Archive for October 14th, 2013

President Obama thinks he can prevail in the government shutdown fight by deliberately making life as difficult as possible for the maximum number of ordinary Americans.

We’ve seen this before. After suffering a defeat on the sequester, he made himself a laughingstock (as illustrated by these cartoons) with his Chicken-Little warnings that a tiny bit of fiscal restraint would grind government to a halt.

But his sequester hysterics are trivial compared to what the Obama Administration is doing today with the National Park Service.

Here are some unbelievable excerpts from Mark Steyn’s funny yet horrifying National Review column.

…the one place where a full-scale shutdown is being enforced is in America’s alleged “National Park Service,” a term of art that covers everything from canyons and glaciers to war memorials and historic taverns. The NPS has spent the last two weeks behaving as the paramilitary wing of the DNC, expending more resources in trying to close down open-air, unfenced areas than it would normally do in keeping them open. It began with the war memorials on the National Mall — that’s to say, stone monuments on pieces of grass under blue sky.

But it gets worse.

Not content with that, the NPS shock troops then moved on to insisting that privately run sites such as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm and privately owned sites such as Mount Vernon were also required to shut. When the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway declined to comply with the government’s order to close (an entirely illegal order, by the way), the “shut down” Park Service sent armed agents and vehicles to blockade the hotel’s driveway.

Think that’s bad? Read on.

..in South Dakota, having closed Mount Rushmore the NPS storm troopers additionally attempted to close the view of Mount Rushmore — that’s to say a stretch of the highway, where the shoulder widens and you can pull over and admire the stony visages of America’s presidents.

What happened in Yellowstone, though, is surreal. Like something from Cambodia during the Pol Pot years.

But perhaps the most extraordinary story to emerge from the NPS is that of the tour group of foreign seniors whose bus was trapped in Yellowstone Park on the day the shutdown began. They were pulled over photographing a herd of bison when an armed ranger informed them, with the insouciant ad-hoc unilateral lawmaking to which the armed bureaucrat is distressingly prone, that taking photographs counts as illegal “recreation.” “Sir, you are recreating,” the ranger informed the tour guide. And we can’t have that, can we? They were ordered back to the Old Faithful Inn, next to the geyser of the same name, but forbidden to leave said inn to look at said geyser. Armed rangers were posted at the doors, and, just in case one of the wily Japanese or Aussies managed to outwit his captors by escaping through one of the inn’s air ducts and down to the geyser, a fleet of NPS SUVs showed up every hour and a half throughout the day, ten minutes before Old Faithful was due to blow, to surround the geyser and additionally ensure that any of America’s foreign visitors trying to photograph the impressive natural phenomenon from a second-floor hotel window would still wind up with a picture full of government officials. The following morning the bus made the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the park boundary but was prevented from using any of the bathrooms en route, including at a private dude ranch whose owner was threatened with the loss of his license if he allowed any tourist to use the facilities.

No bathroom stops?!? Has the bureaucracy really become this punitive and vindictive? Sounds like the Park Service has the same training program as the IRS.

I wonder if the “you-are-recreating” ranger is related to Mr. Norlander?

Ironically, American citizens now have less rights to “public land” than English peasants in 1217.

…in actual monarchies the king takes a more generous view of “public lands.” Two years after Magna Carta, in 1217, King Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest, which despite various amendments and replacement statutes remained in force in Britain for some three-quarters of a millennium, until the early Seventies. If Magna Carta is a landmark in its concept of individual rights, the Forest Charter played an equivalent role in advancing the concept of the commons, the public space. Repealing various restrictions by his predecessors, Henry III opened the royal forests to the freemen of England, granted extensive grazing and hunting rights, and eliminated the somewhat severe penalty of death for taking the king’s venison. The NPS have not yet fried anyone for taking King Barack’s deer, but it is somewhat sobering to reflect that an English peasant enjoyed more freedom on the sovereign’s land in the 13th century than a freeborn American does on “the people’s land” in the 21st century.

Yet all this abuse serves no purpose for open-air parks and monuments.

The geyser stasi of the National Park Service have in effect repealed the Charter of the Forest. President Obama and his enforcers have the same concept of the royal forest that King John did. The government does not own this land; the Park Service are merely the janitorial staff of “we the people” (to revive an obsolescent concept). No harm will befall the rocks and rivers by posting a sign at the entrance saying “No park ranger on duty during government shutdown. Proceed beyond this point at your own risk.” And, at the urban monuments, you don’t even need that: It is disturbing that minor state officials even presume to have the right to prevent the citizenry walking past the Vietnam Wall.

So what’s the bottom line?

The National Park Service should be out of the business of urban landmarks, and the vast majority of our “national” parks should be returned to the states.


In my libertarian fantasy world, I have a list of priorities. I start with big things like entitlement reform and flat tax.

Then I move to medium goals like shutting down the department of agriculture and getting out of NATO.

At the bottom of my list are things like ending the drug war. It used to be that getting rid of national parks was in this category.

But the bureaucrats at the NPS have behaved so despicably that this is now much higher on my list of priorities. Simply stated, they’ve earned our disdain.

Let’s close with some amusing cartoons on this topic.

This Nate Beeler gem may be my favorite from today’s collection.

NPS Cartoon 3

Michael Ramirez unveils a monument to arrogance.

NPS Cartoon 4

Chip Bok shows who’s the real ideologue.

NPS Cartoon 2

Last but not least, Glenn McCoy captures the President’s petulance.

NPS Cartoon 1

P.S. Other examples of government shutdown humor can be enjoyed by clicking here, here, here, here, and here.

P.P.S. Excerpts from some of my other favorite Mark Steyn columns can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: