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MARTHA SEZ: Politics and Halloween. A scary mix

October 25, 2013
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Every time I turn on the television or listen to the radio, I hear how outraged people are that they cannot visit national monuments and parks or museums. I have even heard of people from other countries traveling to view our historic national sites, only to find themselves shut out. How inconvenient.

By the time you see this, maybe our elected representatives will have come to their senses, and the US Government partial shutdown will be over. Then we can stop worrying about our long-awaited vacations being spoiled by our inability to access national places of interest.

Reading the news, or listening to it on the television and radio, anyone would think that the catastrophe we are going through right now will go down in American history as The Great National Park and Museum Shutdown.

"Educational vacation destinations were declared off limits to the public during these dark days." School children will read these words in their textbooks-if textbooks are still in use-and shake their heads at the unfathomable olden-day antics of their forebears.

Back to the present. What are our friends and neighbors saying about the shutdown?

"Oh no! We drove all the way to Pike's Peak and now we can't even get in."

Hold on just a minute. I have to google whether or not Pike's Peak is a national park.

Nope. Looks like Pike's Peak is not a national park after all.

"Oh, no! We drove all the way to Yosemite, and now we can't even get in!"

That's better.

Still, when I googled Pike's Peak, I did learn that the partial government shutdown has halted altitude sickness research at the US Army Pike's Peak Research Laboratory high on the summit of the aforementioned peak. The research conducted there is valuable to our military personnel deployed in mountainous regions.

It turns our that the shutdown affects all kinds of federally conducted research and public information services, interferes with funding for disaster areas-East Coast areas devastated by Sandy and Colorado towns and cities hit hard by recent floods-and takes the food out of children's mouths by stopping funding for Women's, Infants' and Children's Nutrition Supplement (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Our elected representatives like to grandstand about high unemployment, and yet the partial government shutdown furloughs hundreds of thousands of people.

So it's not just parks and monuments and museums.

I'm not even going to talk about the debt ceiling, although, as I write, that deadline is looming.

Meanwhile, we all go about our daily lives as best we can. How many Walter Whites and Mylie Cyruses will we see among the little ghosts and witches on trick-or-treat night? People will celebrate Halloween, no matter what Washington gets up to. Have you ever noticed that the really scary things come out at night? Ghosts and earwigs and party animals just to name a few.

I'm pretty sure that this is nothing new. Can you imagine our prehistoric ancestors, huddled around the campfire, gazing uneasily into the embers, knowing that saber tooth tigers and vengeful spirits and heaven knows what all lurked just beyond their little circle of light? Had television been invented, they probably would have been watching the game. Or the news. Scary.

Yes, Halloween is coming, and after that of course Thanksgiving, followed inevitably by Christmas, and then New Year's, when we will all decide once again to try to reform and mend our ways, after which we will collapse, exhausted, onto the couch by the stove and pull the afghan up over our head to wait for spring. Although it would behoove us to start trying to lose all of that weight we put on when the nights were growing longer and the cold was starting to get in.

Why is it called an afghan? Never mind. We'll look it up later.

Maybe by Halloween we'll be able to concentrate on costumes and candy and pretending to be scared instead of being really scared by our elected representatives in Washington.

And if not, maybe by New year's Day. Keep the faith, and have a good week.



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