In the interview, Joel also shows how Syrian President Assad is being maligned by the media. And Dr. Stan’s real history summary of US wars is good at the end.
I listen to this every week, and subscribe to Joel’s newsletter. Joel is a straight shooter, and almost always right.
World Affairs Brief, October 11, 2013 Commentary and Insights on a Troubled World. Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution permitted. Cite source as Joel Skousen’s World Affairs Brief (http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com)
This Week’s Analysis:
Feds Purposely Making Life Difficult over Shutdown
Truck March on Washington Shows Bad Tactics
Monsanto Protection Act Killed in Congress
Syria Today—Respite from Attack only Temporary
Janet Yellen Nominated to Succeed Bernanke
When Undercover Cops Don’t Intervene to Stop a Crime
Questions Linger over Killing after Vehicle Chase at Capitol
FEDS PURPOSELY MAKING LIFE DIFFICULT OVER SHUTDOWN
The list of vindictive federal closures is growing longer and a pattern is emerging. The Obama administration is restoring military-related contracts but going out of their way to antagonize any individual that has even an ancillary connection with federal land or parks. It’s no secret that during the 1995 government shutdown the Clinton Administration tried to inconvenience the general public in order to bring pressure on Republicans, but this administration is pushing things further by taking it out on the little guy and resisting any attempt by Congress or volunteers to ameliorate the shutdown. The Administration has even refused offers that would help individuals or small businesses that have been kept from working because of the shutdown. It’s as if this government wants this experience to be as nasty as possible. Still, the blame is squarely being laid on the Administration—not Congress (though you’d never know that by listening to the media).
As I pointed out last week, the Pentagon shut down a lot of core military contractors by furloughing civilian workers. In today’s military nothing runs without civilian contractors. Those furloughs lasted only a couple of days before Obama ordered them all back to work. But no such leniency was granted to ordinary people whose livelihood is connected with federal lands, parks or bureaucratic permissions.
Wes Pruden, former editor of the Washington Times pulled out his pen again to document some of the outrageous actions of the administration.
The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies.
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
What’s even more troubling is why none of the Republican leadership have gotten a hold of Pruden to ask who made this statement. Can you imagine the public relations disaster this would be for the administration if the Republicans would put this guy on the witness stand and force him to reveal who gave the orders to “make life difficult” for the people? Perhaps House Speaker Boehner isn’t really there to win this battle.
There are many stories of public outrage that I could cite but few are as egregious as what a few seniors experienced while on a tour bus going through Yellowstone National Park. John Macone has the story with added commentary:
Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures. Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country. Rangers systematically sent visitors out of the park, though some groups that had hotel reservations — such as Vaillancourt’s — were allowed to stay for two days. Those two days started out on a sour note, she said.
The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos. “She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.
Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.
The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest. When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.
“It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm. “They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”
Barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door. The bus trip made headlines in Livingston, where the local newspaper Livingston Enterprise interviewed the tour guide, Gordon Hodgson, who accused the park service of “Gestapo tactics.” “A lot of people who were foreign said they wouldn’t come back (to America),” she said.
Some Western state governors have tried to get the feds to let them help out to keep the parks open, but the answer is always “no.” Last week when World War II veterans broke down the yellow tape closing off the World War II memorial, the government responded by bringing in more sturdy wire barricades and guards were posted. How’s that supposed to save money at monuments who had no guards or employees prior to the shutdown? John Nolte documents this and other cases of the Obama Administration unnecessarily inflicting public pain during this shutdown:
While our president still enjoys his essential employees and locations: the White House chefs, Camp David, and a military golf course, there doesn’t seem to be any question that in mercenary pursuit of a political win, this White House is determined to unreasonably punish as many everyday people as possible. And this includes children sick with cancer. That might sound like hyperbole, but it is not.
Child Cancer Patients Used as Pawns: The program at the National Institutes of Health which offers last-chance experimental cancer treatments for children suffering from cancer also got the ax. Republicans in Congress offered to fund the NIH program separately but the White House has threatened a veto.
Nolte says, “The media may or may not report on these individual occurrences, but what they will never do is provide the American people with the full context and scope of Obama’s shrill pettiness. Below is a list of illogical, unnecessary, and shockingly spiteful moves our government is making in the name of essential and non-essential. [I’ve omitted the ones I reported on previously]”
The Republican National Committee has offered to cover any costs required to keep the WWII memorial open. The White House refused. Moreover, like the NIH, the GOP will pass a compromise bill that would fund America’s national parks. Obama has threatened to veto that bill. The Vietnam Memorial and Iwo Jima Memorial closed, barricades erected even though never manned.
Furloughed Military Chaplains Not Allowed to Work for Free – Furloughed military chaplains willing to celebrate Mass and baptisms for free have been told they will be punished for doing so.
Business Stops In Florida Keys – Small businesses, hunters, and commercial fisherman can’t practice their trade. While the feds have deemed the personnel necessary to keep this area open “non-essential,” the “enforcement officers” to ensure no business is done are “essential.”
Obama Forces Residents Out of Private Homes – “The government shutdown is being felt close to home for some locals. They say they’re being forced out of private homes on Lake Mead because they sit on federal land.”
Obama Shuts Down a Road That Goes Through CO Park: “The Forest Service announcement, in turn, led the Pitkin County commissioners to order that Maroon Creek Road be shut down at the height of the colorful leaf-changing season.
Obama Blocks People From LOOKING at Mt. Rushmore – “Blocking access to trails and programs at South Dakota’s most popular attraction was one thing, but state officials didn’t expect Congress’ budget stalemate to shut down a view of Mount Rushmore. The National Park Service placed cones along highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore this week, barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the famed monument. [Similarly State Route 9 in Utah, a critical road that goes right through the beauty of Zion’s National Park, had to be left open but park police are ticketing people who get out of their cars to view the scenery.]
Crucial USDA Websites Taken Down – “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has turned off its entire website in response to the government shutdown, leaving farmers, reporters and others with no way to access any of the agency’s information online [as if it costs anything to leave it up]. USDA’s total website shutdown goes far beyond the response of other federal agencies, and seems to be part of an effort to make people feel the effects of the shutdown. This website is down and yet the ObamaCare, White House, the first lady’s websites are up.
Arizona Offers to Fund Grand Canyon, Obama Says ‘Drop Dead’ – “Obama has ordered the Grand Canyon to stay closed, even after the state of Arizona and local businesses have offered to cover the costs necessary to keep it open. In other words, the shutdown isn’t about the money — it’s about hurting the American people just because he can. [In today’s news Obama agreed to let some states fund the parks to keep them open, but he’s not offering to let them have the entrance fees the federal government collects]
Amber Alert Website Taken Offline – CNN reported that bad press was a factor in the site going back up.
Federal Prison Guards Not Getting Paid, Inmates Are – “Most of the employees at the federal prison in Forrest City are working without knowing when they will get a paycheck because of the government shutdown, but some of the inmates who get paid for the work they do inside will have no problem collecting their money.”
King Crab Season Threatened by Government Shutdown – “The Alaska king crab season is set to start soon, but all the fishing boats will have to stay docked because the government must sign off on permits and quotas. “Fisherman stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars unless lawmakers make a compromise.”
Columbia Island and Washington Sailing Marina Closed – Email from reader: “My husband received an email from WSM saying that boat owners could only go to their boats to remove items. If they leave the slip with their boat they are not allowed to return to their (paid for) slip [until] the government re opens.”
IRS Collections Operational, Taxpayer Advocate Office Closed
Eleven Hundred Square Miles of Florida Ocean Closed – Email: “You omitted the ban on Florida charter boat captains taking fishermen into an 1,100 square mile section of ocean of the coast of Tampa. Apparently, government resources patrol it.”
Shutdown Denies Death Benefits to Families of Fallen Soldiers – “The families of five U.S. service members who were killed over the weekend in Afghanistan have been notified that they won’t be receiving the $100,000 benefit normally wired to relatives within 36 hours of the death. The “death gratuity” is intended to help cover funeral costs and help with immediate living expenses until survivor benefits typically begin.”
The only reason I can conceive for this “stick it to the people” attitude is that whoever is running this shutdown show in the White House put out the word to “make life difficult” thinking he was doing the same thing that Clinton did in the late 90s. But overzealous bureaucrats (political appointees) in the Park Service and elsewhere went overboard to such an extent that the public backlash was aiming at Obama rather than the Republicans. So rather than admit error, they gone silent and relied on the media to not give coverage to these egregious and unnecessarily painful measures.
Of course, the White House also had the complicity of the Republican leadership, who just announced that both sides had agreed NOT to criticize or attack each other. Let me explain why this only benefits Obama: Prior to the agreement, the media was only blaming the Republicans, and wasn’t airing the complaints of citizens who were blaming the administration. So now Republicans have muzzled their own cause (if they ever intended to use it…) by agreement, to ensure they can’t put the blame for the worst actions on Obama where it belongs.
Where do we go from here? The GOP led House of Representatives has offered concessions to ameliorate the damage of the selective shutdown, but Obama rejects most of them. The House passed a resolution ensuring that all furloughed employees would get back pay for the time they were furloughed. I hope that also applies to the FAA maintenance personnel who are still working but not getting paid. They keep the electronics and navigation systems running so that the Air Traffic Control system still functions. Obviously, those are essential personnel whose pay should never have been cut.
As for the rest of the furloughed federal employees, many of their jobs should be eliminated, and Congress just undid any savings the partial shutdown afforded by offering to pay back wages. That’s like saying we are implementing a balanced budget amendment but offering to pay the wages of everyone whose jobs must be eliminated. Nonsense.