For a pollster and message consultant to declare the outcome with 10 days to go is risky. But John McCain's campaign has shown no capability to capitalise on events, and the Obama campaign just doesn't make mistakes.

It didn't have to be this way. McCain could have stood up and said no to the $700 billion "taxpayer-funded Wall Street bail-out". McCain could have been a hero for the middle-class.

Sure, it's now called an "economic rescue plan" by the White House, but the Bush Administration's rebranding came too little and too late. He could have declared that "Main Street should not have to pay for the sins of Wall Street", that it's "time for the corporate con-men to do some time for costing us some dime".

That decision alone would have made him a hero to tens of millions of hard-working middle-class voters who resent seeing their tax dollars handed over to fund the retirement packages of the Billionaire Boys Club. But he didn't.

Read more

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 23rd, 2008
03:38 PM ET

Is a Muslim DVD influencing Swing States?

A DVD critics call anti-Muslim stirs up controversy in a key battleground state. Watch CNN's Deborah Feyerick's report.
A DVD critics call anti-Muslim stirs up controversy in a key battleground state. Watch CNN's Deborah Feyerick's report.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN Correspondent
with Senior Producer Sheila Steffen

On a Sunday morning just weeks before the presidential election, Priscilla Linsley opened up her local Denver newspaper to find a copy inside of the film Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West.

"I was shocked at the content...and horrified that this had been in my Sunday paper," said the 74-year-old Democrat who watched about half the video before tossing it in the trash.

Rima Barakat Sinclair who is both Republican and Muslim was so angry, she called her local Denver lawmakers. "It is riddled not only with misleading facts but outright fabrication," she says.

Last month, some 28 million Obsession DVD's, made by Israeli filmmaker Raphael Shore, were distributed as advertising-inserts in 70 papers primarily in critical swing states including Colorado, Florida, and Ohio.

All of it was paid for by the Clarion Fund, a non-profit group established by the Israeli filmmaker with the stated goal of exposing the threat of radical Islam. Clarion spokesman Gregory Ross says, "Our focus is to educate with our movies and raise awareness NOT influence elections." The Clarion Fund was created in 2006, the same year Obsession was first released.

However, Larry Sabato, a political observer and Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says it's naive to think such a video won't influence undecided voters: "It's pretty obvious that the group sponsoring it wants people to think more about terrorism, about national security, about Middle East politics and maybe less about the economy. Well, that obviously favors one side, the Republicans." And because a number of Americans still believe incorrectly that Barack Obama is a Muslim, political observers believe this DVD plays directly into that misperception.


Filed under: Islam • Raw Politics
October 23rd, 2008
03:04 PM ET

The new president — and the crisis that Joe Biden says is heading for him

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Clifford D. May
National Review Online Contributor

Joe Biden is taking a lot of heat for saying that, should his running mate become president, “it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy . . . we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

Politically, it probably wasn’t advisable for Biden to call attention to Obama’s youth and inexperience, and how those attributes may tempt America’s enemies to probe his responses to the kind of pressure no American political campaign provides. Practically, what Biden said does have the ring of truth.

And, to be fair, should John McCain become president, he too may be jabbed by dictators and demagogues eager to know if the United States remains a force to be reckoned with — or whether it’s become yesterday’s superpower.

Who is most likely to generate the kind of crisis Biden envisions? The mullahs who rule Iran have to be near the top of the list. “They hate us,” noted Reuel Gerecht, a former CIA operative, now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute — a Washington think tank that this week held a bipartisan forum titled “Beyond November: Terrorists, Rogue States, and Democracy.”


Filed under: Barack Obama • Joe Biden • Raw Politics
October 23rd, 2008
02:14 PM ET

Culprits of the Collapse – #2 Franklin Raines


So who is to blame for this financial fiasco?
That’s the question we’ve begun investigating.
We’ve put together a list of the Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse.
#2 on our list: former CEO of mortgage giant Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines. CNN's Tom Foreman reports.

October 23rd, 2008
01:03 PM ET

bin Laden hacked?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/art.horiz.joker.jpg caption="'Al-Ekhlass' A website where many of al Qaeda's jihadist messages are posted is offline, having been replaced with the domain joker.com."]

UPDATE FROM OCTAVIA: Thanks for the comments about the hacking vs. domain registration expiration. This is definitely a valid point. Our focus here is not to write a technical essay about hacking. It’s merely an attempt at showing how some people – we don’t know who – are fighting al Qaeda by attacking their websites. Al-Ekhlaas website has been down for months following years of operation. While today it redirects you to joker.com, tomorrow it might redirect you to another site. While we do not know who is hacking into the jihadi websites, there is no doubt they’re being hacked.

How do we know that?

On the jihadi sites that work, it is common practice to announce that “Site X has been downed by evil forces but we’re working on bringing it back up.” Or “Site Y was hacked but you can join us temporarily on this address.” To the dismay of the jihadist community and its supporters, the Al-Ekhlaas website has been downed/hacked/disabled – you choose the terminology that works for you. From the chatter about it, this doesn’t seem like this is a domain registration problem. Al-Ekhlaas has been on line uninterrupted for a long time. This is the first time it disappears abruptly and can’t get back on.

Octavia Nasr | BIO
CNN senior editor for Arab affairs

A hacking war is raging on Jihadi websites. Radical Islamist sites have been attacking and getting attacked for quite some time. The website hacking practice was common in 2001 and 2002... Following the 9/11 attacks when al Qaeda used only one website to communicate its messages to supporters and foes alike. That website was called alneda.com. It was getting constantly hacked... sometimes several hackings a day. After every hacking the site managed to resurface on the net until it disappeared from the scene in 2004 to be replaced by other websites - What started as one al Qaeda-linked site mushroomed into dozens which branched out into hundreds of supporting sites that serve as dissemination centers over the internet.

Two well-known al Qaeda-linked sites are Al-Hesbah and Al-Ekhlaas. Al-Hesbah is the oldest and requires a username and password to access it. Its membership was open to the public in 2004 but became restricted over the years. This site became known as the first venue for uploaded al Qaeda messages - from Osama bin Laden video messages to statements and claims of responsibilities for attacks carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq or even Europe. Al-Ekhlaas followed with a sleeker image, and more technical bells and whistles.

The hacking war works both ways.

Filed under: 360° Radar • al Qaeda • Octavia Nasr • Osama bin Laden • T1 • TV • War on Terror
October 23rd, 2008
12:20 PM ET

Let's skip the Election Day madness

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Richard Morris
CNN Associate Producer

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, right? Then why is voting still so difficult?

Let's just start with the timing: the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is arbitrary now. It started back when our economy was agrarian. The first week in November was good for farmers; they had finished harvesting their crops and winter's harsh weather hadn't hit. The vote was held on Tuesday because it took many farmers a day to get to the voting 'booths.' So rather than make them leave on the Sabbath, they left on Monday, cast their ballots on Tuesday and were back at work on Wednesday.

That made sense then, but why hasn't the system evolved as we have? Why do we still have such an arcane, bug-plagued voting system?

We pay our bills online. We place bets in the stock market online. The government lets you file your taxes online, but we still can't vote online.


Filed under: 2008 Election • Raw Politics • Richard Morris
October 23rd, 2008
12:08 PM ET

McCain's New Hampshire Dilemma

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Jennifer Donahue
NHIOP Political Director & Harvard IOP Fellow

FYI saw McCain in Manchester and he was so much better than in states he is less comfortable with. That said, low turnout, feeling of depression among Republicans about his prospects and GOP Sen. John Sununu's.

Ended speech on a high note with the "Fight, fight, fight for what we believe in" shout by McCain. Likely it will not go his way even in the state that knows him best.

btw he is not, as ABC reports, pulling out of NH. He is just pulling some cash out of a state he is already up in, and knows he can't buy it anyway.

If he wants to seal the deal in NH, he'd have to camp out here like he did in the primaries in 2000 and 2008, something he can't do in a General Election. And if he can't win NH, what other battleground states can he realistically do it in?

Filed under: Jennifer Donahue • Raw Politics
October 23rd, 2008
09:00 AM ET

If the car breaks down and the dealer is shut down, what next?

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Paul Varian
CNN Executive Producer, "The Row"

The national economic crisis has now hit home for me.

My 1999 Dodge Intrepid has been in the shop at the nearest Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership, newly opened within the last two years. I've had good service there but now I need a major engine overhaul and the chief mechanic was trying to get Chrysler to pick up the tab for the engine.

I've been driving a rental car for the past 12 days and had started to look for a new car. I decided to return the rental car today because I was afraid I was going to get stuck with that fee, which had just reached $400. I decided to swing by the dealership on the way to get an update on my Intrepid - and maybe pick up a loaner - but couldn't get in.

It was under padlock, shut down by court order. I'm assuming it's gone belly-up, just as a Chevrolet dealership chain in the Atlanta area had a few weeks ago. There was a name and phone number taped on the door for customers to call. I’ve called repeatedly but keep getting one of those recordings about all circuits being busy.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Paul Varian
October 23rd, 2008
08:35 AM ET

Feeling sorry for China?

Michael Schulder
CNN Executive Producer, "The Row"

My family tries hard to avoid “Made in China” for the same reasons a lot of American families do – especially made in China toys and food. Is there lead in the paint? Is there toxic filler in the feed? It’s hard to know for sure. But now the Chinese government has announced that country’s growth rate is down 2.5 percent from last year – down to 9 percent. I’m not sad yet. But now I'm seeing things in a different light.

You’re looking at Chinese workers besieging the gates of a large toy factory that’s been shut down. Hundreds of Chinese workers at this factory lost their jobs. One of the main reasons the factory shut down is that Americans are spending less on nearly everything, including Chinese toys. These Chinese workers didn’t just lose their jobs. The factory fed them in the factory cafeteria. The factory housed them in factory dormitory rooms. Now, many of them have no place to eat or sleep.

You could say this is China’s problem, not ours. But it’s sad to see. And in this globalized world, one country’s problem has a way of becoming everyone’s problem.

You can watch this piece from our chief China reporter John Vause to get more details on the story and meet a new type of Chinese citizen. He’s called the house slave.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • John Vause • Michael Schulder
October 23rd, 2008
08:32 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Get Up Offa That Thing

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Hello people!

12 days to go, and Barack Obama is busting out some moves. Even when grooving to James Brown he had a dig for his opponent, joking w/Ellen DeGeneres “I’m convinced I’m a better dancer than John McCain.” That sounds like a challenge to me. McCain should brush up on his moves and hit back. A good old-fashioned dance-off may be just what we need at this stage in the election.

Obama begins his day in Indiana. He holds an early rally and then jets off to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother, a woman he calls “the rock of the family”. He won’t be back on the trail until Saturday. We will have Suzanne Malveaux following him to Hawaii, but he’ll likely be out of sight though we can be sure Joe Biden and Michelle Obama will keep hammering home the Dem messages in his absence.

John McCain is in Florida today. This trail has been very crowded as the candidates vie for those hot 27 electoral votes. We saw Obama and Hillary there early in the week, and now McCain engages in his Joe the Plumber tour (Minus Joe), targeting those middle class voters. Florida, like many states around the country, has been hit hard by the economy and those retirees have seen their savings dwindle.

We can expect the candidates to go back and forth today on economic issues, particularly taxes. John McCain telling his supports that Obama wants to ‘spread the wealth’ and insisting he won’t raise taxes while Obama accusing McCain of giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, not Joe the Plumber but Joe the Hedge Fund Manager.

Our CNN Poll of Polls this morning shows Obama with a 50-43% advantage. Meanwhile, new CNN/ORC/Time battleground polls show McCain trailing in four states he must win: Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia. Obama yesterday told supporters in VA “I feel like we got a righteous wind at our back.” And McCain asked voters in New Hampshire for another comeback. In the state where he saved his primary campaign, he said “I know I can count on you. I’m asking you to come out one more time. Get out the vote…and we’ll win". Candy Crowley and Ed Henry will give us the latest tonight.

Sarah Palin is in Ohio today, and Joe Biden hits 3 key cities in North Carolina, the usually red state where Obama now holds a slight edge. Gary Tuchman will be on Biden’s trail today and give us the latest.

Asian markets slid over night, European markets were mixed, let’s see what happens on our side of the pond. Job reports and corporate earnings are all affecting the market cycle this week. Ali Velshi will help us make sense of it all tonight. And last but not least, our Most Wanted series continues. We won’t stop at 10, because there are more ‘names to be named’. I’ll let Anderson tell you the rest.

Have a great day and see you tonight!

Filed under: The Buzz
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