Shutdown Theater: Life imitates satire
Editor Lifson wrote a blog post yesterday reporting that Snopes.com - the internet rumor debunker site - took a satirical photoshop of a sheet being used to block the view of Mount Rushmore during the shutdown as an actual story being circulated by the right.
The satire from the website IOwnTheWorld.com was just that - a way to poke fun at the shutdown. But today, the Feds have placed a virtual sheet in front of Mount Rushmore by placing cones along highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the monument - and then lying about the reason.
That's right. The National Park Service is trying to prevent people from even seeing Mount Rushmore.
The cones first went up Oct. 1, said Dusty Johnson, Gov. Dennis Daugaard's chief of staff. The state asked that they be taken down, and federal officials did so with some of them. The state was told the cones were a safety precaution to help channel cars into viewing areas rather than to bar their entrance.
"I think reasonable people can disagree about that," Johnson said.
The cones were down again Friday as a blizzard hit the Black Hills and plows needed access to the roads, Johnson said. He said the state would be monitoring to see whether the cones are put back along viewing areas.
"Once the snow's off the ground, we're going to be keeping an eye on how the cones go up," Johnson said.
The Buffalo News reported that a tour group of dozens of people from western New York was unable to take pictures of the monument because highway viewing areas were coned off.
"It's all closed up," the newspaper quoted North Collins, N.Y., resident Hilde Werneth as saying. "They won't even let you stop and take a picture. You can only drive by."
Jim Hagen, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, said the situation is hurting people from out-of-state and international visitors who are in South Dakota to visit the monument.
"They won't even let you pull off on the side of the road," Hagen said. "I just don't know what they're trying to accomplish."
A spokeswoman for the National Park Service in Omaha confirmed that the monument is closed, but she said she didn't have details about cones. A message left at Mount Rushmore was not returned.
Another outrage: People living in private homes on Lake Mead are being forced out - including a very elderly couple:
The government shutdown is being felt close to home for some locals. They say they're being forced out of private homes on Lake Mead because they sit on federal land.
Joyce Spencer is 77-years-old and her husband Ralph is 80. They've been spending most of their time in the family ice cream store since going home isn't an option.
The Spencers never expected to be forced out of their Lake Mead home, which they've owned since the 70s, but on Thursday, a park ranger said they had 24 hours to get out.
"I had to go to town today and buy Ralph undershirts and jeans because I forgot his pants," Joyce Spencer told Action News.
The Stewart's Point home sits on federal land, so even though the Spencers own their cabin outright, they're not allowed in until the government reopens.
Park officials said property owners can visit only to retrieve belongings; they sent Action News a statement which reads in part, "Unfortunately overnight stays are not permitted until a budget is passed and the park can reopen."Joyce Spencer said she's alright in the meantime, staying with nearby family, but the move was a lot to handle as a senior citizen."I had to be sure and get his walker and his scooter that he has to go in," Spencer said. "We're not hurt in any way except it might cost me if I have to go buy more pants."The Lake Mead properties are considered vacation homes; one of the lease requirements to own a plot is people must have an alternative residence.Regardless, the Spencers said it's their property and they should be allowed in, shutdown or not.Twist the knife in and let 'em howl, are the bywords of the administration.