National Park Service

Shutdown illustrates how government views the nation

If you’re a federal employee impacted by the shutdown, then I’m sure you know how much things like this suck.  After all, you were hired to do a job, and right now, you can’t.  I understand that completely.  However, as bad as the shutdown is for you, the shutdown has done one important thing.  It’s shown us just how much power Uncle Sam believes it has.

In an effort to make the shutdown hurt as much as possible, we’ve seen barricades at the World War II Memorial, an open air memorial that maintains no staff.  The same is true of the Lincoln Memorial and other statues and memorials throughout the nation.  Mt. Rushmore is not only closed, but also closed viewing areas so that you can’t even look at the memorial.

They’ve spent money they don’t have to close down things that wouldn’t have cost them a dime to keep open.  This apparently includes parts of the Atlantic Ocean (for the record though, you can boat through it.  You just can’t fish or drop anchor).

“So what,” you might ask.  It is federal territory, after all, and they are shut down.  It may be ridiculous, but why is this an example of how government looks down on us all.  Well, probably because the federal government is also trying to shut down state parks that receive just a bit of federal funding.

Government Shuts Down, Nobody Notices

As has become an increasingly frequent occurrence of late, it seems Obama, the supposed political genius, has once again misplayed his hand. Emboldened by the knowledge that he has an army of uninformed voters supporting him, and a compliant and sycophantic media spinning and deflecting any bad news that might harm him, Obama had little worry that he would win the Battle of the Continuing Resolution. After all, time after time, Republicans have been terrified of standing firm on principle, fearing voter backlash as Obama, the Democrats, and the media successfully painted them as racist, obstructionist, greedy, and heartless.

Until an odd thing happened; despite leadership’s attempts to give in to Obama’s every demand, rank and file House Republicans, and even a few in the Senate, defied their leadership and welcomed a battle over Obama’s latest red line; namely, the budget. Now, as happened with his Syrian red line, Obama has an unexpected fight on his hands, and rather than the thoughtful, deliberative actions of a man who stands on the moral high ground, Obama has revealed himself as a petty, vindictive tyrant, desperate to maintain the illusion that Big Government is essential to our lives.

However, like with the sequester, it seems that the only people who’ve noticed that the government is shut down is the political class, the media, and the 800,000 or so “non-essential” federal employees that are now sitting at home (including 1,265 White House staffers!).

Report: Misplaced priorities put national parks at risk

PARKED! How Congress’ Misplaced Priorities are Trashing Our National Treasures

The National Park Service came under intense scrutiny during the government shutdown after park rangers closed off open air monuments and forced people from their homes and businesses in an effort to make sure that average Americans felt the pain of the political stalemate in Washington.

How Congress can avoid park closures during a government shutdown

 Save Our Parks! How to Keep National Parks Open During a Government Shutdown

Much ink has been spilled over the closure of federally controlled national parks, an example of government shutdown theater. But there is a solution to the madness, as Holly Fretwell explains in the latest video from Learn Liberty.

“We can save these public places by putting them under private management,” says Fretwell, an economics professor at Montana State University who focuses on environmental and natural resource issues. “I understand the skepticism. Many people fear that profit is synonymous with greed and overuse.”

“Let’s get this straight, I don’t mean selling them off to the highest bidder. What I mean is to lease them to an entrepreneur under very strict perimeters,” she explains. “It works like this: the park remains publicly owned, but the maintenance, trails, campground and infrastructure are leased for a limited time period to a private management company.”

Rand Paul: Obama, Democrats “have rejected every compromise”

 Re-Open the Federal Government

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) gave an impassioned plea on Wednesday to his Democratic colleagues to approve measures passed by the House of Representatives to reopen parts of the federal government affected by the government shutdown.

Paul, a likely candidate for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, countered arguments that Republicans are unwilling to negotiate to end the government shutdown and slammed the “farce” of closing federal memorials and monuments.

“We’ve offered request after request to reopen the government. We’ve offered to negotiate. From the other side, we hear, we will not negotiate. We will not compromise. And we will not reopen the government,” said Paul from the Senate floor. “We have offered 13 different compromises today to reopen the government. We are willing to open the government, and they say, oh, you must agree to everything or we will open nothing. We will not compromise, and we say to them, why don’t we open the parts of government that we agree to?”

Wisconsin governor refuses Park Service order to shutdown state parks

Hoping to capitalize on the government shutdown by making the American public feel the effects of the government shutdown, the Obama Administration — through the National Park Service — has closed the most popular parks, memorials and monuments around the country. The World War II Memorial has became ground zero for this particular part of the narrative last week when veterans visiting Washington were temporarily barred from visiting the memorial built in their honor.

But Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), who is known for his strong stand in 2011 against public-sector unions, has refused the order and will keep state parks that receive some federal funding open to the public:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is defying orders from Washington, D.C., to close down several state parks that receive federal funding.

Despite receiving a closure directive from the National Park Service, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has decided instead that parks partly funded by the federal government would stay open to the public.

In the wake of this week’s federal government shutdown, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also placed barricades by a boat launch on the Mississippi River because it was on federal land. Wisconsin’s natural resources agency reopened it. 
[…]
Wisconsin has also decided to not fully follow a Fish and Wildlife agency’s directive that hunting and fishing be prohibited on federal lands during the shutdown. Hunting access would be allowed in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, state officials said.

National Park Service forces residents out of their homes

Lake Mead -- Government Shutdown

This is unbelievable. In its push to make Americans feel the impact of the government shutdown, the National Park Service has driven residents who live on federally owned land around Lake Mead in Nevada from their homes until Congress passes a stop-gap spending measure:

As the government shutdown drags on, problems continue to mount in southern Nevada.

In Overton, dozens of residents were forced to leave their homes and the shutdown is to blame.

Behind a roadblock near Stewart’s Point in Overton sits 27 homes. While the affected residents own those homes, the National Park Service owns the land, which is leased by homeowners.

The land is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The road that leads to their homes was closed, leaving them with no way in or out. The problem is affecting businesses there as well.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal notes that some 60 families have been forced from their homes, including some elderly couples. One of the homeowners told the paper that the move perplexing given that he wasn’t forced to leave the land he leases from the National Park Service during the 1995-1996 government shutdown.

CBS News: Just 18% of the government has actually shutdown

CBS News -- 18% of government is shutdown

Despite all the doom and gloom rhetoric, the “government shutdown” isn’t actually a government shutdown in the true sense of the term as the vast majority of federal spending is exempt from the budget battles raging in Congress.

“So how much of the government is shutting down? We were surprised when our research department came up with this. Turns out 82 percent of spending is exempt from the shutdown; that includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the debt,” noted Scott Pelley of the CBS Evening News. “The part subject to the shutdown is only 18%.”

RNC offers to pay for security to keep World War II Memorial open

 RNC)

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has offered to put up enough money to hire five security guards to keep the World War II Memorial open to the public for the next 30 days or, presumably, whenever the government shutdown ends.

“The Obama administration has decided they want to make the government shutdown as painful as possible, even taking the unnecessary step of keeping the Greatest Generation away from a monument built in their honor,” said RNC Chairman Priebus at the memorial dedicated to the brave soldiers who fought in World War II.

“That’s not right, and it’s not fair. So the RNC has put aside enough money to hire five security personnel to keep this memorial open to veterans and visitors,” he said. Ideally, I’d hope to hire furloughed employees for this job.”

The World War II Memorial has become ground-zero of the government shutdown. The National Park Service closed popular attractions around the country, including monuments and memorials in Washington, DC.

On Tuesday, a group of World War II veterans from Mississippi, some of whom were in wheelchairs, visited the memorial, pushing aside the barricades blocking their entry with help from members of Congress. A group from Ohio was threatened with arrest if they crossed the barricades. Both groups were on trips sponsored by the Honor Flight Network.

World War II veterans visit memorial despite government shutdown

They stormed the beaches of Normandy and raised the American flag on Iwo Jima, so it’s not surprising that a group of World War II veterans were undeterred by the government shutdown when they arrived on the National Mall yesterday to visit the memorial dedicated to them:

Wheelchair-bound elderly veterans pushed aside barricades to tour the World War II Memorial Tuesday morning, in defiance of the government shutdown which closed all of the memorials in the nation’s capital.

The four bus loads of veterans — visiting from Mississippi as part of a once-in-a-lifetime Honor Flight tour — ignored National Park Police instructions not to enter the site as lawmakers and tourists cheered them on.

“We didn’t come this far not to get in,” one veteran proclaimed.

The scene was both emotional and comical at once. After it was clear they had lost control of the situation, Park Police officials stood aside, telling press that they had “asked for guidance on how to respond” to the breach of security.

As 80-something veterans slowly walked around the massive war memorial, Park Police stood quietly to the side, advising other tourists that the site was technically still closed. But they made no moves to stop the wishes of the war heroes.

Leo Shane, III, who wrote the article excerpted above, took photos of the veterans visiting the memorial. You can view the photo gallery here. The Associated Press caught some video of veterans at the memorial:


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