Monthly Archives: October 2010

“FREE RANGE THINKING” REVIEW

Whether you love or hate politics, “Free Range Thinking” is for everyone.  It challenges you by making you laugh at the absurdities of our world.  Perhaps the year’s most provocatively engaging production, it rapidly covers everything from religion to sex to politics to many of the other incongruities of life.

Nothing is sacrosanct as Robert Dubac combines an impressive array of comedic skills, physical comedy, historical knowledge, political analysis, philosophy, and even magic — all in the form of the multiple characters (all played or voiced by Dubac with great timing) who make us think and laugh about what life is all about.

Performed superlatively by Dubac (star of “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?”) in the intimate setting of the Garner Galleria Theatre, every audience member gets to experience the physical closeness and emotional connections of Dubac’s stunning performance.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Democratic, Republican, independent or none of the above — anyone who even just superficially considers the meaning of life will enjoy “Free Range Thinking.”  And, if you’re a political junkie, this is the show for you to see after November 2nd.  Go to http://www.DenverCenter.org or call (303) 893-4100 for tickets through November 14th.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Election 2010 TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3 and on Mondays at 8:00 pm on COMCAST Entertainment Television and is viewable 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber.  All rights reserved.

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TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE?

How can Hickenlooper “go negative” and does he even need to anyway?

Everyone wants to know whether or not John Hickenlooper will “go negative” and start attacking Tom Tancredo, now that some polls show Tancredo may be as little as one point behind Hickenlooper.  While two recent polls do show Tancredo closing the gap even more than he had before, Hickenlooper remains comfortably (up to 10 points) ahead in other polls.  With such a wide gap, the issue of “poll accuracy” will be resolved on Election Day.

The bottomline is while Hickenlooper won’t go negative himself, if Tancredo truly does catch up with the Mayor, Hickenlooper’s allies may go negative on his behalf.  Hence, it will be third parties who will do the dirty work.  A group such as the Democratic Governors’ Association could easily jump in the fray as could many other pro-Democratic entities.  And there is no question there is a wealth of opportunity in the “Tancredo File” created over the years by former Congressman Tancredo himself.  Nevertheless, the anti-Tancredo groups face three major problems.

The first problem is they would have to produce anti-Tancredo advertisements quickly.  This often means having lower quality or less effective ads or even making mistakes because the production of ads is rushed.  And those mistakes can backfire quickly as two other Colorado candidates recently discovered (Walker Stapleton and Cory Gardner).

The second problem is buying television spots at ideal broadcast times may be difficult because the best ones already were booked days, weeks, and even months ago (and a lot of these premium spots were purchased by the Hickenlooper campaign).  This means a third party group will have to pay a premium to get the most desirable times — making it difficult to structure efficacious ad buys based on resource limitations.  In many cases, dollars will only go half as far as usual — making effective advertising purchases very expensive and less effective.

The third problem is that attacking Tancredo right now may not have the impact it might have had in prior years.  The various campaigns have been airing negative ads for months and people are sick of them.  And this is the time candidates usually begin airing “nice” ads about themselves and cut back on the attack ads so the timing is not ideal for a new round of attack ads.

People may pay less attention to negative ads or even revolt against Hickenlooper for breaking his word to “not go negative” (on the assumption many viewers will incorrectly assume the attack ads are either directly from or at least inspired by the Hickenlooper campaign).  Tancredo, if he is agile, will use any negative ads against him to argue Hickenlooper’s word is not good — a bad way to end the campaign for Hickenlooper.  So one strategy for Hickenlooper may be to do nothing and be satisfied with his lead.

Negative ads against Tancredo, for better or for worse, also may not resonate because people already know who Tom Tancredo is.  It will be more difficult to attack him effectively because there aren’t too many surprises.  He’s been around for years and is an “open book.”  Plus, what many people like about Tancredo is how he says what he believes and does not appear to be the typical, always-calculating-what’s-best-to-say politician.  That may be his greatest attraction.  Many people like Tancredo personally even if they disagree with him.

While Hickenlooper has continued his string of humorous ads, during this Great Recession (and it is still ongoing for most people), this approach may have been less effective than in previous years.  Many people are not laughing at much right now.

Over the course of several campaigns, everyone has seen the Mayor on his scooter, buying a new suit to double his wardrobe, jumping out of an airplane, and now taking a fully-clothed shower.  While these have been amusing and have helped maintain Hickenlooper’s support at a high level — and his more serious ads have helped, too — some voters see Hickenlooper as yet another Democrat who simply has a good sense of humor.  While this is an advantage for Hickenlooper and has kept him on top, it has not done so by as wide margin as might have been the case in the past.

The people who want change aren’t looking to Hickenlooper and they certainly aren’t looking to Maes; rather, it’s Tancredo who appeals to them.

Even if the polls which show Tancredo in a statistical tie with Hickenlooper, it actually is more difficult for Tancredo to win the election than many people realize because a significant number of people have completed their ballots due to voting having started about two weeks ago.  With a several hundred thousand ballots already cast, changes in voter opinions matter less.  Hence, even if Hickenlooper’s lead is narrowing, he already has reaped the benefit of early voters and, therefore, is likely to win even if Tancredo’s support is surging at the end of the campaign.

There is no question Tancredo’s progress has been amazing.  His accomplishments, even if he loses the election, are absolutely historic for a contemporary third party candidate in Colorado.  No matter what one’s party affiliation or political leaning may be, everyone has to be amazed at what Tancredo has accomplished especially when the following are considered:

He is the candidate of a party 99% of Coloradans do not recognize,
He started seriously campaigning after the Primary Election in mid-August (about 70 days ago) — a year behind most candidates,
He has relatively little money compared to Hickenlooper (although he is raising far more money than Dan Maes), and
He still grapples with the reality enough voters (5 to 10%) support Maes to keep Hickenlooper in the lead — with the vast majority (probably two-thirds) of those voters otherwise supporting Tancredo if Maes dropped out of the race.

Tancredo’s problem is Maes will not drop out because there are only several days left in the campaign and Maes does not feel he has anything to gain by dropping out now.  And Maes despises Tancredo so much he would rather see Hickenlooper win.

Even if Maes did drop out, it may not be enough to help Tancredo win because Maes’ name still will be on every ballot as the Republican nominee.  Thus, even if Maes were to drop out, some Republicans would vote for him anyway because they either did not knowing Maes had dropped out or because they always vote for the Republican nominee.

Nevertheless, there actually is a chance, if Tancredo can continue his surge and Maes drops out immediately, Tancredo could win the election by 1 or 2 points.  Right now he is likely to lose by a similar margin even if he continues to do well.  With Maes on the ballot, the odds today still are heavily on Hickenlooper’s side.

To see the two-hour special edition of “Colorado Election 2010: The Final Word” — where candidates have their last opportunity to explain why voters should support them, watch KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado Channel3) on Sunday, October 31st, at 8:00 pm, or COMCAST Entertainment Television on Monday, November 1st, at 7:30 pm.  “The Final Word” also will be online on Saturday, October 30th.   To watch all 48 interview and debate programs with the candidates and ballot representatives 24/7, go to http://www.Colorado2010.com.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Election 2010 TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3 and on Mondays at 8:00 pm on COMCAST Entertainment Television and is viewable 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber  All rights reserved.

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BENNET AND BUCK BANALITY

“Meet The Press Debate” offers surprises and silliness…

Here are answers to questions I received after the torture of watching Senate candidates Michael Bennet and Ken Buck on “Meet The Press.”

Q:  Will Buck’s comments on homosexuality hurt him politically?

A:  Most Gay Rights groups were not backing Buck anyway but his remarks demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the scientific basis for homosexuality.  Buck indicated one could stop being homosexual simply by choosing a partner of the opposite sex.  Most people know that is false.  Buck awkwardly indicated heredity is a factor with a bizarre reference to alcoholism as an example of genetic disposition.  Buck’s confusion and his failure to apologize for his uninformed answer will hurt him more than the issue itself.  If the race is decided by just 1 or 2 points, this could be the difference.  Buck would have been smarter to answer “I don’t know” if that truly were the case.

Q:  Was Bennet defensive when his own quote stating there was nothing to show for the $13 trillion spent by the Federal Government was mentioned?

A:  Bennet probably regrets making the statement which indicated $13 trillion was wasted.  This number actually is the National Debt and was accumulated over decades.  Certainly some government expenditures were good while others were bad.  Mixing the National Debt and the Recovery Act (which was only the equivalent of 6% of the National Debt) was even more confusing.  Bennet meant not enough was spent on infrastructure.  Most Americans do not believe the Economy would be worse today if the Recovery Act and the Troubled Asset Recovery program had not been funded.  Democrats have failed to make a convincing argument these funds were well-spent.

Q:  Is Bennet trapped by a Health Care bill which he supported but simultaneously described in derogatory terms?

A:  Bennet’s vote will be characterized as the vote which got Health Care approved.  Of course, that could be said about each Senator who voted for the legislation because it passed by only one vote.  Bennet’s rational “half a loaf is better than none” argument is not satisfying many voters.  His problem is the Obama Administration failed to make the case to the American people explaining why the legislation was good.  By not timely highlighting key principles in the legislation with which most Americans agree (e.g., insuring more citizens, eliminating denial of coverage for medical reasons, emphasizing prevention, lifting lifetime caps, etc.), the Democrats left themselves open to attacks for the legislation’s failures (e.g., insufficient medical cost controls, no caps on health insurance premium increases, forced policy-buying, etc.).

Q:  Whose arguments about the Bush Tax Cuts make sense?

A:  The Tax Extension arguments are mutually disingenuous.  Washington has to stop its massive deficit spending but neither party is willing to ask for major sacrifices by voters.  The reality is the Bush Tax Cuts did not significantly stimulate the Economy and, instead, contributed to the today’s economic mess — including massive Deficits.  To extend the Tax Cuts and believe, after almost a decade of failure, the Economy suddenly will perk up is wishful thinking.  The Republicans are pretending cuts in taxes will quickly “grow” the Economy.  It is likely they are wrong.  Democrats are pretending taxing the country’s top 2% will make a substantial difference but the reality is this represents $70 billion annually in taxes while adding $400 billion each year to the Deficit.  The bottomline is (a) the USA cannot sustain spending at the current rate but this means seriously cutting programs and (b) economic growth occurs when there is an increase in demand for goods and services — which is not happening irrespective of marginal tax rates and policies.

Q:  Where is the race today?

A:  The race is a statistical dead-heat.  Buck hurt himself with his comments about homosexuality and is being successfully attacked for his decision to not prosecute a rape case.  What is surprising is his failure to explain how many times he did successfully prosecute such cases.  He is missing the big picture and could lose substantial support.  Bennet is hurt by his link to the Recovery Act and the Health Care bill.  So whichever issues are most important to unaffiliated voters could determine the outcome of this race.  People already are voting because mail ballots were received beginning October 14th and walk-in voting now is available.  The key will be who can do the best job of turning out his supporters.  In 2008, Colorado Democrats did a far superior job than Republicans and won races across the State.  In 2010, Republicans have an edge in enthusiasm but may have it dampened by the bizarre gubernatorial race and Buck’s missteps.  Whoever does a substantially superior Get-Out-The-Vote effort will win.

To watch interviews and debates with candidates and ballot representatives 24/7, go to http://www.Colorado2010.com,

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Election 2010 TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3 and on Mondays at 8:00 pm on COMCAST Entertainment Television and is viewable 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber  All rights reserved.

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BALLOT BEDLAM

Are Nasty Surprises Awaiting Voters?

With ballots already mailed to voters and everyone now able to vote in person if desired, the Colorado General Election has begun.  One aspect which may surprise voters is the lengthy wording of some ballot issues when combined with a protracted list of candidates.  In one county, voters face 38 decisions.  Did Starbucks design this ballot knowing some voters will need a shot of caffeine to finish voting?

One local ballot proposal’s alleged “summary,” on its own, covers 65 lines on the ballot.  That’s not a summary — that’s a school paper.  Just trying to follow it could result in thousands of cases of eye-strain (not counting the neurological damage from head-spinning).  The summary is akin to a treatise — and, in the end, may turn off enough voters to defeat the measure.

At the other extreme, proposed Constitutional Amendment R asks voters if they want to approve “an exemption from property taxation for a possessory interest.”  This will leave many voters scratching their heads wondering “What the heck is a possessory interest?” or “Is this related to possums?” (It can be if the possums are valued under $6,000.)

Even worse, statutory Proposition 102 goes back to deploying the strategy of confusing voters by asking for approval of release of a limited category of suspects without a cash bond.  What it does not say is passage of the proposal means everyone else currently eligible for a non-cash bond, now will have to post a cash bond.

Hence, instead of simply asking, “Should everyone — except for a limited category — be required to post a bond?” the ballot hides the categories which it actually impacts.  Lamentably, the wording fails to inform voters of the actual meaning or intent of the proposal.  Very tricky, indeed!

Where were our State officials when we needed them?  Colorado’s Ballot Title Setting Board (the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Office of Legislative Legal Services) fell asleep at the switch on a number of this year’s ballot issues and now we all will suffer.

This year going through the ballot also will take much longer for some citizens not only due to the combination of the length of the ballot and known candidates but because its nature is anesthetizing nature.  It also doesn’t help that there are 10 or more judge retention questions asked on some ballots.  So, if a large number electors wait until November 2nd to vote, there could be long lines unless polling place start pouring coffee.

So the word to the wise is (1) study the ballot in great detail before you vote, (2) make your decisions before you go to your polling location,(3) drink plenty of coffee before you go, and (4) be patient and cheerful if there is a long wait to cast ballots.  Those who were smart — and are voting by mail — don’t give up halfway through the process if you happen to fall asleep,  Finish marking that ballot, slap 61 cents worth of postage on the envelope, and mail in that ballot today!  You’ll be glad you did so you don’t find it in a pile while writing your holiday greetings during Thanksgiving.

If you need to learn more about the candidates and issues (a) read the informational book sent to you by the State, (b) watch interviews and debates with all the candidates and ballot representatives available at no charge 24/7 as a public service at http://www.Colorado2010.com, and (c) ignore every political advertisement you see on television or hear on the radio.  Good luck!

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Election 2010 TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3 and on Mondays at 8:00 pm on COMCAST Entertainment Television and is viewable 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber  All rights reserved.

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DAN MAES AND TOM TANCREDO — CAN EITHER WIN?

With only days left to the General Election, here are some answers to questions commonly questions by viewers of “Colorado Election 2010 (TM)” (www.Colorado2010.com).

PART 1:    Is Dan Maes A Factor?
Q:  Will Dan Maes drop out of the Governor’s race?

A:  Maes won’t drop out.  While he is no fan of John Hickenlooper, he loathes Tom Tancredo— who he correctly sees as someone who first made a commitment to guarantee Maes would not win the race (and Tancredo succeeded) and then as someone who intensified his attacks on Maes in an effort to get him out of the race (because Tancredo soon far surpassed Maes in the polls and became the only viable competition for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper).

Furthermore, Maes never had a long-term relationship with or deep ties to the Republican Party and, therefore, simply does not have the same concerns about the importance of not ceding the office to the Democrats due to upcoming Reapportionment and Redistricting.  And because “positive incentives” are a no-no these days (and are more difficult to hide than ever — cf. the “job offers” to Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania and Andrew Romanoff here in Colorado ), everyone is too scared to suggest Maes might get a well-paying job in the event he left the race.  The bottomline is there simply isn’t anyone who can influence Maes to quit and, because he won the Primary Election, he feels strongly he should continue as the standard bearer of the Republican Party.

Q.  What about the fact the Republican Party will become a “minor” party if Maes, as its gubernatorial candidate, gets below 10% of the vote?

A:  It is highly unlikely Maes will get below 10% but, even if he does, the 2011 General Assembly probably will change the law in recognition that the Colorado Republican Party has more registered voters than any other party.  This is a great way for Democrats to scare Republicans into voting for Maes rather than Tancredo but the reality is this likely is a fabricated issue.

Q:  Can Maes win the race for Governor?

A:  No, he cannot, primarily because his fundraising is so anemic he simply does not have the resources to reach voters.  While most people, after meeting Maes in person, come away with a positive impression and even find it hard to believe how different he is from his image in the Press, the reality is he unwittingly created severe problems for himself and he does not have the resources to overcome them.  Without the depth of support or the resources to overcome the hole he is in (mostly self-dug), Maes is stuck for the remainder of the campaign.

PART 2:    What Can Tom Tancredo Do?

Q.  Will Tancredo win the election?

A.  Not likely for several reasons.  First, very few people — including wealthy Republicans — thought he was more than a spoiler when he entered the race and initial polling put him in the 10% to 15% range.  As a result, Republican money headed towards the already business-friendly Democratic nominee, John Hickenlooper.  The upshot is the resources no longer are there for Tancredo to launch the kind of massive advertising campaign needed to catch Hickenlooper.

Second while Hickenlooper may not seem to be gaining support, he has steadily held a plurality position and that is all he needs to win.  Third, Hickenlooper has an extensive statewide organization in place — something neither Maes or Tancredo can match — and made advertising buys of $ 2½ million which, because much of it was done months ago — would cost as much as $5 million to duplicate today given the strategic placement and discounted rates astutely secured by the Hickenlooper campaign.

Q.  What would it take to change this race?

A.  Even Maes dropping out wouldn’t matter much because his name will still be on the ballot and he likely would get 10% of the vote even if he left the State today.  It might help Tancredo by 1 or 2 points, at best.  That will make winning next to impossible for Tancredo as a third party candidate.  While Maes and Tancredo’s votes when combined together might exceed Hickenlooper’s, that is not how the next Governor is elected.  What Tancredo needs to win — and will not get — is an outside group spending $5 million incessantly attacking Hickenlooper.  With a focus broader than illegal immigration (because Tancredo already is getting those votes and is beating a dead horse by continuing that emphasis) — targeting issues related to police brutality, higher taxes, failed schools, et cetera — such an effort could reduce Hickenlooper’s support by the 5 or 6 points needed for Tancredo to creep ahead of him.  Tancredo and his allies could have had a chance if the resources were there to reach voters but they have failed to materialize.

Q.  Why will Hickenlooper win?

A.  The bottomline is Hickenlooper is a moderate Democrat who has great support within the business community.  While it is true he has raised taxes, he did so by going to voters and asking their permission.  And while the Denver Police Department has fallen down far too many times, given the size of the force, he still can successfully make the “It’s just a few bad apples” argument.  The public schools issues are a weakness but he can argue it actually is not the Mayor’s responsibility (it isn’t) although he did make an effort to improve a terrible situation.  Most importantly, Hickenlooper is likely to win given the choices voters have — (1) a Republican nominee crippled by self-inflicted wounds and a Press which pursued him ruthlessly and (2) a candidate officially representing a party whose platform the vast majority of Colorado voters would reject if they knew what it said and who simply entered the race too late to succeed in organizing a truly statewide campaign and getting it adequately funded.

To watch interviews with all the candidates, go to http://www.Colorado2010.com.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Election 2010 TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3 and on Mondays at 8:00 pm on COMCAST Entertainment Television and is viewable 24/7 at www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber  All rights reserved.

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