Members of Congress seemed to channel Coldplay Wednesday during a House hearing on the shutdown’s effects. “Nobody said it was easy,” went the Democratic message. Countered Republicans: “No one ever said it would be this hard.”
At issue were public land closures by the National Park Service that Republicans have described as politically motivated. Even the name of the hearing — “As Difficult As Possible” — carried the GOP message of unnecessary hardship caused by NPS decisions. The joint hearing was convened by the Natural Resources Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“The Park Service “¦ [should] never allow itself to be subjected to political influence,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. “Yet it appears today the Park Service leadership is no longer living up to that mandate.”
NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis had the unenviable task of responding to Issa and others who demanded answers for a host of the agency’s specific closures. He defended them as necessary under shutdown procedure, declining to wade into the political blame game over who is responsible for the shutdown. Perhaps that’s because Democrats did it for him.
“We’re 15 days into a government shutdown, and now Republicans want to investigate why the government is shut down,” said Natural Resources Committee ranking member Peter DeFazio of Oregon. Other Democrats asked Republicans what they expected would happen when they shut down the government, but DeFazio took it a step further. “I will demonstrate who’s responsible,” he said, holding up a mirror to face his GOP colleagues.
Jarvis said the Park Service gave no orders, nor received any from the White House, to make shutdown closures intentionally painful or visible. Much-critiqued closures of monuments such as the World War II Memorial were not without reason, he said. “There’s a lot of talk about open-air memorials that are unmanned,” he said. “They are not unoccupied. My responsibility is to keep them protected 24 hours a day.”¦ It pains us to not be able to invite the American public into their national parks.”
Some Democrats pointed to the green paint splattered on the Lincoln Memorial this summer, saying such incidents could escalate if monuments were left open with no NPS rangers to provide security.
That didn’t satisfy Republicans, who said earlier government shutdowns did not inflict such painful consequences. Former NPS Deputy Director Denis Galvin called that selective memory. “Yes, Lincoln and Jefferson were barricaded,” he said. “The much-discussed World War II Memorial did not exist then, but if it had, I think we would have barricaded it.”
Jarvis also pushed back on news reports that quoted a ranger who said NPS employees were instructed to make closures painful. “I have no idea where that information came from. That’s hearsay,” he said. “I’m in communication with my employees — the ones who are still at work — and they do not believe that.”
Keeping the parks open, Jarvis said, would have been a violation of the Antideficiency Act, which prevents operations without appropriated funding. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, responded that erecting barricades “created a new obligation with no new threat,” itself a violation of the act.
Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., lamented that arguments over the World War II Memorial distracted from serious shutdown problems, like delayed veterans’ benefits. Other Democrats were more than content to mock the GOP for its outrage over the park closures. “Blaming the National Park Service for the closure of the parks is like voting for capital punishment and then blaming the hangman,” said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”