What President Biden Means for You
Yesterday, behind fences and razor wire, Joe Biden was inaugurated as President of the United States.
Today, contrary to certain predictions, the country is still here. Lights are on. Water in the pipes. Fuel at the gas pumps. Food in the stores. (I checked this morning when I went out for an iced tea.)
It’s time to get back to work, making money and buying gold.
But what does this new Biden administration mean for you?
We’ll find out as we live through what’s ahead, to be sure. But we have hints right now.
Let’s dig into this…
First, some points about the inauguration, because ceremony itself — style and substance — can often be quite telling.
In the U.S., inaugurating a president is like crowning a king in the olden days. Except that the Republic established by the 1787 Constitution abjures a royal sovereign.
Instead, the Constitution places the executive power in a president, temporarily for four years at a time (Constitution, Article II, Section 1).
One advantage in this quadrennial leadership reboot is that the U.S. holds frequent elections. Then, with pomp, circumstance and impressive formality, the federal government lays out a massive installation ceremony for all to see.
Philosophically, inauguration centers on one foundational point. The power of America’s government derives from the will of the people. This concept is embodied in the Preamble to the Constitution, in the very first phrase, “We the People.”
Which gets us back to yesterday when inaugural symbols were revealing.
Field of flags. Courtesy ABC News.1
There were beaucoups American flags.2
Contrary to past inaugurals, however, there were not that many Americans.
The absence of a crowd is a COVID thing of course. It’s not prudent, they tell us, to bring hundreds of thousands of people together on the Mall. That, and the unpleasantness of Jan. 6, aka Black Wednesday.
For this inaugural, Washington was buttoned up. Yet the show must go on…
To kick things off, Lady Gaga — accompanied by the President’s Own United States Marine Corps Band — sang National Anthem. Brilliantly. Take a listen.
Lady Gaga, wearing a golden dove carrying an olive branch. Courtesy USA Today.3
Not to dwell on Lady Gaga. But wow! Aging nicely.
Anthem-wise, Ms. Gaga knocked the proverbial ball out of the park. My heart beat true with the red, white and blue, which is part of the inaugural spell.
Sad to say, though, the inaugural parade was canceled. Again, COVID. And security. And a real bummer because everybody loves a parade.
In fact, pondering a parade takes me back to January 1989 and the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush.
I was in the Navy, working at the Pentagon on the staff of Chief of Naval Operations.
Traditionally, military personnel line the road along the inaugural parade route. It goes back to the days of George Washington, before there was even a Washington, D.C.
I’ll make a long story short. On Jan. 20, 1989, I was attired in service dress blues, standing along Pennsylvania Avenue as the motorcade with President Reagan and soon-to-be President Bush (Bush I) drove by. There was a huge civilian crowd behind me, watching and cheering.
The presidential car passed, and per procedure I moved from parade rest to full attention and rendered a snappy salute. It was a great honor to do that. And it was fun, too; one of those lifetime memories.
So I wonder about the national guardsmen who were assigned to Washington over the past couple of weeks, standing post in full riot and/or combat gear, keeping mere civilians a country mile away from any festivities.
Guardsmen guarding. Courtesy Fox21.4
In the future when they look back and reflect, how will those troops view their experience protecting an inauguration ceremony in such a martial manner?
Then there’s the insulting insinuation by a serving member of Congress that “some” American military personnel might be a threat to the safety of civilian leadership.5 (Frankly, it’s usually the politicians who get the military killed.)
But time will tell, right?
One way or the other, this was inauguration day, 2021: Fences. Razor wire. Armed soldiers. Political class. Many American flags, but few American people.
Draw your own conclusions.
One upside of no parade was that President Biden could get right to work. And work he did!
Biden gets busy. Courtesy BBC News.
Busy as a beaver. According to BBC News, Biden signed 15 executive orders in his first afternoon in the Oval Office.6 It’s a record.
Biden displays a sense of executive urgency.
Among his first acts, Biden issued a comprehensive executive order that suspended, canceled, rescinded and/or placed under review a long list of actions by former President Trump. With but the stroke of a pen, Biden carpet-bombed vast swaths of the Trump agenda.7 Poof!
More specifically, Biden canceled the federal permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, intended to lower costs and expedite moving oil from Alberta to Texas. So much for a multibillion-dollar U.S.-Canada partnership to ensure greater energy security to U.S. refineries.
One angle here is that Canadian oil will still move in great volume to the U.S., only it will be carried in tanker cars, many of them pulled by the mighty locomotives of the BNSF Railway, owned by Warren Buffett. How convenient.
We saw that one coming. I specifically predicted that Keystone XL would be toast when I spelled out Biden’s looming “shock and awe” program.
Along similar lines, Biden moved for the U.S. to reenter the 2016 Paris Agreement, dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. We saw that coming too.
In essence, the Paris project establishes draconian, anti-carbon protocols to constrain future U.S. energy production, industry, agriculture, growth patterns and much more.
In 2017 Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, pointing out that he was elected to “represent Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Not anymore.
Arguably, the Paris Agreement will not do all that much to, as the propaganda goes, “save the planet.” It’s more like an energy-themed Treaty of Versailles that handcuffs the future of the U.S. economy while other global-scale economies (like China) roll ahead.
With another executive order, Biden revoked the Trump administration’s emergency declaration that supported construction of a so-called “wall” along the Mexican border. Strangely enough, Biden used to favor strong border enforcement, even with walls. He was for it before he was against it. Times change.
Biden also ended the Trump-era travel ban on certain majority-Muslim countries that the U.S. government has long (pre-Trump, even) considered hotbeds of radicalism.
There’s much more in Biden’s first blast of executive orders. Too much to detail here. But you get the idea.
Meanwhile, this blizzard of paperwork illustrates a critical point that’s very important to you…
That is, President Biden did not write, edit and print up this mountain of executive orders in the few hours after he was sworn in at noon yesterday.
No, they were ready to launch long before Biden’s shadow darkened the stoop of the White House. When Biden showed up, they were on the desk, awaiting him. All he had to do was sit down in front of the camera.
Behind the scenes, Biden has a capable team that has been preparing to take power since well before the election. During the 10-week post-election transition period, Biden’s group staffed up to run the government.
Biden’s people are now firmly in control. They’re sharp and know exactly what they’re doing. They will get things done.
Contrast this with Trump, four years ago. For all the talent it took to get elected in 2016, he was his own worst enemy. He was ham-handed in hiring people to implement policy. In the end, Trump hired way too many gossipy, back-stabbing, marginally competent rubes. And it showed.
Here’s the point. Running the immense, globe-spanning federal government is hard work. You need people who know things. There’s even a list of well over 4,000 so-called “plum” positions to fill, every one of the offices requiring specialized knowledge.8
At the pinnacle are big name cabinet jobs: Secretaries of Defense, State, Justice, Treasury, etc.
Then come assistant secretaries, deputies, undersecretaries and more; hundreds of them. Add in hires like chiefs of staff and related support who are not plum jobs, but pay well and are available to the right kinds of people.
Ambassadorships are also on the table too, in many cases for big donors or fundraisers.
Then there are alphabet soup agencies and organizations, things like NASA, FBI, IRS, SEC, EPA, FCC, FAA and many, many more. Plenty of jobs, available to every president to fill.
Give credit to Democrats, who are systemically good at this. Democrats have a deep bench of people to fill these jobs; a varsity team and many talented jayvee players.
Plus, there are people on Congressional staffs, at K-Street lobbying firms, in law firms across the land, big banks and Wall Street, Silicon Valley. Academe too, where thousands of wonky policy wannabes labor as faculty and administrators, awaiting their moment in the sun when they can place their hands on the throttles of power.
The Biden administration — Biden’s handlers, really — have their pick of warm bodies to fill important jobs.
As President Reagan once quipped, “people are policy.” And Biden will have plenty of people to implement what he wants done.
Which brings us back to what I mentioned above. What does the Biden administration mean for you?
It’s simple… Biden will do what he said he would do. He’s going to fill every job in the Plum Book, and then some. And he will drive the center-left (if not Progressive-left) Democrat agenda on which he campaigned.
Monetary policy, energy policy, social policy, foreign policy… Supreme Court, judges, new states, even the Bill of Rights. It’s all on the table.
If you like what Biden said he’s going to do, then the next few years will be pleasant for you.
If you don’t like what Biden said he’s going to do, well… too bad. He’s going to do it anyhow.
This is what happens when a president is inaugurated, even when he’s inaugurated behind fences and razor wire.
On that note, I rest my case.
That’s all for now… Thank you for subscribing and reading.
Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder
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8 Political appointments in the United States, Wikipedia