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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In light of his recent confessions, the speakership of Dennis Hastert is being judged far more harshly. The New York Times' Carl Hulse notes that in hindsight, Hastert now "fares poorly" on a number of fronts, from his handling of the Mark Foley page scandal to "an explosion" of earmarks to the weakening of committee chairmen. "Even his namesake Hastert rule—the informal standard that no legislation should be brought to a vote without the support of a majority of the majority — has come to be seen as a structural barrier to compromise."
Even if "[t]he Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights ... Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election. The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign."
Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.
Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."
Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."