Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
By John D. Turner
9 Oct 2013

If there is one good thing about being furloughed, it’s that I have had more time to observe my government in action. Everything from denying World War II vets the opportunity to visit their memorial in Washington DC, to closing scenic overlooks lest anyone get a glimpse of Mt Rushmore, to closing access to the ocean itself in South Florida.

All these actions were taken by our Federal Government because of the government shutdown. Due to the shutdown, the government doesn’t have money for “non-essential” services. So for the duration, fishing boats are prohibited from taking fishers into the 1100 square-miles of open ocean around Florida Bay. It just isn’t safe to go out in the big waters without the Federal Government looking out for you, I guess. But they do have money for “essential” services, such as enforcing the ban and making sure that you don’t do something “stupid” like getting in your boat and defying their ban.

In actuality, it appears that most of the government deems itself “essential” since 83% of it is still operating. This is right in line with what Nancy Pelosi had to say back in September regarding cuts to government spending”

“The cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make. It’s really important that people understand that.”

Move along folks; nothing to see here. Every dime of spending is absolutely necessary. Except I guess, defense spending. I and close to 400,000 other DoD civilians were furloughed after all.

But wait! Only for four days! Back to work on Monday! So now what is the percentage of the Federal Government that is furloughed? Anyone else except national park employees?

It’s been a clever ploy on the part of the Administration. Keep open those things that keep the masses happy; make sure those Social Security and Welfare checks keep rolling in while at the same time hit them where it hurts and make sure they know darned well that the Republicans are at fault. So close the parks; take away that one time trip before I die to the World War II memorial. Make little Johnny cry because he can’t see Mt. Rushmore and tell him it was the evil Republican’s that ruined his trip. Shut off access to the monuments on the Mall; something that has never happened before during any government shutdown. I bet they would throw a cover over the Washington Monument if there was a way they could make it happen.

National Park rangers have even been ordered to keep visitors out of privately run businesses – even if they were operating before with no government assistance or funding of any kind, if they are located on federal property. It actually costs the government money to ensure that they can’t make any. Because it’s not about funding, it’s all about making folks feel pain. But don’t take my word for it (even if it is as obvious as the nose on your face); in the words of one Park Service ranger in Washington, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

If you even have a peripheral attachment to something federal you are out on your ear. Joyce and Ralph Spencer, ages 77 and 80 respectively, own their own home. However that home sits on Federal land at Lake Mead. Now, except for a one-time trip to pick up some belongings, they can’t go there and have to find some other place to live. Park officials, making life difficult again, say they are not allowed to go home, because “overnight stays are not allowed until the government opens.”

And then we are treated to the spectacle of Harry Reid, hard pressed by the Republicans in the House of Representatives who keep sending him bills that he refuses to take up, going off on a CNN reporter during a question and answer session. When asked “if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it,” Mr. Reid replied “Why would we want to do that?” He went on to say “I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is – to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you’re irresponsible and reckless.”

Wow! An unexpected answer to the common liberal question of “if there were just one (fill in the blank) you could save, …” You know, the question usually asked of those on the right concerning some liberal cause. Usually something along the lines of “it’s better to let 100 murder’s and rapists go free than to unjustly imprison one innocent man.” Not a question usually asked of liberal Democrats, as Senator Reid let her know.

Video of this interview went viral on the Internet. But if you get your news from ABC or NBC, you probably missed it, as it was largely ignored in “news” reporting on those networks. Apparently it was not as “newsworthy” as faulting the Republicans. It was carried on FOX News, however as the president has stated that “FOX News is not a news network,” how can you trust them? (Tongue planted firmly in cheek.) I find these days that I get the best news on what is happening in my country from England. Reid’s office claims he has been taken out of context; you watch the video and decide.

The exchange does shed some light on the entire “affordable health care act” though. Why, indeed, worry about a single young girl with cancer when there are many others with different problems who need help? She will probably die after all – why waste resources on her? This is the same way the system will look at you when you have a life or death issue.

Oh they will take care of your coughs and sniffles well enough – albeit at far more cost than you could yourself (though you won’t notice – it’s “free’” right?). But when something catastrophic occurs, like cancer, well that will be a different kettle of fish. How old are you? How much will it cost to fix what’s wrong? Are you a net benefit to or drag on society? Are there better things to do with that money? Who else is in need? What are your politics?

Remember the “death panels” that they assured us were figments of the right’s imagination? To that young girl, waiting in vain for the National Institute of Health to open, is not Senator Reid’s refusal to take up the funding bill for it, sent to him by the House of Representatives, the same as the decision of a one-man “death panel?”

Why does Senator Reid hate this young girl so much? Why has he declared war on her and others like her suffering from cancer? Has he no compassion? These are the sort of questions the left frequently hurls at the right – how does it feel when the shoe is on the other foot?

No, we don’t have the money to fund clinical cancer trials at the National Institutes of Health, thanks to those dastardly Republicans, but we do have the money it seems, to fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which received $445 million on the very first day of the government “shutdown.” Thank goodness! At least those kids awaiting cancer treatments will still get to watch Big Bird.

And where is the President in all of this? When the country looks to the President of the United States to lead, what do they find instead? Excuses. Blame. The buck never seems to get to him. Perhaps it simply can’t find him on the golf links.

For the first time in my lifetime, I see a president who is willing to talk with terrorists (the Muslim Brotherhood, those fighting in Syria against Assad including al Qaida, etc), with Iran concerning nuclear weapons, with North Korea, and pretty much anyone else who wants to talk with him except Republicans. He draws “red lines” with everyone else and bends or breaks them on a routine basis (or pretends he “never said that.”), but with Republicans, his red line is as firm as the line Col Travis drew in the sand at the Alamo. Never let it be said that President Obama negotiated with Republican anarchist terrorists!

Meanwhile, I guess it just all depends on exactly what group you are with, as to whether or not you can use “closed” federal property. Veterans, people with private homes or businesses, tourists, go somewhere else. But if you are having a rally on immigration reform – why of course you can use the “closed to the rest of Americans” national mall! After all, you scheduled it before the shutdown, right? No problemo! Your rights are protected under the First Amendment, after all!

And besides, the rally, which called for Congress to grant legal status to illegal immigrants, of which there are an estimated 11 million, was a photo op for Democratic members of Congress, like Nancy Pelosi and Senator Robert Menendez, both who attended along with around 30 other members of congress. To be fair, Republicans were in attendance as well; Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) to name two, who came, one can only presume, to represent their constituents south of the border. And of course, the event was hosted by various immigration activists groups, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO. Wouldn’t want to jeopardize those campaign contributions now, would we?

On the other hand, if you are an ordinary American wanting to visit the monuments, White House, or the beaches at Normandy, it doesn’t matter if you bought your tickets and planned the visit before the shutdown; stay home; you are not welcome.

It’s been real instructive to see how many of the things that we have taken for granted as being owned by “we the people” are in actuality owned by the Federal Government. We thought they were caretakers – they think they are landlords. We look at park rangers as performing a service; being on hand to assist us as we tour our national monuments. They look at it more like guards patrolling a private park; allowing us access at their pleasure and denying us access on demand.

We may have paid for it with our tax dollars, but, as they say, possession is 9/10ths of the law and they hold the deed. Uncle Sam giveth and Uncle Sam taketh away.

It has been instructive as well to see all the ways that the federal government has wormed its way into our lives and all the ways they now have to make that life miserable at their whim. Here is a list of some of the ways the federal government has found to do just that during the current shutdown. Most of these measures have never been taken during a government shutdown before.

Just remember: A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” – Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States, address to a joint session of Congress, 12 August 1974