Second opinion: excerpts from commentary in other publications |

Second opinion: excerpts from commentary in other publications

Compiled by Daily Staff

Vail Daily, Oct. 9

Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate for Eagle County’s U.S. House seat, may symbolize the future of the Democratic Party, and perhaps even U.S. politics.

Polis wants to the United States’ future to be about technology and a rejuvenated public school system that can accommodate the brightest students and the most troubled ones.

A lot of politicians can call themselves an “education candidate,” but Polis truly fits the bill, having chaired the Colorado board of education and used the fortune he made as an Internet entrepreneur to start a series of charter schools for immigrants trying to learn English.

Polis has been insightful about the failings of No Child Left Behind and the priority the program places on standardized test scores. He says that policy punishes schools where students struggle even though those are the schools that need the most help. Because of its limited focus, No Child Left Behind stifles innovation, Polis says.

Polis told the Vail Daily earlier this year that the nation’s snowballing mortgage crisis could have been avoided with better financial literacy in schools.

But Polis is not a one-note candidate. He says that along with ending a war in Iraq that jeopardizes U.S. global warming is the most critical global issue. He has advocated surcharges on consumer products that are less energy efficient than the norm and using the revenue to give rebates to Americans who buy energy efficient appliances.

He says he also supports increasing the tax credit for families who install solar panels and also setting up government-backed loans to help people fund the one-time expenditure of installing solar improvements on their home. He also says the federal government should help solve the traffic on the mountain stretch of Interstate 70.

We have heard little from his Republican opponent, engineer Scott Starin. As usual, the Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic 2nd Congressional District isn’t running a very intense campaign, which is a shame in a way because it gives voters only a shallow alternative to the Democratic Party philosophy.

Still, Polis will be an exciting candidate to send to the House. He may be relatively untested in the legislative arena and may be stigmatized by the record amount of money he spent to win the Democratic primary, but he makes up for his lack of experience ” and his deep pockets ” with energy, innovation and some new ideas.

Frank Rich, New York Times, Oct. 12

All’s fair in politics. John McCain and Sarah Palin have every right to bring up William Ayers, even if his connection to Obama is minor, even if Ayers’s Weather Underground history dates back to Obama’s childhood, even if establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform. But it’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.

What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.

Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black ” as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign “suspension,” a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.

But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and Obama have to get there safely. The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.

David Owen, London Times

Oct. 12

Some key decision makers in Israel fear that unless they attack Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities in the next few months, while George W Bush is still president, there will not be another period when they can rely on the United States as being anywhere near as supportive in the aftermath of a unilateral attack.

In the past 40 years there have been few occasions when I have been more concerned about a specific conflict escalating to involve, economically, the whole world. We are watching a disinformation exercise involving a number of intelligence services. Reality is becoming ever harder to disentangle.

Last month a story in The Guardian claimed that on May 14 Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, in a meeting with Bush, had asked for a green light to attack Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. We were told that Bush refused. He believed Iran would see the United States as being behind any such assault and Americans would come under renewed attack in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shipping in the Gulf would be vulnerable. We were told that the source of the story was a European head of government and “his” officials – as if to exclude Angela Merkel and Germany. It is, however, improbable that Israel abandoned its option to take unilateral action.

Three weeks later the Israeli military conducted an exercise over the Mediterranean to demonstrate to the United States as well as Iran that it could attack. More recently there have been a number of stories raising concern about what is happening in Iran.

If Israel were to attack Iran, one Iranian response would be to block the Strait of Hormuz. On September 16 Iran said its Revolutionary Guards would defend the Gulf waters. In the narrow strait just one oil tanker sunk would halt shipping for months. Insurance cover would be refused and owners would fear the risks of sailing even if the U.S. navy cleared mines.

Bush’s legacy would be best served by taking dramatic diplomatic action to prevent a war with Iran. He should publicly warn Israel that the United States will use its air power to prevent it bombing Iran, while announcing that he is sending Rice to Tehran to start negotiating a grand bargain whereby all sanctions would be lifted if Iran forgoes the nuclear weapons option. He could indicate that the negotiations would not continue indefinitely, but they would give his successor, as president, time to consider all the options, military and economic. It would also allow time for Israel either to negotiate a coalition to last until 2010 or to hold elections. It would replace the present multilateral negotiations, which are stalled with Russia and China unwilling to move on strong economic sanctions. Above all, it would be a last act of real statesmanship from Bush who is otherwise destined to end his term a miserable failure.

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