Imagine a government so intent on making the shutdown as unpleasant as it can on citizens that it blocks people from simply VIEWING an open air monument.
That was what confronted visitors to the Mount Rushmore monument in South Dakota. They were not allowed to even pull off the road so they could simply look at or take photos of the monument!
Couple that with earlier news that visitors to the World War II memorial in Washington found it barricaded and you can understand why elected officials, the president and the lackeys within his administration included, are polling such low approval ratings with the public. Thankfully, the park service in Washington has been allowing Honor Flight veterans to visit their World War II memorial under the consideration of it being a First Amendment demonstration.
The shutdown has directly affected veterans' services. On Tuesday, The Department of Veterans Affairs furloughed 7,000 workers who process compensation claims and as a result, the VA cut off public access to all 56 regional offices where veterans can walk in to file claims for compensation of combat or other service-related wounds or illnesses.
One of the most disgusting stories to emerge from the shutdown occurred earlier this week when families of fallen U.S. military personnel were told that the death benefits they're entitled to were being delayed. Typically, families are paid $100,000 within three days of a soldier's death.
Even more despicable, it was reported that the family members of four Americans killed in Afghanistan last weekend wouldn't be flown to Dover Air force base to view the return of their soldiers' bodies. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said this was "inexcusable," blaming the Obama administration for refusing to pay death benefits to families. Another who feels the president must shoulder responsibility is Lt. Col. Oliver North, who said an act of Congress is not required to authorize payments to families of the dead and wounded,
"This isn't about the government shutdown," North explained in an interview. "It's about whether the commander-in-chief gives a damn about the morale of our troops. All it takes is a commander-in-chief with a conscience, because the chief executive of the United States can do it with the stroke of a pen on a presidential emergency action document."
There have been other low points to the shutdown story concerning the military. Earlier in the week, it was reported that some military priests faced arrest if they tried to celebrate mass or practice their faith on military bases during the federal government shutdown.
Because of a shortage of active-duty chaplains, many military bases make arrangements for priests to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments on a contract basis. But these civilian priests are not allowed on the bases as volunteers during a shutdown. John Schlageter, the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, said it's illegal for the civilian priests to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.
Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, a graduate of West Point and an Army veteran, said that the constitutional rights of those who put their lives on the line for this nation do not end with a government slowdown. He feels the President's strategy during the slowdown, just as during the sequestration, is to create as much pain as possible on citizens in order to put pressure on House Republicans. He said this action crosses a constitutional line of obstructing every U.S. service member's ability to practice his or her religion.
Finally, last Tuesday an immigration rally was held on federally-owned land, under the umbrella of it being a First Amendment demonstration, the same condition used to allow World War II veterans to visit the memorials. However, this immigration rally, which featured House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was fully organized and equipped by the government.
Pelosi, as usual, lauded President Obama, for allowing the rally to proceed despite the shutdown. She also mentioned that older veterans were being able to see their memorial on the other side of the National Mall.
A handful of Florida veterans we know who went to Washington this week on an Honor Flight were not appeased by Pelosi, who praised illegal immigrants in the same sentence with members of The Greatest Generation who fought and sacrificed for this nation during wartime.
What a travesty.
By Jim Zbick