Monumental Silliness

One cannot support the shutdown tactic and then be outraged that part of the government is shutdown.

government-shutdown-lincoln-memorialLet me start with the following:

1.  I have skin in the this monument shutdown game, as my son’s 8th grade class is headed to DC for a class trip and will be directly affected by the closures in DC.  I am disappointed on my son’s behalf and, in honesty, a bit angry about the overall situation.  At a minimum, the situation is not a as distance an abstraction for me as it is for some.

2.  I honestly do not know how much of what has been done is for legitimate policy reasons due to the shutdown and how much is political theater (I suspect some of both).  I looked around yesterday to see if any actual reporting, as opposed to speculation, had been done (but I did not find anything).  It seems pretty clear that most conclusions about what is going on is based on a great deal of assumption and speculation.

3.  I will further say that at a distance, closing the National Mall entirely seems a bit much, given that things like the WWII Memorial and the FDR Memorial are totally open air.  However, by the same token someone has to pick up the trash and so forth.   (Likewise with the cones at the Mt. Rushmore viewing area).

4.  If, in fact, the administration is using monuments and parks as a pawn in this game, remember the game was chosen by the House Majority.  Further, they have played it before, and are threatening a mega-round over the debt ceiling next.  It is amazing to, for example, refuse to vote to keep the government open, and then castigate employee working for IOUs for closing a monument (click).

Having said all of that, I find any complaints about these closures from anyone who supports the House Majority’s shutdown tactics to be utterly void of intellectual honesty.

For example,* JD writing at Patterico’s Pontifications wrote yesterday “Obama is a petty, petulant, narcissistic d-bag” in the context of two stories about park-closure related issues.  My favorite is this one from Twitchy:  “How far will the Obama Administration go to make sure the government shutdown is as unpleasant as possible?”

So, for the sake of argument, let’s stipulate for the moment that all the claims about closures are true, and that they are the result of political calculation.  If true, the supporters of the shutdown tactic have no room to complain, because the whole point of the shutdown is to crate pain to try and force the administration to capitulate to demands.   One cannot, if one is intellectually honest, pursue a strategy that is designed to make life unpleasant by shutting down parts of the government and then complain when it makes life unpleasant by shutting down parts of the government.

Form a pure power perspective, the actions of the House GOP caucus, and specifically the Tea Party Caucus makes sense insofar as they have no other cards to play.  However, the playing of the shutdown card is, to borrow a word quoted from above, petulant.  It is throwing a national fit because legislation that it doesn’t like made through a rigorous constitutional process.  However, the whole point of this tactic is to make shutdown, to borrow again from above, as “unpleasant as possible.”  If it isn’t, what’s the point?

What gets me the most frustrated with all this parks and monuments hysteria, is that it is ridiculous to declaim (with moral outrage!) the fact that monuments and parks are closed when one supports a policy that creates serious personal economic uncertainty for the federal workers and contractors who don’t know when they will be paid.  It is all well and good to pretend like these folks are getting a vacation, but when the rent check come due, and your pay has been deferred, that’s not a lot of fun.   Moreover, the shutdown itself is costing the federal government money, and worst of all, the basic extortionist tactic being used at the moment has been squarely aimed at the economy itself via the debt ceiling deadline.

I understand that a lot of this is partisan grousing aimed at the like-minded, but it is extremely cynical and highly dishonest (or, purely ignorant).

Let me boil it down to this:  getting outraged that tourists can’t take pictures while supporting the withholding of paychecks from almost a million workers, along with the economic consequences thereof, is a case of rather substantially misplaced priorities.

Of course, a lot of this is pure cognitive dissonance about what public things are, and how they are funded and maintained.  Parks, monuments, etc., as manifestations of government and are a creation of tax dollars.  Further, complaining about park closures is pretty much the very definition of the privileged class complaining because you have to have some amount of means to enjoy these parks and such given that travel isn’t cheap.  However, pursuing policy extortion because you want to prevent the funding a of a policy designed to extend insurance coverage to everyone, well that’s fine.  Or, better yet, threating another round of extortion that could threaten basic services to the poor and elderly, no problem there as well.  But put cones up at a parking lot designed for view Mount Rushmore?  Well, then, “This is a scandal.”

This stuff is great for cable news, talk radio, and blogs.  The problem is that is has moved from sphere of infotainment to that of the national political tactics of a major political party.

*These two are just ones I happened to remember where I saw them. Examples are legion on blogs, in commentary, on cable news, and on Facebook/Twitter.

**Indeed, even more than the constitutional process, since the constitution does not require a 60% super-majority to pass legislation the way the Senate rules do.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Absolutely nothing at all inconsistent with supporting the shutdown and criticizing the Administration for barricading heretofore open air monuments.

  2. KM says:

    @Bryan McGrath:

    So I take it you will be volunteering to clean porta-potties for free? That you would be willing to clean up graffiti, cigarette butts and assorted touristy messes?

    GREAT! We thank you for your selfless service in this time of need. You and all those like you who whine about closures without thinking about the logistics of management. Report to DC at your earliest convenience.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    Of course, a lot of this is pure cognitive dissonance about what public things are, and how they are funded and maintained.

    Much of modern politics in a nutshell. According to Chris Mooney in The Republican Brain, the concept of “motivated reasoning” has largely supplanted “cognitive dissonance”. They selectively recall only what fits their mental narrative. Anything that doesn’t fit is “lalalalala”. Hence ‘Keep the government out of my Medicare.’ and Craig T. Nelson saying ‘I was poor. I got welfare and food stamps. Nobody helped me.” The stuff they like is a natural thing, not really “government” at all. The stuff they don’t like, including the stuff that exists only in my head, is the jackbooted booted heel of that socialist, crony capitalist Obama.

    Modern conservatism really has come down to the fear someone, somewhere is getting a benefit I’m not and you’re not the boss of me.

  4. JKB says:

    @KM:

    Close the restrooms and put up a sign. Put a sign at the edge of the Mall warning tourists that the restrooms are closed.

    Graffiti is a criminal problem. The park police are on duty. Any graffiti cleanup, cigarette butts, etc, along with overflowing trashcans can wait until the “shutdown” is over. Its growing presence at the monuments a tell-tell sign of the need for at least some government services. If it becomes a health hazard, then the trash collection workers would become “essential” at least until the hazard was removed.

    All perfectly explainable as reasonable management actions in the face of being unable to expend appropriated funds on non-essential services due to having no appropriations by law as required to release monies from the Treasury.

    Taping off the mall and scenic overlooks, throwing old people out of their homes, shutting down private businesses for which the federal government is landlord, are rookie moves. More likely to anger people over government petulance. As opposed to letting the lack of routine cleaning build up to show what happens to keep things up and running.

    Although the latter could be mitigated by a civic movement for people to pack their trash out.

  5. PJ says:

    @KM:

    So I take it you will be volunteering to clean porta-potties for free? That you would be willing to clean up graffiti, cigarette butts and assorted touristy messes?

    That would be solved very easily if everyone was allowed to carry weapons everywhere and we added some laws that allowed normal law-abiding citizens to shoot litterers.

  6. A.Men says:

    impeach barrycade hussein obombacare!

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’ll repeat what I said elsewhere: to give the Obama administration a pass for the rankly political way they’re overseeing the shutdown is to give credibility to the “look what you made me do!” defense.

    To add a few more examples of Shutdown Theater: the Amber Alert web site is shut down, but apparently the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base is still open.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    Well said, Steven

  9. DC Loser says:

    but apparently the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base is still open

    I guess you don’t understand the difference between Appropriated Fund and Non-Appropriated Fund activities in the government? MWR in the military is a Non-Appropriated Fund activity, and does not get any appropriated fund money to operate. It is entirely self-sustaining.

  10. @Bryan McGrath: Yes, let’s shutdown the government until we get what we want, just not things we like. This is what the argument boils down to.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Bryan McGrath:

    Absolutely nothing at all inconsistent with supporting the shutdown and criticizing the Administration for barricading heretofore open air monuments.

    You can keep telling yourself that, but it is inconsistent.

    If you “support the shutdown” you should be willing to endure short-term pain (government employees out of work, agencies closed, closed monuments) to achieve a political goal. If you are not willing to endure that short-term pain, it calls into question how much you actually support the shutdown.

    Me, I think the shutdown is ridiculous. The closing of the monuments doubly so. But then again, I don’t support the shutdown at all and if I’m going to criticize anyone, I’ll criticize the guys who chose this tactic: the Republican minority.

  12. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    Close the restrooms and put up a sign. Put a sign at the edge of the Mall warning tourists that the restrooms are closed.

    I’m not saying that your suggestions are not sensible, JKB.

    But I will say that they are less sensible than re-opening the government. I mean, we don’t really need to figure this one out. We already know the answer. Why do we need ” a civic movement for people to pack their trash out” when we already have the Park Service?

  13. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    to give the Obama administration a pass for the rankly political way they’re overseeing the shutdown is to give credibility to the “look what you made me do!” defense.

    Ha! Choose a “rankly political way” to shut down the government, then bitch about it how “rankly political” it all is. That’s rich.

  14. JKB says:

    @James Pearce: the Republican minority.

    If they really were a minority, this wouldn’t be happening. Republicans are not a protected class, some might say they are the last “minority” in which it is acceptable to discriminate.

    But that his neither here nor there. The Republicans are the majority in the House. They are also in fact, the majority of the elected members in the federal government. 243 Democrats, 297 Republicans.

    So really we are this mess because the Democrat minority happens to hold several key positions that give them undue influence upon federal legislation.

    Granted this situation is a valid outcome of how the reins of power were arranged. But to speak of the “Republican minority” in federal elected office is to reveal your ignorance of simple counting.

  15. KM says:

    @JKB:Close the restrooms and put up a sign. Put a sign at the edge of the Mall warning tourists that the restrooms are closed.

    Alright, I’ll bite. And where will they go then? Mother Nature heeds no shutdown and when you gotta go, you gotta go. Will the local restaurants be willing to handle the overflow of hundreds or thousands of visitors that need to pee? Should they just urinate on the lawn? Where in the hell do you think these people will go when they really have to – you think a stupid sign is going to stop a desperate mother with a 4 year old doing the potty dance?

    Thinking like this is what causes shutdowns in the first place. Simplistic, black and white moronic reasoning. There are X numbers of visitors and Y numbers of restrooms. Take Z number of those restrooms out of play. X number of people still need to pee. They have to go somewhere. You can’t just say, “Whelp, not my problem!” The original issue is still there and still needs to be addressed. Posturing or shrugging off guilt doesn’t solve anything.

    And somebody will still have to clean all that up.

  16. PJ says:

    @JKB:

    They are also in fact, the majority of the elected members in the federal government. 243 Democrats, 297 Republicans.

    You really are grasping for straws, aren’t you?

  17. @JKB: The House Majority, however, holds a minority of power in this context. Worse, the Majority caucus is being held hostage by a minority of its members and a Speaker who feels, for whatever reason, that he must function solely within the strictures of the GOP caucus.

    And this is simply ignoring what the word “minority” means in this context, as well as making an unnecessary foray into other issues:

    If they really were a minority, this wouldn’t be happening. Republicans are not a protected class, some might say they are the last “minority” in which it is acceptable to discriminate.

  18. JKB says:

    @James Pearce: But I will say that they are less sensible than re-opening the government.

    True, but resuming the expenditure of appropriated funds on “non-essential” services is not within the power of the Executive. If the desire is to “re-open” the government then constant negotiations would be underway. Perhaps it would take a long while if neither side is willing to seek a compromise but they should be talking, talking, talking. But Obama and Reid have said they will not talk.

    The monument closures has done more to instill a feeling we need to cut back big government than I thought possible. Long after this is over, the images will be used as an example of a government that believes it has a right to rule rather than serve. Those are not the King’s parks or monuments. And to think, images of overflowing trash cans would send a very different message. One has to wonder if there are some small government types in the NPS running a covert campaign to reveal Big Government.

  19. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    So really we are this mess because the Democrat minority happens to hold several key positions that give them undue influence upon federal legislation.

    Um, that’s not an accurate description of our government. You see, we have three branches of government. Please tell me how any elected piece of it can be fairly described as having “undue influence upon federal legislation.”

    You see, when I said “Republican minority,” I did so recognizing that they do have 32 more members in the house, but also that they do NOT hold the presidency or the Senate. Meaning that they are a minority in our elected government, because we have three branches of government, all balancing and checking the other.

    So your diagnosis is, indeed, wrong on the merits.

  20. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Oh, I’ll grant we could have a 480-something to 52 division and still be in this same situation.

    But still minority has no relation in this context. Even looking at the big picture, the matter can’t be solved in a 2 to 1 vote. It is amusing to talk of it in terms of majority/minority but that only has a certain amount of utility within the legislative bodies and none outside. We are down to the brass tacks and wanting to discuss it as a parliamentarian system doesn’t change how it works. We had a bit of “majority” control back in 2009-2010 when one party could pass legislation in each house without considering the “minority”, the voters chose not to do that again….so far. in fact, we are in this current mess because of what that “majority” did without any consideration of the “minority”

  21. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    But Obama and Reid have said they will not talk.

    They have talked. They will talk. You are not getting paid to repeat this talking point, and I am not Dana Bash. Why even bring it up?

  22. JKB says:

    @KM:

    Well, if you are notified that normal services such as restrooms are unavailable, then your visit to the monuments or parks is your choice.

    “I can’t visit the monuments because the restrooms are closed because government janitors are furloughed” would be a reason to get on TV to support the MSM, I mean, President’s position that funding bills need to be passed, “clean”.

    We are never going to agree. You see citizens as children. I see them as free people with rights and privileges but also responsibility for their choices as their situations dictate.

  23. JKB says:

    @James Pearce:

    “I will not negotiate” is not talking. Perhaps no agreement is possible but it certainly isn’t possible unless there is real discussions.

  24. Just Me says:

    So what is the legitimate reason for shutting down private businesses who operate in the Florida Bay?

    What actual government service is occurring at scenic overlooks? Many of the scenic overlooks in my neck of the woods don’t have trash cans-it’s just a parking area.

    The Park service has the man power to guard these places and tell people they have to leave-if they are going to post guards they might as well open them and let people visit.

    And why is the Amber Alert website shut down but Michelle Obama’sets move website still open?

    What is the purposenofnshutting down private businesses that actual pay money to the government through leases and vendor fees?

    It is theater.

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    @JKB:

    Close the restrooms and put up a sign. Put a sign at the edge of the Mall warning tourists that the restrooms are closed.

    There is one problem with this, going to the restroom is normally not optional. As many cities have discovered if you don’t supply restrooms people are only going to go where you don’t want them to.

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    They are also in fact, the majority of the elected members in the federal government. 243 Democrats, 297 Republicans.

    This is sad even for you. I mean, it’s not like anyone around here has any respect for you, but I’d think some basic sense of self-worth would try to keep you from humiliating yourself like this.

  27. Rob in CT says:

    @JKB:

    Negotiations could have taken place anytime over the past six months. The GOP repeatedly refused, because they wanted more leverage. They saw a potential government shutdown and debt ceiling breach as leverage points. They’ve used the first one, and it isn’t going the way they’d like. So now there is much whining about negotiating.

    Pass the CR, raise the debt ceiling and then have normal negotiations. Anything more is caving to extortion.

  28. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    “I will not negotiate” is not talking.

    That’s you misunderstanding what the president is saying. I seem to remember an hour long meeting with congressional leaders at the White House last Wednesday. He’s sitting at the negotiating table, face to face, talking to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid looming in the corner, saying “I will not negotiate.”

    And you thought it meant they weren’t talking to one another?

  29. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    And to think, images of overflowing trash cans would send a very different message.

    Maybe the Administration actually has some respect for our national monuments and what they represent and isn’t willing to let them get trashed for the sake of partisan point-scoring. Maybe they don’t want millions of Americans and foreign visitors to see them covered in garbage and graffiti.

  30. al-Ameda says:

    @Bryan McGrath:

    Absolutely nothing at all inconsistent with supporting the shutdown and criticizing the Administration for barricading heretofore open air monuments.

    Just as there is nothing wrong with a person who shoots his parents then complains that he’s now an orphan.

  31. rudderpedals says:

    @Just Me: So what is the legitimate reason for shutting down private businesses who operate in the Florida Bay?

    Florida Bay remains open. When I checked yesterday the Gulf was also open. The problem with the Collier county businesses is that those are in and accessible only through the Everglades National Park. At the rate the House is going it won’t squirt out a specific Everglades 8 week CR for another 9 weeks or so.

  32. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    in fact, we are in this current mess because of what that “majority” did without any consideration of the “minority”

    We are in this situation because of the animus that 53% of 1/6th of our government has toward this president in general, and ACA specifically. Republicans planned for this shutdown, they got it, and now they want no part of the blame for it. The same will be true after they leverage this steaming pile of dog feces into a default on American debt securities.

    Republicans have indicated that defunding or de-authorizing ACA is their compromise position – in short, Obama must appease Republicans or there will be a Republican-engineered default. How do you compromise with people who do not want compromise, when what they want is capitulation and appeasement? Republicans deserve nothing.

  33. john personna says:

    I agree with Steven’s comments about why park complaints are silly, but I continue to think the real absurdity is that parks were chosen as a significant focus of complaint.

    A government shutdown is a national emergency. It is denying us services and costing us money. Especially as Congress has agreed to pay people not working.

    The people not cleaning those park bathrooms will be paid.

    What kind of person complains that the solution is to lock the bathrooms and ignore the cost?

  34. C. Clavin says:

    Wah….We shut down the Government…but the un-intended consequences are Obama’s fault….Wah!!!!
    Give it a break, you whiny little titty babies.
    Put a clean bill up for a vote. Done. JKB can go back to his monuments. Everyone is happy. Except for the 2 dozen retarded tea-baggers who started this mess.

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Republicans are not a protected class, some might say they are the last “minority” in which it is acceptable to discriminate.

    Certainly they are the world’s loudest victims, as you illustrate very well…

    …to get on TV to support the MSM, I mean, President’s position…

    Yet another example of victimhood…

  36. Jeremy R says:

    The thing about all these conspiracy theories about the WH political arm interfering in various gov’t agency furlough and shutdown rule-making and legal decisions is that folks seem to be forgetting Darrell Issa. Beyond just ethical considerations, everyone in gov’t is aware that Issa and other House Committees are engaging in constant fishing expeditions through executive communications, looking for anything easily spin-able and politically incendiary in order to start their next witch-hunt. No-one is about to hand him any legitimate ammunition over shutdown actions that aren’t even particularly politically favorable (because of how easy they are for the Right to attack through arguments from incredulity).

  37. anjin-san says:

    I continue to think the real absurdity is that parks were chosen as a significant focus of complaint.

    I have to disagree with you on this. The “THEY CLOSED THE PARKS!!!” gambit is a fairly successful bait and switch tactic. It is taking attention off the larger issues. It makes it about Obama, and not the people who shut the government down.

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I’m always touched by the faith conservatives have in Obama’s mojo. They can do any irresponsible thing they want, but it would all come out OK if only Obama cared enough to fix it.

  39. Scott F. says:

    @gVOR08:

    Steve Taylor – I think gVOR08 has it here precisely. The “intellectually honest” argument for the advocates of a shutdown goes like this:

    If the government is bad because it takes from Us to give to Them, then one would assume that were the government be shutdown, it should be Them who hurt the most. Any other result must be a distortion of the true impact of a shutdown. If the impact were true, the Democrats should feel the most pressure in a shutdown, because the Takers are the constituents of the Democratic party. If it weren’t for the distortions being perpetrated by the Obama administration, most “Americans” wouldn’t miss government a bit (they’d actually be relieved, since the Them would be taking less from the US), so it is natural to expect the Democrats to cave in first and accept whatever terms the Republicans determine.

    Cognitive dissonance is an absolute requirement. Without it, none of this would be happening.

  40. john personna says:

    @anjin-san:

    Does “they closed the parks” fascinate any but the lunatic fringe?

    Litmus test.

  41. Jack the other on says:

    Spending a great deal more money shutting a memorial down then to leave it alone gives anyone even those who supposedly support the shutdown a right to complain. Those who support Obama not giving in to avoid the shutdown supports the shutdown as much as those who support the Republicans for insisting on getting something.

  42. Rob in CT says:

    @Jack the other on:

    Yeah, no. The GOP picked this fight. Just because the Dems (for once) refuse to surrender doesn’t mean they’re responsible for the fight.

    Typical “why did you make me hit you?” nonsense.

    Or, put another way:

    “It gives us what we want or it gets the hose again.”

  43. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack the other on:

    Those who support Obama not giving in to avoid the shutdown supports the shutdown as much as those who support the Republicans for insisting on getting something.

    Yes, Republicans were successful in causing the shutdown, and now Democrats should “compromise” and agree to rescind or defund ACA in order to end the shutdown. It’s so simple even Sarah Palin could understand it, and without help from Katie Couric.

  44. john personna says:

    @Jack the other on:

    No, because the ‘clean”open CR’ was and is a very fair offer.

  45. Rob in CT says:

    From The Daily Beast

    The Senate CR funds the government in the coming weeks at a level of $988 billion. The Democrats wanted $1.058 billion. But they passed a bill at Republican levels. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said late last week: “My caucus really didn’t like that. We took a real hit…So that’s one of the largest compromises since I’ve been in Congress.”

    Now why did they pass a bill at the GOP’s preferred levels? Because, Reid said late last week, he had assurances from Boehner that the House speaker wouldn’t attach demands to the Senate CR if Reid brought it in at $988 billion. So this whole thing started with a significant Democratic compromise. But once the Republicans decided that they were going to use both the shutdown and the debt ceiling to try to defund and/or delay Obamacare, they couldn’t even vote for a bill that gave them a major fiscal victory. That’s how dug in and crazy they are.

    But remember, kids, a CR that comports with Republican demands from the Beforetime (i.e., any time before yesterday) is “total Democratic victory.”

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ john personna

    Does “they closed the parks” fascinate any but the lunatic fringe?

    Well, there has been quite a bit of chatter about it right here on OTB. The lunatics are generating a lot of white noise that is drowning out more meaningful discussion.

  47. C. Clavin says:

    “…Does “they closed the parks” fascinate any but the lunatic fringe?..”

    When you have nothing of substance on which to base your argument…and you are too ideologically driven to ever accept new information or facts or even consider changing your mind…then you are forced to argue total nonsense.
    Moderates and level-headed Republicans think the shut-down is stupid.
    JKB and Jenos don’t.
    That’s all you need to know.

  48. Pharoah Narim says:

    God forbid some crazed group blow up or shoot up a park when they are vulnernable with a reduced security posture during the furlough. If it were to happen, these walking bungholes would be screaming benPARKzzi! The parks should have been closed in the first place!

    Well, they’re closed. That way we can ensure no-one takes advantage of the situation to hurt people or property. Deal with it. It aint the end of the world. There are bigger fish to fry.

  49. Grewgills says:

    @JKB
    Democrats 191 Congressmen 51 Senators 1 President = 243
    Republicans 240 Congressmen 47 Senators = 287

    It was a ridiculous assertion in the first place, but you also managed to tack on an additional 10 ghost republicans to your ‘majority’. Making this even more nonsensical, is the number of votes received by each caucus. It is a bare majority of the majority party in one half of one branch of the government hostage taking and demanding ransom.

  50. michael reynolds says:

    I think we should thank JKB for his parroting of Fox News talking points. It’s a convenient way to se what drivel is informing the nitwits.

  51. C. Clavin says:

    benPARKzzi

    Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner.

  52. john personna says:

    @Pharoah Narim, @C. Clavin:

    I think it already is benPARKzzi, for the lunatic fringe.

  53. Mike says:

    The premise is wrong. Senator Reid and President Obama shut down the government. The House Republicans shut down Affordable Care Act funding.

    The House provided the funding for all of government except for the Affordable Care Act. Senator Reid and President Obama refused to accept the funding and shut down the government until they get the funding for the Affordable Care Act too.

    Those are just the facts. The senate and the president had it within their power to accept the funding and keep the government running. They chose not to do that. They are responsible for what they did.

    The House decides what to fund. That is their right, and the house is responsible for their funding choices. It is all just politics as usual.

    The way President Obama has chosen to handle the closing of war memorials and scenic overlooks, etc., was unnecessary and exhibits a mindset of meanness that is hard for most people to understand. It may just be hardball politics as usual for the president, but it is needless and malicious messing with ordinary citizens, and especially with those who served and sacrificed for their country in time of war.

    The excuses about toilets and trash are feeble and pathetic.

  54. David M says:

    @Mike:

    The party making the demands for unilateral changes is the one that shut down the government. Arguing otherwise is silly and juvenile.

  55. Jeremy R says:

    @Mike:

    The premise is wrong. Senator Reid and President Obama shut down the government. The House Republicans shut down Affordable Care Act funding.

    AP:Republicans get opposite of stated goals

    Republicans insisted they wanted to shut down the nation’s 3-year-old health care overhaul, not the government. They got the opposite, and now struggle to convince the public that responsibility for partial closure of the federal establishment lies with President Barack Obama and the Democrats.

    There’s ample evidence otherwise, beginning with Speaker John Boehner’s refusal to permit the House to vote on Senate-passed legislation devoted solely to reopening the government.

  56. john personna says:

    Yeah, it does beyond dense to ignore the Republican’s own words heading into the shutdown they demanded. You have to be psychotic.

  57. anjin-san says:

    The Social Security Administration has begun warning the public it cannot guarantee full benefit payments if the debt ceiling isn’t increased.

    When asked by the public, the agency is notifying beneficiaries that “Unlike a federal shutdown which has no impact on the payment of Social Security benefits, failure to raise the debt ceiling puts Social Security benefits at risk,” according to a person familiar with the agency directive.

    The warning was assembled after the agency consulted with the Treasury Department, which would play a lead role in determining how the government handles payments if the borrowing limit isn’t raised soon.

    By all means, let’s discuss the important stuff, like scenic turnouts at Mt. Rushmore being closed.

  58. @Mike:

    See: A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning

    And this from Freedom Works back in February:

    Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare. This includes Obamacare’s unworkable exchanges, unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and attack on life and religious liberty.

    The blame is squarely in the hands of the House Majority.

  59. al-Ameda says:

    @Mike:

    The premise is wrong. Senator Reid and President Obama shut down the government. The House Republicans shut down Affordable Care Act funding.

    As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your opinion. The cold stark reality is that you own this shutdown and you will own the default too. You wanted some kind of a magical shutdown where all the stuff you like is open and all those other “unnecessary services” are closed. Grow up, accept responsibility for your ideology and the consequences of pursuing it to this end.

  60. Jeremy R says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Speaking of that NYT article you linked and OTB poster Mike,

    Upthread Mike wrote:

    “The House provided the funding for all of government except for the Affordable Care Act.”

    And from the article:

    A defunding “tool kit” created in early September included talking points for the question, “What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?” The suggested answer was the one House Republicans give today: “We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.”

    Trickle-down talking points.

  61. Kingdaddy says:

    This conflict is no longer about the Affordable Care Act or the debt ceiling. Arguably, they might not have been the real issue from the beginning of the shutdown.

    There are three core issues. I’m going to rehash what James Fallows said on this subject, adding some of my own thoughts:

    A struggle within the Republican Party over compromise. I propose a new name for the Tea Party Republicans: Incorruptibles. That’s a deliberate nod to Robespierre, who got that nickname because of his unwaveringly rigid application of his revolutionary principles. For the Incorruptibles, compromise is a bad thing. The fact that the US federal government cannot function without compromise is less important than fidelity to principles. The Incorruptibles don’t trust other Republicans, just as the Jacobins didn’t trust the Girondists and their mushy dedication to the creation of a new society.

    A new twist on nullification. Instead of states nullifying acts of the federal government, legislators within the federal government are trying to nullify laws by refusing to fund them. Again, the US government cannot function in this fashion, and again, the Incorruptibles either don’t realize this, or don’t care. Imagine if every faction in both parties pursued a “I’ll stop funding what I don’t like” strategy.

    The final rift between the White House and the Incorruptibles. There is no reason for President Obama to “negotiate” about the ACA or any other issue that the Incorruptibles want to bring to the table. Let’s leave aside their allergy to compromise, their embrace of birtherism and other patently untrue assertions, and their stated goal of ending his presidency. Those are good political reasons, but there’s a bigger Constitutional one: he cannot contribute to the unraveling of the US Constitution’s rules for passing and implementing laws, which is what the new nullification represents.

    On a related front, it’s perfectly permissible for the Incorruptibles, despite their devotion to their principles, to be hypocrites and liars. The condescension that a true believer feels to everyone else, combined with an apocalyptic view of what’s at stake, allows for all kinds of bad behavior. There were many communist true believers in the Comintern, even though that organization spread many big lies, and reversed its positions with dizzying speed. Which is why (a) I don’t think the participants in the WWII memorial fiasco believed a word they were saying, which (b) made it one of the crassest moments in recent political history.

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’ll repeat what I said elsewhere: to give the Obama administration a pass for the rankly political way

    You want see a rankly political use of power? Put me in the Presidency and watch how how shift ALL funds from Red congressional districts to blue districts. You want the Fed gov’t to go bankrupt? OK let’s start with you and see how you like it.

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Oh, and what are you going to do about it? Impeach me???????

  64. george says:

    @KM:

    Alright, I’ll bite. And where will they go then?

    Actually, though I think the shut down is either childish foolishness or willful harm by the GOP, I think barracading open air monuments was an unforced error on the part of the Democrats. People visiting things like that for centuries without having facilities and guides nearby. Signs explaining the situation would suffice; people are smart enough to figure out alternatives to porta-potties and the like.

    I wonder if it was a Republican sympathizer who suggested it – it gave them a completely unnecessary symbolic point to argue over, freeing them from having to explain their action on the votes.

  65. David M says:

    @george:

    I think barracading open air monuments was an unforced error on the part of the Park Service.

    Fixed it for you.

  66. Mike says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: A Freedom Works opinion means nothing to me. Freedom Works speaks for itself.

    The House funded the government except for the ACA. Senator Reid and President Obama refused to accept the funding absent the funding for the ACA and shut down the government. It was their willful choice and it was their responsibility. That is simply a fact.

    If we have a senate majority leader and a president who are not responsible for their own willful acts, then what kind of a sick concept of government do we have?

    Ok, we all realize the idea is to shove the blame for your own decisions onto the opposing party and hope that a servile media will help you convince the people that the other guy is to blame. My guess is that it is not going to work in the longer run. This unnecessary roughness against the people as a whole, not just against the their opponents, will show the people who the bad guys are.

    “You wouldn’t have thought it possible. Not in your wildest dreams would you imagine that on the 11th anniversary of the beginning of American’s longest war would police have the temerity to arrest war veterans standing vigil, reading the names of their dead comrades in arms. And yet…”

    You don’t have to be a conservative to see the vindictive meanness in this administration.

  67. mantis says:

    @Mike:

    The House funded the government except for the ACA.

    The House refuses to allow a vote on a clean CR, which would immediately reopen the government. They refuse because they wanted, planned for, and caused the shutdown. They did this on purpose, and that purpose is extortion. All you’ve got is bullshit.

  68. David M says:

    @Mike:

    The GOP have refused to negotiate the entire FY2014 budget for several months now. The six week CR the Senate Democrats passed was at sequester (GOP) funding levels so there was time to work out the differences for the entire FY2014 budget with the house.

    What concessions were the GOP offering to the Democrats in exchange for defunding the ACA?

  69. An Interested Party says:

    Ok, we all realize the idea is to shove the blame for your own decisions onto the opposing party and hope that a servile media will help you convince the people that the other guy is to blame. My guess is that it is not going to work in the longer run. This unnecessary roughness against the people as a whole, not just against the their opponents, will show the people who the bad guys are.

    Give me a f@cking break…more victimization (“servile media”) as well as projection (“unnecessary roughness”)…hey, if you want to talk about unnecessary roughness, let’s talk about Republicans cutting food stamps during a recession or wanting to trash the ACA without offering any alternative to help those who are uninsured gain health insurance…the only people who believe that the president is one of the “bad guys” are you and your clueless fellow travelers…

    You don’t have to be a conservative to see the vindictive meanness in this administration.

    No, you simply have to be delusional…

  70. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @Mike:

    Your argument is actually Thomas Sowell’s argument. I see how quickly the talking points spread.

    http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2013/oct/06/thomas-sowell-who-shut-down-the-federal/

    The argument is pretty ridiculous on its face, but let’s follow its logic for the sake of argument. Imagine that the positions were reversed and the GOP controlled the Presidency and the Senate and the Dems controlled the House. Further imagine that the House funded the entire government except money targeted at red districts, or funded the entire government except the Department of Defense, or funded the entire government except discretionary spending that fund Veteran Programs. President Romney, would of course refuse to accept those terms, and everyone would recognize that this was a clear case of blackmail. Would you really come and tell us that it was President Romney that shut down the government? After all, the Dems were more than willing to fund the entire government except one particular area/department/program. Well, if you followed Stowell’s logic, you’d have to say yes.

  71. @Mike: I take it from your response that you did not read the article.

    More importantly, if you are going to so readily dismis Freedom Works then this indicates that you do not understand the current dynamic in the House Majority caucus.

    I really would recommend the article as a place to start.

  72. wr says:

    @Mike: “The House funded the government except for the ACA. Senator Reid and President Obama refused to accept the funding absent the funding for the ACA and shut down the government. It was their willful choice and it was their responsibility. That is simply a fact.”

    The kidnappers offered to return the little girl to their parents. It was the parents who refused to pay the two million dollar ransom when they claimed they didn’t have the money. It was their willful choice and their responsiblity that the child was killed. That is simply a fact.

  73. RaflW says:

    I find comments like Twitchy saying “How far will the Obama Administration go to make sure the government shutdown is as unpleasant as possible?” in re: park closures to be insufferably self-centered.

    Say that about programs and services for the poor, for people with rare cancers, maybe even that the IRS isn’t processing refunds right now. But park closures?

    Steven I get that you’re not whining – you want your kid to have a good trip, so do I. But the professional right-wing punditry as well as actual congresspersons foaming about park closures makes my head explode.

    It’s why I was livid that frequent fliers got exempted from the sequester (not the least of which are the congresspersons who are on a jet to/from DC every Mon/Fri), while the Park Service, NIH and so much else took the whack.

    No pain for the well-heeled, no visibility for the down-at-heel.

  74. JKB says:

    Genius. The Obama hit the trifecta. With one petulant road closure, his minions demonstrated government spite, government lack of consideration of citizens, and why one should avoid government schools.

    The National Park Service also closed the Foothills Parkway, a major thoroughfare in the county. The closure came without warning and left the local school district scrambling to get children back to their homes.

  75. @Kingdaddy: Great observations.

    And, indeed:

    Which is why (a) I don’t think the participants in the WWII memorial fiasco believed a word they were saying, which (b) made it one of the crassest moments in recent political history. – See more at: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/monumental-silliness//#comments

  76. Kingdaddy says:

    @JKB: You truly add nothing to this discussion. Factually, you’re incorrect. The President doesn’t make decisions about closing roads through national parks. The Department of the Interior does. If you look at a map, you can see why it’s probably unfeasible to depend on unpaid park rangers to patrol a vast stretch of mountainous forest through which the road passes. Already, the mayor of Maryville, TN has asked the Secretary of the Interior to pay for the services needed to keep the road open.

    In other words…
    President Obama did not personally choose to close the road.
    The President’s “minions” (his Cabinet? close circle of political advisors?) did not close the road. The Department of the Interior did. I’m no expert on roads, but it seems like a defensible policy, if no one can patrol and maintain a road on federal land, where driving conditions can be treacherous.
    The people affected are treating it as a problem to be solved, not just the occasion for snarky comments.

    Which brings me to the other reason why I say you add nothing to the dialog. You’re not engaging in dialog. You’re yet another bilious person, sitting on the sidelines, ready to hurl another snark-bomb at people you don’t like. You’re yet another block in the wall separating us from the kind of political discourse we need. You’re yet another contributor to the political demonology (“minions,” “petulance”) that has created needless antipathy and deformed our political system. You live in such a roiling pool of vitriol that irrelevancies like public schools bubble up from the depths constantly.

    Whether you’re paid for your efforts, or you post this nonsense because it gives you a jolt of sterile excitation, it’s time to take a long look at how little you’re helping, and how much you’re damaging, at a time of great national need.

  77. Mike says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: Well, of course, it would have been President Romney who shut down the government. I might argue that he was justified, but without question it would have been the president who shut down government.

  78. @Mike: The only way the president can be said to have shut down the government would be if he vetoed a measure that would have kept it open.

    One cannot lay blame on an institution that has not yet acted, or even had the chance to act.

  79. Mike says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, you are correct. Senator Reid did it. President Obama probably didn’t even know about it. Ok, I realize you are just playing with me. Keep up the good fight.

  80. @Mike: The Senate majority will not capitulate to very specific demands from the House. The responsibility for the demand is in the hands of the House, not the Senate.

    One can blame the Senate for not being willing to defund the ACA, but one must, if one is honest (and if one understands the process), blame the House majority for the shutdown.

    Further, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the Senate passed a version of the House’s clean CR, that would have maintained sequester-level funding–that was, itself, a compromise–and the House has not been willing to conference on that matter.