I can still remember the big government shutdown in 1995. November of that year, feuds over then-president Bill Clinton’s demands for budget concessions on public health (including Medicare), education, and environmental issues (remember the “hole in the ozone” that nobody ever talks about anymore?) drove the Republican-led House to force the government into a shutdown that lasted nearly a month. After national parks were closed, Jay Leno made the joke that “they put a guy out front to tell people, ‘don’t look at that!’” National parks were closed, but now that we’re in the middle of another shutdown Obama is taking it a hell of a lot further than last time.
They haven’t just closed down the parks. Rangers have been ordered to step outside their jurisdiction and actually put cones and barriers up on highways to block off scenic overlooks, with the purpose of stopping people who are only passing through from pulling over to take pictures. Open-air war memorials – particularly the WWII memorial and the Vietnam memorial wall – have had barricades put up. At the Vietnam wall, when veterans and other visitors crossed the barriers to pay their respects, police officers chased them off. At the WWII memorial, which sees a couple of “honor flights” every week bringing dying WWII veterans to pay their final respects, barriers had to be crossed by Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) to lead the vets into the memorial. The entire memorial is outdoors. As in, requiring no personnel to staff it. Other outdoor memorials closed include the 2nd Infantry Division (WWI) memorial and the Iwo Jima memorial.
One volunteer took home a section of the “police line” crime scene tape that had been erected to keep people out. The Park Service threw President Obama under the bus – they confirmed that the order to close the memorials came straight from the White House.
Something else I don’t remember happening in 1995: the FBI ending all meetings with the public. One of my closest friends just told me something that made my blood run cold. She called the local FBI office to report that a known pedophile with a serious mental illness has been released from an institution and is delusional and dangerous. The secretary who answered replied, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you’ll have to start with local police. We had to suspend meetings with the public to report criminal activity because of the shutdown.”
In other words? Now is the time to go nuts on that criminal enterprise you’ve been building. The FBI (and likely the ATF and DEA) aren’t taking reports right now.
Other friends have reported that websites set up through the Library of Congress have been shut down. College students facing assignment deadlines can’t do the research they need to do because all they see is a white screen saying that the site has been shut down. What nobody has questioned yet, beyond the ridiculous “why?” that we should be asking, is how they’re paying for all of this.
It costs money to rent barricades and put up signs. It costs money to station park rangers and police officers in front of parks and monuments. It costs money to send someone out to shut off scenic overlooks. It costs money to send Secret Service agents to stand outside of an outdoor monument and tell people to go away. It costs money to take a website offline and replace it with a “closed” sign. None of these things are inexpensive. It costs more to put the barriers up around the WWII memorial than it does to just let people in. There are probably more police and park rangers on duty now than there are normally.
Most of this isn’t necessary. Some of it, like suspending the ability of the FBI to take reports, is downright dangerous. All of it is the result of President Obama throwing a temper tantrum and saying, “I’m not your friend anymore, so you can’t play in my yard!” He figures that if he can make it hurt, even in the smallest of ways, that people will side with him and beg the Republicans to just cave in and let him do what he wants to do. Unfortunately, Democrats are defending him. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have even urged Democrats in the House and Senate to vote “no” on funding for veteran’s benefits just to make sure they’re still in Dear Leader’s good graces. For her part, Pelosi tried to use the line that voting for anything less than full government funding is “using veterans as a bargaining chip.” It’s literally all or nothing with the Democrats right now, but Obama quietly signed a bill allowing the troops to keep receiving their pay during the shutdown.
Not that I’m upset about that. I just can’t figure out how they can excuse paying the currently-serving troops and ignore the disabled veterans who still need their healthcare.
What’s absolutely unforgivable (only slightly moreso than refusing to care for our disabled vets) is that elderly residents on Lake Mead have been forced from their homes. Why? Their homes sit on federal land, so because of the shutdown, they all have to leave. If they can do this, they can do anything. The media is practically asleep. The only channel that is reporting the truth about some of these outrageous violations of our basic rights in the name of this shutdown is Fox News. MSNBC is reporting that Spite House is calling on the GOP to pass a “clean” spending bill. CNN is reporting that Boehner is calling default our “current path”. ABC is reporting that Boehner won’t make a move without Obama agreeing to even talk to GOP representatives. In reality, the only way that any of the realities of what the Democrats are doing right now is seeing the light of day is alternative media.
Obama’s own Twitter account laid the blame for the shutdown solely on the Tea Party. Someone please explain something to me…Obama and his cronies are swearing up and down that they will never sign any bill that doesn’t raise the debt ceiling (something that, in 2008, he had called “irresponsible”) and strips ANY funding from Obamacare (even though Dear Leader himself has made over 100 changes to the bill by executive order – including giving a complete exemption to members of Congress), yet they’re accusing the Republicans of refusing to negotiate. I’m sorry, but how does that work? You take everything off the table and then walk out of the room because the other guy won’t compromise? What, are you twelve years old?
The Spite House may end up winning something in the end here, but they will continue to do everything they can to make it hurt until they do get what they want. I can only hope that the GOP stays strong and refuses to back down. Negotiation means both sides come to an agreement. This isn’t diplomacy – it’s bullying.