Wednesday, 18 January 2012 12:34 by Admin
Obama's goals and record will make a stark contrast with those of Mitt Romney or whoever the GOP nominates, says John Andrews in the January round of Head On TV debates. Hardly, scoffs Susan Barnes-Gelt: Romney's positions are vague and the overall Republican field is weak. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the upcoming legislative session. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for January:
1. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR - HERE GOES
Susan: The economy is beginning to recover and employment is finally going in the right direction. Obama will have a tough race this November, but so far – the Republican looks weak. If Romney is the strongest in a weak field, your party’s in trouble.
John: Romney believes in a bigger economy for all to share. Obama believes in a bigger government for all to support. Romney believes in a stronger America for the world to respect. Obama believes in a weaker America for the world to push around. It’s a very clear choice. Advantage Romney.
Susan: We don’t know what Romney believes in because – despite numerous debates – he’s failed to articulate a vision for America. Bashing the president and reciting America the Beautiful while he lies about the number of jobs he’s created and brags about firing people, is not going to win an election.
John: What you just heard, folks, is the whole Obama campaign. Throw mud, discredit the challenger. At all costs, distract the voters from the incumbent’s record of failure. It’s time again for the Reagan question: Are we better off than four years ago? We’re not, so we need a new president.
2. WHITHER THE NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW?
John: I’ve enjoyed the National Western Stock Show for over 50 years. My son and his son have enjoyed it. It’s a Colorado treasure and a Denver economic powerhouse. The Stock Show must go on, no matter what. If we can bid for the Winter Olympics, surely we can preserve the National Western.
Susan: Yes the stock show is a Denver institution. And that’s where it belongs – in Denver - central Denver. However, the 2-week event needs to become part of year-round job generating campus. 21st Century management and vision must refresh the 160 year-old institution.
John: Just so the whole thing is done with voluntary financial contributions and good old free enterprise. When you say “year-round job generating campus,” I hear boondoggles and subsidies, taxpayers on the hook and special interests at the trough. Horses and cows at the trough, fine. Special interests, no.
Susan: 95 acres in the middle of town, used less than 3 months a year – primarily for special events – is a boondoggle. The National Western notwithstanding – we’re not a cow town anymore. The site needs to generate jobs, revenue and enhanced property tax – no taxpayer bailout, buyout or bond.
3. DOES DENVER NEED AN INDEPENDENT POLICE MONITOR?
John: As the father of a police officer, I am not objective about law enforcement. It’s a good thing – hard work, dangerous work. The dedicated people who do it deserve the benefit of the doubt. Denver’s independent police monitor and oversight board are needlessly adversarial to law enforcement. Why have them at all?
Susan: A handful of rogue cops, an ineffective internal review process and a series of abusive conflicts mean citizens don’t trust the police department. That’s why Mayor Hancock took the unprecedented step of bringing in a police chief from outside the department. Accountability is key.
John: To protect public safety, we grant government a monopoly of force. To prevent tyranny and protect liberty, we have watchdogs to watch the watchers. It’s a balancing act. But the outgoing police monitor, Rosenthal, lost the balance. His call to bring in the feds, an Obama administration that’s anti-police, is wrong.
Susan: Agreed. The police dept doesn’t need a federal investigation. On the other hand, the department has been rogue since Paul Childs was murdered in 2003, I expect the new chief and manager will clean things up. But an independent monitor can give them cover and reassure the public.
4. PRIORITIES FOR LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Susan: It’s an election year for the state legislature, so we can anticipate a lot of posturing and empty rhetoric. However, Colorado faces big challenges - K-12 & higher ed funding; job creation, transportation, human services and infrastructure – to name a few.
John: Friction between, and within, the political parties makes that big agenda all the tougher this year, Susan. The top Senate Democrat, and two leading House Democrats, hope to take away GOP congressional seats. Hard feelings remain from the reapportionment battle. And bitter primaries may split the Republicans.
Susan: You’re right, John. A serious lack of leadership and vision plagues Colorado and the same lack of civility in the US Congress, is trickling down to state and local government. The unintended consequence of legislative term limits has created a revolving door for career politicians.
John: Take it from a senator who left because of term limits. The limit is a helpful safeguard against legislators settling in forever and getting captured by the system, at the expense of our liberties and our pocketbooks. If this legislature just concentrates on economic growth through free markets, I’m happy.
5. Lobato & the schools – now what?
Susan: In December a Denver judge determined Colorado’s school funding system was “irrational and inadequate.” The state Board of Ed and the governor are appealing. If the ruling holds, the cost to state taxpayers will be enormous. Though it’s tough to argue resources are adequate or equitable.
John: It’s called the Lobato case, and everyone watching better hope the Colorado Supreme Court overturns it. The ruling by Judge Sheila Rappaport points the state toward bankruptcy, and in pursuit of the impossible. Her idea of adequate school funding envisions every child above average. The constitution doesn’t require that.
Susan: The constitution requires fair and equitable. Of course you can’t legislate – or fund – equality. However, crumbling schoolhouses, insufficient digital equipment, furniture and books impact low-income districts and schools. Well-to-do districts and schools raise money from parents. Schools serving low income kids don’t have that option.
John: All the constitution requires is, quote, “thorough and uniform.” By no stretch does that justify the $3 billion budgetary hit demanded by teacher unions and rubber-stamped by the judge. America has doubled real dollars per pupil in government schools since 1970 with no gain in test scores. More spending is not the answer.
Fantasy presidential nominations for Ross Perot, Olympia Snowe, and John Hickenlooper, along with bouquets for Douglas County school vouchers and brickbats for the Denver police, enliven the air waves this month as Head On completes its 15th year on Colorado Public Television. John Andrews on the right and Susan Barnes-Gelt on the left offer their annual backward glance at winners and sinners of the old year and gaze into a cracked crystal ball for headlines of the year to come. This month John and Susan also spar over Hickenlooper's report card, Obama's chances in 2012, and fracking. Here are all five scripts for December:
1. WINNERS & SINNERS OF 2011
John: Thanks so much for listening as Head On completes 15 years on Colorado Public Television. It’s time again for Colorado winners and sinners of the old year. Thumbs up for Douglas County vouchers, the Pat Sullivan arrest, and the amazing Tim Tebow. Thumbs down for Aurora corporate welfare and the redistricting mess.
Susan: Thumbs down to Curt Fentress’s faux federalist, new state courthouse at 14th and Lincoln; the clueless National Western Stock Show and the Regional Transportation District’s breathtaking incompetence. Thumbs up to the new Clyfford Still Museum, David Tryba’s Colorado History Museum, and Denver’s new Crime Lab at 14th and Cherokee.
John: So, a crime lab connoisseur, are we? More of my winners and sinners include thumbs up Scott Gessler and Walker Stapleton, shaking up state government, and for the taxed-out voters who crushed Proposition 103. Thumbs down for the power-grabbing judge who ordered billions more in state aid to education.
Susan: Sinners: Text messaging Denver cops; Scott Gessler - a partisan political hack, not a statewide elected official accountable to every voter; Wall Street bankers who hedge against their clients; Winners: Coloradans. All of us are lucky to live in a state replete with natural beauty, a gentle climate and Colorado Public Television 12.
2. FEARLESS PREDICTIONS FOR 2012
John: Goodbye, 2011. Hello, Susan and John’s fearless predictions for 2012. Put on your crash helmet, Barnes-Gelt. This is gonna be a wild one. The stock show moves to Limon, out where the cattle are. Occupy Denver moves to Glenwood Springs for a bath. A deadlocked Republican convention drafts Hickenlooper.
Susan: U.S. Senators and Congressionals are permanently attached to lie detector machines; the occupy movement and tea partiers form a successful third party and nominate Ross Perot; text messaging goes the way of the phone booth; the Catholic Church ordains women and pigs fly!
John: Air traffic controllers land those pigs – which is called bringing home the bacon – as Facebook buys the US Postal Service, Diana DeGette leaves Congress to replace Whoopi Goldberg on The View, and Donald Trump’s hair is enshrined at the Smithsonian. What a year we have ahead!
Susan: Repub’s nominate Olympia Snowe for president; Colorado voters abolish Amendment 23, TABOR & the Gallagher amendment; Washington DC reverts to a swamp and Denver becomes the U.S. capitol. My button bracelets become the decade’s fashion rage and each and every one of you have a happy and healthy 2012!
3. ELECTION YEAR ALMOST HERE
John: Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, politically written off last summer, was on the comeback trail as 2011 ended. But Iowa and New Hampshire will have their say as 2012 begins, and Romney or some other Republican could jump ahead again. The ultimate comeback would be an Obama victory in November. Never underestimate the incumbent.
Susan: Mitt, Newt, Newt, Mitt, Newt Mitt – hmmmmmmm. When petulant professor, 1990’s whiner Newt is the flavor of the month for the Republican – not-Mitt posse – cast about for a viable alternative to Hope & Change. I’m betting on a third party candidate – Ron Paul? Trump? What a circus!
John: Barack Obama will go down as one of the worst presidents in history, and he’ll lose next fall. Economic futility and foreign policy weakness disqualify him for a second term. Perry, Santorum, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich, or Huntsman could all do better. Not party, not ideology, but simple competence will decide this one.
Susan: Competence: Huntsman’s the only competent choice and he won’t get there. Perry doesn’t know there are 9 members of the Supreme Court? Repubs who served with Gingrich say he’s unpredictable and mercurial; Romney – which one? The moderate, the conservative? The hedge fund bandit? The liberal governor of Massachusetts? Flop! Flip!
4. FRACKING SPURS ENERGY BOOM, BUT IS IT SAFE?
Susan: To frack or not to frack? Hydraulic fracking, the trendy new oil & gas production technique used in Colorado and other mountain states has been linked to groundwater pollution. Fracking pumps fluid into wells under pressure, fracturing rock and releasing oil and gas. OOOPS – here we go again.
John: One country on earth, America, impairs prosperity, quality of life, and national security by denying its people the full benefit of their own energy resources. Reason enough right there to fire Obama and the Democratic Senate in 2012. The phony panic over fracking is a green hoax as bad as global warming.
Susan: John, you’re too smart to ignore science. It’s not just the greens who worry about damage to the environment. Maybe you don’t care if your water is tainted by fracking or the air you breath full of particulates. Reality doesn’t go away because you chose to ignore it!
John: Hydraulic fracturing to release oil and gas reserves on a Saudi Arabian scale is producing tremendous benefits to Colorado, a dozen other states, and our whole country in terms of jobs, wealth, energy independence. More benefits await. Fracking only occurs with tight environmental safeguards. Don’t let Chicken Little shut it down.
5. HICKENLOOPER REPORT CARD
Susan: One year into his first term, John Teflon Hickenlooper continues to be popular. His aw shucks, a-partisan, can’t we all just get along approach to governing is particularly refreshing compared to the venal and mean-spirited personalities of most partisan-pols. His approach is good for Colorado.
John: A flat economy isn’t good for Colorado. Neither are mediocre schools and crowded prisons. Voters didn’t hire Gov. Hickenlooper to be the likable feller in a Western movie, the sequel to City Slickers. They hired him to be the chief executive of our state, and so far he’s done zilch.
Susan: I wish that Governor John Hickenlooper could wave his magic wand: create jobs, fix the schools and overhaul the prisons. Sadly – neither he nor any other elected official has that power. A healthy economy, great schools and a rational penal system depend on rational people negotiating rational decisions.
John: No question Hick is probably a great guy to have a beer with. He could brew the beer for you. But that was two jobs ago. After a year in his current job as Colorado CEO, the ambitious Hickenlooper has no accomplishments or vision to point to. That’s a C in my gradebook.
The Occupy movement is a childish tantrum that is taking on Brownshirt overtones, says John Andrews in the November round of Head On TV debates. Wrong, replies Susan Barnes-Gelt: it's an authentic protest widely echoing that famous movie line, "Mad as hell." John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the off-year election results, the presidential race, and the decline of newspapers. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for November:
1. THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT
Susan: In Paddy Chayefsky’s movie, Network, Peter Finch’s character yells, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” galvanizing the nation. That’s the Occupy Movement, a diverse group fed up with the narcissism and double-speak of the status quo. Elites ignore this message at their own risk.
John: America offers more freedom, more opportunity, more generosity, more openness, more participation, more creativity, more tolerance, and more upward mobility than any other nation on earth, and it offers those things to everyone, excluding no one. The Occupy protesters aren’t making a political statement, they’re throwing a childish tantrum.
Susan: The Constitutional government of the United States includes lofty principles and practices. On the other hand, when a handful of influence peddlers, plutocrats and special interests combine with mean-spirited, jingoistic extremists to create public policy, the people should speak out and leadership better listen.
John: The extremists in this picture are not our democratically-elected policymakers. They are the radical leftists and street thugs of Occupy Wall Street and all its copycats. This growing menace is similar to the Brownshirts who destabilized Germany in the early ‘30s, and equally purposeful. ACORN organized it to help Obama.
2. ON & ON IN RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE
John: In starting the presidential campaign way, way early, Republicans are bleeding their finances and bruising each other in a way that can only delight the Democrats. At least the eventual nominee will be battle-hardened -- and our side is going to need that, because Obama will have to go negative to win.
Susan: Battle hardened is one way to assess the current melee among Repub’s. I’d say the nominee will be in intensive care, on life support. $20+Mil in flip/flop ads against Romney will deplete his oxygen. And the rest of the field? Even IV miracle infusions won’t work.
John: After such a four disappointing years, Obama can’t run again on hope and change. His only chance this time is fear and loathing. Democrats will try to scare us away from Republican policies and disgust us with dirt on the GOP nominee. 2012 will be ugly, but I predict Barack is done.
Susan: Nothing can’t beat an incumbent. The only Republican with a shot at beating Obama is John Huntsman. He’s a smart, reasonable and moderate guy. Good for Dems that your party is lost in la la land, and will nominate a wing nut or flip flopper instead.
3. DOES NEWSPAPERS’ DECLINE DAMAGE DEMOCRACY?
John: Thomas Jefferson said a free society could get along better without government than without newspapers. The lifeblood of liberty is open debate, unfettered information, not politicians and laws and spending. These days the latter are madly increasing while newspapers are dying. Can democratic institutions survive in a Facebook nation?
Susan: A more pointed question is whether local and state government will survive without quality local coverage? Daily oversight of city halls, school boards and the state capitol are critical to public awareness. Spin machines and biased blogs have picked up where journalism’s failed. That’s a problem.
John: The Rocky is gone and the Denver Post gets thinner all the time. CU closed its journalism school. Commercial TV does some hard reporting, but a lot of frothy infotainment. Public channels like CPT provide good analysis but little firsthand coverage. What becomes of the media’s watchdog function to restrain government?
Susan: Sadly the local daily newspaper is going the way of the pay phone. Until the industry figures out how to attract and monetize the web, every interest from greedy corporations, K-Street lobbyists and corrupt elected’s will further inflame public distrust.
4. WHAT VOTERS SAID ON TAXES
Susan: With the exception of a couple local open space and public amenity approvals, tax proposals tanked this November. Even liberal Denver said NO! to statewide proposal to fund public education. Voters don’t trust government and won’t pay higher taxes unless they’re 100% sure the money is well spent. BIG trouble ahead for the Regional Transportation District.
John: Thank goodness for TABOR with its requirement for the spending lobby to ask permission before digging deeper into our pockets. So many families with paychecks gone or shrinking in this endless Obama recession are not about to approve a price increase from government. Raise taxes next year for light rail? No way.
Susan: RTD will need a complete overhaul – from senior management on down and out. Voters might support a transit initiative if they believed RTD’s board, leadership and consultants were credible. Taxpayers have lost faith in their institutions. Political and civic leaders better pay attention.
John: Voters sent a message that the political class in Denver and Washington should pay attention to. “Do it for the children,” a tax-increase pitch that seldom fails, fell flat. In defeating Prop 103 by almost 2 to 1, Coloradans told the legislature and Congress, “It’s the spending, stupid.”
5. WHAT VOTERS SAID ON SCHOOL BOARDS
Susan: In Denver, only school board incumbent Arturo Jiminez eked out a win over a slate of three reform candidates. Backed by big dollars from a few individuals, the election was more heat than light. Replacing Teresa Peña with Happy Haynes is a trade up and a new board chair could hold promise.
John: Teachers are great, but teacher unions are a negative force, and voters are realizing that. The union in Denver failed to recall Nate Easley earlier and now failed to take over the school board. In Douglas County they lost a referendum on vouchers. Only in Jeffco did the union diehards prevail.
Susan: Ah that it were so simple. Fixing public ed will take more than demonizing unions and deifying vouchers. Accountability from top to bottom is part of the answer. Longer school years and days, better-trained teachers, engaged families and improved instructional materials are important too.
John: Eighty percent of the people tell pollsters America is in decline. One symptom is the generation-long slump in learning performance while dollars per student were doubling. Selfish unions, distant bureaucrats, and leftist ideology have ruined our public schools. If you want proof, see the documentary film, “Waiting for Superman.”
Thursday, 13 October 2011 15:38 by Admin
Obama's class warfare theme, learned from Alinsky and abetted by the Occupy Wall Street movement, won't save him in 2012, says John Andrews in the October round of Head On TV debates. Don't underestimate its Main Street appeal, replies Susan Barnes-Gelt. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over No Child Left Behind, the GOP presidential contenders, the PERA pension fund, and Aurora's lavish land development subsidies. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997, with sponsorship by Centennial Institute since 2009. Here are all five scripts for October:
1. DESPERATE OBAMA TURNS TO CLASS WARFARE
John: Barack Obama learned his lesson well from radical agitator Saul Alinsky. If you’re losing an argument, change the subject, target a convenient enemy, and go on the attack. His economic mess and failed flirtation with socialism spell certain defeat in 2012. The solution? You guessed it – vicious class warfare.
Susan: “Occupy Wall Street’ is catching fire across the country. People of all ages, political persuasions and backgrounds are demonstrating against myopic greed and corruption. Obama’s populist rhetoric is a lot more resonant with the concerns of Main Street than the vapid rhetoric of the status quo.
John: Envy, resentment, divisiveness, scapegoating, and victim politics, all used as a smokescreen for the failures of Obama and his Democrats, won’t work, Susan. This poisonous stuff isn’t the American way. It demeans the Presidency. Obama should be ashamed. The Tea Party patriots, not the Occupier socialists, will win in 2012.
Susan: Oh please – you sound like a plutocrat. The tea partiers and the occupiers have more in common than you acknowledge: utter frustration with a corrupt system controlled by special interests and lobbyists. No transparency, no commitment to the future –education, vital infrastructure. Chaos reigns while the establishment dozes.
2. LATEST ON PRESIDENTIAL RACE
John: I love our American system of self-government. Incompetence can’t hide, and the people can’t be denied. Voters get a chance to clean house. Obama’s utter failure gives Republicans an opening. Palin and Christie stood aside. Cain and Perry are interesting but not dominant. The next president could be Mitt Romney.
Susan: You assume that Mitt – for universal health care; against universal health care; for Roe v. Wade; against choice; ant-school voucher; pro voucher Romney. Will the real Mitt please stand up? The value voters control the primaries and once they find him, maybe they’ll buy his multiple choice approach.
John: Forecasting the presidential race 7 days ahead, let alone 7 months when the Republican nominee emerges, is like forecasting Colorado weather. Good luck. But the awful economy, along with Obama’s weak leadership, makes any Republican formidable. Romney, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Bachmann – I’ll take any of them over Obama.
Susan: And don’t forget Pallin, Paul and Huntsman. Oops – not Huntsman, the sole Republican contender who is reasonable, experienced and moderate – just like most of the country. No wonder the guy who might be electable is in single digits with the Republican base. Obama – 4 more years!
3. TREASURER SUES PERA
John: It seems like shaky pension plans are everywhere you look. The exception is pensions that aren’t. Unwise decisions and the recession are to blame. It’s not purposeful. But Colorado pension officials should cooperate with State Treasurer Walker Stapleton for a solution. I hope he wins his lawsuit for key information.
Susan: Amazing – you and I agree on this one. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has every right to ask for all the information he needs to assess the health of the state pension fund. PERA’s forecasts are hopelessly optimistic. Colorado public employees and taxpayers will pay the bill for insolvency.
John: State employees not only get a sweet deal on their retirement, they also have ironclad job security and a much less competitive work environment than Joe and Jane Lunchpail out in the real economy. No wonder the PERA board is obsessed with secrecy. Government workers are soaking the taxpayers.
Susan: Don’t try to lump the PERA board and their secrecy in with hard working public employees. Unfortunately, more than a decade ago when fools believed a hot economy would never cool, reckless decisions inflated benefits and softened restrictions. Treasurer Stapleton must continue his scrutiny.
4. GAYLORD PUBLIC SUBSIDY
Susan: The $300+ million public subsidy to Tennessee-based Gaylord Entertainment from Aurora, to build a private convention center in is the richest in the history of Colorado. What’s the public purpose in a 1500-room private hotel/conference center? Tennessee-based Gaylord’s private facility should be built on their dime – not mine!
John: Amen, Susan. The massive giveaway to Gaylord is not responsible government, it’s crony capitalism – as bad as anything Obama did for GE or Solyndra. Thank goodness for elections. Aurora voters can cancel this obscenity by electing Jude Sandvall as mayor. The other candidates, unfortunately including Republicans, all support it.
Susan: Not one resident showed up at the public hearing September 26, when the city council unanimously approved this fat giveaway. Whoever Jude Sandvall is, he’s completely MIA in the debate. Shame on the citizens of Aurora for allowing Ed Tauer and his colleagues to make a deal behind closed doors.
John: You can call the Gaylord subsidy crony capitalism or corporate statism. It smells bad either way. Hard-working Aurora taxpayers don’t belong in the hotel business. Government at every level, federal, state, and local, is way out of bounds. I wrote the book “Responsibility Reborn” to rally Americans against this madness.
5. NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
Susan: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, attempted to standardize public K-12 curriculum and force accountability. A decade later, this well-intentioned effort hasn’t demonstrated results – annual improvement in reading and critical thinking. The law needs reform. More and more states try to opt out of the program.
John: No Child Left Behind was one of the worst things that Bush and the Republican Congress ever did. Their first mistake was forgetting that schools are a state responsibility, none of Washington’s business. Their next mistake was letting Ted Kennedy write the bill. Waivers aren’t enough. Let’s repeal the whole thing.
Susan: Well John, you’re half right. NCLB must be repealed and recrafted. And yes, public education is a state mandate. On the other hand – every student from Maine to Mississippi from Oregon to Iowa, to must meet basic standards if America is going to compete in the ever-shrinking global economy.
John: Those basic standards in No Child Left Behind aren’t being met, which is why educators in Colorado are now trying to move the goalposts to legitimize mediocrity. The next president should abolish the Department of Education, take on the teacher unions, and push for educational excellence through the free market.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 17:04 by Admin
Public education is in dire straits in Colorado, and good options are lacking in this fall's school board races, laments Susan Barnes-Gelt in the September round of Head On TV debates. Not at all, replies John Andrews; it's just a matter of citizens standing up to teacher unions for a change. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Gov. Hickenlooper's 2016 trial balloon, Proposition 103 to raise Colorado taxes, the GOP presidential contenders, and Denver's lucrative cowtown image. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for September:
1. SCHOOL BOARD RACES
Susan: Our K-12 public education system is broken and needs a massive governance overhaul. Colorado school districts including Aurora and Cherry Creek can’t even field candidates. Others – like Denver and Douglas County – are engaged in ideological warfare – the unions versus the reformers. Time for change.
John: Citizens across Colorado – probably including YOU, watching us right now – will soon get mail-in ballots to elect a neighbor to the local school board. Please, please, get informed and get involved. Teachers are great, but teacher unions tend to put money ahead of kids. Bad show. The reformers deserve your vote.
Susan: What happens when there are NO good choices? Choosing the lesser of two bad options is hardly a vote for progress. Neither the reformers nor the traditionalists have a corner on truth. The system is broken and needs to be overhauled. Well intended citizen volunteers are ill-equipped to manage complexity.
John: Susan, Susan, get a grip. Public education isn’t hopeless, it just needs better leadership – and the school board races offer lots of good choices to provide that. But if the teacher unions keep electing their pawns, learning performance will never improve. Citizens have to step up.
2. HICKENLOOPER FOR PRESIDENT?
John: Being Mayor of Denver must mess with your ego. Hancock was barely sworn in, and he launched a national celebrity PR campaign. Hickenlooper was barely sworn out, and he launched a whispering campaign for president. What a joke. His accomplishments as governor so far are zip, zero, zilch, nada. Cool it, Hick.
Susan: America loves quirky and Hick is quirk personified! Washington is so dysfunctional – on both sides of the aisle - that Hick’s aw shucks may have traction. As for accomplishments: Pailn? Bachman? Perry? Newt? Hmmmm – not sure qualifications count for much.
John: I know you have to defend your side, but I also know you think John Hickenlooper was a mediocre mayor. Now he’s a mediocre governor. What equips him for the White House? Does Obama run him for VP next year – the Hick Ticket? Then is he in line for next time – Hick Sixteen?
Susan; Hick was a mediocre Mayor because he’s not comfortable taking strong, controversial positions. His aversion to exercising power made him popular but ineffective. He is far more potent as a consensus driven bully puppeteer in the polarized world of partisan politics. Hick in 2016!
3. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL FIELD NARROWS
Susan: The first Republican presidential primary debate suggests the field is down to two candidates: Texas Governor Rick Perry and hedge fund tycoon Mitt Romney. Though it’s way too early to predicts, if angry tea partiers control the primaries, it looks like Perry will prevail.
John: Not so fast. In September 2007, Republican polls showed Giuliani and Thompson far ahead, McCain far behind. Didn’t work out that way. The GOP nomination to replace Obama in 2012 won’t be settled for six months at least. Bachmann and Palin are still in it. And the economy makes Obama so vulnerable.
Susan: Dream on teenage queen. Short of Jeb Bush getting into the mix, the R’s will nominate Romney. Even the heavy tea drinkers suspect Perry’s stand on Social Security. Romney, the chameleon, will lose. Unless Michael Bloomberg runs as an independent.
John: The Bloomberg who botched the 9/11 commemoration is not headed for the White House. Neither is anyone named Bush, heaven help us. But no one named Obama is likely to live there after January 2013 either. This president has made everything worse – the economy, the deficit, our national security. Obama has to go.
4. STATE BUDGET – TAX OR DROWN
Susan: DU’s Center for Colorado’s Economic Future predicts that structural flaws in the state government combined with two recessions, mean the long-term fiscal stability of state government’s at stake. I know you think government ought to drown in a bathtub – but a bi-partisan group of leaders disagree.
John: Governments at every level are in danger of drowning themselves in debt. Colorado is no exception, and just like the federal government in Washington, our state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Raising taxes right now would hurt job creation and postpone needed reforms. Vote no on Proposition 103!
Susan: We’re drowning alright – in our own excesses – waging two wars while we cut taxes, failing to keep up with China in infrastructure and educational investments, coddling Wall Street while we ignore Main Street. The deficit is mounting – leadership, vision, courage and vision.
John: As a free and open society with Judeo-Christian roots, I like our chances against communistic China, decadent Europe, or barbaric Islam. But we do have a responsibility deficit, and the result could be fiscal collapse. Feeding the beast with more taxes is not the answer. Vote no on 103!
5. STOCK SHOW TO AURORA?
John: Who will win the Stock Show tug of war between Denver and Aurora? Ranchers, farmers, and rural Americans everywhere must be laughing at the sight of politically correct, environmentally superior big-city folks scrambling after the National Western pot of gold. I guess being a cowtown is no embarrassment after all.
Susan: The Stock Show adds nearly $100 million to Denver’s general fund, and millions more to the coffers of downtown businesses, hotels, restaurants, bars and retailers. Meantime the National Western spends $1 million plus lobbying to move, rather than maintain its facilities. Bad judgment I’d say.
John: Mayor Hancock understandably hates to lose that revenue, hence his fight to keep it – so far consisting of one more committee. Woo hoo. But the bigger question for Hancock is the one I asked during his transition – can he streamline taxes and regulations to make Denver a magnet for economic growth?
Susan: Denver taxes are among the lowest in the region because the City has more commercial property and sales tax receipts than other jurisdictions. The development of the Gaylord Hotel with a $300+ million subsidy is a much greater threat to downtown’s economy than an already streamlined regulatory system.
Coloradans had better brace to fend off the same bad idea as President Obama wants to impose nationally: higher taxes, warns John Andrews in the August round of Head On TV debates. No, replies Susan Barnes-Gelt, the idea is a good one and indeed doesn't go far enough. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the Tea Party, the Obama record, debt and deficit issues, and the Denver mayor's wobbly start. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997, with sponsorship by the Centennial Institute since 2009. Here are all five scripts for August:
1. TAX INCREASE HEADS FOR 2011 BALLOT
John: Hang onto your wallets, Colorado. The same liberal Democrats who want Congress to raise federal taxes are coming at us this fall with a sneaky ballot issue to raise state taxes. A tax hike in this economy? No way. In Denver as in DC, the problem isn’t revenues, it’s spending.
Susan: Rollie Heath’s tax increase to fund K-12 and Higher ed is a good idea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go far enough. Rather it solves funding problems in the short term, but not the long. It’s a band aid when a transplant is needed.
John: Fortunately TABOR makes politicians ask permission before taking our money in the belief they can spend it better than we can. Voters aren’t likely to give permission at a time when so many are out of work and businesses are hesitant to hire because we have too much government already.
Susan: We agree on the conclusion – Heath’s initiative is the wrong answer at the wrong time – but we’re far from agreement on the reasons Businesses are afraid to hire because government has failed to invest in infrastructure, education and people. Colorado’s budget needs a comprehensive restructuring. Until then – no more band aids.
2. TEA PARTY – HEROES OR VILLAINS?
John: At a scary time in our history, the best thing America has going for us is the Tea Party. Thank goodness for this grassroots movement of fed-up taxpayers finally demanding some fiscal responsibility from the Washington politicians. Biden calls them terrorists. McCain calls them hobbits. I call them heroes.
Susan: Zero tolerance for diversity, for critical thinking, for investing in education, infrastructure or people – that’s the tea partiers. IF they have so much disdain for government, why don’t they get real jobs – earn an honest living, pay taxes, social security and health care?
John: Like the patriots of 1773 who stood against King and Parliament, the Tea Party of today is an uprising of self-reliant citizens standing against Democrats and Republicans to take this country back. In smearing them, you discredit yourself. If we do avoid fiscal collapse, we’ve have the Tea Party to thank.
Susan: Pul EASE John! The Tea Party has been effective in persuading otherwise rational leaders that lack of investment in America, in jobs and people and not raising taxes for 1% of zillionaires is nuts. Debt is not the problem – Fear and ignorance are.
3. IS OBAMA A FAILED PRESIDENT?
John: Can it be only three years ago that Barack Obama was hailed as the second coming at the DNC in Denver? It seems three eons. The magic man who was going to heal the planet has turned out to be the worst president since Jimmy Carter. 2012 can’t come soon enough.
Susan: President Obama has presided over the toughest economy since the Great Depression. Yes, he owns it now. But the debt, deregulation and tax scams he inherited from George W Bush and the Republican Congress share the blame. After all, they inherited a surplus from Bill Clinton in 2000.
John: Lame excuses from the previous decade won’t help Obama win a second term. His weird idea of “leading from behind” is what most Americans consider not leading at all. Liberals are alienated and conservatives are motivated. The independent voters who elected him last time have had it. Bye bye, Barack.
Susan: Compared to whom? Mitt ‘ of course corporations are people’ Romney? Michelle ‘Jimmy Carter & Barack Obama were responsible for the swine flu” Bachmann? Rick ‘super pac riddled with conflicts, yet to be vetted’ Perry? I’m with the Let’s have a better tomorrow, tomorrow crowd. Obama wins.
4. HANCOCK’S FIRST WEEKS
Susan: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has had a tough first weeks. Press honcho announced he’s focused on national press; Hizzoner’s backtracked on his stock show position – though he hasn’t articulated one.. And his mayoral staff? Inexperienced, overpaid and naïve. It can only get better . . .
John: Looking toward downtown from my home in Arapahoe County or my office in Jeffco, it seems the Mayor of Denver doesn’t have the stature the metro area is used to. Hickenlooper stood tall. Likewise Webb and Pena, agree with them or not, were leaders. But Michael Hancock? Not yet.
Susan: It didn’t help that the campaign was defined by negative attacks and the politics of personality. Hancock wins on narrative and charisma but his failure to articulate detailed plans and a coherent vision is a problem. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.
John: You should have listened to me, Susan. I said Bill Vidal should run. I said you should run. Or you should be Hancock’s chief of staff. Or Democrats and Republicans should fight it out for mayor so voters have a choice. Denver will survive this, though. It’ll be fine.
5. DEFICIT BATTLE
Susan: The problem is not the deficit. It’s a failure to invest in America – roads, bridges, highspeed rail, transit, education. With the jobless rate upwards of 10-percent, the country needs investment. Put people back to work and generate revenue and progress. DC’s luddite view panders to the lowest common denominator.
John: Bush tried a big stimulus and it failed. Obama tried a huge stimulus and it failed. Now you want more stimulus? Absolutely not. The deficit is our problem. Red ink in the trillions, a national debt bigger than the GDP, America’s credit rating downgraded. We need spending cuts and entitlement reforms.
Susan: Yeah and a double-digit unemployment rate, combined with a policy of not closing loopholes, addressing uncontrolled entitlements and refusing to tax the mega rich is certainly the road to a sustainable future. DC is pushing the problem down to states and cities. That’s a recipe for failure.
John: Recipe for failure is exactly what Obama is cooking up, Susan. The high unemployment is his doing. The refusal to reform entitlements is his doing. Tax increases won’t fix either of those. What we need is responsible citizens and responsible leaders. I actually wrote a book about it – Responsibility Reborn.
Conflicts of interest may discredit Colorado's newly formed health insurance exchange, worries Susan Barnes-Gelt in the July round of Head On TV debates. Look closer and you'll see the exchange concept itself is pure corporate statism, replies John Andrews, adding this is one more reason Obamacare must go. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the 2012 presidential outlook, the Stock Show's move to Aurora, Mayor Hancock's early moves, and the Denver Police Department. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for July:
1. HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE QUESTIONED
John: Obamacare requires every state to create a new bureaucratic monster called the health insurance exchange. Colorado House Republicans went along when they should have told the Feds to get lost. Now we learn the board of the exchange is big business in bed with big government, pure corporate statism. That helps no one.
Susan: Seems like policymakers all ‘round – the elected’s who appoint and the industry and business people appointed – need a tutorial on conflict of interest. Hickenlooper’s appointments to the Health Insurance Exchange Board are awful. The fox isn’t just guarding the hen house - he’s living in the master suite.
John: Susan, it’s worse than that. The health insurance exchange is a conflict of interest by definition. The board appointments by legislative leaders and the governor were all quite legal. But the exchange law itself rigs the marketplace and harms consumers. Massachusetts could warn us. Obamacare is fatally flawed. Out with it!
Susan: Massachusetts’s residents love their health care system – Mitt Romney got something right as governor. The current, unregulated system benefits health insurance companies – currently enjoying record profits. The current system works for insurance execs and shareholders. Hick needs to revisit his appointments.
2. PRESIDENTIAL RACE HEATS UP
Susan: The 2012 Presidential race is on. The R’s have a fundamental problem – finding a candidate who appeals to the drown-government-in-a-bathtub contingent, dominating the primary process and nominating someone who can appeal to moderates and independents in November. Despite the tough economy, I’m betting on Obama.
John: Your take on 2012 is backwards. The only drowning to we face is a rising tide of unemployment and foreclosures, with Uncle Sam awash in red ink and Barack Obama in over his head. Good luck on that reelection. Republican challengers Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty could all beat this president.
Susan: The majority of voters want solutions – not partisan bickering and negative attacks. Ronald Reagan beat incumbent Jimmy Carter because he had a positive message and uplifting vision. The current R frontrunners are negative, small minded dividers. Huntsman is the only viable option and he can’t win the nomination.
John: Obama has made the economy worse. He has made the deficit worse. His policies will worsen health care and worsen national security. He just can’t lead. Maybe one of his fellow Democrats will take him down next year. One of the strong Republicans, Gov. Romney, Gov. Perry, Gov. Pawlenty, Congressman Bachmann, definitely will.
3. STOCK SHOW MAY LEAVE DENVER
John: My first time at the National Western was 50 years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. For a lot of us, the Stock Show is Denver. But money talks, and now Aurora is talking loudest. It’s a tough test for in a down economy for Michael Hancock as Denver’s new mayor.
Susan: The National Western is the only urban stock show in the country. It needs 3 times the acreage it has. The issue is not will they move, but who pays? Denver should not pay for the stock show to Aurora unless we retain the revenue.
John: The larger issue is how the people’s hard-earned tax dollars should be used and where the coercive power of government should be allowed to reach. Massive subsidies to private businesses are on the table here, driven by the Gaylord fat cats. Aurora’s election for mayor may become a referendum on the deal.
Susan: There are no winners when politics trumps policy. The issue ought to be what’s best for the region and the stock show. Balkanized local government pits city against city – to neither’s benefit. There’s a win-win is this challenge. But I’m not sure rational thinking will prevail.
4. HANCOCK’S EARLY MOVES
Susan: Denver’s new mayor – Michael Hancock - has his hands full. A tough budget, belligerent police leadership and the threatened stock show exit. The weak economy and bloated transition process has made identifying the right appointees challenging. Janice Sinden, his first-rate chief of staff is a good start.
John: I like it that Mayor Hancock is not a showboat. The guy seems sensible, steady, and real. I like it that he appointed Sinden, a business-minded Republican. I liked his gutsy, decent campaign style. He didn’t pander to unions or hide his religious faith. Now we’ll see how he governs.
Susan: The quality of his appointments will reveal a lot. He needs to bring in smart people with fresh perspectives, not the usual retreads and campaign payoffs. He’s got to replace tired leadership at the urban renewal authority and other policy commissions if he wants to be effective.
John: Lots of people watching this don’t live in Denver. But wherever you live in Colorado, you’d like to hope that Denver is a city on the rise, not on the decline. The keys to that are dynamic free enterprise, excellent schools, and a proud civic spirit. That should be the Hancock agenda.
5. POLICE DISCIPLINE QUESTIONED
Susan: The majority of Denver cops are great. But one out of 17 have discipline problems serious enough to question their veracity in court. Combined with the costly rash of excessive force cases – the DPD needs systemic overhaul. A chief – new to the department is a start.
John: The whole reason for government is to see that streets are safe, neighborhoods are peaceful, citizens are secure in their persons and property. Law enforcement is tough, thankless work. The men and women who do it deserve our gratitude and the benefit of the doubt. I hope the new mayor knows that.
Susan: Public safety is the centerpiece of government. The police department’s mission is to protect and serve – not abuse and lie. Lack of transparency and accountability destroys public trust and that’s where Denver is now. The department and the city will be better off if the bad seeds are removed.
John: Perfection never happens in this world. Policing is no exception. The outgoing chief, Gerry Whitman, is a man of honor and deserves our salute. The former chief, Jim Collier, was right when he warned against demoralizing the force. Don’t do it. The manager of safety, Charles Garcia, doesn’t understand policing. He should go.
Thursday, 9 June 2011 15:42 by Admin
Washington spenders are like drunks on a binge, says John Andrews in the June round of Head On TV debates. It's bad, agrees Susan Barnes-Gelt, but she contends the solution must include tax hikes as well as entitlement reform.
John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Hancock's win for Denver mayor, Hickenlooper's first six months, the politics of natural disasters, and the 2012 presidential outlook, and results of Colorado's legislative session. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997, with sponsorship by Centennial Institute since 2009. Here are all five scripts for June:
1. RAISE THE DEBT CEILING?
John: Washington politicians with borrowed money are like alcoholics with a bottle. They can’t stop themselves. But if they don’t, there’s hell to pay. Every American should root for Boehner and the Republicans to make Obama and the Democrats sober up. Do not raise the debt limit without massive spending cuts.
Susan: Both sides of the aisle are all wet on this one. Of course we need to get a handle on entitlements just as we need to revamp the tax code. And as for the rating agencies – very same who failed to identify the 2008 financial collapse? Gimme a break!
John: Well, you’re half right. Fewer handouts, yes. More taxes, no. We can never tax our way out from under the tens of trillions in impossible promises to future recipients of government medicine and government pensions. The GOP must insist on entitlement reform in return for raising the debt ceiling.
Susan: My prediction: both sides will play cat and mouse with this issue until after the 2012 election. It's a scare tactic typical of the Beltway. Federal government has become increasingly less relevant as both sides move to the extreme. Without serious tax and entitlement reform, and major investment in technology and infrastructure our kids and and theirs are doomed.
2. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
John: “Barack Obama has failed America.” Those words of Mitt Romney sum up the reason why millions of Americans are eagerly watching the field of Republican candidates for 2012. Gov. Romney, Gov. Pawlenty, Speaker Gingrich, Congresswoman Bachmann, Senator Santorum, or businessman Herman Cain, could all do a better job than Obama.
Susan: Mitt Who? Health care Mitt? Pro-choice Mitt? Buttoned up Mitt? Shirt sleeve Mitt? Who is that handsome guy with the unruffled hair? Even in federal races, where there are too many layers between the candidates and the voters, authenticity rules. Can’t trust the messenger – the message is lost.
John: Warning, viewer discretion advised. My Democratic friend dares not mention her party’s president, the underwhelming Barack Obama, or her party’s vice president, the laughable Joe Biden. But no wonder – with unemployment rising, health care unpopular, and bankruptcy threatening, ridiculing Republicans is your only hope.
Susan: I’m proud to wave the Obama/Biden flag. This calm, and collected administration never succumbed to angry rhetoric - right or left. Elections are about differences and there's lot's at stake. Do Michelle Bachman, Mitt Romney or Newt have the judgment to move us forward? I don't think so.
3. HICK’S FIRST SESSION
Susan: Governor Hickenlooper had a pretty good first session. Thanks to a divided legislature, he didn’t have to deal with lefties or right wingers. He angered the K-12 crowd by cutting ed dollars but made up for it by vetoing cuts for kids’ health. Our a-partisan governor came out OK.
John: Does Hickenlooper get it that reckless spending is a dagger at the heart of our democracy? His tough stand on public employee pensions says yes. But the veto on cost-sharing for medical coverage says no. His overall passivity says no. The high-visibility activist mayor is gone. What gives, Susan?
Susan: Hick was a high visibility Mayor, but hardly an activist. He is a moderate whose approval numbers remain very high because of his commitment to please all the people all (well most of) the time. His style is better suited for partisan politics where straddling the middle works.
John: Straddling may boost the governor’s polls for now, but it’s no substitute for real leadership in a state with chronic budget deficits, too much union power, and too little job creation. Colorado needs a gutsy chief executive like Christie in New Jersey, or if you prefer Democrats, Cuomo in New York.
4. HORRIFIC STORMS
Susan: Unprecedented weather catastrophes - tornadoes, floods and storms hit Memphis, Raleigh, Tuscaloosa, Joplin MO, Minneapolis and most recently Springfield MA. Countless deaths, cities and towns destroyed. And the Republican House doesn’t want to pay for disaster relief?
John: In the words of President Grover Cleveland, my favorite Democrat, it is the people’s responsibility to support the government, not the government’s responsibility to support the people. Natural disasters are always with us, and federal aid is already massive. A few severe storms don’t justify a budget blowout or a carbon tax.
Susan: I get it. We pay taxes to wage war, support tax cuts for the rich, protect privilege and ignore the common interest. To bad if public infrastructure fails or natural disasters hit. Let state and local government or the individual carry the burden. There’s a recipe for a toxic tea party.
John: Folks, if you like melodramatic fantasy, go with that. But here’s the reality: FEMA, the disaster relief agency, is getting the extra money it needs with bipartisan votes of Republicans and Democrats. Those tornado and flood victims do deserve help. But Susan, the ultimate storm, fiscal collapse, is still coming.
5. HANCOCK WINS RUNOFF FOR MAYOR
John: Congratulations to Michael Hancock as he moves up from City Council to Mayor of Denver after galloping to win from behind like Secretariat. There will be no political dynasty for the Romers or the Penas, but the Webb dynasty has new life. Now for the hard work of governing.
Susan: I’ve known Michael for twenty years – truth is – the late great John –National civic league – Parr was Hancock’s real mentor. Michael builds a big platform. There’s room for everyone, and that’s the Denver way. He is a good man and has the makings of a great mayor.
John: Hancock has his work cut out. The onetime Broncos mascot takes office facing third and long, with his team behind. Denver has weak job creation, a structural budget deficit, sagging morale in its public safety agencies, and union problems in its public schools. Roll up your sleeves, Mayor Mike.
Susan: Fortunately non-partisan local government facilitates problem solving. No pointless fights over ideology. Michael will have the chance to build a strong team and make structural budget adjustments. Not to mention revamp the cop shop. Public education? A very challenging dilemma.
Paul Ryan's bold approach to federal deficits and debt will backfire, predicts Susan Barnes-Gelt in the May round of Head On TV debates. Not hardly, replies John Andrews; President Obama left a leadership vacuum on the fiscal debacle, and this lowly congressman has filled it. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the mayor's race in Denver, the politics of natural disasters, the 2012 presidential outlook, and results of Colorado's legislative session. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for May:
1. RYAN TAKES ON THE DEFICIT
Susan: Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan offered up a deficit plan that opened the garage door of opportunity to President Obama and Democrats in Congress. His proposal to privatize Medicare so inflamed his constituents– who voted him in by a 70% margin – that the national guard was summoned to a town meeting.
John: Nonsense on stilts. Where do I start? First, any uproar by the Wisconsin left was manufactured, not spontaneous. Second, Paul Ryan’s budgetary roadmap to keep entitlements from bankrupting the country is not only good public policy. It also exposes Obama as shallow and weak – a leader who has failed to lead.
Susan: My, my you’re cynical. Town meetings are orchestrated by the opposition? I wish the Dems were that strategic and well-organized! Sorry. Average people in both parties are horrified by cuts to programs they’ve paid into while the uber-rich and the Pentagon remain untouched.
John: The reason Americans gave Obama an electoral shellacking and fired Nancy Pelosi as speaker was that they were unhappy with the government takeover of health care and horrified at the impending fiscal disaster. Even then, the president refused to get serious about entitlements. More power to Paul Ryan for doing so.
2. RUNOFF FOR MAYOR
John: For Denver to be well governed as the capital of our state and region matters to everyone across the West. The campaign for mayor needs more energy and more honesty in the final round. The choices are Chris Romer from downtown and Michael Hancock from the neighborhoods. I like Romer.
Susan: Three surprises in the May election: A little known but very impressive young man won Hancock’s Council district – Chris Herndon beat political warhorse Chris Martinez. Debbie Ortega got a whopping 46,000 votes in the at-large race. And – less than 1600 votes separated Romer from Hancock. Hancock’s got momentum.
John: Denver is the economic engine for Colorado’s prosperity. It needs a dynamic CEO. Voters can gamble on Councilman Hancock, or they can hire an experienced businessman and dealmaker in Senator Romer. The race is neck and neck. I wish it was Republican vs. Democrat and a proper election with polling places.
Susan: Ain’t gonna happen. In two words – investment – banker. If Romer pins his strategy on his 25-years as a bond jockey, he’s –pass the marmelade – toast. People have no confidence in bankers and less in Wall Street. Hancock wins – trustworthiness, likability, authenticity and biography. Read my lips . . .
3. TORNADOES IN THE SOUTH
John: Life is fragile, community is vital, and economic growth saves lives. Those are the lessons from the Alabama and Mississippi tornadoes with their awful death toll. Nature’s random destructiveness should keep us from ever taking a single day for granted, or forgetting how much we need each other.
Susan: Yes and in the face of catastrophe, the convener of help is the federal government. The very same federal government Grover Norquist, chief manipulator of all things Republican, wants to drown in a bathtub. Political leaders in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia are undoubtedly rethinking their allegiance to Grover.
John: Such massive tragedy is not Republican or Democratic or political at all. A windstorm in Alabama or Bangladesh, an earthquake in Japan or Haiti, simply makes us weep for the victims. It also reminds us that developed countries survive these things better. Anti-growth environmentalism has a cost in lives.
Susan: The horrendous loss of lives and treasure isn't a political issue. But, the reality of response and recovery is political. It will cost hundreds of millions, perhaps billions to rebuild Tuscaloosa - not to mention the other places impacted. The federal government's row is critical. That's political.
4. 2012 PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Susan: The 2012 Presidential race is on. Fortunately for the Democrats, the tough economy, three wars and total beltway disarray are being eclipsed by the bombastic egotism of Donald Trump. This pro-choice, democrat-supporting buffoon has quickly replaced Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann as your party’s flavor of the month.
John: Obama and Trump deserve each other – two self-promoting con men, both hollow at the center. But Susan, you’re right. The president’s birthplace is the least of his problems. Barack the Great has not revived the economy, not made us safer in the world, not handled gas prices. He’s really vulnerable.
Susan: Obama’s successful targeting and killing of Osama Bin Laden is a game changer. Period. All the goofy birther nonsense, challenging his abilities as a leader, his patriotism and resolve are suddenly non-issues. And his call to George Bush before any public announcement was classy.
John: The TV speech never mentioning Bush was not classy. It was tough policies of the last administration, Guantanamo, interrogations, rendition, bitterly criticized by Obama but continued anyway, that finally took down the arch-terrorist. Nor does Bin Laden’s death lessen the Islamic threat. Defeating Obama in 2012 is still imperative.
5. COLORADO LEGISLATURE
Susan: Redistricting dominated this year’s legislative session. Despite the bi-partisan committee, neither party came off looking good. As in previous years, the courts will draw the Congressional district lines. Other than the shameful defeat of the bill giving in-state tuition to undocumented students, the session was a solid C-.
John: Thank goodness Coloradans voted for divided government. A Republican State House this year finally demanded budgetary sanity after four years of reckless tax and spend policies under Bill Ritter and the Democrats. I give the session a B. Hickenlooper even took on the teacher unions. Wisconsin, here we come.
Susan: Please John – you, former Colorado Senate President, know better. The state’s discretionary budget is tiny and voters weigh in on every tax increase. Both parties must stop kicking the can down the road and make some tough decisions. Divided government is fine. But where’s the leadership?
John: When you as a liberal say “leadership,” I as a conservative hear “bossiness.” Divided government makes it harder for politicians to butt into our lives – that’s good. And as a former senator, Susan, let me say this: Lawmaking isn’t easy. One hundred Colorado legislators of both parties deserve our thanks.
Sunday, 13 February 2011 12:23 by Admin
Activist courts are at it again, this time siding with the right to strike down Obamacare, says Susan Barnes-Gelt in the February round of Head On TV debates. No, says John Andrews, Judge Vinson ruled as the founding fathers would have, and the Supreme Court may well agree with him. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over Egypt's revolution, Denver's lackluster mayoral contenders, Colorado's new governor, and a populist fantasy of state officials working at real jobs. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Since 2009 it has been presented by the Centennial Institute . Here are all five scripts for February:
1. COURT RULINGS DIFFER ON OBAMACARE
Susan: A Florida judge ruled the Obama health care initiative unconstitutional – proving that activist courts – long the subject of conservative whining – cut both ways. Federal judges are split – three others are split – two in favor, one opposed. The issue will go to the Supremes. Too much fuzzy law and opinion.
John: If Congress can force you to buy a particular product, they can force you to do anything. Limited constitutional government is replaced by unlimited bureaucratic tyranny, and this is no longer the land of the free. Judge Vinson has the founding fathers on his side. The Supreme Court may toss Obamacare.
Susan: How ‘bout the Republican’s in Congress grant the American public the same cushy healthcare the taxpayer gives them? Now that their work week is down to 20 weeks a year – they ought to do something to respond to hard working Americans.
John: Hard-working Americans deserve a government that spends less, taxes less, borrows less, and regulates less – a government that gets out of the way so free enterprise can benefit everyone. The courts and the Congress can start by relieving families and businesses of the unworkable, unconstitutional Obamacare law.
2. HICKENLOOPER GETS STARTED
John: Hickenlooper has begun quietly but purposefully. No dramatic hundred days for him. McNulty the fiscal hawk and Gessler the moonlighter have dominated the headlines, but Hick understands that economic recovery is paramount. His cabinet is a mix of left and right, including a Republican as budget director.
Susan: Hick’s picks are terrific. It’s going to take bi-partisan thinking at the Capitol to address Colorado’s budget woes – failing dams, roads and bridges; underfunded higher ed and unmet social service needs. Let’s hope the Kumbaya is shared by the Legislature.
John: There’s nothing terrific about Ellen Golombek, a labor union militant, joining the cabinet just when we need a lean public-sector workforce and a welcoming private-sector job climate. The governor booted that one. But he did well in making peace with the oil and gas industry. That’s a winner for economic growth.
Susan: Hick is a pleaser and will figure out how to be all things to most people. His ability to accomplish that is enhanced by his aw shucks, extroverted personality. He will work hard to balance every interest, without taking a strong stand. That affect has worked for him - so far.
3. REVOLUTION IN EGYPT
Susan: Recent events in Egypt are significant. First – the power of social media – for good or ill – has marginalized the political establishment; forced foreign policymakers to respond immediately – without the necessary information. People power upends the status quo – sometimes for the best.
John: Egyptian strongman Mubarak may be gone by the time you see this. Too bad Obama failed to keep pressuring him much sooner for peaceful change, as Bush had begun to do. The danger now is that Muslim Brotherhood jihadists, sworn to destroy Israel and America, may fill the power vacuum in Cairo.
Susan: This is not a blame it on Obama moment. For decades, American presidents have backed stability over local democracy. Since WW 2 – if not before – we have backed despots and dictators. It’s been backfiring but the power structure’s covered up – based on fear. Those days are over.
John: Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and other undemocratic Arab regimes face overthrow as popular unrest spreads. There are no easy options for US policy. Thankfully Obama’s dangerous arrogance is no more. But the Muslim Brotherhood’s dangerous subversion is everywhere. Congress will and should investigate.
4. UNDERWHELMING MAYOR’S RACE
John: What’s twice as bad as seven dwarfs? Fourteen miniature mayoral candidates -- or whatever the number is this week. Romer, Boigon, Hancock, Mejia – they all seem like lightweights compared to past mayors such as Webb or Hickenlooper. No wonder the likable and capable incumbent, Bill Vidal, flirted with running.
Susan: Number 14 just entered the Mayor’s race. That makes 3 council people, a longtime political appointee, a former legislator, a woman with a public legal background, 3 city employees, a homeless man, a libertarian and four other guys. All told - not a very impressive field at a very important time.
John: Not to mention ten lords a-leaping and three French hens. Pretty underwhelming which is why a late entry with executive credentials, TV charisma, or both, is still possible before the petition deadline. The capital of the Rocky Mountain Empire needs an economic jolt and better public safety. Who will step up, Susan?
Susan: The Hick exercised his considerable power to keep the best candidate out of the race – Bill Vidal. Vidal loves the city, knows the city and has a strong management track record. Hick’s attempt to control both sides of Broadway is going to backfire – sadly on the city he seduced – and abandoned.
5. STATE OFFICIALS’ SALARIES
Susan: Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler started a brouhaha when announcing he’d be working part time for his former law firm – election specialists – to supplement his paltry state salary of $68,500. He should have thought about that before running for office. However, full time state electeds should be paid more.
John: I see no shortage of capable people wanting to run for governor, attorney general, treasurer, or secretary of state – even though all of them do pay less than $100,000. Colorado is low on the scale nationally, yet we have cleaner and leaner government than the high-paying states. Ain’t broke, don’t fix.
Susan: Implicit in that view are two choices: 1 – only rich people can run for office or 2 –so-called full time elected officials – need to moonlight – whether it’s teaching or speaking fees or working at the Dairy Queen. I want leaders to be full time. And I don’t want only the well-to-do to apply.
John: Susan, you’re brilliant. Picture it: Hickenlooper working weekends at Dairy Queen. Gessler as a greeter at Wal-Mart. Attorney General Suthers on the UPS night shift. Treasurer Stapleton bagging groceries at Stapleton. Humility under the dome. Exalted politicos finally getting their hands dirty. Let’s not raise their pay!