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America Held Hostage: Sequester Day 6

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

President Barack Obama has shut the White House to visitors. A notice went out yesterday saying that due to the personnel reductions required by the sequester, there will be no public tours after Friday. According to USA Today a recording on the White House tour line was as follows:


"Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013, until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours …"

In case anyone was too dense to get to the "baby puppies, calves, lambs, and kittens will die" part of the announcement, this:

"We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular spring tour season."

The only thing missing was to give out the switchboard number to the U.S. House of Representatives so callers could blame Speaker John Boehner directly.

Obama is showing his petulance in not being able to bend the Congressional Republicans to his will.

The Department of Agriculture issued a missive suggesting that some of its regional offices should "make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be."

After that directive become public, the USDA issued a retractive message saying,

"USDA is committed to doing all we can to minimize the impact of sequester our employees and the farmers, ranchers, and rural communities we serve."


The Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, in the run up to the sequester that:

"As many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. ... There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can't come back this fall."

The Washington Post's fact checking crew gave Duncan the full "Four Pinocchios" saying:


"Duncan made this claim not once, not twice, but three times. Let this be a teachable moment for him: Next time, before going on television, check your facts."

Detention is in order for the Secretary of Education for lying to the American people.

We know that popular sights in National Parks are now off limits and an air craft carrier - the Harry S Truman - will not be deployed to the Persian Gulf - due to sequester requirements.

Barack Obama is being petulant because Republicans in the House and Senate wouldn't bow to his majesty on additional taxes to go along with spending cuts.

Speaker Boehner said, after a meeting at the White House lasts week, that the tax increases had been done in December. Now it is time for the spending cuts.

Speaking of spending cuts, Members of Congress were informed that their office budgets would be cut by 8.2 percent because of the sequester. None of that will come out of Members' salaries which are protected by the 27th Amendment to the Constitution:

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

There is a major snowstorm due to hit Washington today. As I type this at about 9:45 Tuesday night, there is no indication as to whether government offices will be open or closed on Wednesday.

I Tweeted (@richgalen) Tuesday afternoon:

If the Federal Gov't shuts down in DC for the snow storm tomorrow, can that count as a furlough day for everyone?

As we discussed the other day, Barack Obama is totally focused on winning control of the U.S. House for Democrats in the mid-term election of 2014 so he can...who knows what he wants to do. It appears that Mr. Obama has no interest in trying to find common ground with the GOP in the House and Senate, but will use every tool at his disposal - and there are a lot of them - to try and make the sequester (which his senior staff devised) as painful as possible to as many Americans as possible solely to gain political advantage.

As every parent knows it is a very short path between a child's petulance and his/her going into a total eyes shut, floor kicking, arm waving, screaming, end-of-the-world, time-out-causing melt-down.

We expect better from Obama, but his shutting down the White House to visitors makes us worry that his petulance will give way to acting out in a way that will do serious, perhaps permanent damage, to the Presidency.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

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