Charlie Leonard: Inalienable Rights | AspenTimes.com

Charlie Leonard: Inalienable Rights

Charlie LeonardThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

With just 33 days remaining until the election and so many political stories in the news, I thought I would take the liberty of using this column to offer some commentary on more than a single issue this week.

With virtually no serious discussion about how our country is supposed to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and fulfill our future energy needs, the Aspen City Council joined a growing chorus of local governments and citizens groups, up and down the valley, opposed to oil and gas production in the wilderness area known as Thompson Divide.Lots of good people who care deeply about the environment have joined this cause, and I respect them for their passion and the genuineness of their concerns. But seriously, folks – when are we going to start having realistic conversations about balancing our energy needs with environmental protections rather than simply saying “no”?Windmills and bankrupt solar companies are not getting the job done. And last time I turned on the TV, the Middle East wasn’t looking a whole lot friendlier, either.

DailyCaller.com reported that “If the election were held today, 55 percent of physicians reported they would vote for Romney while just 36 percent support Obama,” according to a survey released this week by Jackson & Coker, a leading health care staffing company.The survey also found that “Fifteen percent of respondents said they were switching their vote from Obama in 2008 to Romney in 2012.” The Affordable Care Act was among the top reasons cited for this change.What does all this mean? My advice is that if you have an urge to vote for Barack Obama that lasts more than six hours, then it’s pretty clear you need to consult you physician immediately.

Anyone who has read even one of my columns and one of Andy Stone’s knows that we could not be further apart in our political viewpoints. I don’t know Stone, other than through his writings, but I think it’s fair to say he proudly wears the liberal label while I lean more to the right – in fact, a lot more to the right.But I hope readers have taken notice that Stone also recently opined in this space that he, too, opposes the plan to dramatically increase the size of the airport at a cost of more than $100 million.Stone and I are in complete agreement when he says the current airport proposal is just too big, too expensive and too out of character for Aspen.See, solving problems is easy.

Vice President Joe Biden was in North Carolina on Tuesday, presumably to promote his own re-election, and he asked a crowd of Obama supporters, “How can they justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years?”It’s now an open secret that the entire Obama team grows terrified every time the vice president goes near a microphone. Isn’t it about time the rest of us – including some honest Democrats and a mainstream reporter or two – admitted that crazy Joe is no more prepared to be president than a former Alaska governor or young senator from Indiana?

No longer content to simply ridicule and insult residents who dare to ask questions about how the city is governed, it seems that Mayor Mick Ireland has added another contemptible line of attack to his regular diatribes. Increasingly, the mayor has taken to reminding us just how long he’s lived in Aspen compared with some of his political adversaries – as if citizenship were now some form of meritless union where seniority rewards you for simply showing up. Sorry, Mr. Mayor, wrong again. The right – indeed, the responsibility – to participate in civic affairs doesn’t have a waiting period.NFL referees: Competence still mattersRecently, a couple of well-respected national commentators, Russ Douthat and Ron Brownstein, wrote separately in The New York Times and The National Journal to suggest that one explanation for voters standing by Obama in the face of a dismal track record on the economy is because “a slim majority of Americans now say they define getting ahead as not falling behind.” And that “It’s voters like these who are giving Obama his cushion (because polls show) he leads comfortably among Americans who are merely treading water.”I’m not buying it – at least not yet. I’m not convinced that Americans are willing to accept mediocrity when they know we can do better. And the unanimous uproar of Republican, Democrat and independent football fans with the replacement-referee debacle is proof enough for me – at least this week – that basic competence still matters to a majority in this country.Charlie Leonard lives in Aspen. His column runs every other Thursday in The Aspen Times.