Here’s how the news was received in Jackson Hole last night.
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Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks are being barricaded today, and all public access closed, thanks in part to Wyoming’s lone congressional representative, Cynthia Lummis.
Lummis is part of an extreme faction of the Republican Party seeking to hold the federal government hostage over implementation of the 2009 health care law. She voted repeatedly this weekend and last night to send a budget bill to the Senate that was dead on arrival.
Without funding, all federal agencies, including the National Park Service, were forced to close.
On her website, Lummis said she did so to protect Americans from “the onslaught of Obamacare.”
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott held a conference call this morning to outline the closure in her jurisdiction, which includes the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway connecting Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
Aside from Highway 26/89/191 between Jackson and Moran, all of Grand Teton park is closed to visitor access and recreational activities, Scott said. Visitors may not even stop at scenic turnouts along the highway.
The New York Times ran a front-page story yesterday about the political aspirations of Liz Cheney, daughter of the disgraced former vice president.
Much as her father did when he switched his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming so he could become George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000, Cheney, a Virginia resident, “moved” to Wyoming last year by buying a $2 million house in Stilson Ranch near Wilson.
The purchase immediately raised the question whether she sought to run for Congress, and speculation intensified earlier this year when she began showing up at political events around the state.
Apparently, according to the Times, she has set her sights on the Senate seat held by Mike Enzi, and Enzi is not too happy about it.
Unwilling to budge on spending cuts, Wyoming’s congressional delegation announced today a new plan to turn Yellowstone National Park into a dystopic battleground in which public land managers will fight to the death for funding.
Grand Teton superintendent Mary Gibson Scott and YNP chief Dan Wenk will compete in Hunger Games: Yellowstone, along with Scott Guenther, head of the Jenny Lake rangers, National Elk Refuge manager Steve Kallin and Cheryl Probert, acting Bridger-Teton National Forest supervisor.
U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis held a lavish bash at Four Seasons to announce the contest, attended by hundreds of oil and gas industry executives. Lummis hailed the plan as necessary belt tightening in a time of economic austerity.
“Instead of blindly filling desks, these bureaucrats will expose themselves to feel what wretches feel, and show the heavens more just,” she said.
Sen. John Barrasso said Yellowstone’s 3,500 square miles will serve as the perfect venue for the competition. Flesh-hungry grizzly bears and wolves will add extra drama as land managers engage one another in an atavistic struggle, against a backdrop of steaming geysers and bubbling mud pots. Barrasso has signed a deal with Fox News to broadcast the contest.
With Congress locked in a fiscal stalemate, federal agencies in Teton County are beginning to implement budget cuts mandated by the sequester. Citizens are preparing for the prospect of fewer climbing rangers at Jenny Lake this summer, or a possible delayed opening of some roads in Yellowstone.
This video, which has been making the rounds in social media, helps reframe the broader debate over government funding. The skewed public perception of wealth distribution shows just how far the goalposts have been moved in terms of generating more revenue vs. spending cuts.
Those who like to portray the discussion in terms of “job creators” and “makers vs. takers” should have a hard time justifying how this isn’t a banana republic, let alone a just society.
The stock market hit an all-time high yesterday, but as the N.Y. Times reported, the economic recovery has favored corporate profits while doing relatively little for adding jobs or workers’ pay. This video plainly illustrates why.