Malarkey Man

It is a mere 3 days since President Joe Biden took the oath of office and he is already furiously backtracking on his Covid campaign promises. Back on October 29, 2020 at a campaign rally in Coconut Creek FL, Biden tore into President Trump’s handling of the virus—a task that didn’t really require much effort. Anyway, candidate Biden pledged “I’m not going to shut down the economy, I’m not going to shut down the country, but I am going to shut down the virus.”

President Joe Biden

Sometime after January 20, Biden discovered that his desk in the Oval Office did not have a red button labeled “Virus Killer”. And so the reset began. At his Friday press conference Biden proceeded to announce “there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” He went on to project that Coronavirus deaths would rise by another 50% to reach “well over 600,000.” 

In the meantime he did say that he is sticking to his target of 100 million vaccinations delivered in his first hundred days in office. Left unmentioned is that we are already vaccinating about 960,000 people daily. Which means that Biden means to raise the vaccination rate all of 4% over the next several months. Pretty impressive for a guy who promised to make the coronavirus his #1 priority. 

But he has been busy on other fronts. Like gender identity. The executive order he just signed reads as follows: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the rest room, the locker room, or school sports. . . . All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” 

Note that the executive order references gender identity, not sex. Meaning that you don’t have to be a girl to play on a girl’s sports team; you merely have to self-identify as female. Which, among other things, means that girl’s sports are essentially over. They will be dominated by boys claiming to be girls. 

The Biden team is busy pretending that the President is merely enforcing the Supreme Court’s Bostock  v. Clayton County decision handed down in 2020. But in that 6-3 decision, the majority opinion for which was authored by Justice Gorsuch, the Justices took pains to say that it was limited to employment status  and had no bearing on “sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes”. 

The Court went further to note that their decision was limited to the language of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The majority specifically noted that under Title IX of the 1972 amendments “we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.” (See Abigail Shrier in the Wall Street Journal here.)

As bad as this is, it’s actually even worse than it appears at first glance. On the matter of gender identity Mr Biden has gone so far as to say that “in prison, your sexual identity is defined by what you say, not what the prison says.” Which effectively means that sex (or gender) is simply a social construct; biology is not determinative.

This conceit denies the profound difference between men and women. Not only that, it is part of a much grander project; namely the utopian transformation of society into one without differences, and therefore without hierarchies. 

It is a vision of human beings as undifferentiated cogs in a machine, the equivalent of ants living in an ant colony. There is no room for individualism, for decency, for joy, for love; only for the dream which inevitably leads to marching orders. It is a vision as old as the hills and has always and everywhere led to authoritarianism and human misery. 

But of course there will always be hierarchies. There can be hierarchies of competence that are freely chosen and held to account. Or there can be unaccountable hierarchies that are aristocracies of power not subject to the rules designed for mere mortals. The difference is that one is beholden to the idea of truth; the other denies there is any such thing. For them all that matters  is power. 

Around 490 BC, it was Protagarus, who laid the foundation for today’s postmodernism by arguing that “Man is the measure of all things”.  Plato understood Protagurus to mean that there was no objective truth. Things are either true or not true based on how an individual perceives them. 

There is a great irony here. Joe Biden, who endlessly goes on about “following the science” apparently doesn’t realize that if there is no truth there is no science. And all his talk is nothing more than what he likes to call “Malarkey”. 

JFB

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Joe Biden’s Choice

Within hours of President Biden’s call for civility, protesters went on a violent rampage in the Pacific Northwest, mostly in Portland Oregon. The protesters, according to the New York Times, marched through the streets, burned an American flag and smashed windows at Democratic Party Headquarters.  

Violence in Portland, The New York Times

The protesters were not supporters of the now departed Donald J Trump.  Nor were they from QAnon, the Proud Boys or other white supremacist groups.  They were self-identified antifascist and racial-justice warriors, which is to say, fascists who like to call themselves  antifascists. Their complaint was that Joe Biden’s promised reforms “won’t save us”. 

Of course they won’t, primarily because they are not interested in being “saved”.  They are simply nihilists who seek to smash and destroy. They could care less about the back and forth of democratic politics and the making of public policy. They seek to engender distrust and destroy democratic institutions, not to build on them. 

If he means what he says, Joe Biden has a golden opportunity to take a large step toward restoring civility to the Republic and strengthening our democratic institutions. He can condemn the violence in Oregon without reservation just as strongly as he rightly condemned the violence fomented by Donald Trump at the Capitol on January 6. And he can seek to have the perpetrators brought to justice for their crimes,  just as the perpetrators of the January 6 riots should be prosecuted for their crimes to the full extent of the law. 

The choice is clear. It is a choice between violence and liberal government. Tolerating violence based on what “side” it favors is no justice at all. It is a fundamental attack on equality before the law and our democratic institutions. Vigorous prosecution of those who use violence to achieve political ends is a defense of the rule of law and democratic institutions. 

President Joe Biden has a choice to make. He can defend the rule of law and democratic institutions. Or he can be just like Donald J. Trump and be politically selective about how the law is enforced. 

That choice will tell us a lot about what Joe Biden is really made of. 

JFB

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Joe Biden’s “American Recovery Plan”

“Drink coffee and do stupid things even faster” — Sign in a coffee shop. 

Apropos the sign, an avalanche of stupidity is coming our way.  Just 5 days away from his inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden has outlined the first part of his “American Recovery Plan”. It is virtually indistinguishable from the progressive wish list Nancy Pelosi has been going on about for the last 20 years or so. The only difference is that now progressives actually have a shot of getting what they have always wished for. 

Consider just some of the proposals being put forward in the spectacularly misnamed American Recovery plan. To begin with, the price tag for this monstrosity is $1.9 trillion. That comes right after the $900 billion relief package Congress passed just last month. Not to mention the $2.2 trillion CARES act Congress passed in March of 2020. And this is only phase 1 of the Biden proposal. He promises more, fully backed by Bernie Sanders as the upcoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee. 

If Congress approves the Biden phase 1 package it would amount to $5 trillion in additional spending thus far for Covid and Covid marketed relief efforts. That spending is over and above the normal appropriations for running the government, all passed in a 10 month period. And it’s all done with borrowed money.

So let’s look at some specific proposals. Among other things that have absolutely nothing to do with Covid, Biden plans to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. If enacted, this is guaranteed to make things worse for the people who are the supposed beneficiaries. 

The unemployment rate is highest for people with low incomes and relatively little formal training. Plenty of these people work in the hospitality industry, specifically restaurants, which are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Recent survey data suggest that about 110,000 restaurants, about 17% of the total, have closed their doors permanently because of Covid. 

The Biden solution is to raise the cost of labor for an industry in free fall. Very clever. Not only that, the restaurants that survive will simply switch their compensation systems to a European style one in which customer costs associated with tipping are built into menu prices (service compris) and tips are eliminated. The effect will be lost jobs and reduced employee compensation for those who keep their jobs.  Oh, and the survivors’ tax bills will rise because, let’s face it, virtually nobody reports all their tips to the IRS. 

Other goodies in the package include checks for $1,400 to round it up to $2,000. Schumer and Pelosi  have indicated that they are enthusiastically on board.  What this is supposed to accomplish beyond the buying of votes is left unspecified. And of course, this is to be financed, by more borrowing, because we are assured “there is plenty of money available”.

Another $350 billion or so is slated for “emergency” relief for state and local government finances. Translated into English, this means that the states that manage their finances well will be required to bail out predominantly blue state public pension plans that are underfunded to the point where in some cases, like Illinois, they are approaching insolvency. And not to put too fine a point on it, the sorry state of pension finance has nothing whatsoever to do with Covid. Bailing them out will just put off the day of reckoning until it gets  worse. 

Another $170 billion will be forked out “so that schools can re-open”. But of course, the schools didn’t need to close and stay closed in the first place. This is just a gift to the politically powerful teachers unions who have argued for closing the schools and keeping them closed. 

Private schools have opened independent of the state. And not just the elite ones. The K- 12 Catholic schools in Massachusetts opened successfully and have had almost no Covid infections. In other places, relatively affluent parents (like here in Fairfax County) have hired private tutors to run learning pods for groups of children. 

Needless to say, the teachers unions have opposed these efforts while fighting to keep the schools shut down for in-person learning. This is in spite of the fact that already the data clearly show a catastrophic fall-off in the academic performance of disadvantaged children. Let’s face it, the public schools are run for the benefit of the staff, not the kids. That’s why the kids are being sacrificed.

As more details of the Biden plan seep out, it will become clear to all with eyes to see that the Biden trajectory is simply Obama redux on steroids (or perhaps coffee).  It will be all about centralization, command and control. The crushing hand of the state will weigh in on every decision. Fantasies aside; there is nothing moderate about it. 

JFB

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Notes, Asides & Absurdities Jan 14, 2021.

“Try Him Now” Matthew Continetti writes referring to the second Trump impeachment. It is an article that should not be missed. 

David Horowitz has noted that “Inside every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out”. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex, founding member of the Squad, has just illustrated the point nicely. In the wake of the Capitol riot she has called for a “truth and reconciliation or media literacy initiatives (sic)” to “rein in” the media. 

John Yoo writes that Donald Trump was rightfully impeached, but that he should not be convicted. Among other reasons why he writes that “Trump’s conduct does not rise to the level of criminal incitement”. But later he also goes on to say that the founders did not believe that impeachment (and presumably conviction) requires a criminal act. How’s that again? See Kevin Williamson on this. 

Guess who is about to become Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, which oversees budgeting and spending for the federal government? Why, that honor will go to none other than Bernie Sanders. Sanders has promised to “go big” in his spending plans.

Under Senate Rules the majority can use budget reconciliation to avoid the filibuster and pass bills without any Republican votes. Sanders has already promised to “go big” using this route for various spending proposals on pretty much the entire progressive wish list. 

The probable next chair of the Senate Finance Committee is Ron Wyden. Among other things, Wyden has proposed taxing unrealized capital gains. Wyden also proposes to “restore humanity” to HHS by disposing of conscience exemptions for religious organizations. Now he will be in a position to actual unleash his proposals.

Speaking of HHS, President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Xavier Becerra to run the organization as its new Cabinet Secretary. Mr. Becerra has absolutely no experience in the field, but he does have extensive experience, as California’s Attorney General, in suing the Little Sisters of the Poor for their refusal to finance employee purchases of contraceptives and abortafacients. He is also a fan of federal funding of abortion on demand. Presumably he is part of Mr. Biden’s moderate “healing agenda”. 

Welcome to progressive governance.

JFB


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Impeachment Redux

Clowns to the left of me, 

Jokers to the right…

From “Stuck in the Middle With you” written by Gerry Rafferty. 

It seems reasonably clear that Donald J. Trump, who has by now passed Richard M Nixon in the proverbial race to the bottom, has undoubtedly committed an impeachable offense. It is also reasonably clear that the Democratic Party, in its ongoing love affair with incompetence, is regrettably about to go out of its way to make removing him from office nearly impossible.

The single article of impeachment they are poised to pass is going to accuse Trump of inciting an insurrection. The problem is that the wording is an invitation to partisan sniping and the making of legal arguments that conflate Trump’s political offense with the criminal law. Not only is this going to make a conviction impossible, it is entirely unnecessary. 

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy suggests language that avoids these traps and gets to the heart of the matter. He writes: 

“If what the Democrats truly want is bipartisan consensus in the service of national security, rather than political combat, the articles of impeachment they plan to file should charge the president with (a) subversion of the Constitution’s electoral process, particularly the Twelfth Amendment counting of the sovereign states’ electoral votes; (b) recklessly encouraging a raucous political demonstration that foreseeably devolved into a violent storming of the seat of our government; and (c) depraved indifference to the welfare of the vice president, Congress, security personnel, and other Americans who were in and around the Capitol on January 6.”

The charges contained in McCarthy’s language appear to be beyond dispute. Congress could (and should) pass such an article with dispatch and send it along to the Senate. If the Senate wants to pretend it can’t find a way to vote on the article before January 20, or at least vote to censure Trump, so be it. What had heretofore been known as The Party of Lincoln, will have shown itself to be largely populated by cowering fools, utterly unwilling to stand up to mob violence, and incapable of protecting liberty and our institutions. 

Add to that the cynical calculations of the Democrats, some of whom wish to delay an impeachment trial until after Trump has left office, a course of action Jim Clyburn has suggested. The stated reason for this is that Trump could then be barred from office in the future. 

That is nonsense, for two reasons. First, the impeachment power was designed for removal from office, not punishment. After removal, punishment can be meted out the usual way. Second, As Bruce Ackerman points out in the Washington Post, Congress can ban Trump from holding federal office in the future using Section 3 of the 14th amendment. They could do so by finding that he engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, such a finding would not require an impeachment conviction. It would require a simple majority in both houses of Congress. That should be doable. 

If Congress decides to wait months to hold an impeachment trial (at which time Chuck Schumer will be majority leader) it will be simply because they wish to use it as a partisan cudgel while they pass the Party’s progressive wish list, including trillions in new “stimulus” that doesn’t stimulate.  All the talk of getting rid of Trump “immediately” will have been shown to be just that. Talk. And it will be politics as usual. 

JFB

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Joe Biden–Man of Science

Joe Biden, who during the campaign repeatedly insisted that he relied on “the science” in formulating policy proposals has just tossed science overboard. According to the Washington Post, a spokesman for the President-elect said that the incoming administration “…will release nearly every available dose of vaccine in the United States after Biden takes office Jan. 20 to get supplies quickly out to the states.”

The result of this policy change is to change the vaccination regimen so that the second shot—the booster shot—will be given 84 days after the first shot rather than the 21 to 28 days for which the vaccines were scientifically tested. 

When Britain first proposed a three-month wait for the booster shot, scientists in the U.S., Europe and the World Health Organization were, in the words of the Washington Post, “dubious”. Earlier this week the FDA said such a move would be premature and “not rooted solidly in the evidence”.  Moreover, the testing done so far suggests the efficacy of getting only 1 shot of the vaccine slips from 95% down to only 52%—a staggering fall. 

But it allows Joe Biden to look like he is doing something, which of course, is the point of the exercise. 

The proposed policy change is liable to do far more harm than good. The current policy is to put the most vulnerable and front line medical personnel first for the 2 shot regimen.  The new policy will leave the most vulnerable more exposed to a fatal infection than they would have been otherwise, without necessarily doing anything to reduce the spread f the disease. 

To the extent that more people have limited protection, but the most vulnerable have less, there is a greater likelihood that the most vulnerable will suffer more fatalities. But it doesn’t end there. Providing a broader range of the population with limited protection will in all likelihood protect people who don’t need it at the expense of people who do. Not only that, delaying the second shot, gives the virus more time to adapt. This increases the time that the virus has to adapt to the new (and weaker) vaccine and develop resistance to it. 

The likely end result will be to (1) increase the fatality of the disease with older, more vulnerable populations, while (2) having little to no effect on the rest of the population and (3) delaying the onset of herd immunity.

But it will show that Joe Biden is doing something. 

There actually is something that can be done about the slow rate of vaccine take-up. The first thing to do is to understand the problem, which is a logistics problem, not a supply problem. The most difficult part of any complex distribution network is the “last mile”. A bureaucratic command-and-control system implemented by government is the last way a complex distribution system should be engineered. 

The obvious way to handle the problem is to go to people who are experts at this. They live in the private sector at places like Amazon, Walmart, CVS and the like. Having financed the development of the vaccines, which was a good idea, government should contract with the private sector to handle distribution. That would solve the problem, or at least improve distribution efficiency. 

Unfortunately, it is also something that progressive control freaks are unlikely to do. 

JFB

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Impeach and Convict Him. Now.

The facts of the case are clear. President Donald J. Trump incited a mob that subsequently attacked the Capitol building where Congress was in session. The attack was designed to intimidate Congress, prevent them performing their Constitutional duty to properly count the electoral votes of all the states, invalidate Biden’s victory, overturn the election and grant Trump a second term. Anyone who doubts this has merely to read the transcript of Trump’s hour long rant in which he urged the crowd to march down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Assuming Trump does not resign in the hours ahead, Speaker Pelosi should, by Tuesday at the latest, put a single article of impeachment on the floor for a vote. That article should accuse Trump of incitement to insurrection. It will pass. The Democratic House would impeach Trump for littering, given the chance. 

The argument that there is not enough time for the House to reconvene and vote on a single article of impeachment simply does not hold water. If House members cannot be stirred enough to come back to Washington for a matter of this magnitude, the voters should be made aware of it. Further, the issue does not require a lot of fact finding. We all know what Trump did. His speech inciting the crowd is on television. 

There is an argument that Trump’s speech to the crowd was reckless but not sufficiently reckless to give rise to criminal liability. That argument rests on the difficulty, if not impossibility of (1) proving criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt, and (2) the first amendment protection of speech.  These arguments are both correct and irrelevant. 

Impeachment requires the commission of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. But those High Crimes and Misdemeanors should not be understood to require a violation of a criminal statute. Referring to impeachment Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist 65, “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust, …”. What President Trump did was precisely that. 

If it so desired, the House could surely report out an article of impeachment by Thursday, January 14. That would give the Senate several days to debate and then vote on the proposition. That would provide two immense benefits. First, and most importantly, it would put each Senator on record. Second, if successful, it would prevent Trump from ever holding office again. 

The importance of holding Trump to account for his behavior cannot be overemphasized. By inciting the crowd to riot, he is not only at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least 5 people; he also provoked an attack on the foundations of the Republic and constitutional governance. This from a man who took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. 

Trump incited a mob to attack Congress when it was fulfilling its constitutional duties in order to overturn an election, an election Trump lost. In so doing he launched a full fledged attack on the lawful foundations of our constitutional republic.  If that is not sufficient to require removal from office, then nothing is. 

JFB

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The Moderate Mr. Biden and Other Fantasies

During the recent presidential primary and election campaigns the underlying question concerning Joe Biden was, given his druthers, how would a President Biden govern? One of the more interesting fantasies marketed by the Biden campaign was (and remains) that President-elect Joe Biden is a moderate whose election presages a return to normalcy. 

While it is true that Biden may be less radical than members of “The Squad”, that’s really not saying very much. 

The key to the Biden candidacy and likely governance strategy lies in the profound but under appreciated truth that politics lies downstream from culture. Today it is culture that dominates elective politics and in ways that are not obvious to most. That is not an accident. In campaigns, politicians speak in gauzy generalities and use cultural symbols to deliver emotionally satisfying messages designed to bring voters to the polls. But those symbols are typically anodyne and don’t really say much about how, if elected, a politician would govern. 

There is a big difference between what politicians say and what they do. Former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, used to say that “… you campaign in poetry, but govern in prose”. Which is where interest groups and party organization come into play. 

On the stump politicians routinely make utterly implausible promises that they inevitably fail to accomplish. But in the process the successful ones do manage to hold on to their base of support.  They do this by taking care of the interest groups that provided them with organizational and financial support.

These politicians go by the old adage “Don’t forget to dance with the girl who brung ya.” They take care of their interest groups–the girl who brung them. Those groups have specific policy goals that they would like to see accomplished, and they are not about to be satisfied with pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. They want results. 

In part, this is what accounts for the wide chasm between what politicians campaign on and how they actually govern.  The masses get the rhetoric; the interest groups get the policy. The mechanism that facilitates the process–the difference between campaigning and governance is the bureaucratic apparatus of the Administrative State. It is through Agency rule-making that interest groups can maximize their leverage and achieve their goals without necessarily having to petition Congress. 

The emasculation of Congress and neutering of democratic choice is the direct result of the progressive faith in rule by disinterested experts perched on bureaucratic rungs of power. The rising power of the bureaucracy over American life crucially depends on several factors. First, in its desire to escape accountability career politicians have continued to delegate massive amounts of decision making authority to Agency bureaucrats. Probably well above and beyond what is constitutionally permissible under the non-delegation doctrine. 

Second, generally under Chevron deference (1984), the courts are bound to accept an Agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute within its jurisdiction as long as the interpretation is not unreasonable. 

Third, the continuing politicization of language combined with deliberate use of ambiguity and the denial of the idea of fixed meaning effectively gives Agencies carte blanche to rewrite entire laws well outside their original intent. 

These developments have placed enormous and increasing power in the hands of the Executive Branch. Which brings us to the question of President-elect Biden’s allegedly moderate instincts.  

Let’s take a case in point. In the matter of transgender rights Biden has promised to use Executive power to “…restore transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.” He further promises to commit to passing the Equality Act which according to CNN “…would protect against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in commercial and public life, with no religious exemptions.” 

Let’s take a look at the implications of this. The moderate Mr. Biden has clearly said that he believes that sex differentiation is simply a cultural construct; that your sex is not an objective reality, and that your sexual identity is simply what you declare it to be. 

Here Biden has clearly hitched his wagon to the trans activist train.  Rather than call gender dysphoria what it is, he has chosen to use the coercive power of government to re-shape society according to the world view of post-modern cultural de-constructionists. This, even though real world evidence shows that sex differences are embedded in our DNA. For instance, all else equal men have greater bone density and lung capacity. These differences matter, especially in sports. And women’s sports are being devastated by men competing as self-identified women, including those who have transitioned. 

For example, the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that trans women had a 12% advantage across various exercise metrics a full two years after hormone treatments to suppress testosterone. (Before treatment they had a 31% advantage). The academic journal Emerging Topics in Life Sciences says that “Accepted science regarding male and female physiology suggests that trans women have an advantage over their cisgendered counterparts.” 

Most important is that this debate is not about women’s sports at all. It is really about the re-ordering of society based on the idea that biological sex is unimportant. And that re-ordering would come from bureaucratic rule-making designed to alter the culture and the language we use to frame issues.

Anyone who doubts this should consider the implications of the H.R.5 —the Equality Act, enthusiastically supported by Joe Biden.  Basically the proposed Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or a sex stereotype. Further, “SEC.1107.CLAIMS” goes on to say “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.”.

Which is to say that in direct defiance of the First amendment, religious organizations would be have to change the practice of their religious beliefs in order to conform to the requirements of federal anti-discrimination law. Which law will be interpreted by the bureaucracy in the rule making process. And if there is any doubt as to the upcoming Biden Administration’s intentions here, keep this in mind. Biden has already nominated Xavier Becerra to be HHS Secretary. Becerra is an abortion rights fanatic who is currently suing the Little Sisters of the Poor over their continued refusal to finance employee purchases of contraception and abortafacients. 

It actually gets worse. Biden believes that your rights are the ones that are given to you by government. In his recent criticism of Judge Amy Coney Barrett he said, according to NBC News, “she didn’t lay out “much of a judicial philosophy, in terms of the basis upon which she thinks, (sic) are there unenumerated rights in the constitution.”

Not surprisingly, Biden, whom no one has accused of being exceptionally  bright, has it exactly backwards. The ninth amendment, which is the one in the Constitution that discusses enumerated rights, reads as follows. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” (emphasis added).  That of course means that the enumerated rights doctrine is meant to restrict the power of Government, not people, who retain all their inherent rights. 

So when you put it all together, the supposedly moderate Mr. Biden has promised a cultural revolution to upend civil society by using the power of government to impose a wholly artificial definition of sex on it. He promises to attack the First amendment guarantee of freedom of religious practice. And he is of the belief (to the extent he has any) that our rights are not inherent; they are the ones government deigns to bless us with. 

Quite the moderate. 

JFB

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A Supposed Return to “Normalcy”

President-elect Joe Biden won the race by running a determined campaign that focused exclusively on an indisputable fact. Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. To which the voters responded by giving Trump the heave-ho while cutting into the Democratic majority in the House and (probably) leaving the Senate in Republican hands. 

The institutional Democratic response to all this thus far has been to continue to push their leftist agenda that was fairly decisively rejected at the polls. In return they ask for a return bipartisanship and comity. 

The plea for comity is coming from people who spent the last 4 years or so calling the Republicans racists, white supremacists, misogynists and Nazi sympathizers. It comes from people who routinely voted as a bloc against Trump’s judicial nominees and legislative initiatives. It comes from people who argued that the entire Trump presidency was illegitimate; that but for collusion with Russia, Trump would not have been elected and  that Trump was a Russian “asset”. 

Democrats and their friends in the media ludicrously argued that Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh was the leader of a high school gang-rape team; that in high school he unsuccessfully tried to assault Christine Blasey Ford. Mind you Blasey Ford never produced a shred of evidence supporting her claim; the witnesses she cited either refused to testify or flat out contradicted her, including her friend Leyland Keyser. And speaking of media friends, none of this prevented the Washington Post from describing Blasey Ford as a “prosecutor’s dream witness”.

Beyond the direct testimony of Blasey Ford, the party promoted wild and unsubstantiated claims of sexual assault brought forward by attorney Michael Avenatti. The legal career of Mr Avenatti has by now taken a turn for the worse. He is now a convicted felon, having been found guilty of committing fraud and extortion against Nike. 

And then there were the physical attacks on officials of the Trump Administration, encouraged by Maxine Waters (D-CA), among others. According to NBC News, on June 25, 2018, she said: 

“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Waters, who has called for President Donald Trump to be impeached, told supporters over the weekend. 

In the event, activists took up the call with zest, chasing scores of Trump officials and Republican office holders out of restaurants and physically threatening them, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chou. And that isn’t all. Representative Steve Scalise was shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter during a Congressional baseball game. (I hasten to add that the man was obviously mentally ill, and Senator Sanders quickly condemned the shooting). 

Nevertheless, the point remains. Democrats and progressives launched a scorched earth campaign of opposition, and not for the first time. Now that they have the White House, a bare majority in the House, and lack control of the Senate they have decided that they are in favor of bipartisanship and comity after all. Who is kidding whom?

The obvious question is: If Democrats are so interested in compromise, what grounds are they willing to concede in the search for consensus? The answer is: none. 

In that respect let us consider where the head of the party and its titular leader stands. To begin with, he has nominated California AG Xavier Becerra to lead HHS. Becerra, who has no experience in the field is quite simply a culture warrior.  In particular, he is an abortion rights fanatic. Operating as California’s Attorney General, he launched lawsuits seeking to overturn other states abortion restrictions. Those states include Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio. His justification for doing so? “No government” he said “state or federal, has the right” to interfere with abortion. Which, in another context, is essentially the argument Texas AG Ken Paxton recently made with respect to the election, an argument that rightfully got the back of the Supreme Court’s hand. 

Becerra defended California’s mandate (since overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra) that required pro-life pregnancy centers to provide patients with information on how to obtain state funded abortions. In yet another attack on the first amendment, he sued the Little Sisters of the Poor seeking to require them to finance the purchase of contraception and abortifacients. 

Then there is the nomination of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In one sense she is a candidate that everyone can agree on: she has antagonized just about everyone in Washington, left, right and center. And not because she is a strong independent leader. She is simply a Hillary Clinton sycophant. In emails revealed by Wikileaks she wrote “I would do whatever Hillary needs always. I owe her a lot. And I’m a loyal soldier” and, “I don’t really think the issues matter”. The only explanations for her selection are these: either Biden picked a sacrificial lamb to appease the nomination Gods, or he is making selections essentially at random. No one thinks she is actually qualified to run OMB. 

I could go on, but there is only so much time in a day. It is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of a return to “normalcy” is nothing more than a liberal fantasy. Personnel is policy and Biden is in the process selecting personnel who are creatures of the left, most of whom served in the Obama Administration.  Not only have they presided over numerous policy disasters in the past, they are unchastened, and fully intend to repeat their failures.  Moreover, at the Administrative level it is clear that the supposedly moderate Biden means to govern by “pen and phone”, Obama style. 

Strap in because the best days of the Biden administration are already behind us, and he hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet. 

JFB

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