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Sequester Kabuki Theater: How Did We Survive Before 2009?

Posted: April 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm   /   by

Or, Gadzooks, This Giant Sequester-Monster Is Going to Devour Us All!

Back in 1997, I was a youngish, single man living in Los Angeles—working in the entertainment industry and living in a studio apartment in the Virgil District. I had arrived in LA a few months earlier, just in time for — *insert scary music here* — EL NIÑO.

It was certainly a rainy year as a result of El Niño—unusually so, as I later learned. You see, to me, having not lived in Los Angeles before, it was just rain. But apparently, to Angelinos it was Sign of the Apocalypse #437. Seriously, to hear the newscasters, you’d think that El Niño was an actual child—60-feet high, supernaturally strong, and destroying entire sections of the city in a giant temper-tantrum. Soon, I noticed that everything was being blamed on El Niño. Warm weather, cold weather, rain, earthquakes . . . before you know it, it was all the fault of this enfant terrible oceanic current thingy. So, naturally, I started cracking jokes, blaming every bad thing that happened to me on it.

Didn’t get a call from Central Casting for any work that day? El Niño’s fault. 

Didn’t hear from that aspiring actress to whom I gave my phone number? Must’ve been El Niño.

Stubbed my toe for the zillionth time on that same danged table leg? CURSE YOU, EL NIÑO!

If this is sounding familiar, it might be because if you replace “El Niño” with “global warming,” you can sum up a tragic-comic amount of the “news” and mainstream “scientific” prognostications we’ve heard over the last 15 years or so. Global warming alarmism has even infiltrated fields of exploration far outside climatology or meteorology, cropping up where you’d least expect it.

The moon is slowly moving away from the Earth at a centimeter every year. Is global warming the cause?

Did global warming cause the torpedoing of the Lusitania? News at 11. 

This kind of absurd hysteria is commonplace today. The powers that be—in media, academia, government, and entertainment—are highly adept at creating and manipulating this hysteria to the point where it is epidemic, and for many, gospel. More than one person in America has been lectured by an 18-year-old daycare worker (who’s probably never left her home town and is still working on her GED) about how she is SURE that global warming is an existential threat to the planet, and how their toddler must learn to recycle.

Enter the sequester

Barack Obama knows that hysteria sells. In fact, he’s counting on it. You see, he has no interest in reducing government spending—doing so runs counter to every fiber of his political being. And yet he, and the rest of elected government, are now required by circumstances to do so . . . or to at least engage in the kabuki play where they pretend to do so. The sequester, about which we were treated to so much sturm und drang earlier this year, was one of the acts in that agonizing kabuki show. It is a mere three percent reduction in spending, which, since the government cannot cut spending fast enough to make that happen, will actually get stretched out beyond fiscal year 2013, thus making it more like a 1.5 percent cut. Less that 1.5 percent is being cut from a budget that is one of  the largest in American history, and yet you have Barack Obama—wearing that freaky kabuki mask designed to convey the emotion of terror—shrieking about how we need to use scalpels instead of meat cleavers.

Obama’s weeks of fear-mongering leading up to the sequester deadline weren’t because a 1.5 percent cut (or a 3 percent cut) was actually going to make a big difference. It was political positioning, pure and simple. His plan: Make things as painful as possible and then blame it all on those dastardly Republicans. So far, it isn’t working well, as polls show most people see no real impact from the sequester cuts. Undaunted, his recent angle is to frustrate airline travelers by allowing the FAA to use a meat-cleaver approach (there’s that phrase again) to sequestration, furloughing workers instead of making more sensible cuts that wouldn’t affect the public.

In light of all of this, it is worth it to take a brief look at the numbers. The question is actually quite basic: How did we survive in all the years before this, when we actually spent less money? How did we keep planes in the air, police in our streets, and teachers teaching our children?

The answer is, we did just fine. Again, the 2013 budget is the second-largest in U.S. history—there’s plenty of money. In fact, we got by on a lot less in the past:


Of course, Barack Obama never let a few facts get in the way of hysteria-mongering:



For more details, see the charts below, from the Congressional Budget Office (pdf) and Heritage, respectively.



Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

Sequester Kabuki Theater: How Did We Survive Before 2009?