Cheers and jeers

Thumbs up to Cycle Oregon, inspiring recoveries; down to exploiting tragedy

Cheers — to Cycle Oregon, which arrived in Ashland Wednesday on its 25th ride through the state, and to Ashland's own Jim Beaver, who came up with the idea for the event in 1987. Since then, the annual bicycle tour has lured 44,000 riders who logged more than 20 million miles and pumped more than $137 million into the state's economy. This year's ride began Sunday in Bly and will end there Saturday after stops in Silver Lake, Fort Klamath, Prospect, Ashland and Klamath Falls. Beaver is riding along this year, and will be honored in a ceremony in Ashland tonight.

Jeers — to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who tried to capitalize on the deaths of four Americans in a terrorist attack in Libya before he had all the facts — and then refused to back down the next day.

A low-budget film produced in the United States that lampooned the prophet Muhammad outraged Muslims after an Arabic translation of a trailer was publicized in Egypt. On Tuesday, rioting erupted in Cairo. On the same day, attackers armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing the U.S. ambassador and three other American diplomats.

On Tuesday night, Romney seized on a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo — before any attacks had taken place — that said the embassy "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.''

Romney said that amounted to an "apology" for America and its values of freedom of speech. He repeated the criticism Wednesday, by which time it appeared the attack in Libya may have been planned in advance and may have had nothing to do with the anti-Muslim film.

We're willing to take most campaign rhetoric with a grain of salt. But exploiting a national security incident that took American lives for political gain is crossing the line. Don't take just our word for it. Several prominent Republicans called Romney's statements ill-advised and off-base.

Cheers — to several local residents who are showing what determination and courage can accomplish after serious illness or injury. Eagle Point school administrator Tiffany O'Donnell is back at work full time after a devastating motorcycle crash two years ago. Skateboarder Matt Hankey, a senior at South Medford High School, is vowing to make a full recovery from a stroke that left him unable to move or speak. And Hidden Valley High School senior C.J. Severson is equally determined to come back from a spinal injury he suffered in a trampoline accident.

The courage and strength of all three is inspiring.

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