Beam: Popular attractions in crossfire

By By Jim Beam / American Press

Thanks to two events involving the

military, the silliness of this government shutdown has been brought

into full focus. It

began just over a week ago when World War II veterans from Arizona

were initially denied entrance to the Washington, D.C.,

memorial honoring their service. The second came Tuesday when it

was reported that families of fallen U.S. military personnel

were being denied death benefits.

And whose fault was it in both instances? Republicans blame the Democrats and President Obama. The president and the Democrats

say it’s the GOP House that is causing the problems.

U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, sized up the memorial closing well, according to a Cronkite News Service report.

“The truth is that I know there’s a lot of grandstanding that surrounds events like this,” Franks said. “But the bottom line

is that this government spent more money closing this memorial than they have just keeping it open.”

Denial of those death benefits had the

two major party leaders pointing their fingers at one another. House

Speaker John Boehner,

R-Ohio, called denial of the benefits “disgraceful,” insisting the

Defense Department had been given the authority to make

the payments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called

the situation “appalling,” continuing the line that Republicans

are holding the country hostage.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-N.C., put the situation in proper perspective.

“Your government has let you down in a time of your need,” Graham said, blaming Democrats, Republicans and Obama for letting

this situation get out of hand.

Two deadlocks are at play here.

Republicans continue passing bills keeping parts of the government

running — things like the

national parks, the Head Start pre-school programs and the payment

of federal employees who have been working without paychecks.

The White House and the Democrats say they don’t want to do anything piecemeal. They want the House to open the entire government and extend the nation’s debt limit with no

questions asked.

Boehner said, “What the president said today was if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk

to us. That’s not the way our government works.”

During an hour-long press conference, Obama said he was willing to talk about anything, as long as Republicans reopen the

government and raise the debt ceiling, even if its for a short period of time.

“Let’s stop the excuses. Let’s take a vote in the House. Let’s end this shutdown, right now; let’s put people back to work”

he said.

As you can see, neither side is

budging. Meanwhile, people are convinced that government agencies are

being punitive during

the shutdown. The Christian Science Monitor said “growing numbers

of Americans are gleefully engaging in what they call ‘civil

disobedience’ by tossing aside cones or jumping over government

shutdown-inspired barricades around national monuments, malls

and park entrances.”

Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, told the Monitor, “We’ve gone from ‘this land is your land, this

land is my land,’ to the government saying this land is its land. President Obama said that government is just a word for things we do together. Apparently that includes kicking WWII

veterans off their memorial.”

Another strange rule was handed down in

the Upper Florida Keys, according to the Miami Herald. Charter boat

guides were informed

by the National Park Service that they couldn’t take clients

fishing in Florida Bay until the shutdown was over. The result

was closure of 1,100 square

miles of prime fishing that is off limits. The ruling also affected tour

operators, paddling guides and fishing tournaments.

Enforcement rangers were going to be on duty to enforce the


A jogger was fined $100 for running inside Valley Forge National Monument. Another was ticketed for entering Valley Forge

National Historical Park through what he said was an ungated entrance. Rangers have been issuing fines to campers, bikers

and hikers who jumped the barricades at Maine’s Acadia National Park.

The Christian Science Monitor said, “... 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.”

Obama administration officials counter

that the Antideficiency Act passed in 1870 leaves them no alternative.

It prohibits

the government from making any financial obligations during a

shutdown for which Congress hasn’t appropriated funding. They

said they could be fired, penalized or imprisoned if they make the

wrong choices.

That sounds like a convenient excuse

for those who want to make this shutdown hurt Americans in every way

possible. What is

the likelihood that the federal agencies making these decisions

are going to be punished by judicial agencies that are also

part of the Obama administration? It won’t happen.

The shutdown isn’t going to end until

both sides decide to compromise and make some concessions. However, it

appears that

neither is interested in giving any ground. If they don’t change

their tunes, both will eventually pay a heavy political price

for their stubbornness. The polls already have them in heavily

unfavorable territory.

    • • •

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or