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Who is running the Biden administration?

Is it Joe Biden? Maybe, but many question whether he has the mental capacity and the energy to run the show.

In this post about the Biden administration’s early hard-left initiatives, I speculated that Susan Rice, Ron Klain, or some combination of the two are determining Biden’s domestic policy agenda under pressure from the left. On the foreign policy side, no known policy has yet emerged about which to speculate.

Ric Grenell, who until recently was the acting DNI, believes that Rice is dictating both domestic and foreign policy. Rice is Biden’s White House Domestic Policy Council director, so domestic policy falls under her jurisdiction. Rice’s experience, however, is in the areas of foreign policy and national security. Thus, it’s plausible to believe that she is a major player in these areas, as well.

Given Rice’s lack of experience and expertise in domestic policy, what I wonder is whom she is looking to for guidance in this area. She may be looking to her former boss, Barack Obama.

Rice isn’t the only candidate for power behind the throne. Many assumed that Vice President Kamala Harris would run the show for Biden. Grenell doesn’t think so. He says that Harris “needs to spend most of her time in the Senate because it’s. . .50-50.”

I very much doubt that Harris too bogged down in the Senate to have a major hand in setting White House policy. Her problem, I suspect, is that she isn’t sufficiently respected by Biden and his team to be a key player. If so, the lack of respect is well earned.

In the end, I don’t think it matters much whether Rice, Harris, Klain, or Biden himself is deciding the course of the new administration’s domestic policy. The real source of that policy will be the hard left.

Why? Because adhering to the hard left’s agenda will be the path of least resistance for whomever at the White House makes the call. And because no one with influence at the White House is likely to be put off by that agenda.

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A Voice of Sanity | Power Line

Tulsi Gabbard has left the House of Representatives and turned into something of a gadfly vis-a-vis her Democratic Party. On the roll of possible presidential contenders, she is far from the bottom of my list, notwithstanding that on bread and butter issues she has been a traditional Democrat.

In this video, she warns against the current effort by Democrats like John Brennan to infringe our constitutional rights. Gabbard has become a powerful voice for civil liberties:

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They Don’t Embarrass Easy | Power Line

The sinister role that teachers’ unions play in our society has come clearly into focus, as our children’s lives have been devastated by needless school closures across the country. These closures–still in effect in most places, despite all scientific evidence that they are both unnecessary and harmful–largely reflect the power of the teachers’ unions. They evidently want to get paid, without ever entering a classroom again.

This video was produced by the Chicago Teachers Union. I won’t say it is the dumbest thing I have ever seen; competition for that honor is steep. But it is a contender. As noted in this post’s title, these people don’t embarrass easy:

Are they seriously unaware that many millions of people have kept working right through the Wuhan epidemic? And that many millions more have returned to work in recent months? Maybe so. I am not sure they understand that most people work in the Summer.

I am tired of hearing about how heroic teachers are. At this point, I would rather have my children taught by clerks at Total Wine stores than by members of teachers’ unions. At least the Total Wine clerks will show up.

A footnote: Spate of suicides among Las Vegas students prompts schools to reopen. Because shutting down the schools is so very, very safe.

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Rand rules | Power Line

Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump: the text of the Constitution only requires the Chief Justice to preside over the trial of “the President.” The text of the Constitution only requires the Chief Justice to preside over a Senate impeachment trial of “the President.” Trump is no longer “the President.” Roberts’s presence is therefore not called for.

Will private citizen Trump be the first private citizen to be convicted and removed from the office he no longer holds? This raises the constitutional question related to Roberts’s decision to pursue other interests during the Senate trial. I briefly reviewed the constitutional argument over the weekend in “Roberts rules.”

Today Senator Rand Paul raised the issue by a point of order. On Majority Leader Schumer’s motion to table Paul’s motion, 45 Republican Senators voted against. Voting against expressed their view that Paul’s motion was meritorious. While Paul’s motion was insufficient to dismiss or halt the proceedings, the 45 Senators are more than necessary to acquit Trump when the time comes, as it will.

Politico hedges its reading of the tea leaves and vaguely holds out hope that some of the 45 Senators may change their minds upon hearing the evidence. Senator Paul, however, kayoes this glimmer of hope: “If you voted that it was unconstitutional, how in the world would you ever vote to convict somebody for this?” Paul told reporters. “This vote indicates it’s over. The trial is all over.” It’s all over but the shouting, that is.

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Variants and variations | Power Line

Since the onset of the current pandemic about a year ago, I have referred to the disease causing the havoc as the “Wuhan coronavirus.” Doing so has two virtues. It identifies the culprit as a virus and it states where the virus originates. “COVID” does neither.

At first, the mainstream media seemed to be okay with “Wuhan coronavirus.” But then came the “memo.” To say “Wuhan” or “China” in connection with the virus was racist and xenophobic. Hence, the shift to COVID-19 and, soon thereafter, to COVID.

But now, as the virus mutates, the media has no qualms about saying “British variant” and, more recently, “South African variant.” Why not instead just say “variant 1” and “variant 2”?

Ari Fleischer calls out the Washington Post on this:

Wait a minute…After months of being told it was racist to refer to COVID as a ‘Chinese virus’ the WP refers to its new strains as ‘British and South African variants.’ So you can use the name of the nation where it comes from, so long as that nation is not China. Got it.

The Post’s line has been that calling this virus the “China virus” represents a “dangerous attitude.” The paper quoted an alleged expert — a lecturer in Asian American and Asian diaspora studies — who called it “racist” to say “China virus.”

But it is no more racist to say “China virus” than it is to say “British variant.” In both cases, the idea is to identify the origin of the virus, not to disparage a racial group.

One could argue that there is this difference — saying “China virus” might lead to violence against Chinese Americans. However, I doubt that any evidence supports a claim of linguistically induced violence. If the mainstream media is solicitous of Chinese Americans, it should come down against the discrimination inflicted on them by colleges and universities in admissions. The evidence of that discrimination is overwhelming.

My view is that the media probably backed away from “China virus” and “Wuhan virus” to cover for China, not to protect Chinese Americans from violence. The Red Chinese government objected to the words “China virus” and the American media kowtowed.

In addition, I believe the media was influenced by the fact that Donald Trump liked to say “China virus.” The media, following Joe Biden’s lead, wanted to portray Trump’s attitude towards the virus as “xenophobic.” Hence, its outcry against words associating the virus with its country (or region) of origin.

No such imperatives apply when it comes to labeling variants of the virus that come from other parts of the world. Thus, the media is fine with the kind of language that has always been used to describe diseases that originate outside the U.S., except during the Trump presidency when it came to China.

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Sinema is a hard “no” on ending the filibuster

Many of Joe Biden’s plans, and those of the leftists for whom he fronts, cannot be implemented in the next two years as long as the Senate filibuster remains in place. That’s why so many Democrats want to put an end to the filibustering of legislation.

With the Democrats holding 50 Senate seats plus the vice presidency, the possibility of ending the filibuster exists. But even one holdout Dem would eliminate that possibility until at least 2023.

Joe Manchin has said he favors retaining the filibuster. However, some question his commitment to that position.

Extensive use of the filibuster by Republicans will produce pressure on Manchin which might cause him to buckle. Biden has laid the groundwork for this development by saying that he will “take a look” at eliminating the rule dependent upon “how obstreperous [Republicans] become.” (Democrats, of course, use the filibuster to the max whenever they are in the minority.)

Fortunately, we no longer have to depend on Manchin. A spokesperson for Krysten Sinema says that the Arizona Senator is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind.”

Speaking of changing one’s mind, I have changed mine about Sinema. I don’t enjoy confessing error, but I was wrong in 2018 to have characterized Sinema as a radical. She is not. Certainly, Sinema isn’t on our side, but she’s no rad.

I should have listened to several acquaintances with knowledge of Arizona politics, including our own Ammo Grrrl (Susan Vass), who had the right line on Sinema.

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An hour with Paul Singer

Paul Singer is the incredibly successful founder, president, co-chief executive officer, and co-chief investment officer of Elliott Investment Management. Grant Williams invited him to share his thoughts on the current state of economic affairs on his January 22 End Game podcast. The podcast is posted here. I have embedded it below.

According to the description provided: “Among the topics covered in this extremely rare and endlessly fascinating conversation are Paul’s thoughts on the importance of understanding markets are little more than mass experiments in psychology, the fallacy of ‘sitting passively,’ the creation of value for clients and the corner into which the Fed and other central banks have painted themselves.”

This description doesn’t do justice to the podcast. If you have concerns that our current fiscal and monetary situation cannot “end” happily (he questions the meaning of “end” in this context), the podcast is likely to aggravate your concerns. If you have no such concerns, the podcast is likely to plant reasonable seeds of doubt. Singer’s analysis warrants your time and attention and then some, as in a repeat listen or two (as his interviewers themselves note at the end.

Paul Singer is the featured attraction here, but I should note that Grant Williams’s podcasts are collected here. Williams describes them as “a series of random walks around the fringes of finance and gain a better understanding of how the economic sands are shifting beneath our feet,” which gets at the hour with Singer. His site is here.

Recommended reading (by the interviewers): Dying of Money, by Jens O. Parsson (out of print), and When Money Dies, by Adam Fergusson (in paperback).

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Portents of the Biden Regency

Let us turn to Natasha Korecki’s January 19 Politico story “Writing a speech for Biden can be hell. And that was before the inaugural.” Politico published the story the day before the inauguration of the gentleman from Madame Tussauds as president. The story purports to cover Biden’s then forthcoming inaugural address, but is more notable for this tardy detail reflecting the gentleman’s declining mental capacity:

For higher-profile remarks, he’d obsessively rehearse portions until he committed them to memory. And at times through the various iterations of outlining remarks, Biden could grow downright ornery.“I would never say this,” Biden once snapped at an aide, aghast over the prepared remarks he was reviewing, according to a person in the room during a speech prep session last year. “Where did you get this from?’” The aide explained that Biden had just said it in a public speech a couple of weeks earlier.

Now it can be hinted, if not told. Some call it “ornery.”

This leak appears to come from somewhere within the Biden camp. In days to come these leaks will come from sources on the distaff side of the Harris/Biden administration.

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Shapes of things (15)

(Scott Johnson)

You may have heard that “Amazon is seeking reconsideration of a ruling by an NLRB Hearing Officer that 6000 workers at an Amazon facility in Alabama will be allowed eight weeks time to vote by mail on whether to unionize the workforce. Amazon — owned by Jeff Bezos, also the owner of the Washington Post — opposes the use of mail-in only balloting in the union election on the basis that — quoting an Amazon spokesperson — ‘… the best approach to a valid, fair and successful election is one that is conducted manually, in-person….’â€� Here I am quoting the sagacious Mr. Shipwreckedcrew’s update on the Amazon story in “Twitter Attaches Warning Banners to Washington Post Owner’s Opposition to Mail-In Balloting — It’s a Potential Cause of Violence.”

Shipwreckedcrew notes “a case of serious schadenfreude” that followed in the wake of this story “when conservatives on Twitter began to circulate messages calling out Bezos — and by implication, the Washington Post — for asserting the very position that supporters of President Trump made repeatedly both before and after the Nov. 3 election, i.e., that in-person manual voting on paper-marked ballots is the most secure method for conducting an election, while mail-in balloting presents issues with regard to ballot integrity.”

Shipwreckedcrew cites “Jack Posobiec, with 1.1 million followers on Twitter, [who] sent out the following Tweet[.]” What happened next? “[S]hortly thereafter Twitter…attached the warning to it that you see below.”

When mourning becomes Electra, when satire becomes reality, we have a problem.