Friday, October 04, 2013

Seventy-Two Hours 
of Republican Shut Down
Anarchy in the USA

So the sun comes up and Grand Canyon National Park is closed and more than an hour and a half's drive away, at around 8:30 a.m., Nevada Stone, proprietor of 7Ate9,  has arrived at her sandwich and catering shop having just explained to an employee that they need not come in because the more than 1,000 tasties they make for one of the the park's visitor center cafes will not be needed."Employees don't understand," she says. "This is going to have a trickle down effect like you won't believe."

The sun has barely come up and the governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, has already decided to avoid spending state funds, or any let's-all-pull-together energy on keeping the park open, even though it's one of the most visited landmarks on the planet.

Sure, the state's budget remains strapped in the Great Recession of the 21st century, but what the governor says, being a member of a party not exactly known for its compassion right now, is just plain weird.

"I don't know if the Grand Canyon is a priority for the state of Arizona ..." she says, speaking on whether the state should step in to keep it's leading tourist destination open. The state stepped in when the last government shutdown happened in 1995 and 1996, when then-Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, also a Republican, got a group of real estate bigwigs together, including Long F. Long, to keep the park open to tourists despite the shut downs during the middle of the administration of President Bill Clinton.

But in 2013 the situation is different. A radical element of the Tea Party has established a corner in the U.S. House of Representatives and their political mills to grind are as hard line as any Jihadist in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, more sandwiches continue to go unmade at 7Ate9 ... after decades of the conservative element in society supporting the idea that privatization works, government sub-contractors from everything from the defense industry to sandwich shops are cutting back, or thinking about cutting back, or, who knows what to think ... so far this is a minute-by-minute deal, a shared national nightmare.

Furloughed workers were told to plan for the shut down to go on definitely. How one plans for an
indefinite stretch is anyone's guess. The existential crisis defines the sort of madness you can find in the 21st century. Call it endless indecision.

"There is absolutely no idea of how long its going to last," says Nevada Stone, who has not
made one sandwich during the first hours of the shut down. "Employee hours are going to be cut, hours are going to be cut, and some might be laid off."

The wheel of karma keeps on turning, and the web of life goes under the microscope. Who is affected, just for the park in northern Arizona? Jeep tours? Busloads of people? Coffee people. Chicken people. Beef people and soup sayers. Grand Canyon river outfitters. The National Zoo is closed until further notice.

Just in Flagstaff and Sedona, where the canyon is less than two hours away, the connectivity to the possible causes and effects are hard to get the mind around.

"The whole town is going to be affected and there a lot of people who are not going to get a paycheck," the sandwich makers says. "I can't imagine any state not being affected."

Others can. On the radio, political scientists in the Washington D.C. Beltway are more assuring, or, more attack dog in their soothsaying. One talking head from the Heritage Foundation seems particularly immune from the drama, and one imagine what kind of gated community he might live in.

Gated communities with their HOA's, the most base-level of all governmental entities in the United States, remain open.

"Unhappy with public services and unwilling to pay contribute to a general pool to pay for services city, or, countrywide, the residents of some gated communities have seceded from the civic order ...," states"Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States," a book written just before of the turn of the century by two Brookings Institution authors, Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder. In the years since then, during a President George W. Bush administration, when the voting base for the conservative vote was inwardly turned toward the national fireplaces of televised terror, fear and xenophobic views broadcast 24-hours-a-day by the Fox News network, a new kind of heartless pod person has been bred ... cold enough to launch a Teat Party of people willing to take the whole world hostage regardless of the global economic pain.

Let's play political pong in the echo chambers of intolerance. All sides get to compete. States the front page of the Oct. 2 Arizona Republic: "Obama: GOP's 'Idealogical Crusade' against health care to blame ... Boehner: Democrats 'Slammed the door' on bipartisan negotiations." The headline writer's biases are clear, if you read closely enough. Few people do. Everyone just falls into the pit of the noise, screaming blame, pointing fingers. It's the national pastime.

"One faction in one party in one body ... an ideological crusade," says President Barack Obama, who has himself taken up a no prisoners policy in the politics of gridlock. But the conservatives were the first monkeys to throw the feces at the other monkey island. The blame coats the two-party system like political shinola.

The "Republican Shutdown" is now the phrase by day two. The term "lemming strategy" is used even by Republicans being led by the nose ...Obama, it's reported, is set to meet with GOP leaders, sometime later during the afternoon of Day Two. Boehner, upset the Democrats are taking a page from the original Republican hard line during this "do-nothing" decade of Congress, cries foul. But in an increasingly transparent society of social media, where disinformation is absorbed, digested and released back into the air by the electronic beehive, few little violins can be played, as far as Mr. Boehner goes.

Though it took a little time, more than 24 hours, the level of disablement reached by the Republican shut down was noticed by the military industrial complex. Said James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, mentioned "the damage will be insidious." While no new wars were known to be declared, Clapper said the shut down degraded global security.

Eight-hundred thousand government employees furloughed. Stressed out IRS employees with children, mortgage debt. Prison guards going month-to-month. Federal agents, three-fourths of the intelligence network, labelled as "non-essential," as not-on-the-ball as meals on wheels.

Meanwhile, the mouth of the Grand Canyon is wide open, breezy and silent. Rocks older than civilization, yes, even life itself, continue to degrade.

Lee's Ferry, just south of Lake Powell, andthe only way to get across the Colorado River in northern Arizona, is as much on lock down as a gated community. Barricaded by the government. Pre-paid permits of $2,000 for rafting companies are  in limbo. Lee's Ferry was the only way to cross the Colorado River, not to
mention  to let pontoon rafts into the river and embark upon a journey down the Colorado, since long before
the National Park system was created. Like, dude, whatever did the Grand Canyon do before the Feds took over?

"Complicated times," says John Jarvis, head of the National Park Service.

Forty-eight hours of anarchy in the USA, and only the boundaries we believe, tentatively, to exist, that is, the rules of more than 200 years of federal law, history, etc., etc., suddenly erased.

On the third day of the Republican Shut Down, the mice were roaring and the lions sounded more distant, distracted, apologetic or just plain unreal. United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) describes the Tea Party wing as insane. But the concept of sanity, in terms of the role of government, is shred, perplexed, ephemeral and unreal.

 The Grand Canyon Park itself had become some kind of wild scene, enough to make the late Edward Abbey, the anarchic environmentalist novelist proud, with reports of people crossing boundaries, removing barricades, "running across highways," according to one National Public Radio report, in order to get a look over the edge. As a result, more highways leading to the park are closed to further restrict access.

Regardless, Gov. Brewer, who has been in Flagstaff for a conference on manufacturing by Day Three, has instead been asked about the Republican Shut Down's impact on tourism. The report states she had asked federal officials about a couple of options to keep the park open, but was denied. That was all. It did not sound like a giant effort, a blare of horns at the wall of Jericho. More like a political back spin, a bit of a dodge from a numb skull original statement such as ... "I don't know if the Grand Canyon is a priority for the state of Arizona" which, even when taken out of context, sounds a sorry note. By Day Four, however, the governors office is making more of a push to re-open the park.

Meanwhile, the state of such entertainment entities at the Grand Canyon as dinner theater steakhouses, pasta contractors, campground employees and their residents, tour-flight pilots, all kinds of employees at the lodges, none of these people quote "government" workers are thrown into the air: burro drivers and burrito makers, pool men and pool players, projectionists and train conductors and gas attendants and hamburger flippers ...

Two-thousand, five-hundred or so miles away to the east, in Washington D.C., House Republicans are breaking down, looking for outs, and Reid is apologizing for hurting Boehner's feelings. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for a half-decade the most intractable obstructionist in American history, if the total lack of activity in Congress during the Obama administration is counted, is looking for a savior: "Help us out of this mess," he was reported as saying. Several congressional Republicans, such as Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), said he was ready to break from the Tea Party led Shut Down with other more moderate conservatives, but about 60 hours into anarchy in the USA, nothing had really changed.

Until approximately 11:48 a.m., Arizona time, when the first report of "gunshots at the Capitol building" was reported over the radio ... the Capitol complex, once on shut down, now on lock down, now on gun-tootin' showdown ... Turns out a deranged woman has been shot and killed.

The solid rock of the canyon just keeps degrading, aging, and so on. If it knows something everyone else does not, the timeless nature of the place remains quiet. The nature of politics is just another fly on the eternal wall of political will, in symmetrical opposition, with no end in sight ...

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