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I can relate

(Re: “It’s all downhill from here” by Linda Boyne in the Aug. 22-28 edition of the Vail Trail.)

I have read your column about bike riding. I couldn’t believe how much your experiences parallel some of mine.

I started skiing, biking, jogging ” all those good things! I thought I’d be able to carry on with them until I was 90.

Suddenly, it all came to an end. I was cleaning leaves from gutters, two stories up, and the ladder slipped. Fortunately, no head injury, but a broken knee, hip, wrist. Three years later, I’m finally able to get on my bike. On my first ride, I felt like a tightrope walker wishing for training wheels.

In earlier years, I went through the whole series of pedal arrangements ” plain pedals, pedals with straps, shoe clips, etc. Now, it’s big fat tires, hiking boots. If somebody waves at me ” sorry, I can’t wave back.

Linda, keep writing your great columns. I look for them all the time.

John Steimle, Minneapolis.

The McCain/Palin ticket has nothing real on which to run. No matter how hard McCain scrambles to hastily reinvent himself, his record and statements all the way up until the past couple weeks prove that a vote for McCain is a vote for more of the same, or maybe the same amped up.

Furthermore, the kind of “change” Palin represents cannot even be taken seriously and is something we surely don’t need and cannot afford.

A vote for Obama is a vote for real change that we need, and it says yes (finally) to we the people. And I believe that Obama is one of those rare individuals to come along who has the intelligence, integrity, diplomatic skills and background to meet difficult challenges and create a truly positive and uplifting transformation for this country and for the position of the United States in the world.

Please vote in your own best interest and in the country’s best interest. Vote for Barack Obama.

Madeline Salocks

Over the past six months, things have changed dramatically and favorably for our prospects to solve the Interstate 70 problem, the unending congestion that makes driving to and from Denver so miserable. Peter Runyon, our Eagle County commissioner, has been front and center in orchestrating these changes.

Known to the public is the recent (May 2008) compromise agreement that largely undoes the efforts of former Gov. Owens to jam highway widening down our throats as the solution to the congestion problems on I-70. A transit system along I-70 is back on the table. Peter Runyon, as vice-chairman of the I-70 coalition, played an important role in winning this compromise between the Colorado Department of Transportation and a coalition of governments and business interests along I-70.

Unknown to the public has been the behind-the-scenes efforts of Runyon. I personally was invited to three high-level meetings in the past several months in which I briefed the executive director of the state’s Transportation Department, Russ George, and Gov. Bill Ritter’s policy staff on a rapid-transit solution. I was asked to do this as I was the COO of Transport Ventures, the international consortium that proposed the high-speed monorail for I-70 that was on the statewide ballot in 2001.

These meetings were organized by Peter Runyon.

The good news is there has been a sea change in attitude in the state Legislature regarding I-70 since the Democrats took over from the Republicans. The difference in attitude between Govs. Owens and Ritter is like night and day. Transport Ventures found that most Republican legislators were hostile to a transit solution and thought only of highway widening (67 percent of them voted against a transit solution when we were presenting our proposal to the state Legislature in 2000). Sen. Hugh Fowler, a good friend who worked hard for our proposal, would anguish over why so many of his fellow Republicans are hostile to the idea of rapid transit.

So where does Republican Dick Gustafson, Peter Runyon’s opponent in the upcoming election, stand on I-70? I have scoured his pronouncements and could find nothing ” he is silent on the issue. Surprising, as this is the issue that may impact Eagle County’s future most.

Peter Runyon has a quiet, professional manner, he listens, and he is able to bring people together. He has been remarkably effective in advancing Eagle County’s interests regarding I-70.

Tom Hopkins, Vail

Among the “fallout” from a recent issue of the Denver Post and 70-odd other papers around the country, was a DVD titled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” The flier accompanying the DVD asks, “How can you help fight radical Islam?” The sponsor of the film is the Clarion Fund, which declares itself an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to educating the public about national security issues. A look at the Clarion Fund’s Web site tells very little about who the organization is such as names of staff and board directors.

The hourlong film starts with horrific video footage of terrorist attacks around the world over the past decade. It continues with footage of various imams in the Middle East and followers cheering the attacks of Sept. 11. The speakers in the film include academics, policy center experts on Islam, former PLO terrorists, the daughter of a Muslim martyr and a former Hitler Youth commander. The film concludes with scenes of young Muslims being recruited for jihad and draws a parallel with the Nazi strategy of using propaganda to recruit youth into its youth corp with radical Islam’s use of propaganda to lure young boys and girls to jihad.

The film and flier advertise several Web sites to promote activism, become a member and seek donations. One of the sites offers articles ranging from Gregory M. Davis’ view that the non-Muslim world is at war with all of Islam to Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who recently spoke at the Vilar Center), who addressed women’s rights, or lack thereof, in traditional Muslim society. The film has created an uproar by those who see it as a hate campaign against Muslims. The 70 or so papers, including the New York Times, that distributed the DVD and have accepted advertising money for the film have also come under attack.

Some political strategists think this is a political ploy to heighten terrorists fears among voters on the theory that Republicans are tougher against terrorist threats than Democrats. Voter polls validate this theory, and you may wonder how this perception came to be. Immediately after Sept. 11, Karl Rove established a strategy to politicize the “war on terror.” This led to a constant drumbeat by Republicans leading up to the 2004 election (and to this day) that Democrats were soft on national security. Democrats generally played into this trap by having the audacity of asking the question of how and why someone could hate us so much. Those kinds of questions were the furthest thing from the groupthink in the Bush administration, which was hellbent to start a war with Iraq, export democracy to the Middle East and secure another friendly oil exporting country.

As I pondered the film and the associated articles, several things became clear. Depending upon who’s counting, there are about 1.4 billion Muslims in the world.

The former PLO terrorists in the film estimated that between 10 percent and 15 percent of Muslims are terrorists. Doing the math results in a possible Islamic terrorist population of 210 million people, roughly equivalent to the U.S. population age 18 or older. Still another substantial percentage of all Muslims view the West negatively, but are not of a violent nature. Then there is the observation by Ms. Hirsi Ali that “Muslims are as diverse as Islam is monolithic … Islam attempts to unify more than 1 billion people of different geographical origins, languages, ethnicities and cultural and educational backgrounds into one religious tribe.”

Clearly, this will not be a war ultimately won by bullets or bombs. Also clearly, we cannot confuse the war on terror with a misguided goal to export democracy around the world. As we have learned the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan, these countries have a cultural hierarchy of family, then tribe and then religion ” all of which are closely intertwined. The concept of a nation-state is alien to all but the most highly educated of these cultures. Winning the hearts and minds in the recruitment of jihadists requires Islamic propaganda that is fed by causes, fed by a supply of “fuel.”

Our presence in Iraq, the embarrassment of Abu Ghraib, our sinking into the practice of using torture at Guantanamo and outsourced prisons around the world, and our taking of innocent civilian lives (“collateral damage”) have been a constant source of fuel to inflame Muslim people. However, these issues are either behind us or will end before long. The most enduring cause of radical Islam has been our unflinching alliance with Israel. This is the one cause that we will not withdraw, and yet a peaceful solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as daunting as that challenge is, will inflict a mortal blow to the recruitment and survival of terrorists in the Islamic world. It will be the achievement of peace, and not a war, that will ultimately end the war on terror.

Jim Cameron, Eagle-Vail


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