Mass killings like the Aurora and the Sikh temple are horrific, but more gun control isn't the answer, says John Andrews in the August round of Head On TV debates. No, objects Susan Barnes-Gelt, it's time to curb the NRA's excessive influence at every level of government. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over foreign policy in the presidential race, big money in politics, Denver's proposed TABOR override, and citizen oversight of the police. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for August:
1. GUN CONTROL AFTER AURORA
John: Another mass murder, this time at the theater in Aurora, has all of us grieving with the victims and looking for ways to prevent these horrific killings in the future. Better early detection of disturbed individuals is one answer. Banning various types of weapons is not. Colorado has enough gun control.
Susan: It’s disturbing. Though the University of Colorado psychiatrist who was treating the disturbed young man, reported her concerns to the appropriate university committee - they did nothing. Also disturbing - the ability to buy 6000-rounds of ammunition on the internet.
John: This monster – I refuse to say his name – could have taken just as many lives with a few hundred bullets or one bomb. Unenforceable gun bans are not the answer. When a bloodbath like Aurora or Gabby Giffords or the Sikh temple is politicized by liberals with an agenda, it’s doubly tragic.
Susan: Liberals with an agenda? Puleeeze! The NRA owns the United States Congress, every statehouse and city hall in the country – THAT’s political. Only New York Mayor Bloomberg has the courage to say what needs to be said: assault weapons and ammunition are weapons of war. Period. The end.
2. ROMNEY VS OBAMA ON FOREIGN POLICY
John: For most voters, the election is a choice between a president who gave us this lousy economy and a challenger who knows how to fix it. Advantage Romney. But it’s also a choice between the Democrats’ weak approach to Iran, Russia, and China, and the Republicans’ strong approach. Advantage Romney again.
Susan: Romney’s oafish behavior at the Olympics - classic CEO posturing - “my product is better than yours.” And Israel and Poland? Divisive pandering puts the best face on his missteps. Downright stupid may be the better characterization. He isn’t qualified to be commander in chief.
John: No presidential term since Carter has seen such an alarming increase in America’s weakness around the world and vulnerability to our enemies. People sense this, and it’s another reason why Romney will defeat Obama. The incumbent is soft on Iran and Russia, but unfriendly to Britain and Israel. That’s just backwards.
Susan: The cold war is over. The last thing our country needs is an inexperienced, pandering lightweight with no foreign policy experience. Blundering into another unwinnable conflict because an arrogant CEO is trigger happy – will ensure a permanent decline of America’s stature on the world stage.
3. INDEPENDENT MONITOR HIRED FOR DENVER POLICE
John: When most people think of the police, they think of brave public servants who protect us the bad guys. That’s true especially in the inner city for minorities and the poor. Cops aren’t a threat. So the independent monitor for Denver Police is unnecessary, and actually an obstacle to good law enforcement.
Susan: Your rosy description fits 95% of the DPD. Unfortunately, habitual abuse of the rogue 5% combined with lack of objectivity and transparency of the arcane internal review process, demands an independent monitor. Good law enforcement requires accountability - on both sides of the badge.
John: The bad apples are less than 1%, and there’s plenty of oversight to deal with those, without the independent monitor nonsense. Look at New York. Tough policing made the city safer for everyone. Race baiting may now undo all that. Let’s not take Denver down that path. Give the new chief a chance.
Susan: Chief White isn’t objecting to an independent monitor. He’s smart enough to recognize that the monitor legitimizes police actions in to a skeptical community. Good cops who play by the rules, understand this, too. Confidence in public officials depends on transparency.
4. PRES POLITICS: TOO MUCH MUD & MONEY?
Susan: The 2012 presidential campaign insults voters on both sides of the aisle. Neither candidate has told me what his vision for the next 4 years includes. $53-millon in dark money - Super PACS with no transparency - dominates the dialogue. Both campaigns are defined by gotcha soundbites. We deserve better.
John: We deserve better from our president than the negativity, divisiveness, and fear-mongering of Obama’s campaign. The truth of his failed policies is so damning that he has to change the subject by lying about Romney. The money being spent is not a big deal. The moral bankruptcy of this White House is.
Susan: I think there’s sufficient moral bankruptcy to go around. Republican Super PAC sugar daddy, Sheldon Adelson – who accompanied Romney to Israel, is accused of laundering millions in Mexican drug money. What’s Romney hiding in his tax returns? Now that’s moral bankruptcy.
John: Romney’s taxes? He absolutely paid them to the tune of $3 million a year, according to ABC News. Adelson’s casino business? What convenient timing for those allegations. This is just Democrats with the usual Chicago thuggery. But Americans aren’t fooled, Susan. Obama is finished.
5. TAX HIKE FOR DENVER?
Susan: Despite a weak economy and barely recovering real estate values, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock want to raise property taxes by removing the constraints of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights for sales and property tax. I’d support the city recovering $68-million to catch up, but not a forever blank check.
John: Voting on tax increases is one of our great advantages in Colorado compared to other states. The people of Denver should vote down Hancock’s revenue grab and tell him to try again on spending cuts. And for you, Susan, I have here a special Olympic medal as a Democrat who supports TABOR.
Susan: I decline the medal. I’m no TABOR fan. Rather my point is, Mayor Hancock has no business asking voters in this very tough economy for a permanent tax increase – with no sunset or accountability. He must identify cost savings, specify extra funds will be spent and sunset the measure to reevaluate.
John: When Hancock took office, I said on this program that Denver needed to become a job-creation magnet for the sake of Colorado’s economy and its own fiscal health. The mayor has not stepped up. But as far as TABOR, you are still my favorite Olympic non-medalist, right up there with Oscar the Blade Runner.