VIEWPOINTS Saturday, December 23, 2017 East Oregonian Page 5A The pain and joy of watching girls grow up ast week, The Oregonian but Hallmark has a way of published a story describing capturing the moment and while the growing number of people their programming for their special who were tuning to the Hallmark movies is superb, it’s their ads holiday series, in many cases trying that I find the most intriguing. The to escape from the news of the day. formula for their movies is also We live in unsettling times and pretty predictable but it doesn’t as the holiday season moves into stop them from being a marvelous full swing, it is important we find escape. George sources of reflection and comfort Somehow, they know what Murdock that remind us of the true joys of this moves us. Comment magical time. Dads are the members of the I love that old Hallmark ad family whose emotions are expected where the farmer dons a wool coat, puts on to remain somewhere on a shelf. It’s all his gloves and boots, picks up his lantern about the “guy thing.” and trudges through the snow to the top In the case of sons, there are male outlets that, while not classified as emotional of a special hill where he stands looking experiences, are macho events that are wondrously at the clear winter sky and physically manifested in things like hunting, watches Christmas Eve fold into Christmas fishing, attending sports events, chasing morning. There is no doubt this is a tradition cows, watching Monday Night Football or he has maintained for several decades. a host of other similar activities. When it Just before the transition takes place, he reaches into the pocket of his coat and brings comes to those sweet young girls who are now wives and mothers or on the verge, out a card written to him by a daughter who well, we don’t know exactly where we fit lives far enough away that on this night, she in anymore. For dads who have daughters is not able to share the moment in person who have now grown up, moved away and with her father. It is apparent that on many started families and lives of their own, our such previous occasions, however, she was opportunities to bond are more limited. with him for this magical moment and she When I first wrote this column, my own reminds him in writing that while she cannot two daughters were in their 30s and I was be standing beside him on the hilltop, she is blessed with a new generation who were 7 still there in spirit and in memory. and 4 at the time. Now, that 7 year old is only His face becomes a mixture of reflection months away from high school graduation. and guarded emotion. When I first wrote, I talked about my Oh, I know it’s only an advertisement, L daughters as the same young ladies who, just Sadly, like the lonely farmer who walks a few years ago, were happy to sit on our solo to the top of the hill, some only will be laps, beg us to take them shopping because able to talk by phone or read a message. In they knew dad was a little looser with the other cases, there might be a chance to travel wallet, or stand awkwardly in the living across the country to join them. room while a shaking In all cases, they will be young 16-year-old tried in our hearts. to pin on a corsage as we Many of us grew Dads are the snapped multiple photos. up in an age when Ten years ago I was communication meant members of the comforted by the fact they writing and we still have family whose had provided me with little the cards those little girls ones who were only too made for us on special emotions are happy to sit on my lap, listen occasions. Many of us also to stories and be reminded letters and cards sent expected to remain have the old guy they call papa by special people in our actually once looked like lives who are now only a somewhere on their own dad, amazing as memory. the concept might seem. My two daughters and the shelf. These same little ones my two granddaughters live looked through old pictures not far away and we will be that provided evidence there was once a lot together for part of the holidays, although we less of papa except on top where once upon a now share them with other families. time he had hair. As their father and grandfather, I’m not As they transition to adulthood, these exactly sure what the equation is supposed to girls become a new source of pride in other look like now that they are in their 40s and ways as they increasingly take on important late teens, but somehow the Christmas season professional and leadership roles in the always serves as a reminder of the joy they communities to which they have migrated. have provided throughout each transition in That phenomenon, perhaps, makes the their life and mine. equation even a little more confusing. And I can’t think of a more meaningful Christmas is just a few days away and gift to reflect upon. dads all over Eastern Oregon will be having ■ another chance to spend a few hours or a few George Murdock is a Umatilla County days with those little girls. Commissioner. Politics should step aside when children’s health at risk The Interior Department is being destroyed T his year has been one of Right now there is a bipartisan stark partisanship, with bill ready and waiting to be rhetoric from both sides brought to the Senate floor. It of the aisle seeking to stress would extend the Children’s differences between Democrats Health Insurance Program through and Republicans. But one thing I 2022. It was passed by the Finance thought we all could agree on is Committee with unanimous that we need to do everything we support. The Senate could take can to look out for our children. I up that bill right now and pass Jeff see our responsibility and mission it. So what’s the holdup? Why is Merkley health care for our children being as legislators — and the core Comment purpose of our Constitution — as disrupted? ensuring children have safe spaces, The answer makes my blood full bellies, and good health. boil: It is a pawn in cynical That’s why I am outraged that the political machinations. The majority majority in Congress has refused to act leadership in Congress is using the health to renew the Children’s Health Insurance and well-being of thousands of children Program, commonly referred to as CHIP. in Umatilla County and 9 million children For 20 years the across the country program, with strong as a bargaining chip. bipartisan support, Instead of taking up this has ensured that no bipartisan bill, they’re children fall through holding it hostage to the cracks of our health try to win concessions care system. It provides in budget negotiations. states with funding The most the majority to cover health care is willing to give our expenses for children children is a paltry whose families have three-month extension incomes too high to of the program that was qualify for Medicaid, included in a continuing but too low to afford appropriations bill. expensive private Three months is coverage. unacceptable; we need Oregon’s CHIP program, called Oregon to create stability and reliability for our Healthy Kids, last year helped more than children by reauthorizing this program for 140,000 Oregon children access health years to come. care. Thanks to CHIP, 1,899 children The holidays are around the corner, from Umatilla County — that’s 9 percent and no parents should have to worry at of children in the county — this year this time of year that an illness or injury have been able to access check-ups, could endanger their child’s life or family’s immunizations, dental care, doctors’ visits, finances. I am urging my Senate colleagues and other important health care services. on both sides of the aisle to urgently Funding for CHIP expired on September prioritize issues that are essential to 30, because Congress failed to extend working folks — like ensuring the children funding for the program. Every single state who rely on CHIP can keep getting the care in America — 50 out of 50 states — has a they need. CHIP program. There is no reason I can see that we Oregon, along with five other states, shouldn’t be able to agree that protecting will run out of CHIP money this month. health care for 9 million children across Another 25 states will run out of CHIP the country is an absolute top priority. That money in the first three months of 2018. is our responsibility. That should be our It is completely unacceptable that the mission. We must get it done. Nine million Congressional majority allowed CHIP to American children are waiting. expire — and it’s even more outrageous ■ that they’ve waited 82 days and counting to Jeff Merkley is Oregon’s junior U.S. reauthorize it. Senator. Thousands of children in Umatilla County and 9 million across the country cannot be a bargaining chip. LETTERS POLICY The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public issues and public policies for publication in the newspaper and on our website. The news- paper reserves the right to withhold letters that address concerns about individual services and products or letters that infringe on the rights of private citizens. Sub- mitted letters must be signed by the author and include the city of residence and a daytime phone number. The phone number will not be published. Unsigned letters will not be published. Send letters to managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, 211 S.E. Byers Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. uring his confirmation argues, military leaders who take hearing and throughout civilian leadership positions late in his time in office, Interior their careers often find the transition Secretary Ryan Zinke has presented jarring and confusing. Some expect himself as an admirer of Teddy the rest of the world to match their Roosevelt and a believer in military experiences and are lost conservation. But less than a year when it doesn’t happen. into his tenure, his leadership has Zinke insists on seeing our Raul produced an existential crisis at the nation’s conservation and wildlife Grijalva management agencies as military Department of the Interior. Comment Zinke has surprised many with branches, which sometimes combine his willingness to support President forces on particular missions, and Trump’s extreme environmental policies, himself as a general leading the fight. including the recent attempt to erase most The fundamental difference in structures, of two national monuments in Utah from purposes and operating cultures between the map. Those policies have extended to Interior, which manages our national parks the attempted dismantling of the Interior and natural resources, and the Pentagon, Department itself, which, as which fights terrorism and Zinke recently told Outside conducts military operations Magazine, he plans to overseas, is lost on him. reorganize along the lines of The National Park Service, a “military command.” He the U.S. Fish and Wildlife indicated to Congress earlier Service, the Bureau of Land this year that this plan will Management and other include losing approximately agencies manage our federal 4,000 Interior staff and slashing the lands for balanced use and public enjoyment, department’s budget by $1.6 billion. but they follow different laws and mandates. This plan has not improved Interior’s There’s a reason you can drill for oil on already low staff morale, which Zinke BLM land but not in a national park. To damaged earlier this year when he claimed order agencies with different priorities to (inaccurately) that a large percentage of work together on some vaguely defined personnel were not loyal to “the flag.” To “operational” basis is a recipe for confusion boost esprit de corps, he has installed a and inevitable staff attrition, though this deer-hunting video game at headquarters might suit the Trump administration just fine. and instituted “bring a dog to work day,” It is impossible to criticize this on the neither of which have had any effect on the merits because not only are there no merits, underlying substantive reason employees are there seems to be no real plan. Neither Zinke worried. nor his assistants have opened the specifics As part of his reorganization, Zinke of their proposed reorganization to public or congressional input. It shouldn’t be too intends to move the headquarters of several much to ask for Zinke to explain his thinking agencies more than a thousand miles from before he starts making irreversible moves. Washington, D.C., to be closer to what he Until that happens, we’re in the dark. calls “the front line.” As he describes it, these drastic moves will result in multiple agencies Zinke has provided no data to explain how the move will save time or taxpayer money. with different missions operating under what he calls a “Joint Management Agency” It is not based on any demonstrated public structure similar to a joint military command. demand. Despite his professed respect for military-style operational planning, Zinke is “That’s how we fight wars,” Zinke taking an enormous leap forward based on reportedly said in outlining his vision to employees at Alaska’s Denali National Park. spotty personnel management theories and a hunch that it might work. Tellingly, this is just part of the secretary’s As the saying goes, if all you have broader attempt to militarize the department is a hammer, everything looks like a he now oversees. As the Washington Post nail. Secretary Zinke’s military career is reported in October, the former Navy SEAL impressive, but it did not provide him with demands that a DOI employee raise a flag the broad array of skills his current job over the building whenever he enters his demands. The secretary is not at war. He office in Washington and lower it when he needs to retreat. leaves. ■ He should read the literature on military Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Arizona, is a management theory more closely. A 2012 contributor to Writers on the Range, the Army War College research paper titled opinion service of High Country News. He is “Leading Change: Military Leadership in the second-most senior member of the House Civilian Organizations” describes what Natural Resources Committee. Zinke is doing and why it fails. As the paper D There are no merits, there is no plan.