Facebook and Me – The Year To Come

FHS StudsIt is time for a change.

Last Sunday morning, February 5, I was informed by Facebook that I had been a member – for eight years!

For the most part my almost-decade-long involvement has been a joy. I like seeing where my friends have found themselves, watching them raise and ween their own families, and participate in their careers and callings. It really is a book of faces that I have come to know and love in my lifetime.

But, I am forced to have to change how I “do” Facebook.

At the epicenter of this change is the last presidential election – and the madness that has followed. Our country is built on dialogue and difference of opinions – and those differences are on broad display on the world’s largest social media site. But far too many of the dialogues that take place are not constructive. They have driven wedges between families, forced friends to be “unfriended” and shunned, and reduced what should be civilized conversation on important topics to a few short scoffing sentences dashed off while we run to the counter to get our lattes.

My family and friends are too important to me for that kind of treatment. I am not ready, however, to give up seeing them grow, sharing in their heartbreaks, rejoicing in their celebrations, and sharing my own story.

So, in that spirit, here is my new approach to Facebook

1. I am applying a very old Navy tradition about dinner etiquette: don’t discuss politics and religion while at the table. Facebook is really one big dinner table – where we share what we did in school that day, talk about our challenges, and ask for advice. It is a gathering for friends and family. Politics and religion – no matter how homogenized the gathering – are topics sure to always create friction. So, I won’t discuss them in the public areas of pages and posts.

2. I will, though, send you a private message asking for clarification, or inquiring if you want to explore that issue privately. I have become convinced that many of my connections on Facebook have been shoved to the poles of arguments as a result of defending someone else’s position, not necessarily because he lives there himself. Because we are talking privately – away from the table – we can explore and discuss the issue without the danger or losing “Face” from our acquaintances that may have more acute views on the topic at hand. Because we are “talking” in private, there is no real reason to “win” the discussion – which in itself should reduce the tension.

3. Unless you are vulgar, obscene, abusive, or outrageously disrespectful I will never unfriend you. If you find that you are no longer on my list, please send me a message.

4. I will, however, hide posts from you that I do not want to see. My high value for my relationship with you does not mean that you have a blank cheque as to what appears on my timeline.

5. Worldview matters. Christians see the world around us through vastly different eyes than non-Christians, and we approach the issues of today just as differently. That does not mean that we are unified on all the issues (we aren’t), or have the perfect answer (we don’t). But our Christian worldview does provide a different and eternal perspective on issues that is not possible for the non-believer. So, if you decide to engage with me, I will ask questions about your belief system and how you are applying that system to the matter at hand. Don’t want to talk about your beliefs? Not a problem. Just don’t engage in discussion with me.

6. These topics do matter, and need to be discussed and explored. Facebook has demonstrated it is not the place to do it. So, later this week I am launching mackayhall.com – named after the dining hall at Princteton Theological Seminary. Those big wagon wheel tables hosted many warm and hot discussions – yet also united us around the idea of breaking bread together in this realm and the next. More to come on that venture.

7. Finally, rsample.com will be the place that I will write on matters of faith and life. I hope you will continue to read this blog, and use the commenting system below to add to to the discussion.

Facebook will continue to be a place where I catch up on news, post news from my family, update you on my businesses, and sing the praises of my wife. But – for me at least – it won’t be a place where I will lose the friends that I hold so dear, nor come to think any less of family that I love so much.

It just won’t.

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Dear GOP

Republican Plaform

We have effectively handed all three branches of Government over to you. For the first time in a decade you are tasked with the awesome job of governing this country. Unfortunately, you have demonstrated in the past (i.e. George Bush’s second term’s failed attempt to overhaul Social Security with a Republican congress – that was all you!) that you don’t govern well.

To that end, please consider the following:

Stop Wasting Political Capital

We have given you the reigns to the most powerful country in the world. We want change, we want less government, less regulation, less taxes – in short, we want to stop thinking about the Federal Government. We know that you will make mistakes along the way, but as long as you are working toward that end, we who elected you will be forgiving.

Yet, already you are wasting that goodwill on silly things. Earlier this week, for example, you tried pushing through an ethics reform package. Good or bad, it was done in the middle of the night, against leadership advice, and without a well-crafted message. You had to walk it back – and you lost valuable momentum.

Follow Through on Promises Made – Quickly

You promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare, lower taxes, reduce government spending and waste, overhaul the immigration process, and increase our oil production to decrease dependence on foreign sources. These are the issues that swept you into power.

Now we are hearing talk that replacing the Affordable Care Act will take two to four years? Surely you have a plan, surely you have sought out the advice of the Heritage Foundation and other conservative think-tanks. Immigration reform can start with a simple act of Congress putting a moratorium on all immigration to allow for those already here to settle in and assimilate. Passing laws to streamline the Keystone and other pipelines should be a no-brainer. Do them, and do them quickly, so the American people who elected you can be vindicated in their support of you, and those who opposed you can get a chance to see what Republican ideas put into action look like.

Remember that Statism – whether it comes from the Left or Right – Is Still Statism

We are a Federal system. The Founding Fathers realized that the states must cede certain rights to a central government for the good of the union. At the same time, most of the powers of government must stay with the states themselves. The Obama administration has consistently taken power away from the states to centralize policy – leading to a far stronger and invasive federal government than the consitutional framers ever envisioned. Republicans have a record of fighting this movement – until now.

Bills such as the National Concealed Carry law which requires states to recognize these licenses granted from other states is but one brick in the road down “Conservative Statism”. Forcing states into such reciprocity takes away from their sovereignty – and from the free choice of people living in those states. A better law would be to require states to give ample notice of those laws and leeway to those carrying from other states. Such a law does not violate individual states rights, yet at the same time protects the individual as he exercises his 2nd Amendment rights.

Do not let your pursuit of a conservative doctrine steer you away from this basic premise of our founding – the power reserved in the states must be protected from any incursion from the federal government.

Understand that Term Limits is not a Republican Concept

On the surface, term limits seem like the way to end corruption and power-hungry politicians. By limiting their time in office, elected representatives would be motivated by service, and not by keeping a political seat. Given the fact that once elected, a sitting politician has better than 90% chance of being re-elected, a system of term limits seems necessary in the quest to reform Washington, DC.

However, term-limits actually lead to a much more entrenched and corrupt government, not one that is free of corruption:

  • Instead of elected officials, the continuity of the government relies more and more on non-elected bureaucrats. Removed from electoral oversight – and largely unseen by an unknowing electorate, these government employees are free to pursue agendas that might be at complete odds with the party in power.
  • Term limits does away with the role of Elder Statesmen – men and women who have a skill and talent at governing. Our Republic needs both – seasoned elected veterans who know their way around the system and lesser-experienced politicians who bring energy and new view points to the process.
  • We already have term-limits – it is called the ballot box. To pass such a bill is another form of statism – for it assumes that individuals are not able to make proper choices.

Term limits are dangerous – and should not be a platform of the GOP at any level.

Confirm All Nominees of President Trump

The last party to stand in the way of the president should be his own party. While Congress should never be a lap dog for the Executive Branch – in this case there should be no opposition to the men and women that the president will bring before you.

However, already there are rumblings from people like Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Senator Marco Rubio (people who should not really matter but for some reason still do) that they have real questions and concerns about some people nominated. Their viewpoints should be given a hearing in private – but in public they should tow the party line and approve the slate of nominations. Period.

Good luck, O Grand Ole Party. Please do not waste this chance that has been given to you to govern. Do it effectively, do it smartly, do it as Republicans. But just do it.

Because if you blow it, you will probably never be given another chance.

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Et Tu CWA?

Penny Young NanceDear Ms. Nance:

Yesterday I posted on my blog an open letter to Ms. Terry O’Neil of the National Organization of Women (NOW). In the letter I questioned why her organization had not mentioned the pending involuntary separation of SGT 1st Class Charles Martland from the United States Army.

SGT Martland knocked to the ground an Afghan officer who admitted to – and laughed about – the repeated and prolonged sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy. The boy’s mother was also beaten after she went to local authorities. Martland was disciplined by the Army and received a “memorandum of reprimand” from Brig. General Christopher Haas. Because of that one mark on an otherwise spotless 11 year history, SGT Martland is being told to go home.

After I posted that letter, I was notified that your site also is missing any mention of this man’s name. Since I tend to be harder on fellow conservative organizations than on liberal ones, to say that I am disappointed is an understatement.

According to your issue‘s page, there is an “unmistakable standard that there is right and wrong.” These standards come from the understanding that Scripture is the inerrant Word of God which enable us to live according to the Spirit. As a conservative Christian who firmly holds to the doctrine of inerrancy, I agree with you.

That same page goes on to list your core issues, and why you have to stick to them in the face of how society is moving. I understand that you have limited resources, and need to set priorities. What I do not understand is why you fail to see that SGT Martland does not fall into several of the categories of your issues:

Sanctity of Life: If you are to support the protection of all human life from conception to natural death, does it not make sense that you want a big, burly guy trained in all manner of skills to do the protecting? He places his very body between tyranny and freedom, and in the case at hand between a young boy and perversion.

Defense of Family: SGT Martland sacrificed time with his own family to protect our country and in so doing defended another family thousands of miles from his home.

National Sovereignty: If we are to protect ourselves from tyranny, than we are to have a strong military with strong people. Today’s military, though, is politicized to the point where SGT Martland is released because of his high moral standards while those who cannot enter into the military in the first place are given special standards.

Sexual Exploitation: What could be more obscene than the rape of a child?

As I stated to NOW, I will say to you: this man is the type of person your organization has been trying to promote. Within the male-dominated world of Afghanistan, SGT Martland took the women’s word over a man’s. When the Afghan officer just shrugged off the accusations – hiding behind the accepted “tea-boy” practice of some in the area – the Green Beret took the culture head on and shoved the man to the ground. SGT Martland is unapologetic about his actions – and probably would do them again. He defended his country, he defended a helpless child, and he defended a woman.

Yet no where on your national website is there a single word about SGT Martland. Not one. I searched for it. My friend – who is a supporter of NOW and would align herself as far left of you – searched for it.

CWA No Results

You do talk about raising money to end Planned Parenthood. You are very upfront about your Christian values and your defense of family. I urge you to be equally upfront about this issue as well.

Or – as seems to be the truth at NOW as well – perhaps Afghan women just do not matter to you.

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NOW is not the time for SGT Martland

Terry ONeil Dear Ms. O’Neil:

According to Fox News and other sources, SGT 1st Class Charles Martland is being involuntarily separated from the Army after defending two victims of sexual assault during his last deployment in Afghanistan.

SGT Martland knocked to the ground an Afghan officer who admitted to – and laughed about – chaining a 12-year-old boy to a bed and raping him for several days. When the boy’s mother protested and informed local authorities, she was also assaulted and beaten.

Captain Daniel Quinn – Martland’s Commanding Officer – stated that shoving the Afghani to the ground was not meant to be revenge, but “to send the message to the man and to the other local policemen that sexual assaults would not be tolerated.”

Martland was disciplined by the Army and received a “memorandum of reprimand” from Brig. General Christopher Haas. Because of that one mark on an otherwise spotless 11 year history, SGT Martland is being told to go home.

This man is the type of person the National Organization of Women (NOW) has been trying to promote in your long history of women’s rights. Within the male-dominated world of Afghanistan, SGT Martland took the women’s word over a man’s. When the Afghan officer just shrugged off the accusations – hiding behind the accepted “tea-boy” practice of some in the area – the Green Beret took the culture head on and shoved the man to the ground. SGT Martland is unapologetic about his actions – and probably would do them again. He defended his country, he defended a helpless child, and he defended a woman.

Yet no where on your national website is there a single word about SGT Martland. Not one. I searched for it.


Your blog – Say it Sister – does talk about the the shock of finding out that not every pharmacy sells emergency contraceptives. You talk about abortion rights and statistics. You even talk about the “suspicious death” of Sandra Bland. But no where do you talk about a man who is trying to correct a very wrong cultural practice of preying on young boys and beating up on their mothers.

It seems to me that this man – one who will fight for his country and a helpless woman – is one that you – the National Organization of Women –  want to have in the Green Berets.  I do know that if your organization weighed in on the matter that your discussion and interest would carry a great deal of weight. While I understand you and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) might not see eye-to-eye on most things, I can also imagine that he would welcome your help in keeping this good man in the Army.

Or perhaps Afghan women just do not matter to you.

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An Open Letter to Reince Priebus

Reince PriebusDear Mr. Priebus:

Please do not expect any donations from me to the national party during the primaries. While I will – and have – given my financial support to individual candidates – the Republican Party will not receive any financial support until you decide to be Republican again.

Almost a year ago, the voters of this country swept Democrats out of congress and replaced them with members of your party. At considerable expense – and fighting a powerful President – we endeavored to start the process of correcting the very bad laws that came out of the Democrat Party. I understand that without a supermajority that not much could get done, especially a veto override. However, we expected you to at least try.

So far, the RNC has not even shown up at the starting blocks.

Consider what we expected you to do:

  1. Defund Obama Care – we expected bill after bill to go up to the White House. Again, we expected a veto on each one. But we also expected that the Republicans would have crafted those bills to make the President veto what would have been common sense reforms. Except for a few half-hearted resolutions, we have seen no major attacks on the Affordable Health Care bill.
  2. Under GOP leadership, the Senate stripped itself of treaty powers. No matter what the Executive branch titles it, the deal with Iran is by definition a treaty. The Constitution gives that power to the Senate – until Republicans gave it away.
  3. The border continues to be unsecured. This issue is not a Hispanic issue – which seems to scare the RNC into immobility. This is a national security issue. Yet, no bills have been passed in order to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and terrorists into this country. In fact, a bill fully funding the DHS and amnesty was passed in the House – but only with the help of Democrats.

In 2012 the RNC told us that we needed a House majority to get things done in Washington. We gave you that. In 2014, you told us that we needed a majority in both houses of Congress – we gave you that as well. For the 2016 round, we are told that we need a majority in Congress and win the White House. We will work hard for that goal.

But, if we succeed, will the RNC show up to govern?

  • Will you secure the borders and ensure national security by halting the illegal immigrant tidal wave?
  • Will you repeal and replace the ACA with something more sustainable, more workable, with less government involvement?
  • Will you negate any “agreements” that should have gone through the Senate because they are indeed treaties?
  • Will you reduce taxes and government spending? Is it indeed too hopeful to think you might even repeal the Income Tax and replace it with a national retail sales tax?
  • Will you be champions of small government?

In other words, will the Republicans govern as Republicans?

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