Human Events Online

We shall fight on the beaches

Today in History: the Miracle of Dunkirk

On June 4, 1940 Winston Churchill gave one of his most iconic speeches to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was in this speech that Churchill famously stated that the British Empire would fight their Nazi German enemy anywhere, including “on the beaches” of the speech’s informal title. Since May 26, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) had been doing just that across the English Channel in the little French coastal town of Dunkirk.

On May 10, 1940, following the end of the tactical staring contest know as the “Phony War”, the German Wehrmacht began its invasion of France. German military planning kicked into high-gear with the execution of Fall Gelb (Case Yellow) that called for a decisive punch through Belgium, bypassing France’s vaunted Maginot Line.

The German war machine took British and French military strategists by surprise as their armored units pushed deep into the Ardennes forest, thought to be impassable to those very units that were now steaming through it.  The speed with which Case Yellow was executed saw the British Expeditionary Force quickly cut off from the sizable portion of the French Army as German Panzer divisions took initiative and drove for the French coast.

As the BEF fell back into France from its ever worsening situation in Belgium, the Wehrmacht tightened the noose around the British and its stranded French, Belgian and smaller contingents of Polish and Dutch allies. Pockets of resistance were quickly strangled by closing German Panzers.

The remnants of the First French Army did achieve limited success however, holding several German divisions at Lille for a number of days, even counterattacking and capturing a German general. The defense at Lille provided the forces headed for Dunkirk much needed time and reprieve from the full weight of the German army grouped against them.

As the Wehrmacht closed, the British Expeditionary Forced staged a chaotic strategic retreat into the city of Dunkirk itself, their last line of defense. With the BEF’s back to the sea the German general in command, Georg von Küchler planned for a final punch through all-out offensive on Dunkirk, June 1st, a rare day of flyable weather.

However, unbeknownst to General von Küchler, due to the inclement weather that plagued the German operation, the British War Office had already begun to execute a daring operation to evacuate the entirety of the BEF from Dunkirk. The British government called on any ocean-going vessel, big or small to aid in evacuation. Over 900 vessels answered the call, ranging from French and Royal Navy warships to fishing vessels and private pleasure craft.

By June 3 the remaining members of the British Expeditionary Force had been evacuated. The War Office declared the mission a success and called the Royal Navy back to Dover. However, Churchill demanded that they return to Dunkirk to rescue the remaining French holdouts who had volunteered to perform a rearguard action for the evacuating British soldiers.

So, on June 4, 1940, the Royal Navy returned, and over 26,000 more French soldiers were evacuated on the last day of the operation. The French brought the total number rescued to 338,226 men out of nearly 400,000 British, French, Belgian, Polish and Dutch soldiers that had thought the city of Dunkirk would be their last stand.

Later that same day, when the Germans finally entered the city of Dunkirk, they soon realized their embarrassing error. The evacuees were welcomed as heroes on their arrival in Great Britain and providing a much needed boost of moral amongst the allies in their darkest year of war. It had truly been a miracle.

France would fall by the end of the month.

Independence and responsibility

Responding to criticism of his notorious push to outlaw the sale of large sodas in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg penned a defensive op-ed for USA Today, in which he completely fails to appreciate why he’s become a national laughing stock, as well as the living symbol of the creepy nanny state:

The initial reaction to our proposed portion cap on sugary beverages follows a now familiar pattern. But here are the key points. The increase in sugary drink consumption is the largest single cause of the rise in calories in the American diet in the last 40 years. Many studies show consumption of these beverages is linked to weight gain and obesity, and more recently, diabetes and heart disease.

Other studies show that people given larger portions simply consume more without noticing it or reducing calorie consumption at subsequent meals. And portion sizes of sugary drinks have ballooned drastically over the last 50 years, from 12 ounces to 32 ounces for a large beverage at a typical fast-food restaurant, not as a result of consumer demand but because of corporate decisions.

Together, these facts strongly suggest that if people are served smaller portion sizes of sugary drinks, they will consume less, gain less weight and be healthier — and we may just start to reverse the catastrophic epidemic of obesity.

What all of the Mayor’s favorite studies do not suggest is any reason why a politician should assert the power to over-rule the free choice of his constituents, in the name of saving their fat butts from the depredations of their empty little minds.  Nor does anything in the Mayor’s defense suggest a limit to his benevolent tyranny.  In what other ways can this self-appointed crusader against corporate greed and individual folly step into the lives of his subjects, to impose his prescriptions for a healthy lifestyle?

“Under our proposal,” writes Bloomberg, “people could still choose to drink as much soda as they want. If 16 ounces (promoted as enough for three people in the 1950s!) is not enough, people could purchase two portions.  Is that too much an inconvenience to reverse a national health catastrophe?”

Since when is a politician’s notion of acceptable “inconvenience” supposed to be the limit of government power?  On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of another city, Indianapolis, to cheat certain homeowners because they were foolish enough to pay a huge sewer assessment up front, while those who chose long-term payment plans found the balance of their debt forgiven after just one year.  The Supreme Court ruling said that requiring the city to treat all residents equally, by refunding overpayments or collecting the full outstanding debts it decided to forgive, would prove unacceptably inconvenient for the government.  It looks as if the people are supposed to be far more worried about inconveniencing government than vice versa.

Bloomberg’s soda ban is just one sobering reminder that independence and responsibility are inextricably linked.  If people don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions, they must sacrifice their liberty as well.

This is the great challenge facing the European Union, where some member states have discovered that international welfare comes with strings attached.  Independence must be sacrificed to centralized authority in Brussels (which, as some in Greece, Spain, and Italy are grumbling, appears to be located right next to Berlin) before more bailout money will be tendered.  Those on both sides of this argument have reasonable points.  Who wants to give up national sovereignty to a trans-national bureaucracy, forever placing important aspects of civic life beyond the reach of local voters?  But why should the European Union finance further life support for dying governments that feel free to discard austerity measures, at the pleasure of their restless populations?

In the United States, liberals have spent generations selling the illusion of “independence” without responsibility – the promise of government benefits provided at no great cost to individual liberty.  This illusion shattered forever when the American Left finally achieved its dream of government-controlled health care.  The true cost of dependency could no longer be concealed.  The Catholic Church is no longer free to follow its religious conscience.  Contrary to President Obama’s assurances, you don’t get to keep your old plan if you liked it.

The War on Obesity is still fairly young, as political crusades go, but it has spotlighted the loss of liberty that inevitably accompanies dependence.  If the government is to be held accountable for financing your health care, it must have power over your life, in order to keep those socialized costs down.  Once the basic premise of socialism is accepted, and everyone is collectively obliged to pay for everyone else, this only makes sense.  Why should healthy people be forced to subsidize the poor lifestyle choices of soda-swilling, fast-food-gobbling couch potatoes?

The government is in the process of outlawing risk, by forcing some citizens to bail out others.  President Obama openly rails against the notion of government abandoning its hapless citizens to face the consequences of their actions, decrying his opponents’ putative “you’re-on-your-own economics.”  When central power overrides the judgment of the free marketplace, the result is a dissolution of consequence, which means diminished responsibility… and the contraction of liberty.  A free man is responsible for his choices.  A servant has neither choices nor responsibility.

“Rather than wringing our hands about the obesity epidemic, we in New York City are once again taking action to improve the lives of our residents,” declares Chief Nurse Bloomberg.  “History will likely bear out that once the controversy dies down, we will look back and wonder why we did not do this sooner.”

More to the point, there will eventually be no purpose in complaining about it, because you’ll never get your lost choices back.  You will be expected to grow comfortable with a more limited range of motion, within the perpetually shrinking cage your betters have designed for you.  You will become steadily less responsible for your life, and the lives of your children, which is very soothing.  You’ll also be less free, by definition, as your “unacceptable” choices are taken away.  It is widely assumed that Americans are no longer the sort of people who grow angry over such things.

Supreme Court upholds the fleecing of Indiana utility customers

Eight years ago, the city of Indianapolis decided to implement a new payment plan for sewer hookups.  A major project to connect about 180 homes to the city’s sewage system left homeowners looking at a $9,278 assessment.  A few of them chose to pay the full assessment up front, but the city also offered installment plans, allowing payments to be made monthly, for up to 30 years.

As it turns out, the 30-year installment plan was a very wise choice, while people who paid up front got utterly and totally screwed.  As the Washington Post explains:

The very next year, the city changed its mind about how to pay for new sewage projects, reasoning that the old method discouraged people from abandoning septic systems for the healthier city sewage lines. By that point, some people had paid as little as $309, and more than a quarter of affected properties had paid less than $1,000.

Under the new financing scheme, the outstanding payments were forgiven, but the city denied refunds to those who paid in full.

Thirty-one homeowners sued for the refund and won in lower state courts. The Indiana Supreme Court, however, upheld the city’s decision as rational.

The new payment plan involved a much lower up-front cost for all homeowners of only $2,500.  The rest of the cost was folded into slightly higher rates and fees.  This makes sense from the standpoint of persuading residents to hook up to the city sewer system, because even when a $9000 assessment is spread over a 30-year installment plan, the total sum still causes many people to recoil.  Of course, they’re not really paying any less under the new system – in fact, if those elevated sewer fees remain in place forever, long-term residents would eventually end up paying more – but they won’t feel bad, because the bulk of the cost is hidden from them.  Much of modern government operates according to this principle.

The United States Supreme Court settled the matter in a 6-3 decision today, upholding the Indiana Supreme Court and telling the poor saps who forked over the $9,278 up front to consider it an expensive lesson in the folly of surrendering a single nickel to the government before it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

The fleeced homeowners argued for relief under the Equal Protection Clause, since it’s manifestly unfair to charge one person nine thousand dollars for the exact same service his neighbor obtained for just over three hundred bucks.  That sounded reasonable to Justices Roberts, Alito, and Scalia, but the rest of the Supreme Court decided it was simply too much to ask the city government to either issue refunds to those who paid up front, or maintain parallel payment systems for its old and new projects.  They had a “rational basis” for giving those early payers the shaft, as Justice Steven Breyer explained in the majority opinion.

There were also concerns that ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would open the floodgates for countless other aggrieved taxpayers to seek redress for unequal treatment by official bodies… and we can’t have that, because much of government relies on arbitrarily treating groups of citizens unequally, just as it depends on the ability to hide its true cost from them.

Wisconsin Watch: Vote, if you know what’s good for you

At the end of last week, with just a few days to go before the recall elections of Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, people across Wisconsin complained of receiving ominous postcards, described by the Janesville Gazette as follows:

The mailing includes a note to “Dear Registered Voter” which says, in part: “Look at the list below: Are there neighbors on this list you know? Call them or knock on their door before Election Day, and ask them to go vote on Tuesday, June 5. After the June 5th election, public records will tell everyone who voted and who didn’t. Do your civic duty—vote and remind your neighbors to vote.”

The mailing goes on to list the recipient’s name, address and whether he or she voted in November 2008 and November 2010. The same information is provided for 12 neighbors.

The information does not say—and could not say—how those people voted, of course.

(Emphases mine.)  This came from a union group, of course – specifically, the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund.  A somewhat less ominous, but more blatantly partisan version of the card says, “Scott Walker won in 2010 because too many people stayed home! Two years ago, more than half a million Wisconsinites who supported Obama (in 2008) failed to vote in the 2010 election. And that’s how Gov. Scott Walker got elected.”  Since President Obama decided not to risk his political capital by campaigning against Walker in the state, this is the closed the unions could come to swiping a little of his faded presidential glamour for their effort.

The information used to compile these sinister little “insufficiently motivated citizen” lists is available for sale by the state to anyone who ponies up $12,500.  In theory, the purpose of the list is to allow the public to review it, and if they find “someone who has died or is under Department of Corrections supervision after being convicted of a felony, they could alert authorities of the voting fraud,” as the Gazette puts it.

I’m from Florida, where a simple attempt to verify the legitimacy of 2,600 suspicious voters has been blown up into a national civil-rights crisis, so you’ll have to excuse me for a moment while I laugh myself sick.  Any organization that tried to use those $12,500 voter registration lists for the high-minded purpose described by the Gazette would be hounded unto the ends of the Earth and destroyed.

But union-allied political groups can put such information to Orwellian use with veiled “we know where you live” threats, and it’s just fine.  A spokesman for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board described it as “just a little over the top,” and the Gazette interviewed a local resident who complained that the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund “went and published my personal information to people I don’t know without my permission,” but there hasn’t been anything like the national outcry that would erupt if a private organization made a serious effort to combat voter fraud by checking a list of registered voters for suspicious names.

There’s something deeply offensive about the idea of enlisting door-knocking vigilantes to guilt-trip people into voting.  Free people have the right to withhold their vote.  It’s one thing to issue public calls to civic responsibility, but quite another to deliver personalized demands door-to-door.

Advice to Mitt Romney on how to pick a Veep

On Sunday, Reuters reported that GOP-nominee designate Mitt Romney might announce his running mate selection “earlier in the summer.”  Here are three names for Romney’s reviewers to consider: Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney.

Together they tell you a lot about what’s ahead and how the campaign should prepare.

Dan Quayle: Though all but forgotten now, and considered best forgotten by most who remember, Quayle was actually a very shrewd selection when George H.W. Bush tapped him at the start of convention week in 1988.  In the Senate, he had shown himself a serious and astute senator.  He had become one of the body’s acknowledged experts on arms issues relating to the Soviets, essential knowledge with the Evil Empire coming apart at the seams.  Then, too, the Midwest was the crucial swing region of the country that year. Quayle was the one GOP Midwestern senator or governor acceptable to all segments of the Republican Party.

Yet within minutes of the announcement…

Click here to continue reading Clark Judge’s column at

Democrats downplay the impact of a Walker win

MADISON, Wisc. — “I’m voting against Walker!” fumed a waitress at a steakhouse in downtown Madison late Sunday night, referring to Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his bid to survive a recall election Tuesday against Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  She went on to explain that the Republican governor “was a big reason I had to leave the University of Wisconsin when I was a junior last year.  My professors were canceling classes so often to go out in the square [site of the State Capitol] to protest his program [requiring some public employee workers to contribute about six percent of their salary and 12 percent to their health insurance premiums], that it just wasn’t worth it for me to go to college anymore.”

Gosh! While one was tempted to suggest to the waitress that her anger should be vented on the professors themselves for choosing to protest rather than teach, it is simply not worth it — not in Madison, capital of Wisconsin and a university town, long considered a hotbed of American leftism.  There are reports of numerous barfights at local establishments stemming from the mere mention of the name “Scott Walker.”

On the Monday before the nationally-watched vote on Walker’s fate, supporters of both the governor and Barrett are out early brandishing placards along the John Nolen Highway that goes through Madison.

With less than 24 hours to go before the voting, both sides are fully engaged and enthusiastic.

However, with even left-leaning polls giving Walker a slight lead and unaffiliated polls a larger advantage, state and national Democrats are beginning to repeat the mantra that even if the conservative GOP governor wins Tuesday, it won’t matter in terms of national politics or the November chances of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

“It’s a Wisconsin-specific moment, not a national referendum,” veteran Wisconsin Democratic strategist John Lapp, told the Wisconsin State Journal Monday.

In Washington, Democratic National Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said recently that “[b]asically, there aren’t going to be any repercussions nationally, if Wisconsin voters decide to stick with Walker.”

Asked about Wasserman-Schultz’s remarks, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters: “ I think that there are issues obviously unique to that state and issues unique to the spending that’s happened in that particular matter that would suggest that she’s right, but I haven’t discussed it with the president.”

Unlike Bill Clinton, who recently came into the Badger State to stump with Barrett, President Obama has yet to appear with the Democratic nominee.  Asked whether Obama has so much as endorsed Barrett, Carney replied that he has not talked about it with him and “you’ll have to contact the [Obama re-election] campaign.”

The pain from Spain falls across the Euro plain

The degeneration of Greece into fiscal ruin and political anarchy is heartbreaking, but Spain is the real nightmare country for European investors and ministers.  Spain is far larger than Greece – in fact, it’s the fourth-largest economy in the Eurozone – and its impending collapse is literally unbearable for the European Union.

Oh, and the third largest economy in the Euro?  That would be Italy, which is almost as shaky as Spain.  The second largest economy, France, has launched a crusade against “austerity” under its new socialist president.  The Number One economy, Germany, is getting mighty sick and tired of financing the welfare states of Europe.  Gulp.

Lifeboats are already hitting the water.  A good $80 billion (in U.S. dollars) worth of investment fled Spain over the past month, pulling $40 billion out of local banks on their way across the border.  The New York Times reports that Spain will try selling 2 billion euros (about $2.5 billion U.S.) worth of bonds this coming Thursday.  “The sale is expected to include 10-year bonds,” notes the Times.  “There are doubts that banks, in the current environment, will jump to buy such long-term paper, given the increased risks in holding Spanish debt.  Even yields nearing 7 percent may not lure them.”  7 percent is the meltdown point for bond sales.  Beyond that point, the nuclear financial reactors powering big governments go super-critical.

The meltdown may already be in progress, as it appears government officials and investment analysts across Europe are quietly preparing for not just the expected Greek exit in two weeks, but the end of the Euro.  There’s no way to bail out Spain without also bailing out Italy, even if Greece floats out to sea without consuming another euro, and the European Union simply cannot afford to bail out both Spain and Italy.  The weak American economy totters on the verge of recession, and will pull Europe down with it… unless Europe tumbles first, and tugs America over the brink.

The flashpoint for Euro disintegration is the demand by dependent nations for bailouts without controls.  Everybody wants Germany’s money, but nobody wants to listen to German theories of spending restraint.

A few Eurozone ministers have spoken of centralizing more power in Brussels, to remove control from the hands of grumpy electorates prone to voting for whoever promises to abrogate austerity agreements most quickly.  That seems like a pipe dream when even local governments can’t maintain fiscal discipline, in the face of angry crowds packing rocks and firebombs, but it does seem as if the Eurozone is no longer willing to hand over bailout cash without stripping some degree of sovereign control from its welfare clients.

Spain wants the EU to pump money directly into its banks, without preconditions.  Germany says no dice – the money has to go to the Spanish government, in exchange for a surrender of national authority to the European Union.

Meanwhile, the CEO of American International Group, Robert Benmosche, suggested from the comfort of his seaside villa in Croatia that the solution to worldwide government insolvency was simple: “Retirement ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old.  That would make pensions and medical services more affordable.  They will keep people working longer and will take that burden off the youth.”

Oh, is that all we have to do?  Well, the problem is that every Western electorate has been taxed up, down, and sideways to support the promise of retirement at far younger ages… and they’re not going to give up those promised benefits easily.

Benmosche is saying that the entire premise of the Western intergenerational entitlement state, from Greece to the United States, was a lie.  There is no way for a vast, industrialized population with growing life expectancies to subsidize a tiny 30-year working life, nestled comfortably between extended adolescence and decades of retirement.  No electorate is prepared to wake up from that dream.  All will be eager to reward politicians who offer one more slap of the fiscal snooze bar.

The essential conflict between dependency and independence is playing out in every electorate across the Western world, from the Eurozone to ever level of American government.  Politics can only blind people to economic reality for a limited time.  Smart, well-connected investors are bailing out of Spain, and the European Union, while the public is still told to view their entitlements as sacred, and promised that government has not quite run out of private-sector pockets to pick.  The same thing will happen in the United States, when our system collapses.  We’ll wake up one morning to discover the smart guys already took all the lifeboats, right before the full size of the approaching insolvency iceberg became fully apparent.

Obama vs. the drug industry: sound and fury, signifying nothing

Late last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released more details of its investigation into the secret backroom deals that gave birth to ObamaCare.  A pile of emails from senior White House officials to pharmaceutical industry bigwigs reveal that all of President Obama’s public anger at greedy drug companies was actually part of what professional wrestlers call “kayfabe” – a choreographed act designed to create drama and tension.

Obama and those pharmaceutical executives stayed in character as adversaries to fool the public, while behind closed doors, they were inking lucrative deals to put tax money into the industry’s pockets, in exchange for vital industry support for ObamaCare.  This perpetuated the vital illusion that Obama was a brave crusader against drug company greed, at the same time he was privately offering various incentives to corporate honchos, to make certain they would fall into line and embrace ObamaCare at the pivotal moment.

The President was publicly denouncing efforts by pharmaceutical “special interests” to stymie his great reform efforts, while privately assuring PhRMA, the industry’s lobbying group, they would have unrivaled access to ObamaCare commissars, granting them valuable input into the crafting of that legendary legislative disaster.

Of particular interest is an email sent out by top PhRMA lobbyist Bryant Hall, on the eve of a fiery Obama speech in which he thundered that it was time for drug companies to “pay their fair share.”  As Hall assured his contacts, “Here’s the stuff.  Background is that the Pres’s words are harmless.  He knows personally about our deal and is pushing no agenda.”

Another White House email assured drug lobbyists that Rahm Emanuel would get together with White House Office of Health Reform Director Nandy-Ann DeParle to “make it clear that PhRMA needs a direct line of communication, separate and apart from any other coalition.”  All pigs feeding at the government trough are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others.

This secret relationship did have its rocky moments, and the White House did not hesitate to deliver some quiet threats to finicky drug lobbyists.  In May 2009, when PhRMA expressed some reluctance to get on board with the President’s agenda, they were explicitly told that the Administration would publicly vilify them at a major press conference unless they fell into line.  Hall warned his fellow lobbyists in an email, “We need to sign it.  [Then-White House Press Secretary] Robert Gibbs is going to call PhRMA out specifically by name as an outlier at the press conference if we do not.  Rahm is already furious.  The ire will be turned on us.”

In June 2009, PhRMA lobbyists were told that ObamaCare might just include two “poison pills” that could have cost them billions of dollars: a rebate of pharmaceutical costs for Medicare Part D enrollees, and the elimination of tax deductions for direct-to-consumer drug advertising.  They were told the President would use his weekly radio address to call for a full rebate of Medicare Part D, which Hall construed as “punishing us for being forward leaning.”  A week later, PhRMA wrote White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina to say they were ready to make a deal.

The drug industry ended up making concessions that were worth about $80 billion toward the cost of ObamaCare over the next 10 years, and they ran a multi-million dollar ad campaign in support of the President’s legislation.  In return, they were promised protection from price controls, guaranteed income thanks to ObamaCare’s mandates, and favorable language against drug importation.  The latter was explicitly presented as a reward for PhRMA’s good behavior.  Hall said in an email that he had spoken with Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle, and she told him the White House “is opposing import on this bill, specifically linking to our willingness to be cooperative on [health care reform].”

Hall made it clear that loose lips would sink this crony capitalist ship in a subsequent email: “They have something pretty nice cooked up on importation.  But they want to keep it really quiet.”  In the end, PhRMA support for ObamaCare was portrayed as a deal they reached with the Senate Finance Committee, with the White House’s heavy-handed involvement discreetly concealed from the public.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee concludes that its review of the tactics used by the White House “identified a potent combination of policy threats and private reassurances that industry would be protected against policies it disliked in exchange for support of the legislation and acceptance of other policies.  Taken together, these findings help illuminate a previously opaque series of agreements that resulted in a fundamental reshaping of our nation’s health care system.”

This all stands in very unpleasant contrast to Obama’s promises of transparency and accountability.  In some cases, particularly the drug importation issue, the White House’s backroom deals with Big Pharma run directly counter to his campaign rhetoric.

But it’s also important to remember that this sort of thing is standard operating procedure for Obama-style Big Government corporatism.  ObamaCare isn’t about taxing the public to finance government-provided benefits – that’s coming next, after ObamaCare fails, and the Left begins urging single-payer socialized medicine.  Instead, this is a scheme to preserve the rudiments of a private sector, which marches to a tune called by Big Government.

Of course the government’s “partners” must have some input into the process, and it must be kept from public view.  The junior partners in this arrangement cannot be given mandates that would prove instantly fatal to their business model.  At the same time, they must occasionally be reminded that Big Government is the boss, and has acquired vast powers it can use to punish them.  Private sector moguls are assisting in the creation of powers that will quickly grow beyond their ability to control.  Their willing, enthusiastic cooperation will become increasingly less necessary.  More government means more compulsion, and the end product of compulsion is obedience.

In the years to come, Big Pharma might be surprised to see how much of Big Government’s bulk comes pouring through the door they have opened, as they discover much of their complex deal with the Obama Administration turns out to have been written in pencil.

Jo Ann Nardelli and the Democratic revolt

“Faith is the reason I switched parties.”

So said Jo Ann Nardelli when my office contacted her last week to talk to her about why she left the Democratic Party for the Republican Party. Nardelli is a former Pennsylvania State Democratic Party Committeewoman and former president of the Blair County Federation of Democratic Women.

Nardelli said she had felt a “distancing from the party” over the past six months to a year as President Obama took the party leftward and began pandering more and more to left-wing special interests.

Candidate Obama promised unity and pledged post-partisanship. But President Obama has become the most divisive politician in recent history, remarkably eager both to attack—his political enemies, the Catholic Church, critical news outlets, other branches of government—and to pander—to environmentalists, gays, public employee unions, feminists, abortion groups and others.

But Nardelli’s switch shows that as Obama’s slice and dice campaign continues, he risks taking significant slices out of his own Democratic Party.

The last straw, Nardelli said, came on Sunday, May 6, when, before heading off to mass, she and her husband watched Vice President Joe Biden on Meet the Press.

Nardelli calls Biden “a man of deep Catholic faith whose Irish Catholic ways remind me very much of my own father of Italian Catholic background.” She said she felt sick when she heard Biden announce his support for same-sex marriage.

She knew where things were headed. Once the president came out for same-sex marriage, it would lead to a change in the party platform and every Democrat would be forced to comply. “Therefore, I knew I had to resign my positions, dissolve my affiliations, take a stand and change to the Republican Party,” she said.

Obama’s same-sex marriage announcement may have helped him with gay-rights groups—he quickly raised more than $15 million off the decision—but it has hurt him among people like Nardelli, a practicing Catholic who’s been a registered Democrat for more than 40 years.

Nardelli’s not alone. With the HHS “contraceptive mandate,” Obama has made a political calculation that appealing to secular and liberal female voters is more important than the constitutional rights of faithful Catholics.

A subsequent “accommodation” did little to quell the anger that followed. It got Obama’s liberal Catholic allies back on board. But now the administration is being sued by dozens of Catholic and other religious entities for breach of First Amendment rights.

Polls suggest Obama’s attacks have hurt him. Obama enjoyed a 20-point advantage against Romney among women in the early spring. Now Obama and Romney are running even among them.

Several recent polls find Obama sliding among Catholic voters. Obama won Catholics by nine points in 2008. And he was ahead by nine points in early March, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

In its most recent poll, Pew found that 47 percent of Catholic voters would vote for Obama, while 52 percent would vote for Romney. If that margin were to hold on Election Day, it would mark a swing of 18 million voters away from Obama—enough for him to lose the election.

Obama’s fundamental problem is that he’s out of touch with ordinary Americans. You’ll remember that part of the wisdom in Obama selecting Joe Biden for the number two slot was that Biden’s Catholic, working class roots would help Obama with those voters.

It may have helped him marginally in 2008. But with his attacks on religious conscience, with his job-killing economic and nonsensical environmental policies, Obama has made it clear who matters to him, narrow ideological constituencies that he hopes will donate enough money to his campaign to get him re-elected. To that end, Planned Parenthood endorsed Obama last week with a $1.4 million ad buy.

Former Alabama Democratic Representative Artur Davis recently switched parties too. The former Obama ally has moved to Virginia and recently wrote on a blog, “If I were to run again, it would be as a Republican.”

Davis, who is black, blamed Obama’s divisiveness, particularly on racial issues, for his change. “Frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country,” he wrote. “I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured.”

Nardelli and Davis aren’t the only Democrats having a change of heart. Recently, 42 percent of voters in Kentucky voted “uncommitted” on their ballots in the Democratic presidential primary. In Arkansas an obscure lawyer named John Wolfe got 42 percent of the primary vote.

In West Virginia a federal inmate garnered more than 40 percent of the vote, and in Oklahoma pro-life activist Randall Terry got 18 percent of the vote.

Echoing Ronald Reagan, Nardelli insists “I did not leave the Party, the Party left me!” That sentiment is no doubt shared by many other moderate and working class Democrats. In five months, we’ll know just how many.

Walker moves toward win in recall election

MADISON, Wisc. — With under 24 hours to go before the polls open in Wisconsin, there is growing agreement on the eventual outcome of the special election for governor: that embattled Republican Gov. Scott Walker will not only survive the challenge from Democrat Tom Barrett, but do so quite comfortably.

A weekend Rasmussen Poll showed Walker leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett among likely voters by a margin of 50-to-45 percent statewide.  Monday, a Marquette Poll showed Walker leading Barrett 52 to 45 percent, the largest lead for the 43-year-old governor in any survey since last year, when labor unions—furious at the legislature’s enactment of Walker-crafted measures to limit collective bargaining among some public sector employees and require them to pay for a greater share of their retirement and health benefits—collected more than twice the signatures on petitions required to place Walker on the Badger State ballot again.

On Sunday night, a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, showed Republican Walker leading Democrat Barrett by a margin of 50-to-47 percent.

“The governor has  barnstormed the state, getting up early and working until late at night, and never retreating from conservative principles,” veteran Republican consultant Scott Becher told Human Events Sunday, “He has not strayed from his message.  And his months of hard work pushing Wisconsin are paying off.”

Little reported in the national press is the fact that the state’s first woman lieutenant governor and three GOP state senators who backed Walker on his controversial reforms are also facing the voters Tuesday.

Republican sources who spoke to Human Events generally agree that Lieutenant Governor and former television reporter Rebecca Kleefisch will overcome Democrat Mahlon Mitchell, a Firefighters Union leader.  But they also expressed concern over the fates of GOP Sens. Terry Moulton (Chippewa Falls) and Van Wanggard (Racine), whom unions and the Democrats have targeted for extinction.

“If either of them goes down Tuesday, then Democrats win control of the Senate,” said Becher, noting that Republicans and Democrats are now tied in the Senate, with 18 seats each and one vacancy.  “And that would make it more difficult to pass any further reform legislation dealing with public sector employees.”

Also on the ballot in a recall election Tuesday is State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, one of the key players in securing passage of the Walker proposals and the brother of Assembly Speaker Jerry Fitzgerald.  Also on the ballot is the special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. Pam Galloway.  Republican State Rep.  Jerry Petrowski is favored in the Wausau-area district.

With White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Democratic National Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz downplaying any possible impact of a Walker triumph on national politics, it is nonetheless very likely that they and their allies on the left will trumpet a Democratic takeover of the senate as proof that Walker’s conservative agenda was not endorsed completely by Wisconsin voters.  For now, the governor and his Republican allies are, to use a phrase of Ronald Reagan’s, “cautiously optimistic.”

Thad McCotter to retire from Congress

Hours after the late-night announcement Saturday by Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) that he will end his write-in bid for renomination and retire from Congress, Republicans from Lansing to Washington began focusing on Michigan’s 11th District and what comes next.

By just about all early reports, the answer is pure chaos.

Six-termer McCotter, who briefly ran for the GOP presidential nomination before deciding to seek re-election, suffered considerable embarrassment two weeks ago when election officials decided his campaign had only filed 244 acceptable signatures on petitions out of the 1000 required to appear on the August primary ballot. As McCotter announced he would try to win the Republican primary as a write-in candidate, the embattled lawmaker’s problems were compounded by the announcement that the state attorney general was investigating possible fraud in the collection of signatures for his petitions.

His abrupt reversal leaves Kerry Bentivolo, Vietnam War veteran and teacher, as the lone candidate on the Republican ballot in the 11th District (Wayne and Oakland Counties). Bentivolo, who also raises reindeer, is a Ron Paul supporter who wants to abolish the federal income tax.

But GOP leaders are likely to search for another candidate who, under state election law, would have to win nomination through write-ins or stickers placed on the ballot (which, contrary to several published reports, are legal in Michigan).  Former State Sen. Loren Bennett announced yesterday he is running, and that he has 100 volunteers to help him.

One source who requested anonymity told HUMAN EVENTS that former state legislator and stalwart conservative Rocky Raczkowski, who narrowly lost a race against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, was seriously exploring a write-in bid in the 11th. Raczkowski, whose Oakland County home is now in the 11th, was a co-chairman of McCotter’s campaign this year.

Another Oakland County GOPer who is also reportedly considering becoming a write-in candidate, the same source said, is conservative State Sen. Mike Kowall.  Earlier this year, Kowall became a candidate in the 11th District after McCotter declared for president.  When McCotter decided to run for re-election, Kowall remained in the race and pointed out that he disagreed with the congressman on his stances in favor of Davis-Bacon legislation and organized labor’s cherished “card check” proposal.  But Kowall eventually deferred to McCotter.

Still another GOP prospect is attorney David Trott, who reportedly came close to challenging McCotter this year.  Trott is considered likely to use his own vast wealth if he chooses to run.

So no one really knows what will happen in the Republican primary August 11.  For his part, McCotter will be remembered by those who reported on him for his love of history and the works of thinkers such as Russell Kirk, his unapologetic chain-smoking and passion for rock music.  Simply put, he was a true American original in Congress.

Elizabeth Warren Doubles Down – Says She Will Be MA’s First Native American Senator

Good grief. Democrat Elizabeth Warren told reporters this weekend that if elected she would be the first Native American Senator from Massachusetts.

Cherokee Indians dispute her claims. They set up a website demanding the truth from Elizabeth Warren on her phony Indian ancestry. Although she claimed to be Native American when she was hired at Harvard there are no Native Americans in Elizabeth Warren’s genealogy.

A grim jobs report for America

You would think $1 trillion in spending stimulus and $2.5 trillion of Fed pump-priming would produce an economy a whole lot stronger than 1.9 percent gross domestic product, which was the revised first-quarter number. And you’d think all that government spending would deliver a whole lot more jobs than 69,000 in May.

But it hasn’t happened.

The Keynesian government-spending model has proven a complete failure. It’s the Obama model. And it has produced such an anemic recovery that, frankly, at 2 percent growth, we’re back on the front end of a potential recession. If anything goes wrong — like another blow-up in Europe — there’s no safety margin to stop a new recession.

And that brings us to the grim May employment report, which generated only 69,000 nonfarm payrolls. It’s the third consecutive subpar tally, replete with downward revisions for the two prior months. It’s a devastating number for the American economy and a catastrophic number for Obama’s re-election hopes. All momentum on jobs and the economy has evaporated.

Inside the May report, the data is just as bad. The unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.1 to 8.2 percent. The so called U6 unemployment rate, tracking the marginally employed or completely discouraged, increased to 14.8 percent from 14.5 percent. And labor earnings are barely rising at 1.7 percent over the past year, almost in line with the inflation rate. In fact, through April, after-tax, after-inflation income is scarcely rising at 0.6 percent for the past year.

The private workweek also fell in May. So did the manufacturing workweek and aggregate hours worked for all employees. The small-business household survey did rise, but that follows declines in the prior two months.

Barack Obama doesn’t get this, but businesses create jobs. And firms have to be profitable in order to hire. Yet the president is on the campaign trail criticizing Mitt Romney by degrading the importance of profits. Huh?

Without profits, businesses can’t expand. And if they don’t expand, they can’t hire. And if they don’t have profitable rates of return, they’re not going to attract new capital for investment.

Which brings us to a couple of important reasons for the virtual freeze in hiring.

First, there’s the fiscal tax cliff. If all the Bush tax rates go up, incentives will go down and liquidity will leave the system. You can’t pick up a newspaper these days and not find a story about how the fiscal cliff is elevating uncertainty and slowing U.S. growth. House Speaker John Boehner asked Obama for help in extending the Bush tax cuts this summer. But Obama said no. Instead, he wants to raise marginal tax rates on successful upper-income earners, capital gains, dividends, estates and many successful corporations.

Where’s the corporate tax reform that would lower rates and broaden the base and end the double-taxation of the overseas profits of American companies? A business tax cut would help enormously, but it’s nowhere in sight. Neither is the Keystone Pipeline, which is a surefire job-creator. Obama’s too busy trashing Bain Capital profits and Romney’s business career, both of which, by the way, have recently been praised by former president Bill Clinton. (It was Clinton, you might recall, who lowered investment taxes and presided over an economic boom.)

A second uncertainty facing businesses is the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare due in a few weeks. If all those crazy tax-and-regulation mandates are deemed unconstitutional, it’s Katy bar the door as businesses put profits to work and hire. But they’re not going to move until they see that court decision.

Then there’s the whole European mess with the threat of banking contagion from Spain, Greece and Italy. That could blow up the whole world economy if it goes completely sour. The Europeans should guarantee all bank deposits, interbank loans and bank debt until this story is straightened out. But they’re not. So the problem festers.

And now European companies are withdrawing money from local banks and investing in dollars (especially through Treasury bonds that are yielding an incredibly low 1.5 percent). But the rapid rise of King Dollar is generating commodity deflation, which is a deterrent to manufacturing production. According to the May ISM report, manufacturing is slowing.

The Fed may yet launch a new quantitative easing to stop commodity deflation and accommodate the gigantic worldwide dollar demand. But the merits of this move are dubious. On the other hand, an extension of the Bush tax cuts right now would stop the economic and job slide and re-establish certainty.

In fact, all the countries around the world should move to the supply side with lower tax rates to spur economic-growth incentives. Europe, China and Latin America ought to go back and read Ronald Reagan’s speeches and examine his actions when he faced a similar crisis 30 years ago. It would be an hour or two well spent.

LATEST OBAMA PLAN: Replace the “Thingamajig” On Your Furnace (Video)

Do you get the feeling he’s just grasping at straws?
Hoping something, anything will work?

Barack Obama’s latest economic stimulus plan – replace the “thingamajig” on your furnace.
Via Common Cents:

Ouch! Juan Williams Mocks Obama’s “Dr. Evil” Ad (Video)

Ouch. This hurt.
Even Juan Williams blasted the latest Obama Campaign ad with Anna Wintour.

“That was hilarious. That looks like a parody. It looked like the Romney Campaign planted Dr. Evil in the House of Obama. And, he said, you know, on the day the grim job numbers come out, let’s have someone who reeks of ornamental excess announce that the peasants can have a place at the table. It’s just unbelievable.”

Quick. Someone notify the Truth Team! The Obama Camp won’t like this one bit.

“Just don’t be late.”

You know it’s going to be a bumpy road ahead when you lose Juan Williams and Maureen Dowd in one week.

The Republicans’ secret weapon on LOST: information

The U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty, which passed the Senate Foreign Relations committee with a unanimous vote in 2004 but failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority in the full Senate, is already in for a bigger fight this year. Longtime treaty critic Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) now sits on the committee, as do staunch conservatives including Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), James Risch (R-Idaho) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), all of whom expressed opposition to the treaty at a recent hearing.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Inhofe told Human Events. “If you look at the committee, the vast majority of Republicans on the committee were opposed to the ratification. I can assure you that there will be seven Republicans that will be voting against it.”

Inhofe said a provision whereby an international authority would collect royalties for oil and gas production and other activities on the continental shelf, then redistribute proceeds to treaty members, would represent the first multi-national tax levied on the U.S. He’s convinced that others will see it his way if the facts are laid out clearly.

“I said to (Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry) that I wanted at least one hearing with witnesses that are against (the treaty),” Inhofe said. “And he said, ‘I’ll do it.’”

Inhofe has requested that former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and Heritage Foundation fellow Steven Groves sit on the panel; Kerry mentioned the president of the Heritage Foundation, Ed Feulner, as a third member.

While some have said the treaty will gain traction with Republicans during the November lame duck session, Inhofe believes the opposite: that moderate Democrats will be emboldened to oppose the treaty after the elections. “To give up jurisdiction over 70 percent of the earth’s surface to the United Nations is something that we are not going to let happen,” Inhofe said.

Arab Summer 2012

WASHINGTON — The once highly touted Arab Spring has become the Arab Summer — scorching hot, unbearably dry and very brutal and bloody. Last weekend, as Americans prepared to celebrate Memorial Day and commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, Bashar Assad unleashed tanks, artillery and his Quds force-trained shabiha militia to kill more than 100 Syrian civilians — most of them women and children. Though the atrocities and carnage in Syria continue, little but bluff and bluster is produced by the United Nations and the Obama administration.

In the aftermath of the May 25 massacre, 11 nations — the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Turkey — expelled Syrian diplomats from their capitals. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — on a visit to Turkey, Syria’s neighbor and former ally — told the Alliance of Civilizations in Istanbul, “The U.N. did not deploy in Syria just to bear witness to the slaughter of innocents. … We are not there to play the role of passive observer to unspeakable atrocities.”

But that’s exactly what the 300 U.N. “observers” in Syria have become in the six weeks since they were deployed in support of Kofi Annan’s so-called Syrian peace plan. Worse, the vicious Assad regime and its principal backers in Russia and Iran know that this is all hollow rhetoric. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — vying for the title of “The Most Traveled U.S. Secretary of State in History” — ought to know it, too.

In Copenhagen, on “a weeklong diplomatic trip to Europe’s capitals,” she said the Obama administration is “committed to preventing a civil war in Syria” and baldly claimed that she is “pushing” the government in Moscow to help: “I have been telling them their policy is going to help contribute to a civil war.” That kind of talk is unlikely to produce a favorable outcome in Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, no matter how many times President Barack Obama pushes the “reset button.”

After 15 months of butchery — and 13,000 dead civilians (the U.N. says it’s 10,000) — it ought to be clear to all that the U.N. can’t “prevent” a civil war in Syria; it already has started. Toothless sanctions, such as last week’s decision by the Obama administration to bar the Syria International Islamic Bank from doing business in the U.S., won’t stop the fighting. And no one, particularly the 22.5 million people living in Syria under the sanguinary Assad regime, should expect any help from Russia or Iran.

Moscow will do all in its power short of war to keep its Mediterranean naval installation at Tartus, Syria, in “friendly” hands. Tehran, striving for regional hegemony while it builds nuclear weapons, must have an ally in Damascus to keep open its supply lines for arms and materiel to Hezbollah — Iran’s proxy for what it repeatedly describes as a coming “fire that will destroy the Zionist regime.”

When asked about a U.N. resolution for military action — like the support given rebels in their effort to oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi — Clinton said, “Every day that goes by makes the argument for it stronger.” She knows better. The Russians and the Chinese would veto such action in the U.N. Security Council before it could be written.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have options. To succeed, opponents of the regime in Damascus will have to be armed, trained and equipped. The Free Syrian Army — a rebel group composed primarily of Syrian military defectors — is headquartered in Turkey. The FSA could not be there without quiet approval from the government in Ankara. Next door in Baghdad, there is deep concern about the flood of Syrians seeking refuge in northwestern Iraq. It is in the interests of both the Erdogan and al-Maliki governments — and our own — that the outcome in Syria be favorable, be friendly and respect human rights.

Seeing as our human intelligence about what’s happening on the ground inside Syria is so incredibly deficient, we don’t know which rebel groups are the “good guys” and which ones might be radical Islamists. Our friends — and we do have them in Turkey and Iraq — do know, or they could find out.

With the death toll rising daily in Syria, it’s long past time to stop the bluff and bluster about “pushing” the Russians or hoping more toothless U.N. sanctions will somehow work. What we and the long-suffering people of Syria need right now is some quiet diplomacy with our friends — and prayers that whatever we do won’t leak.

Republicans need to go on the offense on healthcare, suggest free market solutions

“The best defense is a good offense,” runs an adage attributed to legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. What’s true in football is even more true in politics.

As the election marches through a long, hot summer, Republicans need to go on the offensive on medical care. Playing defense against the assaults by President Obama and his Democratic allies is the path to defeat. They’re going to use the President’s healthcare plan to attack Republicans, using the socialized medicine scheme as a wedge to pry a large gap between the GOP and seniors, young folks, the working middle class and others.

“We have to keep up the drumbeat with the American public,” Sally Pipes told us. The president of the Pacific Research Institute is a noted expert on the politics and economics of medical care. Her book, “The Pipes Plan: The Top Ten Ways to Dismantle Obama-care,” recently was published by Regnery Publishing, owned by the same company that owns Human Events, Eagle Publishing, Inc.

She added, “Republicans need to explain why the Obamacare legislation is bad for Americans’ health. They need to work for full repeal in 2013 if the GOP takes back the White House and the Senate, and keeps the House. Then, Republicans would replace it with the plan outlined in my book.”

Free market solutions

Among other things, her book discusses the impending bankruptcy of Medicare, the massive taxes needed to fund Obamacare, Medicaid waste in helping the poor, coverage mandates and the virtual enslavement of young people. The appealing solutions: Allow cheaper, high-deductible insurance plans, much as are available for vehicles; expand health-savings accounts; implement block-grant Medicare to states, so they can innovate at the local level; and give Medicare patients choices among plans. In short, give freedom back patients and promote competition.

On the state mandates, Pipes explained in a May 23 article in Investor’s Business Daily, “The Medicaid population in each state is different, so states should have the flexibility to determine their own eligibility requirements, benefit levels, and means of delivering care.” People know their own states are different from others. Texas is different from California, Mississippi from Maine. So freeing the states is a winner.

We believe that just such a proactive strategy could help presumptive nominee Mitt Romney with a major weakness: his passage of the similar Romneycare program when he was governor of Massachusetts a decade ago. His Republican rivals in the GOP primaries roundly criticized him over Romneycare. But as he later said, the many debates sharpened his own candidacy and prepared him to face Barack Obama.

In this context, Republicans should play to their strengths. For example, they should say, “Let’s run medical care like Steve Jobs’ Apple instead of the DMV.” That brings up in voters’ minds the world’s most admired and wealthiest company, contrasting it with people standing in long line and dealing with grumpy government DMV functionaries.

Republicans also should show how they would free young people from the Obamacare burdens. In 2008, candidate Obama appealed to youngsters’ boundless hopes for a better future. It contrasted with—let’s face it—Sen. John McCain’s rather curmudgeonly campaign.

A better model

A better model for the GOP is that of Ronald Reagan. The Gipper’s 1980 and ’84 campaigns promised limitless opportunity for those with ideas who worked hard. He turned hopes into reality as the computer and other fields blossomed under the Reagan Revolution.

Another thing to emphasize is that government bureaucrats, not doctors, will determine what kinds of coverage people get under Obamacare. That was a key factor on Aug. 3, 2010, when a whopping 71 percent of Missouri voters passed Measure C, which blocked Obamacare health-coverage mandates. The Show Me State showed that Americans don’t like being bossed around.

Republicans also should try putting such initiatives on the ballot in other states. Although in only 24 states can initiatives enact legislation, in the remaining states non-binding advisories could be put before voters. If Democratic-controlled legislatures block such efforts, the publicity still would benefit the anti-Obamacare cause. Republicans could respond, “Obamacare is so bad Democrats won’t even let us vote on it.”

To defeat Obamacare, more than just ideas are needed: Hard, hard work. The Democrats aren’t going to let up. Neither should Republicans. As Lombardi said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

This summer in Congress: Tax cuts, jobs and Gibson Guitar Act

House Republicans have their legislative marching orders for the summer, which includes passing legislation to shrink the size of government, to promote private sector job creation and to cut taxes as well as the price of gas.

In a memo to members last week, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said tax cuts that are scheduled to expire in January as well as the coming medical device tax will have a negative impact on jobs. A vote has been scheduled for June to overturn the measure.

“Very little of what we do this summer will be able to offset the harm to small businesses if the largest tax increase in American history is allowed to go into effect Jan. 1, 2013,” Cantor said in the memo. “Working families and small business should not be saddled with the uncertainty of a looming tax increase as they attempt to invest and grow for the remainder of this year.”

Specially tailored bills will cut red tape, sell or transfer government land and modify restrictive land use designations.

Congress will vote on a bill to protect small business from government criminalization—a response to the August raid on Gibson Guitar for violating labor laws of another country in related to its import of unfinished wood. In July, the House will vote on Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) bill authorizing an audit of the Federal Reserve, and a measure to reform the U.S. Postal Service to keep it in business.

Finally, as the price of gas continues to act as a drag on an already sluggish economy, Cantor said a series of bills Congress will take up before Labor Day would encourage oil production on federal lands while cutting unnecessary red tape.

Amid showdown on Defense budget, sequester prospect worsens

During a forum hosted by the American Enterprise Institute earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter appeared to have House Armed Services Committee Republicans in his cross-hairs. Carter said the decision to include $4 billion above the White House budget request in the House version of the Defense appropriations bill meant that new technology and innovation would be sacrificed in favor of aging programs and excess equipment.

“I just want to say that every dollar the United States spends on old and unnecessary programs is a dollar we lose from new, necessary strategic investments,” Carter said on Wednesday. “As Secretary Panetta has said, if we had an open bank account, we’d keep all of it, but we don’t have an open bank account.”

Items that should have been left on the chopping block, according to Carter: older Navy ships that had been earmarked for retirement, portions of the nation’s fleet of C-130 Hercules planes, and other Air Force elements. Carter also spoke disapprovingly of the committee’s decision to take the possibility of Base Realignment and Closure off the table and to walk back proposed fee increases to Tricare, the entity that provides health care to troops and veterans.

“No sacred cows,” was the principle in play, as Defense officials crafted a budget with tight fiscal parameters, according to Carter.

“Others can pick one item or another that they favor, but we have to balance them all,” he said.

It’s not a perspective that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) can appreciate.

A day after Carter’s speech, McKeon took aim at those same “balance” decisions, telling members of the National Defense Industrial Association
How does the president plan to keep faith with our troops when he proposed to dramatically increase Tricare fees on military retirees, and create whole new fees?” McKeon said, according to remarks obtained by Politico’s Morning Defense. “The president’s vision of an “American Century” is hollow, dangerous, and takes for granted the military strength and power required to protect the homeland, assure our allies, and keep our enemies at bay.”

The White House has threatened to veto the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act, because, among other reasons, of the added $4 billion in funding and various attempts to override decisions made by the administration. Notably, Obama’s Defense budget request also came in about $4 billion over limits set by Congress with the Budget Control Act last year.

With the final terms of the 2013 National Defense Appropriations Act to be determined in conference between the House and Senate following Senate approval of its version of the bill, rhetoric is also heating up regarding the process of sequestration.

Pentagon officials confirmed to various media outlets this week that the budget-slashing mechanism set to take effect on the first of next year would not spare funding for ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, as had been previously believed.

What remains unclear is how the sequester, which purports to cut Defense spending by 10 percent across the board over the next decade, will affect the war effort and provisions for the thousands of troops that remain deployed there.

“The time for guarded language is past,” McKeon fumed at the NDIA event. “(Sequestration) will do what countless tin pot dictators, ideological madmen, and ruthless suicide bombers have failed to do; sequestration will limit the United States’ power and influence in the world.”

At least here, the committee chairman and Deputy Secretary of Defense have common ground: Carter called the sequester an “awful prospect” and said that military and civilian program managers would face “absurdities” in trying to implement the doomsday measure.

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