Archive for October, 2013

Be careful casting stones – or blanket allegations

Reagan’s White House chief of staff compares now to then: Ending the shutdown and addressing the debt limit>/a>

“Things are different in today’s highly charged political atmosphere. Name-calling has become the norm, gridlock reigns supreme, and the president has taken the uniquely obstinate stance that he won’t negotiate with House Republicans over the debt limit or to reopen the federal government.”

He follows the meme that “one element of the Republican Party gravely miscalculated that they could defund Obamacare by refusing to keep the government open” because he judges the effort as never politically reasonable or achievable. He then proceeds to show why the effort was politically reasonable and achievable – if there was a leader in the administrative branch.

“President Obama has refused to negotiate with House Republicans. This is a lack of leadership approaching dereliction of duty. Presidents have always negotiated over the debt limit, and so should this one, just as he did in 2011.”

The facts of the matter are that it the Republicans who have offered suggestions and solutions and tried to find compromise positions. It is the Democrats who have refused any negotiation, employed government agencies as political weapons, and stood en masse on a single position no matter the consequence. The brouhaha and government fiscal uncertainty is indeed an important issue but an even more important one, a less tangible one, is that raised by a political party putting their ideology and quest for power over any other consideration and being willing to engage in questionable practices in doing so.

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Damage done

The idea is that the need is to speak to the heart rather than to the intellect. That is very tough to do with words and much easier to do with deeds. That gives an edge to the executive when it comes to governments.

“That Obama might become vindictive during the budget and debt ceiling debates was not a huge shock, either. His nasty side has been analyzed at American Thinker many times since he came onto the nation’s political stage. What came as a twin shock to many Americans was that Obama’s weapon of choice would be the National Park Service (NPS). Nor did people expect the Park Police would blanket the nation in barricades, not only at the entrances to national parks but also around open air monuments, around private facilities leased from the federal government and on roads used to access private residences.”

Rosslyn Smith describes the damage — National Park Service: Wolves in Service Dog Harness. There may be other revelations of greater consequence but this one speaks directly to the heart. It may be that the “Scholars and consultants who study the way organizations establish and can then destroy a positive image may be studying the NPS’s sudden transformation from friendly tour guides to Brownshirts for a long time” or it may be something that elite chooses to try to sweep under the rug. Time will tell whether this really is transformative and what residue will be left with the public at large. Will it be just a more cynical view of the park service? or maybe of the government at large? or, perhaps, something more solid as a realization about distant overgrown governance and how it can be corrupted in ideology as well as money?

Time will tell. The damage has been done. The assessment of that damage is being processed in feelings and perceptions.

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Defining the threat

A convert explains The Threat We Face. Note that he describes behaviors as a contrast to the person directed hate often seen in those who present the threat he describes.

“The first of these features is their alienation from country: If you ask progressives about their patriotic feeling, they will tell you that they don’t think of themselves first as Americans but as “citizens of the world.”  … “This is perhaps the hardest feature of their progressive adversaries for conservatives to comprehend. It is difficult to imagine that people as privileged by America’s generosity as Barack Obama and his entourage of despoilers should be so alienated from their country as to feel themselves in it but not of it.”

“The second feature of the progressive left that is key to understanding it is its instinctive, practiced, and indispensable dishonesty. …
“The lesson? People on the left may be delusional but they are not stupid. They know what they can say and get away with, and what they can’t.”

“A third feature of progressives that defines their politics is that they regard the past, which is real, with contempt, and are focused exclusively on a future, which is imaginary.”

“To sum this up: Progressives see themselves as an army of the saints, and their opponents as the party of Satan; and that will justify almost anything you can get away with.”

David Horowitz provides examples and explanations and offers his ideas about how to deal with the problem.

“The political consequences of the differences between conservatives and progressives is not only not small, it affects the way both sides conduct their political battles. Progressives focus on an impossible future, a utopia of promises, and this justifies for them their unscrupulous means. Issues for them are merely instruments for accumulating political power. Conservatives look to the past as a guide to what is possible and humanly practical, and what is not.”

“Conservatives need to put the human disasters of progressive policies in front of people every chance they get. … need to talk less to the voters’ heads and more to their hearts … need to speak up as champions of the little guys”

“if we will take the measure of the enemies of freedom and prepare ourselves to fight them, we have a better than even chance to win.”

The stakes are enormous and the conflict is not one of reason and integrity. That is why Horowitz advises meeting the opposition with force and bluntness. Appeasing the enemy isn’t going to work when the circumstances are like he describes.

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Whose country is this?

John Hinderaker says Obama’s Shutdown Theater Reaches New Low describes the case of Chris Cox and concludes

“I have always been an optimist, but no more. I no longer live in the United States of America. This is some other country I don’t recognize.”

Then there’s the Coyote Blog with three reasons to take the legal route about having his business closed in answering the question “Should I Resort to Civil Disobedience And Re-Open Our Privately-Funded Parks?

“The real question here is whether they have proper justification for doing so, or whether their suspension is arbitrary.  In another post I discuss why this action is arbitrary and unjustified … The Administrative Procedure Act makes it illegal for a government agency to make a decision that is arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion. … The decision that developed campgrounds run by private companies must close, but undeveloped camping can continue, makes no sense and is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

If he went the civil disobedience route, it is his employers and customers who would be at risk and he doesn’t think this proper. His last reason is that he is all in with a company that does about half its business with the Forest service and cannot risk losing it.

There are many who are beginning to wonder just what happened to the country. Maybe they will wake up and take it back. A first step is to get past the propaganda feeding misinformation and ignorance that is a fog on the land.

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The enemy within – calling a loss that wasn’t

The military wins, the left throws it away:

“In fairness, Giap deserved some credit for the political warfare campaign that misled countless American college students and others to march in protests to end the war. Oblivious to the realities of the war and the nature of our adversaries, the protesters persuaded Congress to enact legislation providing: “[A]fter August 15, 1973, no funds herein or heretofore appropriated may be obligated or expended to finance directly or indirectly combat activities by United States military forces in or over or from off the shores of North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia.” Put simply, Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

“Congress betrayed the solemn commitment the nation had made under the 1955 SEATO treaty to defend South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from communist aggression.”

TURNER: Late general won Vietnam war by losing

“As we pause to reflect upon the death of Giap, we should also recall the consequences of Congress‘ decision to abandon our historic commitments and give the communists a green light to conquer South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Within three years of “liberation,” more people had been killed throughout Indochina than had died in the previous 14 years of combat.”

Many forget that Vietnam was a case of the U.S. lending help to fend off an invasion. It was one fostered by communists and other leftists under pretext of fighting imperialism and colonialism taking advantage of weaknesses after WW II. The scenario repeats in the war on terror with military successes abandoned. The result is similar with much death, much tragedy, and much misery,

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Rollout dissonance

The tech types are a bit puzzled. They don’t really understand Why the tech-savvy Obama administration launched a busted healthcare website. The answer offered by The Verge is that “The short deadline coupled with the government’s onerous contract system all but doomed the site to fail

“The more we learn about the development of HealthCare.gov, the worse the situation looks. The site has been serving myriad errors since it launched, including preventing users from creating accounts, failing to recognize users who do have accounts, putting users in inescapable loops, and miscalculating healthcare subsidies.”

“It’s still unclear exactly what’s wrong with the government’s new online healthcare exchange, because the code isn’t public and errors make it difficult to see even the front-facing parts of the site. However, it’s now obvious that the site launched before it was ready.”

“How could the Obama administration, the brains behind the most sophisticated online political campaign ever, be responsible for something so bone-headed?”

“Technical experts say the bugs will likely be ironed out soon, but the damage may already be done. “The most important time for a new website is the first three months,” Pavley says. “After that, people don’t go back.””

Then there is the attempt to compare this to the rollout of Medicare part D. That adds up to two types of rationalizations and that implies denial behavior.

The real issue is whether or not the reasons discussed for this “busted healthcare website” describe the sort of structure that will help reduce costs of health care and improve quality.

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The destruction of repute

One can pity the poor rangers. A once honorable service has been deployed against its mission. The damage will likely be lasting. See PRUDEN: Rangers vs. the walker brigade.

“Some of the Park Service rangers, like the ranger who told me last week that “we’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can,” are as disgusted as their neighbors. The rangers the public meets are invariably courteous, polite and eager to be helpful. They’re not responsible for the misuse of the service. That decision is made in the Oval Office.”

result? With WWII veterans and their memorials in mind:

Inspired by such heroics, the rangers of the National Park Service struck in similar dramatic fashion at the Battle of the Mall, when, in the face of a determined assault by 80-year-olds trained in World War II, the Park Service rangers, with total disregard of their own safety, held off a determined mechanized cavalry charge against a solid phalanx of orange traffic cones and yellow ‘Do Not Cross’ tape blocking access to the World War II Memorial. Before retreating, park rangers stopped the advance of a squadron of wheelchairs and the famous walker brigade, attacking in company strength supported by troops advancing on walking canes armed with oxygen canisters, bearing down on their forward positions.”

There is a lot of gratuitous closing going on – to tell the public they will be punished if they don’t cough up the money the administration wants to spend. The park rangers are casualties of the effort as the public is learning to see them as more of the crass expression of an overdone government. The destruction of repute of such government employees is worth a worry.

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Wishful thinking

An effort to control the international arms trade that doesn’t get the support of China and Russia is wishful thinking. see FEULNER: Letting the U.N. target our guns.

“Three years ago, the Obama administration made it quite clear that unanimous global adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty was crucial, going so far as to say that “not getting a universal agreement would make any agreement less than useless.”

Sounds pretty damning. Yet fast forward to today, and we have Secretary of State John F. Kerry telling us — as he signs this very agreement — that it will “lift other countries up to the highest standards.” Not a bad trick for a “less than useless” document.”

“As Mr. Inhofe and Mr. Moran write: “Our constitutional rights are too important to be entrusted to a dangerous treaty drafted by nations hostile to the ownership of firearms by private citizens.” Let’s hope the next administration “unsigns” this pernicious pact.”

There seems to be a lot of wishful thinking – that health insurance would be less expensive when the government mandates a lot of coverage people don’t need (like pregnant care for men), for instance. Sometimes the method of finding out that reality isn’t a dream can be rather painful.

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Law of the land and other distractions

One meme about Obamacare is that it is the law of the land and the House should submit to that fact. David Horowitz says The Debt Ceiling is the Law of the Land and also needs similar consideration.

Then there is this FUD mongering about “risk of default”.

“We are going to hear this erroneous talking point propagated by both parties over the next few weeks, so let’s put the myth to rest. The only way we default on the debt is if we fail to pay the interest on the public debt. According to the updated budget projection from the CBO, interest on the debt will be roughly $237 billion for 2014. Thanks to the short-term revenue benefits of the fiscal cliff and Obamacare tax hikes, the federal government is expected to rake in a record $3.042 trillion from the private economy this year.”

What that means is that the income can cover the debt expense to avoid default and have enough left over to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Defense, and Veterans with about half a trillion dollars for other things.

“The power of the purse manifest in the House of Representatives, in conjunction with the debt ceiling law, reflects democracy at work, especially with divided government. It’s time we stop peddling the myth of default, and start using our leverage to restore constitutional government and bring relief to those who are losing jobs and suffering from the high cost of living engendered by the harmful activities of the unconstitutional aspects of government.”

In other words, the defined structure of the government is one that provides fiscal controls. Those controls are being tested.

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Government budget process and what went wrong

William R. Hawkins reviews the established process and compares to legislative action on the current budget to determin why a Failure of Appropriations Process Led to Shutdown.

“Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Though the President submits a budget to Congress, and the Congress is supposed to adopt a budget resolution setting aggregate limits, the appropriations process is not designed to legislate the budget as a single block of funds. The Congressional budget resolution breaks spending down to some 20 functional areas which are then dealt with in 12 bills prepared by subcommittees of the House and Senate appropriations committees. Traditionally, the House has initiated consideration of regular appropriations measures, with the Senate then considering and amending the House-passed bills. In many cases, the Senate substitutes is own bill for the House language as a single amendment.”

“So by “regular order” the House does have the right to “pick and choose” what parts of the government are going to be funded and by what amounts. And the Senate then has a right to agree or disagree with the House. The “power of the purse” is the central authority of the legislative branch. The disagreement between the two houses of Congress, controlled by rival parties, is what has closed down substantial parts of the government. The new 2014 Fiscal Year started on October 1 without a single appropriations bill having been enacted by Congress.”

You can find reason to support a ‘both sides to blame’ argument because the House only passed a few of the necessary budget bills. The other half of the story is that those bills were blocked in the Senate.

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A stand down and a forced removal are two different things

Kathleen Parker calls it A monumental mistake in a Washington Post Opinion.

“Shutting out veterans from their memorial touchstone was more than a bad call, a lapse of judgment, a mere moment of tone-deafness. In reality, it may have been the tidy effort of a box-checking bureaucrat, but it reeked of the small work of a petty bully.”

“While one may sympathize with Obama’s contempt for his congressional adversaries, he may have cut off his own nose with an unforced error of magnified proportions. Spite is unbecoming a president, as Richard Nixon proved in another era of national disruption. But beyond personality, it is baffling to imagine anyone thinking that the way to winning hearts and minds is by disrespecting the nation’s most beloved demographic.”

Add to this the closing of private businesses just because they are on federal lands or even evicting homeowners on short notice – just try that if you are are private landlord – and barricading roads and the message is not a good one. It lets everyone know that government control of anything can be capricious and unpredictable and undependable. Parker thinks “Tying the defunding of Obamacare to the shutdown was folly” but the message being heard could not be more pertinent. If the government can ignore those it serves in something as innocuous as monuments and land rental, what could happen with critical health care? One only has to look at the current health service scandals in Great Britain to see what’s possible.

The real issues here involve the party that forced a massive entitlement through when they had the majority is intransigent in disallowing any modifications despite many having been made extra-legislatively and the media failing to report accurately about the ‘debate’ and positions and behaviors.

See also Clarice Feldman about When Mettle Meets the Toads

“This was an act of such spiteful nastiness that it shocks the conscience. (Indeed, the shutdown selections seem to have particularly targeted the military and veterans.) Among the selective closings, Camp David, where the president and his family can relax, and the links at which Obama golfs were kept operating, but NFL coverage to troops was canceled. Initially, the Air Force-Navy and Army-Boston College games were postponed, but they were reinstated when it was made clear that the costs would be incurred even if the games did not take place.”

Then there is the battle of Bascom Hill. Feldman dissects both to reveal just how ugly things are.

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Reap what you sow

Charles Krauthammer

“The Obamacare/shutdown battle has spawned myriad myths. The most egregious concern the substance of the fight, the identity of the perpetrators and the origins of the current eruption.”[Who shut down Yellowstone?]

A description about the matters of substance, perpetrators, and origins. “The current unrest is the residue of that hubris.” That hubris is the presumption that you can run roughshod over minorities and then be surprised that they might not welcome your assault.

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Spiritual warfare

“So I notice now they are … leaving it in there, but you got to remember, spiritual warfare,” Robertson said. “I mean you have people with no moral compass, it ain’t there.”…

“Duck Dynasty” star: Editors cut mention of Jesus from show to avoid offending Muslims.

It seems that the editors are adding bleeps to imply cursing that isn’t in the actual dialog and removing references to Jesus in order to placate terrorists on one the hit TV shows Duck Dynasty.

So this is yet another reinforcement of the idea that terrorism works, and jihadist intimidation and thuggery work: cowards start falling into line even without any explicit threat. “‘Duck Dynasty’ Star: Show Adding ‘Fake Bleeps’ Despite No Cursing,” from CBS Houston, October 4 (thanks to Kenneth):

The propaganda is subtle and may not be backed by a grand strategy from a central authority but it does exist and is having its impact.

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The options (yes, they have been put on the table)

Peter Ferrara says it is Victory Over Obamacare: How To Embarrass The Democrats Into Funding The Government. His view is that the Democrats are depending upon Republicans getting the blame so the way to change this is to have the public respond to any polls by blaming Democrats. Then he explains why that would be a more rational view.

First is the matter of funding. The House, with a Republican majority, has passed a number of funding and budget bills.

“But every single Democrat in the Senate voted to keep the special exemption from Obamacare for Congress and its staff, and against the same one year delay in the mandate on working people that Obama illegally granted for the mandate on big business.”

“Senate Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid even refused a House request for a routine Conference Committee between the House and the Senate to compromise over the Continuing Resolution to fund the government, assuring the continued shutdown Democrats are so certain will unseat the Republican House majority next year instead.”

The column also has a description of the bills offered to replace Obamacare and other efforts that have been floated to meet the issues and problems that are being stonewalled by Democrats. It all depends upon the voters. Will they continue to support the ‘my way or the highway’ crowd or will they instead at least acknowledge efforts to find ways around impasse and obstruction?

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Who is responsible for what – Professor Sowell explains

The blame game is in full force. That being the case and it also quite clear who did what and who is responsible for what leads to a simple conclusion about the government financial brouhaha. Thomas Sowell explains Who shut down the government?.

“Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States.”

“If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.

You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is a fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to pay for everything else in the government.”

The story is simple. The presentation is warped, distorted, and more to obfuscate than clarify. The ‘other side’ isn’t given much of a chance in the presentation. That means it is up to the public to get past the presentation that bombards them to the reality that exists.

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Democrat vs Republican

RGJ: Update: Shutdown makes Harry Reid hard man to reach by constituents – and Dean Heller an easy one. There is a comparison and contrast. For the Democrat:

“Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said all of Reid’s state offices were closed. His state director and Southern Nevada director were still in the state, she said. About half of Reid’s Washington, D.C., staff was not in the office.

Reid didn’t have anyone staffing phones or taking messages from constituents, Orthman said, only those needed for “carrying out his legislative duties.” However, they were able to see comments from the public on social media like Twitter and Facebook.”

on the other hand:

“U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s office, however, was staffing its phones — with Heller himself.

A call to the Washington, D.C., office shortly after noon Wednesday was answered by Heller, R-Nev., who has been taking turns with his staffers answering phones.

“You caught me at my time,” Heller said.

Heller said he thought every congressional office was handling the shutdown differently, and noted U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s nearby office was locked.”

Then there is a quote from Reid: “In the letter, Reid points out his hatred of the Iraq War — “I think I hated it as much as you hate the Affordable Care Act.”” that goes along with his Air base employee preference over a child with cancer. The problem is that the Iraq War was based on a broadly supported bipartisan resolution in Congress in addition to UN and other support. The ACA was strictly partisan and forced through Congress using questionable procedures. The false analogy dishonesty runs rampant on one side of the aisle.

Compare and contrast. There is a difference. That means there is a choice to be made that has value.

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Theology on TV? Maybe there is a hunger for deeper meaning.

First was the attempts to explain the popularity of Duck Dynasty. Next is Ann Coulter on ‘Breaking Bad’: A Christian Parable.

“Walt followed his “personal ethics” — which Pope Francis has reportedly said is good enough for God. “Breaking Bad” demonstrates what the Proverbs teach: There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Walt is the Chemistry teacher with cancer who turns to illegal drug manufacturing in order to provide monetary security for his family. His brother is a DEA agent.

“It may seem counterintuitive that a TV show about a meth cook could have a conservative theme, much less a Christian one, but that’s because people think Christian movies are supposed to have camels — or a “Little House on the Prairie” cast. READ THE BIBLE! It’s chockablock with gore, incest, jealousy, murder, love and hate.”

Coulter explains the connection.

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Using racial bigotry for political ends

BRYANT: Still barring the polling-place door

“Democrats such as Mr. Udall and Al Sharpton would like to keep open forever an American wound that has been slow to heal because it has served the purpose of keeping a certain voting bloc uninformed, underemployed and captive for more than 40 years. The truth is, black folks were angry 50 years ago and are still angry today about the same things. Why? There is one common denominator — the leadership they have chosen to vote for. It is time to try something different.

Make no mistake. People like Mr. Udall have a job to do, and that is to be modern-day overseers making sure minorities get to the polls — not to pick cotton, but to get their vote picked. This is why in his appeals for the reinstatement of the obsolete pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act, he employs the pain of the past to make his tired and worn-out point. It’s a tactic that I and other black conservatives are exposing for the lie that it is. I defy anyone to point to one activity in today’s America that would be hindered owing to a citizen’s skin color or race. Our nation has proved to be the greatest success story the world has ever known.”

The latest front on this issue is the suit against North Carolina voter ID laws.

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Fear-mongering and delusional spin

MILLER: Democrats peddle delusions to raise money off the shutdown.

” got a call at home on Wednesday evening from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking me to donate $10 for every one of the 17 House seats it “needs to flip” to regain the majority.”

“The fundraiser said the only thing keeping people from starving to death or getting medical treatment was the president’s refusal to allow for any changes to Obamacare.”

“He intoned, “From the facts I gave you, we’re looking at a big catastrophe if we don’t do something now.”

Actually, the big catastrophe is if Democrats’ fear-mongering and delusional spin is successful in getting honest people’s hard-earned money.”

The sad fact is that so many seem to buy the extreme villification of political opponents — and buy into the meme despite the absurdity.

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The first rule of holes

The rule is that when you find yourself in a hole, it is best to stop digging. John Hinderaker notes that the Democrats Pay Union Members to Protest World War II Vets

“Yesterday, as we noted here, the administration suffered a public relations disaster when a group of elderly vets from Mississippi, aided by one or more Republican Congressmen, pushed the barriers aside and visited the memorial. But the administration was still undeterred: a park service employee threatened to arrest any vets who may try to visit the WWII memorial in the future, while the shutdown is in effect.”

“WWII veterans visiting the memorial that was erected in their honor vs. paid SEIU protesters: great optics for the Obama administration! But it gets worse. The protesters claimed to be furloughed federal employees”

But it turns out that the protesters were not federal employees and, in fact, were ‘rent-a-mob’ employees. Today, Senator Reid was quoted as saying he didn’t care about a child with cancer and now there is the doubling down on the attempt to barricade open memorials and even hire people to protest the aging veterans who came from all over the country to see their memorial. The first rule of holes seems to have been forgotten.

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