East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, December 23, 2017, WEEKEND EDITION, Page Page 5A, Image 5

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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
sources of reflection and comfort
Somehow, they know what
that remind us of the true joys of this
moves us.
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,
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
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.
Politics should step aside
when children’s health at risk
The Interior Department
is being destroyed
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
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
purpose of our Constitution — as
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
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.
of children in
Umatilla County
and 9 million
across the country
cannot be a
bargaining chip.
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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
produced an existential crisis at the
nation’s conservation and wildlife
Grijalva management agencies as military
Department of the Interior.
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
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.
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
There are no
merits, there
is no plan.