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Storming the Barry-cades

The most heartening story of the past weekend, with even the Kansas City Chiefs’ improbable run to a 6-and-0 record notwithstanding, was the continuing wave of civil disobedience protesting the administration’s peevishly punitive policies during the government’s partial shutdown.
Apparently worried that the public might not notice the absence of so much of the governments’ employees, or worse yet start asking dangerous questions about why we need to keep racking up such enormous debts in order to keep them on their officially nonessential jobs, the administration has endeavored to make the shutdown as painful as possible. One of the more obvious tactics has been to close national parks, monuments, and other public lands even when doing so requires more manpower and expense than keeping them open. Supposedly essential government employees who remain at work have reportedly enforced these closures with an officiousness that one elderly national park visitor described as “Gestapo tactics,” and efforts by the House Republicans to fund public access to these sites as well as offers by state and local governments to assume the costs have been rebuffed by the administration. One might not know it from reading or listening to the major media, who are mostly concerned with the alleged intransigence of the stubborn Republicans that President Barack Obama has refused to negotiate with, but the administration has acted to deny the public its right to public lands.
This is an outrage that a free people shouldn’t bear, and it is therefore good to know that many among us have chosen not to. The social media are full of accounts of people defying the attempts to shut them out of their land, often with hilarious pictures of the protestors happily frolicking behind the “do not enter” signs that were erected by the putatively shut-down government, and even such a polite press outlet as The Chicago Tribune has featured a tale of a usually law-abiding writer’s visit to a closed national park. Harder to ignore was Sunday’s mass demonstration at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, where several thousand people, including some very seasoned veterans of that conflict, knocked down the barricades to reclaim their rightful place at the monument. Some even dragged the barricades — now known in the feistier sort of media as “barry-cades,” in honor of the president’s nickname before he decided that exotic sold better — to a noisy protest outside the White House gates. Such a tumult would have brought banner headlines had it been a scruffy bunch of leftists shouting down a Republican president, but veterans and truckers and other middle-class Americans protesting a Democrat’s infringements on the public’s rights was worth only a passing mention on the evening news.
More attention was paid to the pro-illegal immigration rally recently held on the National Mall, despite the area being closed to such troublemakers as the veterans who hoped to pay honor to their fallen comrades, but it was little noted that the speakers at the rally made a point of thanking Obama for being allowed on the property. As the estimable Mark Steyn has already noted, the land isn’t Obama’s and “his most groveling and unworthy subjects shouldn’t require a dispensation by His Benign Majesty to set foot on it.” That there are still a few bold Americans willing to act against such monarchical madness is a story worth telling, and celebrating.

— Bud Norman

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Fair Play, Compassion, and Brass Knuckles

Modern liberalism prides itself on compassion and fair play, but modern liberals pursue these goals with a frightening ruthlessness. Two examples of this phenomenon have been featured in this week’s news.
One was the maximum pain that the Obama administration has sought to inflict on the public as a result of the partial shutdown of the federal government. Go ahead and blame that those uncompassionate and unfair Republicans in the legislative branch for the temporary furlough of the 17 percent of government employees officially deemed nonessential, but it is obviously up to the executive branch to execute whatever the people’s representatives do or do not decide upon, and the administration has chosen to go about it in the most callous ways possible. The Republicans have declared in open voting their willingness to fund cancer programs for children, air travel and other compensations for the family of fallen soldiers, and various other worthy government expenditures, but the administration and its allies in the Senate have chosen to decline the offer of a “piecemeal” re-funding in hopes of winning all its demands including full-funding and no delays in implementation of its widely hated Obamacare law. To further emphasize the necessity of unlimited government to a public that has barely noticed the brief absence of 17th of it the administration has also closed a variety of public monuments and lands, even when it would have been cheaper to keep them open, and resorted to what some would-be visitors have described as “Gestapo tactics” in doing so.
An even more chilling example is the latest revelation in the ongoing scandal of the Internal Revenue Service’s harassment of citizens opposed to the administration’s agenda. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has revealed to the invaluable Daily Caller internet publication that a top IRS official shared confidential taxpayer information about religious organizations opposed to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandates with the White House. Such violations of the law were considered an outrage back when President Richard Nixon was accused of it, but modern liberalism seems willing to make excuses when it is done in the name of compassion and fair play and subsidized contraception.
Perhaps the utopia that will surely follow from unlimited federal borrowing and Obamacare and free contraception for everyone justifies such brass-knuckled tactics, but it had better be good.

— Bud Norman

Apocalypse Now

As we write this a shutdown of the federal government seems imminent, so we’ve already begun our preparations for the promised apocalypse. We’ve stocked up on barely-legal semi-automatic weaponry and have plenty of ammunition, which should be more readily available if the Department of Homeland Security goes on furlough, and have cancelled our plans to visit a national park.
Women, minorities, the elderly, and visitors to the national parks always seem to suffer most during these intermittent shutdowns, judging by the histrionic coverage that invariably follows in the traditional media, but we’re keeping the extra firepower on hand just in case the more dire predictions of complete societal breakdown are at long last realized. Having grown up in the ‘70s era of dystopian futurist motion pictures we have a vague notion of how to survive a complete societal breakdown, and having lived through the entirety of the ‘60s we have some real-life experience of it, so we feel ready for anything this latest government shutdown might bring. We’re hopeful it won’t require the Mohawk hairdos and football padding featured in the “Mad Max” movies, as that is not a good look for us, but otherwise we say bring it on. Should we happen upon a half-buried Statue of Liberty in the near future, we’ve already rehearsed the part where we drop to our knees and shake a fist while shouting “Damn you, damn you to hell.”
A more realistic worry is that the Republicans will be blamed for whatever minor inconveniences ensue, and even by the time of the ’14 mid-term elections the public’s wrath will still be stoked enough to result in a predominantly-Democratic Congress and empowered Democratic president much like that one that begat the regrettable Obamacare law which seems to be the cause of the current fuss. This is a distinct possibility, if the conventional wisdom is any guide, and we have no doubt the consequences would be far more catastrophic than anything the most feverish Hollywood imaginations of the ‘70s could conceive. Even so, the Republicans’ foolhardy stand against Obamacare is well worth the risk.
For one thing, the most dire predictions seem far-fetched. Government workers who are delayed their overpayment might well remember the affront a year from November, but they’ll be voting Democrat in any case. For the rest of us the shutdown will be long forgotten by that far-off date, while the myriad annoyances of Obamacare will still be very much with us, so it will require even more than the usual Republican ineptness to allow the Democrats to re-take the House. The latest polling by CNN is given is the usual Democratic spin, but a closer look at the numbers suggests that the Obama’s regal refusal to negotiate with the Republicans on his namesake healthcare legislation is not playing well with the electorate. There’s an outside chance that the Republicans might even benefit from the imbroglio, and looking ahead to the inevitable full implementation of Obamacare and its full complete unpopularity he resistance might even prove a political masterstroke. That would top anything in the movies, but it’s within the realm of possibility in this crazy day and age.
Once those twenty-something dullards out there realize that Obamacare does not mean free health care, but rather paying for privilege of being uninsured, the already desultory number of supports is going to further plummet. Whatever the effects of the government shutdown, the party that that insisted upon it rather than accept any delay in this stupid law will be held accountable.

— Bud Norman

Who’s Afraid of a Government Shutdown?

There’s been talk lately that the federal government might shut down, due to Obamacare or the debt ceiling or a convoluted combination of the two, and some people seem worried about it. Some people will always worry about such things, we suppose, but it’s hard to see what all the fuss is about.
The government has shut down too many times to keep track of, including a sizeable number of federal holidays and almost every weekend of the year, and if not for all the furor in the press it would almost always have gone unnoticed. All the stories invariably involve families that are disappointed to find a national park closed while on their vacations, which seems a minor inconvenience at a time when all the kids should be in school, or horror stories about old folks starving in the streets for want of a Social Security check, which never seems to actually occur, and most readers remain unconvinced that there’s a real problem. The stock markets typically take a slight temporary dive, although that might be for fear the federal government will eventually return to work, but otherwise the economy stumbles along in its usual way. All the cops and firemen and other useful public servants are still on the job, drawing paychecks from state and local governments that some how manage to stay in business throughout the year, and all of the “nonessential” personnel who are furloughed for the duration prove as nonessential as advertised.
President Barack Obama is warning that a government shutdown will mean the nation’s bills go unpaid and America will be a “deadbeat” and a “banana republic,” with economic catastrophe following from the international doubt about the full faith and credit of the country, but we suspect this is only because the old saws about national park closings and unsent Social Security checks have lost their scariness. He also talks about those crazy spendthrift Republicans have been running up a huge tab against his frugal counsel and now want to “run out on the bill,” as if he hasn’t fought against their effort to restrain spending, and has offered the preposterous claim that raising the debt ceiling doesn’t mean the country will go further into debt, making the president sound rather desperate for something to say. Thus far even the supposedly anarchist wing of the Republican party has been willing to pay for all the government anyone might want except for Obamacare, and they’ll surely cave on that one sensible demand before they allow the government to default on its obligations to bondholders, so the economic catastrophe will have to await the all-too-soon date when the government debt has grown so large that the bondholders stop buying and the Fed is forced to concede that it can’t keep printing up money to pay them.
The people who are most worried about a government shutdown seem to be politicians worried mostly about who get the blame if anything noticeably bad actually does happen. Many Republicans, especially the ones with a professional stake in the party’s political fortunes, are understandably concerned that the traditional media outrage will once again bring the electorate’s wrath down upon in the upcoming mid-term elections and hand complete political control to Democratic party hell-bent on the same sort of mischief they inflicted on the country in the first two years of Obama’s reign. The Democrats, on the other hand, fear a government shutdown because it once again might have no noticeable effect and thus remind the country that it really doesn’t need to pay them so much money to run the meddlesome behemoth.
With neither party gaining any advantage from a prolonged government shutdown, it’s not likely to happen. Preventing it will mean Obamacare and another trillion or so of federal debt, both of which are far more disastrous than a government shutdown, but at least the full faith and credit of the country will be restored and banana republic status delayed for another year or so. That should get us past the mid-terms, and that’s all that anybody is really worried about.

— Bud Norman