Editorials

Vail Daily column: Falling for perspective

August 31, 2015 — 

Why do crazy people hell-bent on suicide feel obligated to murder a few others first? I don’t see what’s wrong with simply eliminating the middle-man and just killing themselves without all the extraneous bother.

Anger management issues, powder kegs about to explode, TV anchors, anchor babies, megalomaniac Trump, shifty Clinton, downright crazy Carson; the absurdity of it all is sometimes hard to process.

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Vail Daily column: Some things to think about

August 30, 2015 — 

The original title of this commentary was “If you like your part-time job, then you can keep it,” but space constraints obliged me to shorten it. Fact: Real job growth in America is at its lowest level in 30 years, and regardless of what the spinmeisters in Washington would have us believe, a true measure of employment must account for those Americans who are part-time employees but would prefer to work full-time.

There are now 800,000 fewer full-time jobs than when George W. Bush left office. Meanwhile the number of part-time jobs has increased by 60 percent. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that fewer full-time jobs and more part-time jobs means lower average wages for the American worker.

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Vail Daily column: For free

August 30, 2015 — 

“Would you do it for free?”

The old man threw out the question almost casually. Alan Watts was in my ears, and I found myself starting to argue with him, as most oppressively reasonable people would.

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Vail Daily column: Office of president trumps the Donald

August 30, 2015 — 

In late July, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh lavishly praised Donald Trump. He’s a fan of “The Donald” because Trump acts the part of a decisive boss. Rush riffed about how he and Trump hate to collaborate with others.

Like an ancient Greek god on Mount Olympus, Rush in his studio makes political judgments, condemns those who disagree with him as “losers” and pontificates without having to deliver on the consequences of his edicts. He’s boss.

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Vail Daily column: Income inequality

August 30, 2015 — 

To date, I have listened to all forms of social commentary on this topic, controversial and politically sensitive as it is, and decided to address it as a historical perspective from three angles.

1. Definition, causes and statistics.

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Vail Daily column: Voyages of the Pursuit

August 28, 2015 — 

The 20-foot Pursuit (my old camera boat) was loaded to the Plimsoll mark as we moved away from the launching ramp in Anacortes, Washington. I didn’t know it at the time, but this exploration of the San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island in this small boat would change my life forever.

I had no idea whatsoever that such a wonderful geographical area existed. All you need is a small boat, an engine and the wonder at what is over the horizon.

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Vail Daily column: Vail should pursue quality over quantity

August 28, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.

Perhaps Vail has reached a tipping point or turned a corner where opportunities to change its recession based economic policies are now opening. The Vail Homeowners Association has advocated for a “quality over quantity” approach that will continue to promote Vail but damp down the congestive effects of doing so. Much remains to be done in this regard.

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Vail Daily column: How we become better

August 28, 2015 — 

The message knocked twice in the same day, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I think it might just be the key to everything.

Ah, this is why I go to workshops and presentations. Why I hardly ever watch TV anymore.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

August 26, 2015 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

MISS: From a reader to those cheatin’ spouses from the Happy Valley with accounts in the infamously hacked Ashley Madison website. A techie friend reported 2,277 of ’em. Sounds a little high even if frisky husbands and wives are hardly unheard of.

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Vail Daily column: Worthy education efforts

August 26, 2015 — 

Margaret Mead may have said it best: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I’ve always loved this concept and am fortunate to have met several amazing locals who daily demonstrate Mead’s observation.

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Vail Daily editorial: A very big deal

August 25, 2015 — 

After years of planning, Vail Valley Medical Center on Saturday broke ground on its future — an ambitious expansion and renovation program.

The details are too numerous for this space, but high points include a new entrance, a new emergency department and an overall better use of space in the oft-expanded facility. Residents and tourists alike will appreciate the plan’s ultimate goal of getting the vast majority of vehicle traffic off West Meadow Drive.

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Vail Daily column: The value of public opinion

August 25, 2015 — 

This past week, two national organizations released opinion polling results on education policy. While the topics were quite similar and both polls were conducted using best practices around sampling and polling methodology, the results were quite different.

The first poll was conducted by Education Next, a think-tank and ed-policy journal housed at Harvard. EdNext generally sides with the education reform movement and favors more right-of-center policies like more testing, accountability, school-choice and vouchers. EdNext worked with Knowledge Networks, a professional polling firm, in sampling 4,083 respondents nationally.

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Vail Daily column: Civics 101: Cut the BS

August 24, 2015 — 

During a 16-year-run on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart taught Civics 101. Using a comic’s touch, he stayed on message. Our Republic can’t flourish if leaders don’t work with their rivals, he emphasized. Stewart lampooned political leaders who broke this rule.

He practiced what the Bible advises: “to shun profane and vain babblings” (II Timothy 2:16). Stewart crystallized quaint scriptural language to its core. “Cut the BS,” he declared.

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Vail Daily column: Hooray, we're all rich!

August 24, 2015 — 

Last Thursday I not only woke up in Homestead a year older but wealthy as well.

Ain’t America great?

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Vail Daily column: Expect the unexpected in this political season

August 23, 2015 — 

As expected, the Hillary Clinton email scandal is turning into a very partisan issue; and how could it not be? We’re entering the election season and candidates from both parties are getting their ducks in row as the jockeying begins to choose the standard bearers for 2016.

And before Republicans begin jumping for joy that Hillary Clinton’s antics may be damaging her chances for the presidency, the GOP is having significant problems of its own. The Republican Party may have the most qualified stable of potential presidential candidates than at any time in the last 40 years, yet it’s a billionaire businessman, who refuses to supply specifics, that is sucking all the oxygen out of the room. I choose not to diminish “the Donald” but allow me to ask rhetorically, would you trust Donald Trump with a nuclear weapon?

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Vail Daily column: Good to great schools

August 21, 2015 — 

School starts this week for kids across our community, but the teachers, administrators and support staffs of Eagle County Schools have already been on the job getting ready — many of them for weeks.

At one of our community schools, Gypsum Elementary, the staff took an unusual tack on the work of returning to school. While there was plenty to do around scheduling, coordinating and planning for teaching — the staff at Gypsum took to the streets to ask their community a simple question — “What makes a good school?”

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Vail Daily column: What is government's role in Vail's change?

August 21, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com

With a great mountain, beautiful environment and outstanding cultural opportunities, growth and change for Vail are inevitable. It is folly to try to bring change to a halt or try to reverse course, but the inevitability of change raises the question — what should be the role of government in dealing with that change?

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Vail Daily column: Early days of the ski resort

August 21, 2015 — 

When I drove into the Sun Valley parking lot with Ward Baker in January 1947, I had no idea I would spend the next three winters there.

On the road from Ketchum to Warm Springs, there was only one building after the Bigwood River Bridge. There was no reason for anyone to live out there because there was no electricity or water beyond the bridge. The ground was pretty fallow and as they said, it wasn’t even good enough to grow potatoes in. The following summer, ski instructor Leon Goodman built what I recall was the first house out there. Prices of real estate were still working against moving that far out of town because you could still buy a vacant lot in Ketchum in the $500 range. I bought my first piece of property in Ketchum right on Trail Creek and the road to Hailey for $350 a couple of years later. There was only one motel in Ketchum, called the Bald Mountain Hot Springs Hotel. As I remember, they had built a wooden pipe from what is now the base of the Warm Springs lift to their hotel and sold the use of that hot water for heating for the houses that were later built along the route.

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Vail Daily column: The soul of the selfie

August 20, 2015 — 

A meeting in Aspen left me a little time afterward to run a trail in the Maroon Bells.

First time there, and boy was I impressed. All Ansel Adams, but in living, breathing color with a living, breathing moose in the trees as I puttered past. More dangerous than a bear, some rangers say. Big anyway.

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Vail Daily Hits and Misses

August 19, 2015 — 

Got a quick Hit or Miss about issues, decisions or goings-on in the valley? Send yours to editor@vaildaily.com to be included.

MISS: From a reader to “Jack Van Ens with his column on voter ID requirements. Low-cost or free photo ID cards are available to qualified citizens most everywhere.”

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Vail Daily column: Exercise gives hope to Parkinson's patients

August 19, 2015 — 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive chronic disease in which dopamine-producing neurons, which influence body movement, gradually disappear from the brain, causing movement disorder as well as other less obvious symptoms. It is the second most prevalent neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s, and it strikes over 60,000 people in the U.S. each year. The Parkinson Association of the Rockies estimates that there are 17,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease in the Rocky Mountain region. As of yet there is no cure.

Most people receiving the devastating diagnosis of Parkinson’s are given few options to help control the symptoms and progression of the disease. Medication and deep brain stimulation as well as a healthy lifestyle are typically mentioned. Exercise is stated as being helpful, but most doctors do not explain why or the vital role it can play.

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Vail Daily column: Goodbye to a true gentleman

August 17, 2015 — 

As I am sure most of you are aware, Happy Valley lost a true giant last week.

He wasn’t in the ski industry, did not own hotels, restaurants or golf courses, and is not quoted in any of the popular tomes written over the years about Vail, yet the vast majority of those who have called this place home over at least a decade know the name: David LeVine.

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Vail Daily column: Skewed U.S. history cons conservatives

August 17, 2015 — 

Up-close, surface cracks mar Thomas Jefferson’s Mount Rushmore profile. Workmen in roped harnesses rappel down stony presidential faces to patch fissures in weather-beaten granite.

Tourists buy touched-up photos of Mount Rushmore’s presidents. They like ideal depictions of our national heroes, featuring unblemished stony complexions.

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Vail Daily column: Vail is at a tipping point

August 14, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com

For most of its first 50 years, Vail has been a “transformational” community — one that was principally concerned with the quality of life and well-being of its residents; a community that rested on personal relationships and shared goals. But questions now are being raised whether Vail has shifted to a “transactional” community where pocketbook concerns predominate and the focus is on the efficiency of impersonal, monetized, person-to-person service transactions. In such a community there is less concern for the quality of life in the push to increase the bottom line or increase sales tax receipts.

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Vail Daily column: A lot to write about

August 14, 2015 — 

Since I got my first job writing a weekly newspaper column for the Vail Daily about 25 years ago ... 52 columns a year, for 25 years, 1,300 columns equals a lot of words!

One of those columns appeared soon after it snowed 99 feet at Mount Baker one winter. Another when it started to become a seven or eight hour drive to go the hundred miles back from Vail to Denver on Sunday night, with a car full of sleepy children and a very sleepy driver. A day in the local mountains skiing with the family is bracketed on each end, with rambunctious children or sound asleep children smelling of melted snow mixed with sweaty wool.

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Vail Daily column: The star of the show

August 13, 2015 — 

And the winner of the first Republican presidential candidate forum: Megyn Kelly.

Yes, the Fox News journalist. Sorry, Donald. This will prove out with time.

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Vail Daily column: Putting students in the center

August 11, 2015 — 

For most adults, the reality is we were passengers in our own education.

We were first sorted by age levels and sorted into grades and then into classes. Within these classes, teachers exposed us to different content — things like math, reading, science, etc. The pace was dictated by how much “stuff” (or facts) a teacher had to cover within the traditional school calendar and away we went. Some of us thrived in this structure, while others struggled.

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Vail Daily column: Uniting against ironic conformity

August 10, 2015 — 

“Just look at what the Republicans have done!”

“I think the Democrats have done more!”

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Vail Daily column: We live in very interesting times

August 9, 2015 — 

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has openly stated how proud they are to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever — 46 million people are recipients of this largesse.

Meanwhile, having just returned from a photo trip to several national parks, I can tell you there are signs posted throughout that read, “Please do not feed the animals.” The stated reason for this obvious and common sense policy is the fear the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to care for themselves.

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Vail Daily column: Kill adversaries with kindness

August 8, 2015 — 

Presidential contender Donald Trump is no Thomas Jefferson in political style. “The Donald” draws verbal swords to strike enemies. He’s a former reality show host whose sharp words bloody opponents.

Trump questioned whether Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War POW, was a hero and blasted the Arizona senator for failing veterans with scant legislative action on their behalf.

Newt Gingrich, former GOP House Speaker who closed down the federal government during Bill Clinton’s presidency, sees Trump acting like a barker at P.T. Barnum’s circus. He knows how to hook a crowd.

“Trump’s very aggressive by nature and prepared to say anything,” admits Newt. “It’s like dealing with nitroglycerin.” Takes one to know one, doesn’t it? Gingrich and Trump never leave listeners guessing where they stand, hurling insults at adversaries.

In contrast, Jefferson appeared as a mild-mannered, courtly Virginia planter. His polished prose pricked opponents in their backs. They hardly felt any bleeding. Jefferson privately wrote scathing indictments against adversaries. In public, he let others smear reputations of those he didn’t like.

He advised, “Take things always by the smooth handle.” That is, don’t fight adversaries with contentious arguments. Rather, Jefferson used wry humor, quotable prose and stories that painted simple, compelling pictures to back up his convictions.

Trump attacks with frontal body blows. His disparaging blasts severe opponents’ mental arteries. In un-like Trump fashion, Jefferson used a pen-knife of sorts. He jabbed enemies in their backs, leaving trickles of blood that eventually weakened them.

Such stark fighting styles remind us of legendary bouts between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. In the ring, “Smokin’ Joe” charged like a grizzly bear. Head-down behind gloves covering his face, Frazier stalked opponents. That’s Trump’s fighting style, too.

Ali acted more like a cougar that circles its prey before pouncing. Up on his toes, Ali danced in half-circles, egging on an opponent to follow him. Then he’d paw the air before jabbing a stalking boxer. These blows to the head and gut took their toll. Floating around the ring, Ali “danced like a butterfly and stung like a bee.”

GOP strategist Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, believes Trump must learn how to work a crowd like Ronald Reagan did. The Great Communicator’s folksy jokes devastated adversaries far more effectively than Trump’s fire and brimstone bombast.

“Our nominee can’t have serrated edges,” warns Pete Wehner, GOP advisor to President George W. Bush. “Like it or not, any effort to create moral or social order will be seen as rigid and judgmental ... . Grace and winsomeness are the ingredients for success in a world where cultural issues (like illegal immigration and same-sex marriage) are at the fore.”

Wehner echoes the Good Book’s advice that Reagan and Jefferson mastered. “Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body ... . A worthless person plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire” (Proverbs 16:24-27).

Trump ignites pent-up rage in the GOP base. He calls the U.S. weak on immigration. Trump demands Uncle Sam push the illegal aliens back and anyone caught is a law-breaker that deserves punishment. Other views on immigration are “stupid,” says Trump. Angry Republicans like his stance: “take no prisoners.”

Such strong-arm tactics have been tried and found wanting in previous presidential campaigns. In 1992, Patrick Buchanan was a verbal flame-thrower like Trump. He ran against then-President George H. W. Bush and young Bill Clinton. Buchanan told Americans that homosexuals deserved AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) which was dubbed the “gay plague.”

Trump-like, he never apologized for insinuating that God curses gays. Like a shooting star, such mean rhetoric fizzled. Buchanan sounded to most Americans like a lout who bullied adversaries.

In 2008, the Republican base listened to another Trump-like voice. Sarah Palin scripted an angry narrative. She said America’s grip on greatness had been lost. Social welfare gave minorities unfair advantages. Hard-working whites couldn’t catch a break in the 2008 Great Recession’s slow recovery, groused Palin. “Are you sick of that hopey, changey stuff yet?” she huffed, mocking candidate Obama’s campaign theme. The Wall Street Journal’s commentator Peggy Noonan criticized Palin because “she wasn’t thoughtful enough to know she wasn’t thoughtful enough.”

Same for Trump. Noonan calls him “a squid; poke him and get ink all over you.” Wise citizens vote for candidates who use measured words, speak deliberately, learn from their mistakes, and raise our spirits. They convince voters the sun shines behind politically rancorous clouds.

Mark Steyn, substitute for vacationing Rush Limbaugh, jokes about Trump’s main accomplishment if he wins the presidency. “A President Trump would have more ex-wives than the previous 44 presidents combined,” said Steyn with fake enthusiasm.

Tired of Trump’s know-it-all bullying, a majority of Americans will reject him at the ballot box.

The Rev. Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax exempt Creative Growth Ministries (www.thelivinghistory.com), which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations aimed to make God’s history come alive.

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