Future Generations of WWII Veterans

The title seems absurd, doesn’t it?  Here is the reason for the closure of the World War II Memorial, as reported by Erin McPike of CNN:

“I know that this is an open-air memorial, but we have people on staff who are CPR trained, (and) we want to make sure that we have maintenance crew to take care of any problems. What we’re trying to do is protect this resource for future generations,” said Johnson.

There are several things wrong with this.

  • First, the facility is unguarded (normally) and is open 24-hours, and consists of monuments/markers that don’t need much in the way of “maintenance crew.”
  • Second, they had to bring in additional people — and take them off furlough — to put up barricades to close the place. That did not work, of course.
  • Third, this is not exactly a “taxpayer-funded government facility.”  It was built by private donations, with a trust fund set up to take care of future maintenance. That trust fund was still intact as of at least 2004.
  • Since the staff level is normally one (at most), a single volunteer could have been asked for to continue operations, and it would have been fine.

The order to close the World War II Veterans Memorial came from the Office of Management and Budget, an executive branch agency that reports to the president. With money in a trust fund to run it (including any required “staff” for this unguarded facility), there was no call for this.  Veterans pushed through anyway despite left-wing protests.

One veteran also had a sign: “Normandy was closed when we got there, too” causing an Obama operative (journalist Johnathan Chait) to opine that the Obama administration should “fortify WWII memorial with tank traps and pillboxes manned by elderly Germans.”  The “joke” didn’t go ever well, leaving Chait to helpfully explain that he was actually favoring the Allies and not the Axis in the original conflict.

Causing Intentional Pain

The evidence strongly suggests that the White House gave the “close WWII memorial” order simply to cause pain. One pundit suggested, “If Obama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy.”

Since this order came from the Executive Branch, Democrat Harry Reid blamed it on Republicans (hat tip to  NoOneOfAnyImport).

Now, in this case it may be that the OMB is simply incompetent, and did not realize that the funds to operate this privately-built memorial were not from their current coffers. And perhaps in their incompetent zeal, they felt that they had to bring extra employees in (more than the facility usually has) to make sure it was closed. (One pundit noted that the number of security people rushed into action at the WWII memorial was larger than the number left to die in Benghazi.)

OMB zeal, however, does not explain the apparent closing to tour buses of a completely private museum, the Mt. Vernon Museum, by shutting down the bus turnaround. That seems to have cinched the deal: These shutdowns, just like with the White House’s sequester deal earlier in the year, were specifically rigged to cause as much public pain and disruption as possible. They sent out instructions to this effect then, and an FOIA request was filed today to see who exactly ordered the current closure, and what that communication entailed.

A final confirmation that these are intentional came from the White House’s deputy secretary. Asked if the president approved the plan to arrest WWII vets on the memorial property, Shultz replied:

“Anyone ask the very GOPers upset w/ the WWII mem if they’d support a clean CR? EVERY memorial would reopen, as would the govt”

In other words, something like “nice veterans you got there … it’d be a shame if something would happen to them.” He is sort of admitting that these closures are an intentional Obama White House policy, something stated by a congressman earlier.

Non-Essential

As Nancy Pelosi might put it, “We have to shut down the government to see what is in it.”  Among the “what’s in it,” in addition to the rather spiteful attitude on display, is the revelation that there are 1,265 “non-essential” White House employees.  This is an anecdotal bit, but interesting. We heard right after the shutdown began about the pain caused to the Senate when the people who push their elevator buttons and such were furloughed.

There are thousands of agencies, growing at astounding speed, and with tremendous overlaps between departments. There are more than 30 US intelligence operations, for example. Sixteen are “official agency departments” and listed in Wikipedia; the others are departments within other agencies such as the EPA that operate their own clandestine information gathering processes. The official ones employ about 100,000 people.

National security is vital. But this process could definitely be streamlined, just as could the multiple federal agencies responsible for the safety of chicken eggs in the US. And the rest of the 800,000 or so people who have been furloughed in this process might consider joining the private sector. After all, “the private sector’s doing fine” according to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid.

The more I think about recent actions by government leaders, the more I believe that the list of “non-essential personnel” should be expanded.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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