08 October 2013

Part 4 On Park Shutdowns Or Who Closed Yellowstone?

Update - see new material from the Christian Science Monitor at end of post. Is the NPS endangering school children?

Who Closed Yellowstone?

Charles Krauthammer answers the question via a piece in the Washington Times Post:
The mainstream media have been fairly unanimous in blaming the government shutdown on the GOP. Accordingly, House Republicans presented three bills to restore funding to national parks, veterans and the District of Columbia government. Democrats voted down all three. (For procedural reasons, the measures required a two-thirds majority.) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t even consider these refunding measures . . . The reason is obvious: to prolong the pain and thus add to the political advantage gained from a shutdown blamed on the GOP. They are confident the media will do a “GOP makes little Johnny weep at the closed gates of Yellowstone, film at 11” despite Republicans having just offered legislation to open them.
And . . . 
Tactics are one thing, but substance is another. It’s the Democrats who have mocked the very notion of settled law. It’s the Democrats who voted down the reopening of substantial parts of the government. It’s the Democrats who gave life to a spontaneous, authentic, small-government opposition — a.k.a. the tea party — with their unilateral imposition of a transformational agenda during the brief interval when they held a monopoly of power.
You can read Krauthammer's complete piece here, at the Washington Post.

And then there's this from a paper in Tennessee Massachusetts:

"Quit that there recreatin'!" (Paraphrasing an NPS ranger)

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.
- See more at: http://www.newburyportnews.com/local/x1442580373/Gestapo-tactics-meet-senior-citizens-at-Yellowstone#sthash.otlBy0mH.dpuf
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.
So what, exactly, was this "ugly spectacle" that has this person so upset? According to the report:
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.
That was bad enough but then their guards wouldn't even let them go potty:
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.

“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control,” said Vaillancourt, who grew up in Lawrence. “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.
Hmmm . . . doesn't quite fit the stuff being put out by the court historians, does it? While I'm confident the majority of the NPS rangers are not acting like this, those poo-pooing the very real incidents like this only damage their own credibility. Some like to call this "anecdotal evidence." That way they can pretend to ignore reality. But after a while, the anecdotal kinda morphs into the empirical. I think it's safe to say we've now morphed.

And for the person who equated "occupy protestors" with WWII Veterans (No, I'm not kidding), the other day, there's this little tidbit in the same article:
The experience brought up many feelings in Vaillancourt. What struck her most was a widely circulated story about a group of World War II veterans who were on a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial when the shutdown began. The memorial was barricaded and guards were posted, but the vets pushed their way in.

That reminded her of her father, a World War II veteran who spent three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

“My father took a lot of crap from the Japanese,” she recalled, her eyes welling with tears. “Every day they made him bow to the Japanese flag. But he stood up to them.
I suppose this is just more of that "typical" reporting, huh? You can read the complete article here at the Newbury Port Daily News.


And now more craziness being reported from the Right-Wing News Center Christian Science Monitor:
. . . it also seems federal officials are going out of their way to make the shutdown painfully symbolic. Many of the open-air monuments currently barricaded were not closed during earlier shutdowns. Some, including the World War II Memorial, were closed by express orders from the White House, according to the Park Service.

At Gettysburg, park officials barricaded pulloffs on a public road so people couldn’t stop and view the monuments from the public right of way. Such pulloff barricades suggest to experts like Mr. Reynolds at the University of Tennessee that the cones are simply there out of spite – an evocation of the power and necessity of the federal government.
And the CSM notes how all this is even impacting, perhaps endangering, school children:
In the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, rangers shut down Foothill Parkway, a major thoroughfare used by School Bus 49 to shuttle kids to school from the small community of Top of the World, causing a frustrated Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell to tell Fox News: “We were founded on a Declaration of Independence. And they are about to push the people to the line again.”
And Fox is reporting more about the Smoky Mountain bus situation:
The closure came without warning and left the local school district scrambling to get children back to their homes.
Wow. The NPS doesn't seem concerned that this is, according to local officials, endangering school children:
The children live in the eastern Tennessee community of Top of the World – serviced by School Bus 49. Normally, the bus travels along the Foothills Parkway. Other roads leading to the isolated mountain community are impassible by bus.

“It’s dangerous,” said Nancy Kemp, the spokesperson for Blount County Schools.”It’s very curvy and straight up the mountain. It’s just not a safe route.” One local resident told Knoxville television station WBIR that the alternative roads are “white knuckle routes.”
Isn't that nice? 

And they're even picking on the dead:
Even more insulting is the National Park Service won’t allow family members to visit old grave sites. “Some of them have family members buried there,” the mayor said. “And they go and visit every week at the churches still in the cove. They are not able to do that.”
I'd say the NPS now has a major PR debacle on their hands - self-inflicted, I would add. And the more the court historians defend this kind of stuff, the more absurd they appear. Please, do keep it up.

Note - Please don't complain to me about these reports/posts - all coming from reputable news organizations and citizens experiencing these things. I'm just sharing what's being reported on here. It is what it is. But I know this, the lame excuses coming from the usual sources aren't working. 

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