Steven Hofman: No more name calling

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Dear editor,

There is much to react to in Ken Collins’ recent letter to the Pilot (“The ‘other’ party,” Dec. 7). As a Republican who had the privilege of serving the American people as a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee, allow me to speak to the question posed in Mr. Collins’ letter with reference to the GOP: “Just how cruel does one have to be to be in that party?”

The idea that such a question would be posed is exactly what is increasingly wrong today about public discourse. People clearly have different perspectives, views and beliefs about what are the best policy choices to achieve America’s core goal, as stated in the very beginning of our Constitution, “to form a more perfect union.” That is why we have elections, why we have political parties and why our institutions of governance are built on a foundation of representative leadership.

But little is achieved, and can be achieved, if we allow our differences in what may the right and best path for our nation to drive us to accuse those who disagree with us as somehow being less virtuous and more mean spirited as a result of our disagreements.

After all, was President Barack Obama cruel when he was against same-sex marriage prior to changing his mind just in the past 18 months? Are the many Democrat officeholders at the national or more local levels of government cruel because they oppose certain restrictions on gun ownership that I as a Republican happen to support? Is it not a legitimate area of debate to consider the impact on job creation when government makes the cost of labor uncompetitive when compared to technology or foreign sources. Perhaps that is why until recent years, the editorial position of the The New York Times was that the minimum wage should be $0.00. That wasn’t the GOP position, it was The New York Times’.

These are challenging times, here in the U.S. and around the world. I may not think that the best answers to many of today’s challenges are found in the approaches largely championed by the Democratic Party, but that belief does not drive me to assign unkind motives to those fellow citizens who support the Democratic Party.

Mr. Collins probably would disagree with me on most policy matters. That’s OK, but before he calls me or fellow Republicans cruel, he may want to ask himself if this approach to political discussion is the best way to do what our founders hoped in urging successor generations since the birth of our great nation to engage in collective efforts to form a more perfect union. I suspect that name calling was not on their list.

Sincerely,

Steven Hofman

Former U.S. assistant secretary of labor and director of research and policy for the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Thomss Steele 4 months ago

Mr Hofman, I agree with your article and I hope its message carries well. It has been my experience however that our friends on the left just can't act or converse in a civil manner. Today's public discourse would have men like Tip O'Neill turning in his grave. A man I rarely agreed with but who showed that our nations interest could be served hororably without public insult.

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Rick Akin 4 months ago

Well said, Steve. We would all benefit from more thoughtful discussion and less ranting. As Thomas Jefferson observed, “Resort is had to ridicule only when reason is against us.”

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Dave McClure 4 months ago

Name calling? Are your feelings hurt? Different perspectives? Core values? The republican party, today, is one of the largest detriments to our economic recovery, so I challenge you Mr. Hofman to a debate. Let's make it a public debate. You name the time and the place and bring your friends. Also bring your facts! There will be no name calling. Just facts! Your feelings maybe hurt, but criticism confirmed is usually painful. So let me know. I live at 2354 Savoy Place. Give me a call 291.9251.

Sincerely, Dave McClure Vietnam combat vet Retired University of Tennessee Librarian Union organizer

ps. can't wait to hear from you.

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jerry carlton 4 months ago

And this grand debate will accomplish what? Liberals are liberals, conseratives are conseratives. Jerry Carlton USAF Veteran, Vietnam era, Retired Jack of all Trades, Master of None

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Rick Akin 4 months ago

Here is a suggestion for you, Mr. McClure. Why don't you write an op-ed for the Pilot laying out your position? Then everyone can consider your arguments and do their own research. An informed discussion can follow.

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Ken Collins 4 months ago

I will admit "cruel" is a little over the top. "Un-empathetic" would be a better choice. One thing is clear. No matter who is the POTUS and who holds the reins of government, the well-heeled will do well. But the not so well off and definitely the poor, elderly, veterans and disadvantaged take it hard when the GOP is calling the shots. And add to that, women and their health and reproductive issues. If you're against a woman having choice or gays marrying, fine. Keep it to yourself and don't push it on everybody. If you are losing elections, don't restrict peoples' voting rights, since voter fraud is really non-existent. Fix your message instead. You don't like the ACA, then fix what is the law and don't advocate people to not get insurance just so you can try to kill the law. You don't like the labor numbers? Stop giving breaks to companies sending jobs to sweat shops overseas. And don't cut down the SNAP program just because there is, according to government studies, about a 9% abuse rate. We would all love a 91% success rate on anything. You're right Mr. Hofman. We need a better dialogue. Maybe you can start by letting the Santorums, Bachmans, Cruzs, Smiths, and other "wacko-birds" as McCain calls them, from your own party, know that their diatribes are what often drives the debates.

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Chris Dowden 4 months ago

For those who are pressed for time and wish an exec brief of this piece:

Hi, I worked for the President.

Let's stop name calling.

Lots of name calling here.

Thanks.

I worked for the President.

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Fred Duckels 4 months ago

Ken and Dave, your folks have won the last election and you are running the show, let's pony up here and decide who is not meeting your needs. Even if the right gets under your skin they don't have any clout. Things must be good.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months ago

Ken, With all due respect. My recollection is that when Mr. Obama was inaugurated for the first time the Democrats controlled the presidency, the house and the senate. That is 3 out of 3. When he was inaugurated the second time the Democrats controlled the presidency and the senate. That is 2 out of 3. How in the name of accuracy can you complain about the " GOP calling the shots". My goodness, the Democrats have been in control for almost 5 years and you still blame the GOP (I guess almost 5 years is long enough to stop blaming Bush) Why can't you take ownership for at least some of the problems facing our once great country. From my perspective there is plenty of blame to go around.

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john bailey 4 months ago

hum , so if my figures are correct in 2 more terms it'll be, ummm , oh fer 3 ... sounds reasonable.

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mark hartless 4 months ago

Cruel to say to an entire race "you can't play on a level field so we'll tilt it for you dummies." ???

Cruel to tell an entire race, yeah an entire generation, "You don't need fathers in your home. Here, this monthly check will take dad's place." ???

Creul to say to the poor "So what if your electric bills are straining your budget. We are going to make energy more expensive anyway." ???

Cruel to say to women "You want choice to eliminate your baby if it is the product of a rape? That's fine, but you can't choose to carry a gun to protect yourself from the rapist." ???

Cruel to pay lipservice to this "law of the land" hogwash phrase and then arbitrarily nullify portions of that law a month later with no regard for the constitution. ???

Cruel to allow illegal aliens to murder, rape and maime citizens so you can gain a voting block???

Cruel to send kids through indoctrination camps for 12 years, tell them how smart they are, give 'em all a trophy, and send them out into a world that is going to eat their lunch???

Cruel to tell us all about how you care so much for the children but don't mind leaving them $17 trillion in debt??? Making them slaves to the Chineese??? Breeding mindless drone worker-bees for the corporations you claim to loathe so ???

Cruel to ship guns to drug lords in mexico and not prosecute anyone when caught???

Cruel to allow our representatives to be slaughtered in a foreign land and NEVER EVEN SEND HELP???

Cruel to whine for decades about nuclear dis-armament but allow Iran to destabilize the most incendiary region on earth with nuclear weapons???

Frankly, I don't think Mr. Collins wouldn't understand the insidious nature of his own cruelty, that which he apparently calls benevolence, if it smacked him square in the mouth.

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Ken Collins 4 months ago

Mr. Hartless, you take civil discourse to a whole new level.

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mark hartless 4 months ago

Tell me all about it Mr "if you don't believe in socialism you must be cruel".

Why don't you defend, if you can, the issues I raised above, instead of telling me what I already know... namely how "cruel" I am.

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Dan Shores 4 months ago

mark, your post is so full of straw men and misrepresentations that it is nothing short of laughable. When has anyone from either party ever tried to deny a woman the right to carry a gun? So you're saying it is NOT cruel to force a woman to carry the pregnancy resulting from a rape to full term? You're calling an entire race of people "dummies" but somehow that is not name calling? What unconstitutional act are you speaking of ? Are you an expert on constitutional law and the constitution? Easy for you to complain about policy decisions with regard to Iran, so what is your plan? One of your GOP representatives has suggested tactical nuclear strikes. How's that sound to ya. What is your plan to provide access to affordable health insurance for the millions of Americans such as myself who have been denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Please tell us the evidence for your assertion that U.S. representatives were "allowed to be slaughtered" and help was never sent? Haven't we had enough investigations into the Benghazi tragedy and don't you think that if there was any credible evidence that the State Department was either lazy or just didn't care enough to send in troops or that the President tried to cover this up that there would be some evidence and indictments by now? Somehow we, the President, someone is allowing illegal aliens to murder, rape and maim in order to gain a voting block? Perhaps you can find a local branch of the KKK who will sympathize with your views. Ken Collins is quite accurate in his description of the current iteration of the GOP and the right wing and does not owe anyone an apology and was not "name calling" but rather accurately describing the public policies being promoted by the GOP.

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Ken Collins 4 months ago

Thank you Dan, whoever you are. Sometimes, the comments on line are so "out there" that it is counterproductive for the original letter writer to even reply. The commentators get into a sort of feeding frenzy that before you know it, the original theme(s) of the letter are lost. Keeping people from voting, making women carry unwanted pregnancies, for any reason, to term, taking away food stamps because they can find a few out of millions who are abusing the system, not allowing people in love to marry, all this is "cruel". There. I stand by that word.

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Dan Shores 4 months ago

Well said Ken, stand tall and strong and don't be intimidated by those who are filled with hate.

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mark hartless 4 months ago

I suppose it would be "cruel" to imagine if Ken's mother was as big a fan of abortion as he...

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months ago

Dang it. And I thought Ken was thanking me. Turns out it was Dan Shores. Go figure. Probably couldn't be me as I don't agree with every thing Ken says so I must be filled with hate.

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John Fielding 4 months ago

A fair question regarding abortion is at what point of development an unborn child becomes entitled to the same protection other children receive. Many states make that demarcation at "viability", the point at which the child can survive outside the uterus. Most states will charge two counts of homicide for killing a woman in late pregnancy. There have been cases of actions to protect fetuses from drug abuse by the mother.

The unborn child is a citizen before birth, exactly when that status is gained is the question.

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John Fielding 4 months ago

If a mother gives alcohol, nicotine or cocaine to an infant she is guilty of criminal child abuse. Is there any difference if it is given a week before birth? A month? Six months, when it is even more damaging? A pregnant woman is a guardian, the child itself is not a part of her body, It is a genetically distinct being. It depends on her for protection and nourishment just as it will after birth. Abuse in utero should be illegal, it is certainly immoral.

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John Fielding 4 months ago

The birth mother of my boys was a perfect candidate for multiple abortions. Not yet in her teens when abandoned, she gave birth three times in four years. She neglected her children so badly they bear permanent scars in brain development. Yet they are intelligent, loving, beloved, and with good care and the blessing they will be productive citizens, make a worthy contribution to society. Should they have been put to death?

If there is any young woman out there who has an unwanted pregnancy, please think of the wonderful person your baby can become. There is no shortage of good people who would welcome your child into their homes, into their lives, and give it every chance to realize its potential. You will almost certainly have regrets about an abortion, may well be haunted by the decision. You will probably never regret giving life to the child, only maybe that you could not raise it yourself.

Choose Life.

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Ken Collins 4 months ago

Mark Heartless, you don't ever bring someone's mother into any argument. You write of the Bible. You write of the Constitution. But obviously you don't write with decency.

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John Fielding 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Ken, you brought mothers in when you espoused the right of a mother to kill an unborn child.

For any reason!

Do you support her right to abuse the child within her as well?

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John Fielding 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Many states have laws that allow a mother to take her infant to a fire station, hospital, or similar location and abandon it without any penalty. That law should be extended to the viable fetus as well. As the mother plans to "abandon" it at an abortion clinic, they could instead be required to deliver it live and let it become a ward of the state.

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rhys jones 3 months, 4 weeks ago

"ward of the state"... it sounds so cool!! And how did we stray into these waters again? This from the Master of Digression, if little else. In some attempt to right our course...

I think the name-callers and haters are a bunch of frog-lipped, panty-waist, nincompoop jackwagons. So there. Hula yo pretty self.

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Dan Shores 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said rhys! Nice to laugh a little bit once and awhile.

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