April 4, 2017

Oh Battlefield, My Battlefield

Stephen Crowley/NY Times photo
As you may have heard, president Trump has just donated his first three months' salary to the National Parks Service (NPS).

The picture in the article linked above shows two hands holding a check, but no faces. One hand is in what is clearly an NPS uniform.

In the interest of advancing the journalistic profession, here's the part of the picture that shows the face of Tyrone Brandyburg, who at the time the picture was taken, was the Superintendent at West Virginia's Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Brandyburg looks about as excited as I would have been to be at this particularly galling photo op.

On the campaign trail, Trump had promised to donate his salary to charity. I'm not immediately sure whether that's what he thought he just did, but I am certain he has dashed the hopes of the press, who were advised by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that they would be the ones to choose the charity, and I'm sure they would have relished the chance to do good with $78,333.32.

Why characterize this as a particularly galling photo op? Well for starters, Trump has proposed cutting the NPS budget by nearly 12% this fiscal year in his America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.

That's about $1.5B, in case you were wondering, so his piddly donation, which he wants to be used to help maintain and improve our historic battlefields, seems to be an insult of $1,421,666.68 proportions. Not only did he choose a governmental agency whose funding he plans on decimating, he opted to support the battlefields, which are already some $229M behind in maintenance.

Nonetheless, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke seemed suitably impressed.
As a veteran myself, I want to say I am thrilled at the president's decision to donate the check he did today. We're excited about that opportunity.  Want some Kool-Aid?
OK, he didn't really ask if anyone wanted some Kool-Aid.

He'll need it for himself, as he will have to figure out how to allocate the bulk of his limited budget dollars to rerouting traffic patterns and reconfiguring tourist amenities to accommodate all of the planned Diverse American Mining Needs (DAMN) and Collaborative Resource Acquisition Parcels (CRAP) that will soon populate our national parks and historic sites.

It's not known at this time whether the battlefields the president newly holds dear will come out on the other side of these upcoming NPS changes in any way resembling their current state. We do know, though, that 'history' is just another word for Stuff We Interpret Loosely, Lady (SWILL), so there's at least some possibility that Superintendent Brandyburg may not even recognize Harpers Ferry when all is said and done - assuming he's still employed, that is. After that picture gets widely circulated, his long-term employment may not be guaranteed.

That said, new signs have already been ordered to place around all of the historical battlefields, to commemorate the donation and to help advance the tourist experience and the mission of the Park Service.
The National Park Service (NPS) preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
I'm sure everything will become clear once the signed are all installed. I can't reveal my sources, but I managed to get my hands on the template that was sent to the manufacturer.

They're going to look just great, wouldn't you agree? With a lighted flagpole?  Can't wait.