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News from the Shutdown

Also: Free the TV, Parks in Danger



News from the Shutdown
If, as newspaper reports have it, Rep. Jason Chaffetz has been “lying low,” you wouldn’t know it from the YouTube video that’s been circulating. Put up by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, last weekend, the video, titled “The GOP’s little rule change they hoped you wouldn’t notice,” features Chaffetz as a rather hapless Speaker Pro Tempore. Chaffetz was fielding parliamentary questions from an unstoppable Van Hollen, who wanted to know about a change in House rules. It used to be that any member could call for a vote, but Sept. 30, House rules were changed so that only Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee could bring up a “clean” continuing resolution for a vote—one that has the support of the majority of the House. “Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives,” Van Hollen said. Chaffetz, as an apparent designee, could have changed all that, and the government might be open today.

Free the TV
We’re sorry to tell network television, but it looks like the clock is ticking and times are changing. A recent lawsuit filed in Utah federal court seeks to shut down a company called Aereo that charges subscribers to watch live or recorded TV on their computers or mobile devices. Fox Broadcasting Co. and three stations here are claiming that their proprietary content is being stolen by Aereo, which launched Aug. 19 and is getting ready to release an Android app. A Boston district judge has already refused to shut down Aereo on copyright issues, letting the case play out in court. A Reuters report quotes Aereo chief executive Chet Kanojia saying “there is no reason that consumers should be limited to 1950s technology to access over-the-air broadcast television.” It’s hard to hold technology back when the train is out of the station.

Parks in Danger
One consequence of the government shutdown has been the deafening call to take over federal lands in Utah. Sure, it was upstanding of Gov. Gary Herbert to foot the bill on Utah’s national parks during the shutdown, but the idea of a long-term takeover is frightening at best. The Libertas Institute of Utah suggests that private companies take the place of “high-cost federal employees,” and that overpaid employees have made bad decisions about federal lands. As if Utah hasn’t had enough problems with quasi-governmental organizations, the state hardly needs more privatization in its portfolio. Goodbye, oversight, farewell, environmental concerns; say hello to higher state taxes if it happens.

Twitter: @KathyBiele

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