First they came for the Agriculture Department’s Instagram account, but we did not speak out because we follow the Interior Department.
On midnight Tuesday morning the U.S. government began shuttering its websites along with its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, apparently inciting American outrage.
“An absolute disgrace,” said user @johnjw8 in a comment for Interior’s Instagram feed. “So depressing!” added @whatjordiesees. “Especially on the date of Yosemite’s anniversary :’(“
A survey of which U.S. government agency websites would be going dark and which would stay in operation during the shutdown reveals a strange mishmash. The comprehensive list, which includes information about whether government sites are up or down, and what, if any, notice they are giving to their visitors, is well worth visiting.
Posting updates is more work than, say, simply ceasing to maintain an account. And the excellent Tom Lee over at the Sunlight Foundation notes that the government has stipulated sites must be shut down regardless of whether doing so is more expensive than keeping them online. From the relevant Q&A section of the Office of Management and Budget’s memo:
What if the cost of shutting down a website exceeds the cost of maintaining services?
The determination of which services continue during an appropriations lapse is not affected by whether the costs of shutdown exceed the costs of maintaining services.
The question then becomes, why is the government bothering? Perhaps posting sad messages on social media is an important government tool for rallying citizens. In which case, perhaps we’re simply doing the government’s PR work for it with this roundup of the saddest shutdown messages from government Instagram accounts.
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President Obama has said he’ll nominate John King to fill out the last few months of Obama’s presidency as Secretary of Education. King has been in an acting secretary role since Arne Duncan stepped down in December. The White House is pressuring the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.
Bernie Sanders supporters aren’t taking this whole superdelegate thing lying down. Despite a tie a blowout win against Hillary Clinton, Sanders trails her by some 350 delegates in the overall count, thanks mostly to superdelegates pledging to support her. His backers have taken to creating a MoveOn.org petition to pressure the superdelegates to be flexible. It reads: “Commit to honoring the voters—let everyone know that you won’t allow your vote to defeat our votes. Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters—not party elites.” So far it’s attracted 162,000 signatures. Related: At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver notes that in 2008, Clinton had a 154-50 superdelegate advantage over President Obama when New Hampshire voted. But “by the time Clinton ended her campaign on June 7, 2008, Obama had nearly a 2-to-1 superdelegate advantage over her,” owing in part to many pledged delegates who switched their support to Obama.
House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).