Opinion Columns, Columnists

Reagan: The media’s lynching of Ray Rice

September 14, 2014 — 

Let’s get to the burning national media issue of the week — Ray Rice and spousal abuse.

All the professional media moralizers are jumping on the politically correct Rice soapbox to prove to each other how much they are against physically abusing women.

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Sirota: Shareholders’ quest for more transparency

September 14, 2014 — 

If you own a share of a company, how much information about the company are you entitled to? That is the question embedded in the debate over a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would force publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending to their shareholders.

As of this month, a 2011 petition to the SEC proposing the rule has received more than 1 million comments — most of them in favor of the mandate. Supporters of the rule, some of whom demonstrated outside the SEC last week, say that’s the highest number of public comments ever submitted in response to a petition for a SEC rule. That level of public engagement, the proponents say, means the agency must stop delaying and implement the proposal. They also say that as hundreds of millions of dollars flood into politics through anonymous “dark money” sources, the rule is more needed than ever.

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Writers on the Range: Heard Around the West

September 13, 2014 — 

UTAH

If you’re an education blogger in Utah, don’t try to tell your online students that English words that sound the same sometimes mean different things — i.e., “for,” “four” and “fore.” The technical term for this confusing aspect of the language is “homophone” — but when Tim Torkildson tried explaining this to his mostly foreign students, his boss, Clarke Woodger, fired him for promoting a “gay agenda.” Woodger, who founded the Nomen Global Language Center 15 years ago, seemed utterly confounded by the word, hearing only the “homo” part of it. As Torkildson wrote on his blog, Woodger complained that “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality. … We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I’ll have your check ready.” The Salt Lake Tribune jumped on the story, perhaps because it was worthy of the satirical publication The Onion. It quotes Woodger, who explained that because his students come from 58 countries, they “are at basic levels of English and are not ready for the more complicated concepts such as homophones.” Let Esquire blogger Charles P. Pierce provide a tongue-in-cheek definition for this pesky word: “As everyone in Utah knows,” he wrote, “the homophone is what you use to call your decorator.”

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Littwin: Committed to winning the war on terror, in the same old way

September 13, 2014 — 

It was sad to watch, but, I guess, inevitable. In delivering a strong and decisive speech on how to deal with the ISIS threat, Barack Obama resoundingly answered his critics — by sounding just like them.

As Philip Gourevitch points out in the New Yorker, every American president over the last 25 years — Bush the Elder, Clinton, Bush II and now Obama — has eventually gone on TV to announce his decision to bomb Iraq.

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Earthly Idea: Fracking and natural gas a dangerous addiction

September 13, 2014 — 

Pro-fracking ads on TV now rival in frequency the ones for expensive pharmaceuticals we’ll never need. My gut reaction is that anyone who needs to advertise that heavily — or can afford to — must be ripping us off royally somehow. So, though fracking and natural gas drilling are not Summit County issues, per se, they are highly important for Colorado and the country. Even if political maneuvering will keep them off the ballot this year, we need to learn as much as we can about them.

Starting with natural gas: As fossil fuels go, it’s a superhero. Natural gas burns far cleaner than coal or oil. Also far more efficient, it generates much less carbon dioxide per amount of energy. Transported easily by pipeline, it is perfect for home heating and cooking. And it is ideal for meeting peak power demand, a key need for electric utilities. Unlike coal and nuclear power plants or wind and solar power, gas turbines can easily be turned on and off to match demand.

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Ask Eartha: A can-do attitude preserves bounty of summer

September 12, 2014 — 

Dear Eartha,

I am a gardener, and I love the money I save during the summer months by growing my own produce. I also have an abundance of food that I never know what to do with. Is there a way I can preserve and make use of the fresh food that I grow?

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Writers on the Range: Two flat tires on the sage grouse express

September 11, 2014 — 

Some interests potentially inconvenienced by the Endangered Species Act are so terrified of the law that it often succeeds best when threatened but not invoked.

So it may be with ongoing efforts to save the greater sage grouse.

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Writers on the Range: Congress ignores the West’s firefighting needs

September 11, 2014 — 

Congress still hasn’t figured out how to pay for wildfires. Choked by partisan bickering and entrenched refusals to compromise, the 113th Congress has passed the fewest pieces of legislation of any Congress in the past two decades — just 108 significant laws, compared to nearly 170 per session from 1995 to 2010.

One of the most notable bills languishing without action would fix the long-standing, serious problem of how we pay for fighting wildfires without plundering the federal programs meant to keep the woods from burning. “It’s a catch-22,” says Jim Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors’ Association. “Firefighting shouldn’t come at the expense of fire prevention.” Each year across the nation, wildfires burn an average of 7 million acres, and while the U.S. Forest Service allocates about 40 percent of its budget to firefighting, in extreme years that funding burns up by July or August, a month or more before fire season ends.

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Bargell: Play me some mountain music

September 10, 2014 — 

Summer in the Summit serves up a smorgasbord of musical options suited for every taste, and last week was a good one to take it all in. From Cash to Floyd with some Lez Zeppelin in the mix, it’s difficult to imagine a more eclectic offering.

For the last two weekends local talent was in prime form in the Backstage Theatre’s production of “Shrek.” Watching friends and neighbors perform at the Riverwalk has become a Labor Day tradition in many households around the county, and ours is no exception. This year’s fairy-tale production dispensed lessons for prince and princess alike. The modern twists woven into the typical happily-ever-after ending left us all laughing. The show pokes fun at the plight of the ever-waiting-to-be-rescued princess, and in the end reminds us that it’s best just to be comfortable in our own skin — even if it’s green. Hopefully, the kids will remember too that real royalty is a matter of the heart. Perhaps most profoundly the show left me wondering where I could get a Lord Farquaad get-up for Halloween. It was perfect. Kudos to all the brave souls who took to the stage; hopefully, the outpouring of community support made clear how much we appreciate your hard work.

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Liddick: Regulating toward Utopia, or at least an affordable Colorado condo

September 10, 2014 — 

Savarra Sullivan needs a home of her own.

Sullivan, a single mother with twin 4-year-olds, lives in Whittier. A preschool teacher and part-time community organizer, she has an affordable-housing apartment, but has been looking for a condominium for a couple years. Unsuccessfully. She is now pinning her hopes on proposals in the Denver City Council for an “affordable housing fund” which would funnel public money into subsidies for people in her position, that she may finally purchase one of these relatively expensive and rare properties.

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Mountain Law: How much force are Colorado police allowed to use during an arrest?

September 10, 2014 — 

How much force are Colorado police officers allowed to use when making an arrest? This article provides an overview of the law in this area.

Colorado law generally authorizes police officers to use all necessary and reasonable force to make an arrest. Specifically, Colorado law authorizes police officers to use force to carry out an arrest or prevent a suspect from escaping, or to defend themselves or a third person from use or imminent use of force.

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Littwin: Did Corry Gardner win the debate but lose the fight?

September 9, 2014 — 

GRAND JUNCTION — Let’s cut to the chase. Debates are notoriously hard to judge, but here’s my best guess: In the big Saturday night showdown here with Mark Udall, Cory Gardner won the debate and lost the fight.

Gardner performed exactly as expected. He was slick and he was smooth and he was quick on his feet. He smiled when he was attacking and he smiled even in the rare instances when he wasn’t.

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Pheil: Earn money for charity while working out

September 7, 2014 — 

You live in Summit County. Therefore, according to (almost) entirely irrefutable logic, you either walk, run and/or bike, or you know someone who does.

What if every time you (or that person you know) walked, ran or biked, that effort was earning money for charity all the while?

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Sirota: The GOP’s fear of higher voter turnout

September 7, 2014 — 

It is rare for a politician to publicly deride efforts to boost voter turnout. It is seen as a taboo in a country that prides itself on its democratic ideals. Yet, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week slammed efforts to simplify voter registration.

Referring to Illinois joining other states — including many Republican-led ones — in passing a same-day voter registration law, Christie said: “Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking. It’s shocking. I’m sure it was all based on public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.”

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Biff America: A bike-ride flashback

September 6, 2014 — 

It happened last week; it felt like 35 years ago.

I was riding my bicycle on a dark road to see a woman. It was the same road that I’ve biked, on and off, for over three decades.

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Bird: Marijuana limo tours lead us down the road to ruin

September 6, 2014 — 

Re: the recent Summit Daily News article on the limo marijuana tour (Aug. 26).

I suggest another tour. First rent the largest, most comfortable tour bus available with a driver. Fill it with Colorado parents. Then drive them around the state to all the elementary, middle and high schools while the children are at play.

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Littwin: Conservative Cory Garnder can’t keep a straight face

September 5, 2014 — 

If every picture of Cory Gardner shows him flashing a big smile, there’s a reason. And it’s not just because he’s a friendly, likable guy (although he is).

The reason for the big smile, I’d guess, is that he’s having trouble keeping a straight face.

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Writers on the Range: Yes, wildlife contraception works

September 4, 2014 — 

When my 12-year-old son encounters any phenomenon that doesn’t yet fit into his worldview, he’ll sometimes ask, “Dad, is that a ‘thing,’” meaning, is it something worth caring about?

This isn’t just my son’s problem, of course; at times we all face bewildering novelty. And if it’s a thing like a new technology that makes us confront our deeply rooted feelings about nature, we might find ourselves turning away from it.

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Young: ‘Overkill’: 21st century term for inexcusable policing

September 4, 2014 — 

When fire hoses sent black bodies skidding and writhing along the sidewalks of Birmingham in 1963, a lot of white people, high and dry, nodded, “Well, if that’s what it takes to keep the peace ...”

And so it goes, 51 years later: different police-tactic horrors, but the same nodding of the self-satisfied and oblivious.

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Ask Eartha: More to the Paleo diet than meats the eye

September 3, 2014 — 

Dear Eartha,

I keep hearing about the Paleo diet, which from my understanding promotes eating fresh fruits, vegetables and lots of meat. From an environmental standpoint, what is your opinion about this diet?

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Sirota: Should companies have to pay taxes?

September 1, 2014 — 

Reading companies’ annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission is a reliable cure for insomnia. Every so often, though, there is a significant revelation in the paperwork. This year, one of the most important revelations came from Microsoft’s filings, which spotlighted how the tax code allows corporations to enjoy the benefits of American citizenship yet avoid paying U.S. taxes.

According to the SEC documents, the company is sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore. That amount of money represents a significant spike from prior years.

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Biff America: A fall from (lack of) grace

August 30, 2014 — 

My friends have been dropping like flies this summer.

Broken bones, deep cuts, fractured feet and concussions have been sustained and suffered by more than a few of my pals. That does not include the numerous stress fractures, planta fasciitis and various over-use injuries.

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Littwin: In Colorado, we call an unforced error a Beauprez

August 29, 2014 — 

Bob Beauprez has done it again. He talked. And you know what happens whenever Beauprez opens his mouth.

That’s right. He reminds us why he lost by 17 points the last time he ran for governor.

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Ask Eartha: Flame retardants and parental pajama panic

August 28, 2014 — 

Dear Eartha,

I’m a new mom and have heard that kids’ pajamas contain flame retardant. Is that true?

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Young: Security! Security! Brown skin alert

August 27, 2014 — 

How to describe Congressman Paul Ryan’s reaction when Ray Jose showed up at his Florida book signing?

Let’s say it was like a vegetarian who, suitably bibbed for a suitable meal, sees a rack of lamb slide before him.

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Bargell: Summit County mountain mom parses acceptance and expectation

August 27, 2014 — 

One of the very first rites of passage for all new kindergartners is identifying their classmates in a new environment, from lunch to recess, and all that falls between. When our girls started kinder the teachers, well versed in 5-year-olds, did not distinguish the classes simply as group one and group two. Instead, they made it fun for the tykes, each classroom receiving an animal name. Some were monkeys, and others were hippos. The kids understood right away where they belonged and embraced, figuratively at least, their respective animals. Because they attended a dual-language school the group names also had their Spanish counterparts, mono and hipopótamo. These were distinctions even this non-Spanish speaker could figure out.

One night at dinner I asked them about their classmates, boldly inquiring in Spanish how the rest of the little “manos” were doing. The blank stare I received in response made it clear something was lost in the translation. The monkey gestures I used to get across my point sent them into a fit of giggles. It seemed I had asked about how the class of little “hands” was doing, the Spanish translation for the word “mano.” For this English-speaking Midwesterner it seemed like a reasonable mistake to make. The story came to mind earlier this week as our family welcomed to our home an exchange student from Turkey who will be staying with us for the next few months. At dinner one night we laughed together at my pronunciation of kefir, a word of Turkish origin, and I was reminded of our little monkeys of long ago. Our exchange student will attend Summit High through Rotary International, and we are only starting to learn about all the Rotary program does to promote understanding among cultures and kids of every nation. The tragic events last week overseas only emphasize the importance of building friendship and trust, one person — one student — at a time. There must be an alternative to spawning hatred.

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Liddick: Big government the cause, not the cure, of social unrest

August 26, 2014 — 

My wife and I were chatting with old friends — let’s call them the Pauls. We have known each other for decades and still meet a couple times a year to catch up. The Pauls, who live in Michigan, are one of America’s failed experiments with Socialist unionism, lean Left, so our discussions are often … lively.

They are well-educated, intelligent, informed conversationalists. But they argue differently than we, so we sometimes talk past one another. In this, we’re a microcosm of the country at large: we cannot agree, not only because our perceptions differ, but because our reasoning does too. The arguments of the Left usually involve emotion, both positive and negative. Conservatives rely on the opposite half of the brain, on calculation and memory. Thus, both find the others’ points unpersuasive: they’re delivered to the wrong address.

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Ackland: Secrecy never went away at Rocky Flats

August 24, 2014 — 

June 6, 1989: In a dramatic, unprecedented raid on a federal nuclear facility, more than 70 U.S. agents burst into the sprawling Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver seeking evidence of environmental crimes involving radioactive plutonium. Led by FBI special agent Jon Lipsky, the raid was kept secret from Colorado Gov. Roy Romer and the area’s congressman, David Skaggs. Afterward, Romer angrily said, “It jars me to the bone that judgments we have made in Colorado about Rocky Flats may have been made on bad information.”

June 7, 2014: I am among several people backstage at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities — not far from the now dismantled Rocky Flats plant — with Romer, Skaggs and Lipsky. The two former officeholders had just met the former FBI agent for the first time. All were about to participate in a public discussion marking the 25th anniversary of the raid.

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Sirota: Journalists on government’s information blacklist

August 24, 2014 — 

As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street, and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, a study released earlier this month revealed that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work.

The data about public information officers was compiled over the last few years by Kennesaw State University professor Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that four in 10 public information officers say “there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past.”

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Biff America: Grammy was hot

August 23, 2014 — 

I was in my late teens before I learned my grandmother was unattractive.

Of course, I knew she wasn’t a beauty as an elderly woman. But I still was going under the illusion that, in her day, my grandmother, Bridget Sheeley, was a babe. I was fed this misinformation by her second husband, my step-grandfather, Frank McLaughlin.

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