Release the Hostages!

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Update: And on the 16th day, it ended. See our final comments about this fiasco here.

Our National Parks have been kidnapped! The perpetrators say that we need to surrender our health insurance and financial security to win their release. We’re told that unless we pay their ransom our parks, along with the rest of our government, will remain closed.

For our part, we’re holding vigil near the gates of Sequoia National Park hoping Congress will release it unharmed. We’ll update this post’s banner photo with a new National Park image each day the hostage crisis continues in an attempt to send the following message to Congress:

Cut the shit and release the hostages. 


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43 Comments on “Release the Hostages!”

  1. Laura Hilger October 1, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    Reblogged this on Strucknwords and commented:
    While our government may suck, this blog reaction isn’t!


  2. mytimetotravel October 1, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    It’s just incredible…. Good luck.


  3. Stuart M. October 1, 2013 at 1:02 am #

    I have left messages on Sen. Ted Cruz’s homepage and Speaker of the House Boehner’s homepage. Luckily, my home district is represented by a Democrat. We have got to turn up the heat on these people. That is the only thing they will respond to. My district on Chicago’s North Shore was solid Republican for decades, but switched to Democrat in 2012. Yay!


    • Brian October 1, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Unfortunately it does appear as if we’ll have to wait until the no-compromise, resist everything at all cost, political strategy does sufficient harm to get some folks voted out of office.


  4. Chris Herridge October 1, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    “The perpetrators say that we need to surrender our health insurance and financial security to win their release.” Perpetrators? That implies criminality. Nobody (at least no Republican I’ve heard) is saying any such thing. The only people potentially taking away your current coverage under Obamacare are the Democrats. And since when is your personal access to America’s national parks more important than limiting the already astronomical national debt? Such selfishness is astonishing.


    • Brian October 1, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      LOL. Perpetrator means to be responsible for. That word is entirely appropriate.

      Meanwhile, your entire comment is emblematic of the “black is white” arguments put forward by your side in this “debate.” According to you the people who want government to stay open instead of closing it to advance their agenda are selfish. Those people who want to preserve a law that extends health insurance coverage to tens of millions of people are also selfish. That my health insurance security is threatened by the people guaranteeing it. And that repealing a law which lowers deficits somehow reduces the national debt instead of increases it. You really are too funny.


  5. October 1, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    Brian and Shannon, That’s great – I love your tag line! We’re still traveling in Eastern Europe, but planned to go camping as soon as we return to the US. Hopefully your campaign will be successful. All the best, Terri


    • Brian October 1, 2013 at 10:30 am #

      We were in Yosemite this past weekend and were surprised and delighted to hear the range of languages being spoke in the park. We saw lots of folks from Europe and also tour groups from Asia – many of these people needed to travel 24 hours to get there. And now we’ve kicked them out. So sad. And for what?


  6. digger666 October 1, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Reblogged this on digger666.


  7. digger666 October 1, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Thanks for taking a principled stand. How about we give your sole critic, and his like, a state of their own (oh, I don’t know; how about Nevada?) where they can get on with unfettered, free market capitalism and no Federal interference? The rest of us could then get on with rebuilding a just society?


  8. Betty Londergan October 1, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Love this!! I am so sick of the Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party — and doing everything it can to prevent anything good from happening in this country, in fear that Obama will get credit for anything — that I could spit. The Affordable Health Care Act is the law of the land. It was passed by Congress. Its legality was reinforced by the Supreme Court. The American people re-elected Obama, rather overwhelmingly. The refusal by the Tea Party to accept all of that — and to try everything it can (including shutting down the government at a cost of $20 BILLION dollars a day) to obstruct its implementation is ridiculous!! (And if you want to understand their true agenda, look at
    the other things they tacked onto the budget bill — including an end to the financial regulation of banks and most all environmental protections.) Keep up your protest —
    I’m in AWE of you guys!!


    • Brian October 1, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      All true. Thanks for your support.


  9. Brian October 1, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    E-mailed comment from a reader:

    “Today’s Google Doodle happens to celebrate the 123rd anniversary of Yosemite….rather ironic it would seem.”

    Yosemite Google Doodle


  10. Melinda Green Harvey October 1, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Senator Elizabeth Warren said; You don’t get to hold the entire economy, the entire country, hostage because you don’t like the outcome of the election.


    • Brian October 1, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      That sounds about right to us. Moreover, we have a process for creating and changing laws in the U.S. It goes something like this: You craft bills that garner enough support to pass both chambers of Congress and win a Presidential signature. If you don’t have enough support for your ideas in Government then you campaign on those ideas and try to win a enough elections to get those laws passed.

      That’s a pretty good process. Anyone who thinks we should add “shut down the government and/or cause a financial crisis” to the mix needs to think hard about whether they really want that as a standard tool for governing. We could just as easily shutdown government over gun control, higher taxes, single-payer health care, or any other pet project we can dream up. I wouldn’t support that tactic in those cases, or any other either, because that is no way to run a country.


      • Melinda Green Harvey October 1, 2013 at 11:18 am #

        Yes, it IS a pretty good process – one that’s worked for more than 200 years!

        This is a sad and frustrating time (I live in Texas, so have to put up with Ted Cruz claiming to represent my views) and there are days when it feels as though we are in the death throes of democracy.


        • Brian October 1, 2013 at 11:23 am #

          Maybe this will cheer you up: it used to be worse. Back in the “good old days” our 3rd Vice President shot one of our founding fathers and former Treasury Secretary to death in a duel. We survived those times, we’ll survive this. We’ll be poorer, but we’ll survive.


  11. Brian October 1, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Another comment harvested from our e-mail inbox:

    “Years of dreaming, more than a year of planning, research and booking, thousands of dollars saved, thousands already spent and over fifteen thousand kilometres travelled…

    We have arrived in San Francisco. We have watched news of the shutdown with a growing sense of concern and bewilderment. We have booked and payed for three nights in Yosemite, we have a night booked at Grand Canyon National Park, we have a thirteen day rafting trip through the the Grand Canyon, also payed for. We may have to adjust our plans and our budget.

    We can only imagine the concern of the government employees, makes our problems seem pretty insignificant. They have to pay their bills and put food on the table.”


  12. cravesadventure October 1, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    I am sad that the National Parks are CLOSED:(


    • Brian October 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      We’re with you.

      Perhaps we can use this forum as a victims’ support group. 😉


  13. nikkiwynn October 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    “tell congress to cut the shit and release the prisoners” is absolutely correct! I am going to share your photos each day and going to post one of our own as well!


    • Brian October 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

      Park Lovers of the World Unite! No one can stop us now. Mu-ha-ha-ha 🙂


  14. CCBW October 1, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    I think you should be more concerned about all the people that have lost their jobs because Harry Ried would not give up his exemption to the ACA last night. Had he agreed to abide by the law that that the rest of the country has to, then this shutdown would have been averted. I’m old enough that the ACA doesn’t effect me, so I don’t care one way or the other. If the ACA is as good as they say it is, then why does congress exempt themselves and their staff? Why are special interest groups exempted? If it is as bad as the republicans would have us believe, then why not stop fighting it and let it fail on its own? You lose all credibility when you toe the party line and stop questioning what is right and wrong. Neither party is right in this. Both parties are culpable for so many people losing a pay check and that’s what you should be writing about.


  15. hermitsdoor October 2, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Occupy Sequoia. I’m trying to think of state parks in that area… Fresno? Bakersfield?


  16. Brian October 2, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    This sums up the situation nicely:

    “The top story all day [yesterday] was that Republicans had shut down the federal government because President Obama wouldn’t defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. The other major story was that the government’s servers were crashing because so many people were trying to see if they could get insurance through Obamacare.

    So on the one hand, Washington was shut down because Republicans don’t want Obamacare. On the other hand, Obamacare was nearly shut down because so many Americans wanted Obamacare.”


  17. hermitsdoor October 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Is the photo from Monument Valley? If so, I see interesting symbolism, as Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Nation, not the National Park service. Living relatively near (2.5 hrs) from Washington, of course, most of the tourist attractions are shut down. However, Mount Vernon and Colonial Willisamsburg are buzzing. Both are privately owned and operated. I’m composing a piece discussing the concpet of national parks and alternatives for thier operation. It probably will not be opening the gates for you near Sequoia in the next few days though.


    • Brian October 6, 2013 at 12:27 am #

      Good guess but photo no. 5 is from Canyonlands National Park.


      • hermitsdoor October 6, 2013 at 7:10 am #

        Ah, yes. We were there too briefly. Must get back to Moab (a cousin lives in Grand Junction, just over the boarder in Colorado, so the chances are excellent that we will)


    • Brian October 6, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      The government shutdown is really far simpler than Sowell wants to admit. It’s not about Constitutional rights or separation of powers. He brings these things up only to distract us. If we cut through the distractions we see the following dynamic.

      All three principles (Obama, Reid, and Boehner) say they don’t want a government shutdown. However, only one of those people, John Boehner, has attached any conditions at all to reopening government. It is the imposition of those conditions that is the sole cause of the government shutdown. Lift the conditions to do something all three agree they want to do, and the government reopens.

      Republicans haven’t lifted the conditions, though, because what they really want is something for nothing. They want changes to Obamacare but are unwilling to give anything in return for those changes. So they’ve adopted a “negotiating” posture of demanding something they want (changes to Obamacare) in exchange for something they say they also want (reopening government.)

      It’s an interesting strategy Republicans have, but it’s not clear how they ever thought it would work. Let me try it on you to see: I demand you send me $100. In exchange for that, I’m going to eat some ice cream.

      I eagerly await your check.


  18. Robert Hoelscher October 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Many folks here are doing the same thing their parties are doing and yet expecting a different outcome. We all need to just stop the harsh words. The truth is the President and the Congress need to sit down together, communicate, negotiate, and then compromise or NONE OF US get released.


    • Brian October 6, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

      Negotiations are great. But for them to be successful they really do require both parties to put something on the table that is of value to the other side. Can you identify what both sides have asked for and offered here? When you lay it out that way, the problem becomes clear.


  19. gwendalynabrams October 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I am so glad I saw your post. This is exactly how my daughter and I have felt about the shutdown. Open our National Parks. The whole thing is crazy.


  20. CCBW October 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    I think that ACA should be funded along with the rest of the government and let it sink or swim on it’s own merit. But I also think that getting everybody back to work and opening up our NPs and Monuments is a good compromise, and compromise is part of negotiating. When one side has to have everything they ask for that’s not negotiating that’s dictating. From what I read here you agree that thousands of people should be out of work and our National Parks and Monuments should remain closed until Harry Reid and Obama get everything they ask for. In the negotiating process what have they offered?


    • Brian October 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

      Please help me understand your position. What exactly is it that you think Harry Reid and Obama are asking for?


      • Brian October 7, 2013 at 11:22 am #

        I think that’s about right. They’re not asking for anything.

        Although that realization raises another important question? Why, if they’re not asking for anything, is it so terrible to “give them everything they’re asking for” and just allow the government to reopen with no strings attached?

        This whole mess has very simple explanations and solutions if we just allow ourselves to see them.


  21. CCBW October 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Sorry, but I just don’t see the point in continuing this dialogue. It’s going no where. Much like our government. I’m going to follow some good advise I received from someone I respect very much. It’s served me well in the past.


  22. hermitsdoor October 16, 2013 at 6:15 am #

    Posted some ideas about National Parks, and other methods of managing them. I would be interested in your opinions. Oscar


    • Brian October 16, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Interesting post and thoughts.

      Personally I think the parks are run and managed superbly and we don’t really need to change the ownership structure. What we need to change is the politics that led to their closure.

      I’d also worry that change in ownership (especially to private enterprise) might ruin these places. I can’t help but think about what Niagara Falls has become without the national protection that has preserved our other parks.



  1. Its Over | Everywhere Once - October 16, 2013

    […] all accounts the National Parks Hostage Crisis is coming to a close. The good news is that our wonderful parks are unharmed. The bad news is that […]


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