Monthly Archives: January 2011

OBAMA’S END GAME

Colorado Front and Center

State of the Union Speech Charts Two-Year Course

Colorado played key roles in President Obama’s State of the Union speech.  First, one of the President’s policy proposals focused on aggressive goals for Energy Policy, with a structure almost identical to the course charted in Governor Ritter’s “New Energy Economy.”

The President labeled Natural Gas as a clean fuel needed to achieve his energy objectives — honeyed words to Colorado’s myriad companies in the industry.  Even coal received a reprieve from the President when he included “Clean Coal” as one of the energy sources of the future.  Coal provides about 45% of electrical production today so, if it becomes “Clean Coal,” it would still be a significant electrical energy source.  Oil accounts for only 1% of electrical power generation today so position could be unchanged.  The other sources account for the balance of 54% and already are in Obama’s approved categories.

Second, Bruce Randolph School in Denver received a major “shout out” from the President, who highlighted the school’s almost Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of failure to graduating 97% of its senior class.  Former Principal Kristin Waters, assigned by then Denver Public Schools Superintendent and now U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to rescue the school, did just that — demonstrating the dramatic progress which can be made in K-12 education with the right leadership and environment.

Obama’s focus on finding paths to educational success included a call to find better ways to reward good teachers and dismiss bad ones resonated across the State and nation.  While those words warmed the hearts of education reformers seeking greater flexibility and school choice, the President made certain his educational union backers were semi-mollified by his call for teachers to be treated with greater respect.

Third, U.S. Senator Mark Udall was the biggest winner of the Colorado delegation.  His proposal to have Democrats and Republicans change their pattern of segregated seating and, instead, mix the parties was an outright success.  Udall’s suggestion was the talk of Washington and, although initially dismissed by some, it quickly became recognized as a simple act to display the potential for civility and bipartisanship.  Udall, who is well-liked by his colleagues in the Senate, now has the opportunity to follow-up and begin a long-term initiative.

Camera shots during the speech showed different clusters of members of both parties sitting together.  The juxtaposition of some was amusing to those who know Senators and Congresspersons on sight but one of the best shots was that of the Colorado House members all sitting in a row.  Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Ed Perlmutter received solid “face time” but the whole Colorado delegation (including DeGette, Polis, Tipton, and Lamborn) set an example for the nation.
Obama’s themes focused on the need to make targeted, strategic investments in education, science and innovation, and infrastructure to move the Economy forward while, at the same time, reining in spending.  What was missing were specifics on how the Federal Budget could be balanced.

Obama proposed eliminating subsidies for the Oil Industry and reinvesting them in renewable energy sources.  He also called for simplifying the tax structure — a proposal which should be well-received on Capitol Hill — and which has the potential to actually raise revenues if rates are lowered and deductions are eliminated (i.e., trade the hundreds of billions spent on bookkeepers, accounts, tax lawyers, and internal staff for new tax revenue so the net cost is zero but the government gets additional revenues).  It will be a challenge to see how Obama runs the gauntlet of special interests which will fight any attempt to gore their tax policy oxen.

Overall, the tone of the President’s discourse was positive and even uplifting.  It was a “Yes, we can do it” speech — as much cheerleading as it was policy.  By starting with a focus on Americans as one big family, Obama created an atmosphere conducive to working together.

Obama’s argument for unification of the American people was direct and compelling.  He argued the United States cannot afford to compete within itself but must find ways to work together internally to compete on the world stage.  With stiff competition from China, India, and other countries, Obama urged Americans to reorient their thinking and focus on the challenges presented by global competition.

The President’s challenge now is to translate his inspirational words into specific policies which will pass muster in a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate.  While that split will help the President by making passage of extreme measures from the Left or Right nearly impossible, it is unclear how easy any legislation will be to pass in the coming months.

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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 “Colorado Now!” at 8:30 pm as well as on COMCAST Entertainment Television and ION Television (KPXC-TV).  All programs are viewable 24/7 at http://www.HarberTV.com and http://www.Colorado-Now.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 20111by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber.  All rights reserved.

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A NEW WAY TO COMMUNICATE

It is time for a change — and it needs to be led by both parties.

The tragic events in Tucson bring home the point that America’s political dialog needs to change now.  As the ultimate sacrifices made due to the Politics of Personal Destruction demonstrated, we need to relearn how to debate and argue without the threatening rhetoric so commonly unleashed today.

While most Americans calmly evaluate wild assertions and don’t give credence to calls for “action” against “targeted” individuals (such as those who are illustrated with gun-sights on their districts, offices, homes, or persons), the reality is a small segment of the population is differently affected — misguidedly believing such calls are justifications for violence.

If we don’t begin to make changes now, we will scare off many of the best people we could have as public servants and leaders.  Already intimidated by the nonstop litany of false accusations made in attack ads and rationally concerned about the lack of privacy holding office entails, highly qualified citizens otherwise willing to serve will be intimidated further by the possibility of loss of their lives as well as harm to their loved ones.

Democrats and Republicans alike have effectively deployed the Politics of Personal Destruction with its efficacy reaching new heights in 2010 due to (1) the disconnect between candidate campaigns (where personal responsibility still exists) and third party groups (who have no palpable accountability whatsoever) and (2) the consistent effectiveness of Negative Advertising.  Third party organizations have free rein to say anything without direct repercussions and, as a result, have lowered the political realm even further than once imagined.

It is time for every American to take the actions necessary to restore civility to the process and to reject the approaches so effectively used today.  By educating ourselves on the issues, by listening to different points of view, and by learning how to “disagree agreeably,” we can mitigate the effectiveness of contemporary wicked approaches.

The Media needs to play an even greater role than ever before in promoting this change.  We will require leadership at all levels as a purposeful effort must be deployed to consistently, fairly, and objectively inform and engage the public  — with the Media challenging us daily to do better.  And as each of us makes the commitment to learn more, to become better-informed, and to work at becoming more tolerant of opinions different from our own — we can change and improve America.

One initiative just starting in Colorado is a new public affairs television program titled “Colorado Now!”  Its purpose is to allow citizens to see their public officials firsthand and to show how, when diverse perspectives and people meet, there can be productive exchanges which are civil and mutually respectful.  For more information, please go to http://www.HarberTV.com/CoNow.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” and “Colorado Now with Aaron Harber” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and 8:30 pm as well as n COMCAST Entertainment Television on Mondays at 7:30 pm.  It also is on ION Television (KPXC-TV) and is viewable 24/7 at http://www.HarberTV.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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