Nearly two weeks into the shutdown, the right's least-pathetic gambit remains their"cakes we like" strategy, in which the impasse would be resolved by passing discrete appropriations for things Republicans support, like national parks. Shut up, Republicans do too support national parks, because they are popular, and Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican, remember?

Now Mark Steyn, America's second most irritating Canadian, is getting in on the act with a column titled "Park Service Paramilitaries" that breaks new ground in the fields of hyperbole and elision. Here's the opening line:

"If a government shuts down in the forest and nobody hears it, that’s the sound of liberty dying."

We are going to be nice and not point out that this sentence either makes no sense at all, or contradicts Mark Steyn's entire point that people are indeed "hearing" the shutdown by being kept out of parks, and just move on, because it gets worse.

"Eighty-three percent of the supposedly defunded government is carrying on as usual, impervious to whatever restraints the people’s representatives might wish to impose, and the 800,000 soi-disant “non-essential” workers have been assured that, as soon as the government is once again lawfully funded, they will be paid in full for all the days they’ve had at home."

We had to look up "soi-disant." Mark Steyn should do the same. Also, we guess Mark Steyn hates The Troops.

"The [National Park Service] has spent the last two weeks behaving as the paramilitary wing of the DNC, expending more resources in trying to close down open-air, unfenced areas than it would normally do in keeping them open."

How does Mark Steyn know this? Maybe the Park Service actually does spend a lot of money cleaning up after the slobs every night, or posting docents or stewards or whatever during the day. If Mark Steyn is right, we'll be the first to concede the point, but Mark Steyn doesn't link to anything, ever. Ever! Just believe Mark Steyn, everyone, why would he lie? Oh, for money, right.

"Not content with that, the NPS shock troops then moved on to insisting that privately run sites such as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm and privately owned sites such as Mount Vernon were also required to shut. When the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway declined to comply with the government’s order to close (an entirely illegal order, by the way), the “shut down” Park Service sent armed agents and vehicles to blockade the hotel’s driveway."

We are gonna stop block-quoting this entire damn thing real soon, promise, but this is important. 1) The Claude Moore Colonial Farm and the Pisgah Inn are federal property. They are run as concessions. We wish Mark Steyn had provided a link to justify his assertion that the order to close Pisgah was "an entirely illegal" one, but until he does we are going to assume that holding a National Park Service concession does not entitle someone to do whatever the fuck they want, all the time. 2) Mount Vernon was not "required to shut." The National Park Service blocked parking areas in their jurisdiction. But we thought parking areas were created by God, so we could see where George Washington was nice to his slaves! We thought parking areas were permanent and indelible features of the landscape that required no maintenance at all, and that the National Park Service has no legal obligations to run them according to the law! We really thought this! We are dumb!

Steyn goes on and on and on and fucking on, transporting us with his words to South Dakota, where we are not allowed to look at Mount Rushmore from a distance (perhaps because Mount Rushmore is in a huge goddamn national forest and those are closed), then on to Yellowstone, where he does not cite this article that sympathetically quotes an angry lady who was prevented from looking at Old Faithful: “They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside.” Armed, even! This lady also recalled how a Parks tough prevented her busload of fellow olds from snapping pictures of bison, saying "Sir, you are recreating."

Imagine that! You can't use national parks if the nation doesn't appropriate money to keep them open!

Finally, here's Steyn, with the most anger-making quote in his whole piece:

"The government does not own this land; the Park Service are merely the janitorial staff of “we the people” (to revive an obsolescent concept). No harm will befall the rocks and rivers by posting a sign at the entrance saying “No park ranger on duty during government shutdown. Proceed beyond this point at your own risk.”

We the people! Here's the deal, Mark Steyn. Quit pretending like you have no idea why national parks need to be maintained. You are actually quite popular with the folks who wish national parks could be turned into Hobbesian theme parks where anything goes, so we assume you are familiar with the opposite argument that "we the people" have decided that national parks will be set aside and maintained for the enrichment of our lives and the lives of future generations. And "we the people" understand that this costs some money.

Mark Steyn is like Clark Griswold at Wally World. Which was funny, but also kinda scary? With the gun? And John Candy? He was awesome, though. And Canadian! Like Mark Steyn, who is also funny, but not awesome. In conclusion, ugh.

[Salon / National Review / Eagle Tribune]


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