Today's installment of Shutdown Theater includes the Obama Administration trying to rope off the ocean, as charter fishing boat captains and tour guides were informed by the National Park Service shock troops of His Imperial Barricading Majesty that Florida Bay is closed for the duration of the current "budget crisis." (Disclaimer: no actual "budget," or anything remotely resembling one, will be involved in its resolution.)
Given that we're talking about over a thousand square miles of prime fishing ground, this sounds like one of those shutdown situations where it might require more manpower and money to close the area than it would to keep it open. The World War II memorial in Washington, DC stands as the most visible symbol of this vindictive lunacy, an open-air monument that isn't normally attended by rangers 24 hours a day when it's open, but requires squadrons of guards and tons of barricades (now wired shut to hold the heroes of Normandy and Iwo Jima at bay) to keep it closed. Quite a few of these Shutdown Theater productions are occurring on sites owned largely by state governments, or funded with private money.
One National Park Service employee who didn't like getting drafted into the Shutdown Shock Brigade complained, "We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It's disgusting." That's explosive talk, and you'd think the media would be keenly interested, but they're still busy chasing the kid White House aides pointed out to them as a glowing success story of the ObamaCare launch, even though it turns out he didn't actually buy any ObamaCare. Who's got time to listen to a park ranger talk about how he was specifically ordered to make the American people suffer until Obama's demands are met?
This isn't really anything new. Obama's philosophy, and the beliefs of his ardent followers, are driven entirely by the imperative to punish hated enemies. Liberalism is a miserable failure when it comes to making anything better, and Obama liberalism is expensive on a scale that even the Great Society bunglers would have found staggering, but that's not the point. As long as the right people hurt, it's all good. The modern Democrat voter is someone very comfortable with mediocrity, provided his beloved leaders do a good job of making some faceless rich bastards, religious fanatics, and Tea Party "anarchists" bleed.
We've known Obama thinks this way since the earliest days of his political ascension. When it was pointed out to him that lower capital-gains taxes lead to increased government revenue, he said he still wants high taxes anyway, because it's important to make sure rich people suffer. The entire income tax code, chugging into its 100th year with 73,608 pages (up from 400 pages at the time of its inception) is an exercise in bureaucratic sadism, designed to punish the people who lack the political clout to slip from its chains. Compliance with this code eats up a staggering amount of time and money, but that's a complete non-concern for the Left. Their favorite constituents are either people who don't pay much in the way of income tax, and fat-cat corporate cronies who find Big Government's anti-competitive power is well worth the money they put into it, provided they can buy enough influence to make sure it works for them.
The big leftist crusade of the past few years has been against "income inequality," which you'll notice has nothing to do with making life better for anyone. Policies crafted to combat income inequality punish and penalize the well-off; they don't even pretend to make life better for the lower income brackets. And the Little People are supposed to be happy about this. Who cares if I'm unemployed and need food stamps to survive, as long as some cigar-chomping bigwig has to give another million bucks to the government?
After fighting "income inequality" for five years, Obamanomics managed to produce more of it, along with grinding unemployment and world-record levels of welfare dependency. But even that won't matter much to his core constituents, who can always be induced back into a happy coma with another speech about how he'll "fight" to get them what they "deserve" - or, more to the point, take away what some nameless other people don't deserve.
That language of "fighting" has become ubiquitous among liberal politicians. Everybody uses it, but Republicans generally talk about fighting the system, or fighting unreasonable government policies. Liberals want us to fight each other. Obama has been known to tell audiences to get in the faces of their citizen enemies, make sure they're punished, and even view voting for him as an act of vengeance. All the goodies they want to "fight" to stuff in the pockets of their constituents has to be taken away from someone else first.
Most of the time, liberals encourage their marks to view the government as a vast fluffy bunny of benevolence, tossing free cell phones and EBT cards from his overflowing Easter basket, with no limit to the goodness he could provide... if only mean old Republicans weren't trying to make hasenpfeffer out of him. The standard line from ObamaCare defenders is that critics are motivated entirely by a sinister desire to snatch health insurance away from people and watch them die. Anyone who talks about costs, benefits, opportunity costs, and respect for liberty is just trying to distract us while they kill the wabbit.
But sometimes the mask slips, and liberals will more openly concede that, you betcha, government equals force, and they can't wait to deploy that force against people they don't like. Let's make those uptight Hobby Lobby types pay for birth control! How delicious their tears will taste, as we rip their religious freedom and individual conscience from them! You want to talk about our crushing national debt? Pay no attention to the irresponsible politicians who ran it up! Instead, direct your smoldering, resentful gaze to the greedy scum who refuse to pay more in taxes to make it go away.
So it's no surprise that when we arrive at a moment when making people suffer until their demands are met is necessary for the Left's political survival - whatever will those unruly serfs do, if they get the idea that a power grab like ObamaCare can be reversed, or that government spending could actually be decreased? - people like Obama throw themselves into the effort with a certain relish. Having enemies, and making them hurt, is what "liberalism" is all about these days. As long as people are focused on the joy of seizure, they won't ask too many inconvenient questions about what the ruling class is doing with all the money it seizes. Forget about "crime and punishment." Obama-style government is about the endless punishment of people who have committed no crime, as anyone who lost their perfectly good health care plan to ObamaCare can tell you.
It's fashionable for liberals to sneer at the Tea Party, viewing them as an incipient terrorist threat, forever boiling on the edge of violence. Try asking a liberal what he thinks Tea Party people want to do - not to the government, which they wish to make smaller and more responsible, but to him personally. You'll never get an answer. They've internalized the idea that Good Government should be empowered to hurt Bad People. There must be enemies among the populace, and they must be suppressed. Even turning the IRS into a political weapon against them is justified. But there's not even the hint of alleged malevolence against fellow citizens in the left-wing anger against the Tea Party. Their crime is the desire to not be treated like criminals by the overbearing activist State.
A huge government with an activist agenda is bound to encounter resistance. It's helpful for supporters of such a government to enjoy crushing resistance. Eventually, it becomes indispensable.