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The Joe Biden Presidency Thread


swordfish
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11 minutes ago, DanteEstonia said:

Are they threatening to lynch the VP?

No, and they aren't "domestic terrorists" according to the left.....

Funny you bring that up considering the abuse the former VP took during his 4 years, especially his final year while heading the Coronavirus task force that brought us a vaccine in 7 months  (BTW - we are one full year into "2 weeks to flatten the curve" now)

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1 hour ago, swordfish said:

Funny you bring that up considering the abuse the former VP took during his 4 years, especially his final year while heading the Coronavirus task force that brought us a vaccine in 7 months  (BTW - we are one full year into "2 weeks to flatten the curve" now)

And yet it was the right who showed up on his doorstep with a working noose.

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Will Democrats Embrace the Imperial Presidency Now That Their Guy Is in Charge?

https://reason.com/2021/01/21/will-democrats-embrace-the-imperial-presidency-now-that-their-guy-is-in-charge/

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After Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, I hoped that "electing a preening, petty, thin-skinned, whiny, vindictive, vacuous, mendacious, boorish bully" would prompt "a reconsideration of the absurd hopes and cultish veneration that surround the presidency." I suggested that "a ridiculous president will encourage Americans to take the presidency less seriously." And as Trump went on to assert various kinds of extraconstitutional authority, I hoped that example would encourage his opponents to see the wisdom of dethroning imperial presidents and restoring the separation of powers.

With Trump gone, however, some Democrats seem determined to forget that lesson. "Joe Biden Must Not Shy Away From the Full Power of the Presidency," says the headline above a New York Times op-ed piece by University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner. "During the presidential campaign," Posner notes, Biden "was not shy about criticizing then-President Donald Trump for abusing his executive authority." But Posner, who seems to be drawing the wrong pointers from his 2020 book The Demagogue's Playbook, warns that such constitutional concerns are dangerous to the Democratic agenda now that Biden has replaced Trump. As Posner sees it, untrammeled presidential power is a problem only when Americans make the mistake of electing the wrong president.

"Many Democrats think that a lesson of the Trump years, culminating in the siege of the Capitol, is that presidential power needs to be curtailed," Posner writes. "Power that has accreted to the presidency over the years should be transferred back to Congress. Executive branch agencies, above all the Justice Department, should enjoy more autonomy. Oversight of the presidency should be strengthened. Only with such reforms can we be sure that future presidents will not abuse their powers." But "Democrats should be careful what they wish for," he says, because "a weakened presidency would hamper national governance, and Democratic policies in particular."

The Constitution assigns the legislative power to Congress, which can pass new laws only with the approval of both chambers. But that requirement is awfully inconvenient, Posner complains, especially for Democrats. "The Democratic margin in the Senate—zero—is too slim for Mr. Biden to push ambitious laws through Congress, which is balky and slow even when majorities in both houses are broadly in agreement with the president," he writes. "Congress by its nature moves slowly and gets little done, which often suits Republicans just fine, as they tend to prefer the status quo."

Worse, "congressional approval requires the consent of the Senate, which is disproportionately influenced by conservative senators from largely rural states." Posner worries that "if power is moved from the presidency back to Congress, national policy will shift to the right, on average, over time."

In short, Posner thinks constitutional constraints are fine when the president is a Republican but should be ignored when Democrats are running the show, because the ends (immigration reform and control of greenhouse gas emissions, for example) justify the means. That approach is not just unprincipled but dangerously shortsighted, for Democrats no less than Republicans. Even from a strictly partisan perspective, Posner's advice is sensible only if Democrats are sure they will always control the executive branch. People who abandon constitutional principles because they prove inconvenient are in for a rude surprise when the other team wins.

Is Biden likely to take Posner's advice? The evidence is mixed.

During his campaign, Biden originally promised to fight COVID-19 by issuing an executive order that would require all Americans to wear face masks in public. In September, he admitted that the president has no legal authority to issue such an order. Last week Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff, said the order would be limited to "federal property and inter-state travel." The actual order, which Biden issued yesterday, is even narrower. It applies to "Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands." There is no mention of "inter-state travel."

By contrast, Biden plans to unilaterally extend a nationwide eviction moratorium that was originally imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), then renewed by Congress last month. The legal rationale for that moratorium relies on a sweeping and highly dubious interpretation of the CDC's authority to take measures "reasonably necessary" to stop the interstate spread of communicable diseases. If Biden accepts that interpretation, it is hard to see why he thinks a broad, nationwide mask order is beyond his powers.

"At best," Christian Britschgi notes, Biden's puzzling distinction between requiring face masks and prohibiting evictions suggests he "has an inconsistent view of his own powers to fight the pandemic." A less charitable interpretation is that "the new president is letting politics, not legal principles, guide his executive actions."

Several of the other executive orders that Biden issued yesterday have a firmer legal basis. For example, he rescinded the emergency declaration that Trump controversially claimed allowed him to pay for the border wall Congress refused to fund by diverting money from other parts of the federal budget. "It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall," Biden's order says. Unlike Trump's policy, that position defers to the legislative branch's control over federal spending. Biden's orders reversing Trump's changes to census procedures and lifting his ban on visitors from various predominantly Muslim countries likewise are clearly within the president's authority.

Biden also issued a memorandum aimed at "preserving and fortifying" protections for unauthorized immigrants who entered the country as children. That Obama administration policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is framed as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. DACA's defenders argue that it is constitutional in light of the broad leeway that Congress has given the executive branch in enforcing the immigration laws. DACA's critics say it is an unconstitutional end run around Congress, which so far has declined to protect this group of immigrants, despite broad public support for that policy.

Posner thinks Biden should not worry about such constitutional niceties, because they could stop him from doing what needs to be done. While many of Trump's critics were dismayed by his legally groundless assertion that he had "total" authority over COVID-19 control policies across the country, for instance, Posner wants Biden to assert that same unconstitutional power.

"A major complaint against Mr. Trump was that he failed to fully use his emergency powers to address the Covid-19 pandemic," Posner writes. "He could have, for example, increased restrictions on movement to help curtail the contagion and done more to help states buy protective equipment and to distribute vaccines. For Mr. Biden to follow through on his plan to formulate a more aggressive response to the pandemic, he will need to rely on the emergency powers that Mr. Trump disregarded."

In Posner's view, Biden should exercise kingly "emergency" powers to tell Americans whether and under what circumstances they may leave their homes. Yet the Constitution does not give Congress, let alone the president, the authority to impose a nationwide lockdown. Under the Constitution, the federal government is limited to specifically enumerated powers, which do not include a general authority to protect the public from communicable diseases. That responsibility lies primarily with the states, which retain a broad "police power" that goes far beyond the authority vested in the president or Congress.

Posner is right that federalism and the separation of powers are obstacles to a president who wants to impose his will on the nation. Democrats welcomed those obstacles when that president was Trump. They should resist the temptation to think such limits can be safely abandoned now that their guy is in charge

But the democratic side of the uni-party won't resist such a temptation because, well it's the uni-party.  And both sides covet nothing more than power,  power over the American populace.

 

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BTW - my "garage door pull" was a joke.

OK - my question since January 6.  HOW and WHO built that "makeshift gallows" (as every media outlet called it)?  I know DC, where that was located, there is no feasible way that much lumber was brought in "organically" by the crowd and placed that close to the reflecting pool on that day.....

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https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/21/politics/national-guard-capitol/index.html

(CNN)Members of the National Guard have been allowed back into the Capitol Complex after a slate of lawmakers voiced their outrage at guardsmen being banished to a parking garage as a rest area, a guardsman told CNN.

The Guard will now be allowed to rest in the US Capitol Visitor Center, the guardsman said.
The change comes after thousands of National Guardsmen were moved to a parking garage after they were told they could no longer use space within the US Capitol Complex, including areas like the cafeteria of a Senate office building, as a rest area, multiple Guardsmen told CNN.
Prior to Thursday morning, several areas throughout the Capitol Complex were designated as authorized rest areas where members of the Guard could take breaks from their shifts protecting the Capitol. By Thursday morning, all those areas had been cleared out and their designations removed, the Guardsmen said.
The National Guard Bureau, however, said earlier Thursday the troop relocation was temporary because Congress is in session.
"The National Guard continues to assist and support the U.S. Capitol Police. As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area.

What did you expect?  The Pelosi photo-op was over, move em out.......

 

 

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On 1/21/2021 at 8:02 AM, swordfish said:

So, having trouble  understanding the meaning of "domestic terrorism".  It appears that if the event is sparked by the left wing, it's normally a "peaceful protest", or at it's worst an "principled uprising" no matter the destruction, duration, or injuries, but if the event's genesis is right wing, it instantly becomes termed "domestic terrorism" even if the event was over in hours.  

We are still hearing the stories relative to "domestic terrorism" that happened in the Nation's Capital on January 6.  A week and a half later.  Not hardly a peep about the protests and riots overnight in Portland and Seattle.

When the left does it, it's OK.  When the right does it, it's not.  That is all you need to know.  Move along.

My daughter's summarized view on it goes like this.  The "left" are doing these things for good reasons/causes and the "right", simply, are not.  Therefore, the end absolutely justifies the means.

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2 hours ago, Bonecrusher said:

The "left" are doing these things for good reasons/causes and the "right", simply, are not. 

The evidence back up this statement. "The left" did not storm the halls of Congress looking to execute elected officials; the triggered snowflakes of the right did. 

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On 1/22/2021 at 6:03 PM, DanteEstonia said:

The "left" are doing these things for good reasons/causes and the "right", simply, are not.

 

The evidence back up this statement. "The left" did not storm the halls of Congress looking to execute elected officials; the triggered snowflakes of the right did. 

Simple - Riots/looting/protests/burning city blocks literally in every big city in the US all summer long with nary a second look.  One day's run on the capital (that was over at precisely 6:00 pm, and everyone went home) and we hear about it endlessly while the elitists in DC call up 25,000 troops to protect them from people like us.......

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Here come the tax hike talks......

https://www.rollcall.com/2021/01/21/buttigieg-faces-largely-friendly-panel-at-confirmation-hearing/

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Thursday put a gas tax hike on the table of ways to pay for federal highway programs, only to have a spokesman later rule out that possibility. 

Buttigieg, testifying before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee at his confirmation hearing to be secretary of Transportation, was pressed on a gas tax increase by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., one of several Republicans eager to put him on the record supporting a tax hike.

“Would you support gas tax increases, and if so, how much?” asked Scott. 

“I think all options need to be on the table,” Buttigieg replied. “As you know, the gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and it’s never been pegged to inflation, and that is one of the reasons why the current state of the Highway Trust Fund is that there’s more going out than coming in.”

Later, under questioning from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Buttigieg said it was “possible” the federal government could raise the gas tax. 

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24 minutes ago, swordfish said:

Simple - Riots/looting/protests/burning city blocks literally in every big city in the US all summer long with nary a second look.  One day's run on the capital (that was over at precisely 6:00 pm, and everyone went home) and we hear about it endlessly while the elitists in DC call up 25,000 troops to protect them from people like us.......

An example - haven't heard this (below) on any morning or evening news channels.....But you sure get a play-by-play action on the events in DC.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9183231/Antifa-protesters-descend-Tacoma-cops-ran-man.html

More than 200 Antifa protesters reportedly descended on Tacoma, Washington, where they busted the windows of buildings and set fires in the streets on Sunday, just a day after wreaking havoc in Portland.  

Video footage and images showed broken glass scattered on the sidewalk outside of businesses and graffiti sprayed on the side of buildings. 

Protesters started at least two fires in the area using a barricade for one and an American flag for the other. Dozens of Tacoma police officers were seen lined up on bikes as protesters approached them. 

Late Sunday night, Tacoma police declared an 'unlawful assembly' as crowds continued to march through the streets protesting the department after an officer was see running over a man on Saturday. 
 

The Seattle City Council and area activists are pretending the Antifa riot on inauguration night didn’t happen. In other words, they’re responding the way they normally do to Antifa violence: with total silence.

Their dubious observations of the Antifa riot is a mix of delusion, scary justification, and strategic downplaying.

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2 hours ago, swordfish said:

One day's run on the capital (that was over at precisely 6:00 pm, and everyone went home) and we hear about it endlessly while the elitists in DC call up 25,000 troops to protect them from people like us.......

Are you endorsing the ATTEMPTED MURDERS OF ELECTED OFFICIALS?

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2 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

Are you endorsing the ATTEMPTED MURDERS OF ELECTED OFFICIALS?

Unbiased, impartial links please to support your claim that all the D.C. Rioters were all out to murder elected officials.  

 

Are you endorsing the INDISCRIMINATE LOOTING, PILLAGING, AND DESTRUCTION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY?

 

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20 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

Are you endorsing the ATTEMPTED MURDERS OF ELECTED OFFICIALS?

Get real snowflake.  Attempted murder, as if......

BTW - if you are actually looking for an answer to your question - NO I would not endorse attempted murder of anyone, regardless of their status.

 

BTW - Our President in action - (As if nobody saw something like this coming in the last 12 years - well here it is)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-bidens-first-day-began-the-end-of-girls-sports-11611341066?fbclid=IwAR1ghlO7VR2PnV9D1NCzR5iQJAUbK-3pcTeicvi2HkGT4nbirSszWajw55Y

Joe Biden’s First Day Began the End of Girls’ Sports

An executive order rigs competition by requiring that biological boys be allowed to compete against girls.

Amid Inauguration Day talk of shattered glass ceilings, on Wednesday President Biden delivered a body blow to the rights of women and girls: the Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. On day one, Mr. Biden placed all girls’ sports and women’s safe spaces in the crosshairs of the administrative state.

The order declares: “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.” The order purports to direct administrative agencies to begin promulgating regulations that would enforce the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision Bostock v. Clayton County. In fact, it goes much further.

In Bostock, the justices held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited an employer from firing an employee on the basis of homosexuality or “transgender status.” Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for a 6-3 majority, took pains to clarify that the decision was limited to employment and had no bearing on “sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes”—all regulated under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments. “Under Title VII, too,” the majority added, “we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.”

The Biden executive order is far more ambitious. Any school that receives federal funding—including nearly every public high school—must either allow biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls’ sports teams or face administrative action from the Education Department. If this policy were to be broadly adopted in anticipation of the regulations that are no doubt on the way, what would this mean for girls’ and women’s sports?

“Finished. Done,” Olympic track-and-field coach Linda Blade told me. “The leadership skills, all the benefits society gets from letting girls have their protected category so that competition can be fair, all the advances of women’s rights—that’s going to be diminished.” Ms. Blade noted that parents of teen girls are generally uninterested in watching their daughters demoralized by the blatant unfairness of a rigged competition.

 

I say rigged because in contests of strength and speed, the athletic chasm between the sexes, which opens at puberty, is both permanent and unbridgeable. Once male puberty is complete, testosterone suppression doesn’t undo the biological advantages men possess: larger hearts, lungs and bones, greater bone density, more-oxygenated blood, more fast-twitch muscle fiber and vastly greater muscle mass.

It should be no surprise, then, that the two trans-identified biological males permitted to compete in Connecticut state track finals against girls—neither of whom was a top sprinter as a boy—consistently claimed top spots competing as girls. They eliminated girls from advancement to regional championships, scouting and scholarship opportunities and trophies, and they set records no girl may ever equal.

How big is this performance gap? To take one example cited by the Connecticut female runners in their complaint against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the fastest female sprinter in the world is American runner Allyson Felix, a woman with more gold medals than Usain Bolt. Her lifetime best for the 400-meter run is 49.26 seconds. Based on 2018 data, nearly 300 high-school boys in the U.S. alone could beat it.

Even if allowing biological boys to join girls’ teams means girls can’t win, isn’t it still worth trying out for the team? Actually, no—even in sports that involve no contact and little injury risk, like running or tennis. It isn’t merely the trophies and scholarships and opportunities at stake. It isn’t even all the benefits sports have so long provided to young women—in self-esteem and health and camaraderie with friends. It isn’t merely that girls who participate in sports tend to earn better grades, that so many female Fortune 500 executives were athletes, or that sports force teen girls out of their own heads, where they might otherwise sit and stew to their detriment.

It’s the profound and glaring injustice of it: the spectacular records and achievements that Jackie Joyner, Althea Gibson and Wilma Rudolph would never have achieved had the world pitted their bodies against men.

Yet here we are. Decades of women’s achievement and opportunity rolled back by executive fiat. Battered women’s shelters, women’s jails and other safe spaces that receive federal funding and constitute “dwellings” under the Fair Housing Act may be next. Women’s rights turn out to be cheap and up for grabs. Who will voice objection?

Certainly not those caught up in the “historic” moment of the first female vice president. Hillary Clinton swooned on Twitter : “It delights me to think that what feels historical and amazing to us today—a woman sworn in to the vice presidency—will seem normal, obvious, ‘of course’ to Kamala’s grand-nieces as they grow up.” If only this je ne sais quoi weren’t accompanied by a far more material theft of female opportunity.

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14 minutes ago, swordfish said:

Get real snowflake.

When my crowd lost in 2000, we didn't storm the Supreme Court. We didn't say the ballot boxes were stuffed in Michigan in 2016. Projection through and through. 

And even then, what did voting for Trump get you? Obamacare is still law, abortion is still legal, and Indiana doesn't have any more Ford plants. 

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Joe Biden's Plan for Big Government

https://reason.com/2021/01/21/joe-bidens-plan-for-big-government/

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With his policy announcement about another COVID-19 relief bill, President Joe Biden declares loud and clear that he will not shy away from spending blowouts and fiscal irresponsibility. For the most part, his proposed plan is nothing more than a way to use the current crisis to deliver on Democrats' longtime dream to explode the size and scope of the federal government.

The objective of the $1.9 trillion plan is noble enough: stimulate the economy, provide relief to Americans, and combat the pandemic. But noble doesn't always mean good. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I would add political expediency to that expression.

The plan's $160 billion vaccination program and related COVID-19 health policies are its best aspects. That said, there's a lot of wishful thinking behind the notion that a lack of money or federal intervention explain the slow vaccine rollout as opposed to defective governmental institutions. I recommend Yuval Levin's piece for National Review on "Biden's Pandemic-Policy Challenge," which does a great job of highlighting the difficulties that the new administration will face on that front.

I also salute the administration's desire to reopen the schools. But again, don't buy into the idea that the main obstacle to opening them before was a lack of money in state budgets. The Cato Institute's Chris Edwards told me that total state and local government tax revenues "fell just $22 billion from the first to the second quarter of 2020 and then bounced back strongly in the third quarter. Meanwhile, federal aid to state-local governments soared $194 billion in the second quarter as a result of federal relief bills." Federal relief has more than refilled state and local coffers, so there is no need for $170 billion more in state education subsidies proposed by the Biden administration.

Let's also note that the notion that the federal government hasn't done enough for Americans in terms of relief is quite ludicrous. Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget notes, "A typical unemployed workers will receive $35,000 over the course of a year (closer to $40k if they have a family) even if the Biden plan isn't enacted." Also, during this time, the economy has recovered at a good rate and is only slated to improve if politicians refrain from erecting barriers between employers and employees, as the Biden plan would love to do.

Consider the proposed $15 minimum wage for all employees, even those who make most of their earnings on tips and hence command a low hourly wage. If you support this, please ask yourself the following question: How will such an increase in costs affect the millions of small businesses that have already been battered by the pandemic and government lockdowns? Writing for The Dispatch, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Brian Riedl explains, "forcing restaurants, which are failing at record rates, to raise their own tipped minimum wage by 600 percent is economic malpractice."

Then you have the call for another $1,400 in individual stimulus checks, to be added to the $600 approved by Congress about a month ago. That money isn't even out the door yet, and Biden is asking for more. Many of the people who will get these checks haven't lost their jobs, and those who have lost their jobs are covered by unemployment benefits.

This brings me to the emergency unemployment benefits, which the new administration wants to extend through September with a $400 federal add-on. New data show that the added bonus means that 62 percent of the recipients will again be making more money while unemployed than they were as employees.

Add to all of this making permanent the temporary extensions of the Earned Income Tax Credit, child care subsidies, family leave benefits, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, as well as an expansion of the child tax credit. As Riedl notes, "in short, President-elect Biden would use the pandemic to enact large, unrelated, permanent expansions of the federal government."

You don't have to be a raging libertarian to understand that this is excessive, it will create massive disincentives to work and it will leave future generations with a level of government intrusion and debt of a country that looks more like Italy than the United States.

Yep.  Leftist socialist like Dante must be swooning over this proposed expansion of the federal government.  After all they want nothing more than the federal government to be the cradle-to-grave sugar daddy for every American. And who gives a damn on how to pay for it all.

 

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Which Teachings of Critical Race Theory Does the Biden Administration Endorse?

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/which-teachings-of-critical-race-theory-does-the-biden-administration-endorse/?utm_source=recirc-desktop&utm_medium=homepage&utm_campaign=right-rail&utm_content=corner&utm_term=first

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“I rescinded the previous administration’s harmful ban on diversity and sensitivity training,” President Biden said yesterday. In fact, the Trump administration’s EO-13950, which applied to federal agencies and contractors, did not ban diversity training. It banned only the teaching of “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating,” including any of the following lessons:

  1. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
  2. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  3. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
  4. Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
  5. An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
  6. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  7. Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.
  8. Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.

Trump’s order was motivated by revelations that federal entities, such as Argonne National Laboratories and the Smithsonian Institution, were teaching exactly some of the divisive concepts listed above. It is those concepts — not the simple lessons about tolerance and respect for others that most people have in mind when they think of diversity training — that Trump banned. Indeed, his order declared that “training employees to create an inclusive workplace is appropriate and beneficial,” and it explicitly allowed diversity programs to continue as long as they did not engage in race- or sex-based stereotyping or scapegoating.

By falsely characterizing Trump’s executive order as a ban on diversity training, Biden has sidestepped the actual issue here — namely, whether the divisive concepts listed above should be taught as facts to federal employees and contractors. For example, is it the official position of the Biden administration that “an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex”? How about the claim that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex”?

It would be helpful if the new administration could tell us which of these teachings it endorses. Surely it must endorse some of them, or it would not have rescinded the order in the first place. In fact, rescinding the order rather than simply modifying it suggests that the administration endorses (or at least does not object to) every divisive concept on that list.

 

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Biden's Orders Continue the Presidency's Slide Toward Elective Monarchy

https://reason.com/2021/02/01/bidens-executive-orders-continue-the-presidencys-slide-toward-elective-monarchy/

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"Ease up on the executive actions, Joe," The New York Times urged recently inaugurated President Biden last week. While supportive of the president's broadly progressive agenda, the newspaper's editorial board found his flurry of executive orders and other unilateral actions both troubling and vulnerable to easy reversal by future presidents. "This is no way to make law," the Times added.

Unfortunately, creeping rule-by-decree has become common for presidents, and Biden's impatience with the normal frustrations of the legislative process builds on the conduct of his predecessors. While partisans tend to pick sides on executive power depending on who holds the White House, the devolution of the presidency into something resembling elective monarchy should worry everybody.

Not that executive orders are supposed to be royal decrees. At their root, they are nothing more than the authority of leaders to set rules for their organizations.

"Presidents have historically utilized various written instruments to direct the executive branch and implement policy," the Congressional Research Service noted in 2014. "These include executive orders, presidential memoranda, and presidential proclamations."

"The substance of an executive order, including any requirements or prohibitions, may have the force and effect of law only if the presidential action is based on power vested in the President by the U.S. Constitution or delegated to the President by Congress," the 2014 report added.

But the limits of such orders are fuzzy since there is no mention of them in the Constitution; they evolved as a matter of convenience and so have their powers.

"When carried out pursuant to legislative or constitutional authority, executive orders are unobjectionable," the Cato Institute's Gene Healy observed in his 2008 book, The Cult of the Presidency. "Yet many of the orders issued by modern presidents lack such authority and justification."

Professor Dana D. Nelson of Vanderbilt University agrees. In her 2008 book Bad for Democracy, Nelson called such unilateral commands "power tools" that "allow the president to enact both foreign and domestic policy directly, without aid, interference, or consent from the legislative branch."

That's not to say that executive actions can't be challenged; judges do occasionally overturn them. But it takes less time to issue a memo than to fight it in court, so orders accumulate along with their reach.

Under Coolidge and Hoover, most executive orders applied to such matters as civil service rules. However, by the 1960s, the majority were policy-specific, filling the role of legislation. Issuing orders is easy; persuading lawmakers to pass your bills is difficult and time-consuming. As a result, unilateral action is tempting even for critics of such governance.

"A polarized, narrowly divided Congress may offer Mr. Biden little choice but to employ executive actions or see his entire agenda held hostage," the Times sniffed while objecting to the practice.

For its part, the Biden administration makes no secret of its impatience with normal legislative channels.

"There are steps, including overturning some of the harmful, detrimental and yes, immoral, actions of the prior administration that he felt he could not wait to overturn," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters who questioned the Biden administration's reliance on unilateral action.

But every faction thinks its agenda is important and that its ideological foes do harm; that's why political parties oppose each other. If the refusal of lawmakers to enact a president's policies is justification for unilateral executive action, then a slide toward elective monarchy is inevitable. And that's exactly what seems to be happening.

"Biden's use of the executive power in his first two days far outpaced that of his predecessors," PolitiFact confirmed amidst public concern over the issue. "Biden issued 17 executive orders on his first two days in office, compared with Trump who issued one and Obama who issued two. Biden issued three proclamations, while Trump and Obama each issued one."

But those predecessors also relied heavily on executive actions. "Trump is on pace to sign more executive orders than any president in the last 50 years," CNN reported in 2017 of the 45th president.

"Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power, Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history," The New York Times concluded at the end of the 44th president's time in office.

Notably, before taking office, Obama, Trump, and Biden were all critics of presidential rule through unilateral orders. "We're a democracy. We need consensus," Biden told ABC News in October. Just months later he issued his flurry of executive actions.

Maybe that's because consensus is difficult to find in a vast nation of millions of people with varying values and preferences. That's especially true when the country is as bitterly divided as the United States is now, into factions that despise each other to the point of violence. Presidents and their supporters often complain of a "do-nothing Congress" when legislators are in fact doing something: they're blocking the president's agenda. That may well be what their constituents want them to do.

Such relative inaction may actually be best when there's so little agreement on what people desire from government—and what they fear from it.

"Overwhelming majorities of both Biden and Trump supporters say that if the other candidate wins in November they would not only be very concerned about the country's direction, but that this would lead to lasting harm to the nation," Pew Research found before the presidential election. That was before the Capitol riot and further souring of the national mood, with a majority of Americans now fearing each other as "domestic enemies."

America's divisions have deepened as government has become more involved in our lives and as presidents have indulged their taste for bypassing Congress. To reverse that dangerous trend, we need a president willing to do less, especially when it comes to issuing unilateral orders. That's a tough ask for people who spend their lives pursuing political power. We may have to settle, again, for the next president unilaterally reversing this one's actions.

 

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