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No ‘unity’ in Biden’s executive orders: Goodwin

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No ‘unity’ in Biden's executive orders: Goodwin

It is early, far below the traditional threshold of 100 days. Still, watching the major missteps of the Biden administration reminds that even presidents don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. 

My expectations were low, but not low enough. I hoped, naively, that with political polarization leading to growing violence from both sides, the new president would make at least minimal efforts to keep his promise of building national unity. 

Instead, Joe Biden spent his first three weeks issuing more than 50 executive orders and actions that fall along straight partisan lines, with nearly all of them delivering goodies to his party’s far-left wing and/or reversing successful Trump-administration policies. In most cases, he simply signed the sweeping directives without explaining the ostensible public benefits. 

As bad as the process looked, optics are not the real problem. It’s the terrible substance of the major orders that is driving a stake through the heart of national reconciliation. 

The new president made killing thousands of construction jobs connected to the Keystone XL pipeline one of his first acts, practically invited illegal immigrants to swarm the border and gives cover to obstructionist teacher unions that want to keep schools closed. 

The school issue goes to the heart of another Biden promise — to “follow the science” and “listen to the experts.” Yet when his CDC director said it was safe to open schools without teacher vaccinations, Biden press secretary Jen Psaki strangely said the director was “speaking in her personal capacity.” 

So it’s follow the science, except when it’s politically inconvenient. 

Similarly, we now learn Biden’s promise to open most schools within 100 days came with fine print that guts the plain meaning. The actual goal, the White House now says, was to have more than 50 percent of schools open at least one day a week. 

In other words, 80 percent closed is Biden’s definition of an open school. 

Then there’s the vaccine production and distribution. Candidate Biden talked often about his “plan” to combat the coronavirus, but it turns out his plan was mostly limited to criticizing ­Donald Trump’s plan. 

The new president’s goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days would have simply kept him on pace with what the Trump administration already was doing. Only when that fact was repeatedly pointed out did Biden raise his goal to 1.5 million a day. 

Yet even now, instead of a determination to get all Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible, he’s moaning about “logistics” as a way to lower expectations. On Thursday, his team secured 200 million more doses, a 50 percent increase, which is what Biden had said would be needed to cover virtually the entire population by the end of summer. 

But instead of celebrating, Biden lowered the bar, warning that even all adults would not be inoculated by the end of summer, which is still more than six months away. 

His early moves on foreign policy are also disheartening. Biden is playing footsie with Iran by removing the terrorist designation of its Houthi proxy in Yemen while freezing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and ending American support for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen. Meanwhile, press secretary Psaki refuses to call ­Israel an ally. 

The blitz of executive orders, directives and memoranda was clearly meant to emphasize that Biden was hitting the ground running. But that burst of activity will be worse than meaningless if the polices create or worsen problems for people. 

One example is that the energy-related directives all lean in the direction of restricting fossil fuels. So far, the only certainty of his actions are job losses connected to both his killing the Keystone pipeline and putting a freeze on drilling permits on federal land and water. 

The eventual impact will also mean a loss of American energy independence and price increases for electricity, gasoline and heating fuel. 

Telling laid-off workers they can go make solar panels, as John Kerry did, has all the compassion of a punch in the nose. Biden’s climate czar, Kerry made his remarks at about the time a video surfaced of him defending his international travel on private jets by saying he is “working to win the battle of climate change.” 

In other words, he is so important that he must be exempt from the rules he plans to impose on the little people. 

Another Biden obsession fraught with potential consequences is his repeated claim that America is laced with “systemic racism.” Although he has spent nearly his entire adult life in government, the 78-year-old now parrots teenage activists about how terrible America is. 

But it’s not just talk. He used the “systemic racism” phrase several times to justify a series of executive actions, including one on housing policy that could have huge implications. He directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to study and counteract any previous policy found to have discriminatory impacts. 

That no doubt means a return to the discredited approach of the Obama-Biden administration, which argued that any policy producing a “disparate impact” on racial groups was de facto discriminatory. Biden also replaced the concept of “equality” with ­“equity,” a change that could lay the groundwork for racial quotas. 

If his start accurately reflects the direction he plans to follow, Biden intends to become the most radical president in history. Sensible Americans better wake up ­before it’s too late. 

Woke mob rules at NY Times

In another black eye for the Gray Lady, a survey of New York Times employees found that only 51 percent agree with the statement that “There is a free exchange of views in this company; people are not afraid to say what they really think.” 

Worse, The Post reports the survey was taken in December, before the recent firing of top reporter Donald McNeil and podcast producer Andy Mills. They were not ousted because of their work, but because a cancel-culture mob is determined to impose its woke views on employees 24 hours a day, the past included. 

Although McNeil apologized for using the N-word in 2019 and Mills’ history of randy behavior eight years ago was known when he was hired, both were ousted in victories for the mob. 

Top editor Dean Baquet has only himself to blame. He lost control of the newsroom and his willingness to surrender is creating a culture of fear and loathing, where people are afraid to speak honestly lest the mob come for them. 

The Times wants to tell the country how to live and think, but can’t even get its own house in order. 

The politics of party destruction 

Dr. Ruth Cohen neatly sums up the mood in Washington, writing: 

“The Dems want to destroy Trump and all those who embrace the Republican Party. They tolerate no survivors, only turncoats. Nothing else matters until they succeed. Is that a government?”

GameStop seen as sign of a bubble 

Ya think?

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

The Issue: The accusation by a former aide of Gov. Cuomo that he sexually harassed her on the job.

When it rains it pours, especially for Gov. Cuomo. Already on the hot seat for hiding the true number of CO­VID-related deaths in nursing homes, now he is accused by a former aide of sexual harassment (“Cuomo’s a pig,” Feb. 25).

The details already released are pretty bad. This could be the beginning of the end for him. He has, in essence, abused the power of his position to a great extent.

It’s about time he meets his fate in a courtroom. It seems like every day a new, ugly truth is revealed about him, so let justice be handed down against him to the fullest extent of the law.

Joseph V. Comperchio, Brooklyn

Obviously, Cuomo did not heed the adage that you shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

He conducted a virulent campaign against former President Donald Trump, accusing him of being egotistical, autocratic, a sexual predator, a vindictive bully and, of course, a liar.

Now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost for Cuomo, and not a moment too soon.

Frank Brady, Yonkers

Cuomo is in deep doo-doo now. His directive caused the deaths of thousands of people in nursing homes. He’s been dancing around it, pointing fingers at others, and he may never answer for it.

But now a former aide has accused him of giving her an unwanted kiss on the lips — without warning. And that may be the end of him. It could be the first snowflake in an avalanche of accusations.

One scandal should have caused handcuffs to be slapped on him, and the other should have caused a solid slap in the face from an aide.

James Grant

Massapequa

Score one for Mayor de Blasio, a fellow Democrat in the moral minority, who is calling for an independent probe of the sexual-misconduct allegations against Cuomo.

Although I find it discouraging that the left-wing media is turning a blind eye to Cuomo’s harassment charges and liberal women leaders are not demanding that aide Lindsey Boylan has a right to be listened to.

It was a different story when allegations were made against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Trump.

The American people have a right to know the full story — not the cherry-picked version that the media chooses to report.

JoAnn Lee Frank

Clearwater, Fla.

The most revealing part of this “Cuomo is a pig” story is the hypocritical silence from the former loudmouths of the now-forgotten “Me, Too” movement.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Harvey Weinstein was the most evil person on the planet? And Hollywood turned into judge and jury for the despicable Kevin Spacey?

Impeach this creep, now.

Joe Nugent

Staten Island

After causing the deaths of thousands of the elderly and trying to blackmail people into silence, we now find out Cuomo is also an accused sexual predator.

Using his power to allegedly maul a woman shows what a low-life he really is. Why isn’t his brother reporting on this?

Too bad New Yorkers don’t have the guts or brains to remove him from office. Maybe then they could save their state.

Storm Destro

Bayonne, NJ

Lord Cuomo has been exposed for the corrupt bully that he is. It’s time to stop talking and start taking action.

We need to start the impeachment process immediately to have him removed from office so he cannot do any more damage to the great state of New York.

Gene O’Brien

Whitestone

Now that Cuomo has allegedly done some very bad things that brought dishonor to his last name, it might be time to remove the Cuomo name from the Tappan Zee Bridge, which spans the Hudson River.

The “Mario Cuomo Bridge” never sounded right anyway.

John Kirkwood

Westwood, NJ

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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De Blasio’s lame recovery plan won’t end NYC’s Ghost Town

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De Blasio's lame recovery plan won't end NYC's Ghost Town

Almost a year into Gotham’s devastating lockdown, Mayor de Blasio has announced the appointment of former school-construction chief Lorraine Grillo as “recovery czar” to, in his words, “super-charge” an economic recovery. 

But a close look at the mayor’s sad, thin recovery plan belies his commitment to the future of New York City as a locus of growth and opportunity — which it must once more be if the desolate ghost-town effect is to disappear.

In his news conference announcing Grillo’s new role, Hizzoner proclaimed the “incredible” news that the city would extend its contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to manage Kennedy airport. The contract, set to expire in 2050, will now run through 2060. This “great plan,” says de Blasio, means that “a lot of the money from JFK will go to minority and women-owned businesses. A lot of the hiring will be from the surrounding neighborhoods in Southeast Queens.” 

Indeed, people in Jamaica will continue to work at the airport, as they always have, and the renovation of terminals, runways and parking lots will surely involve the hiring of local labor, too. But so what? It’s not like de Blasio was going to take over the largest airport in the Northeast when he can’t even able to figure out a way to assume management of two Central Park ice rinks from Donald Trump. The mayor’s role in determining what happens on Port Authority property is miniscule. 

It’s a sign of how unserious de Blasio is about economic recovery that he celebrates the planned return of the city’s 330,000 municipal employees to their offices. City workers have been held “harmless” throughout the pandemic, even while many of them have had little, if anything, to do. Been to a library lately? It’s fine that they will finally be getting back to work, but only in de Blasio’s fantasies do government employees represent economic vitality. 

The key to de Blasio’s economic-development strategy is to leverage Gotham’s newfound expertise with contagious disease to make it the “public-health capital of the world.” Central to this vision is a plan to rename First Avenue, with its many hospitals and labs, “LifeSci Avenue.” This moniker may not have the romance or elan of “Museum Mile” or even “Avenue of the Americas” — but you have to give the mayor credit for trying. 

The problem is that the United States already has two cities that are “public-health capitals,” namely Atlanta and Bethesda, the homes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, respectively. Public health — as in, tracking seasonal influenza outbreaks—is important but not very profitable, which is why the federal government manages it.

Assuming that because the Big Apple was slammed by COVID we should now go into the pandemic business is a bad joke. It’s like telling Flint, Mich., to start a new company to compete with Pür water filters. 

De Blasio also wants to hire 10,000 temporary workers for a “City Cleanup Corps” to beautify the city by removing the graffiti that has steadily taken over New York’s streets and even subway cars. Of course, it was just last July when de Blasio suspended the popular and successful Graffiti-Free NYC program, after which the scourge of graffiti really exploded. The NYPD has substantially cut back vandalism-related arrests, too. So there’s another formula for economic rebirth: encourage filth and then hire the unemployed to clean it up. 

The mayor also plans to make the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, a city-funded boondoggle his wife nominally runs, a permanent office of city government. The taskforce will help “identify areas of structural racism in New York City” and “root out this systemic rot.”  

None of that will revivify a dead Midtown. Instead, de Blasio, as usual, wants to “tax the wealthy and redistribute wealth.”

Taxing billionaires to plump up social services has been an enduring strategy for the city’s political class for a long time, but it only works as long as the goose doesn’t mind waiting around to be plucked. But raising taxes isn’t a plan for growth and will only hasten the accelerating departure of rich New Yorkers for sunnier climes. 

Memo to the mayor: Reviving New York City’s stalled economy will take more than slowly bringing municipal clerks back to their desks. 

Seth Barron is managing editor of The American Mind and ­author of the forthcoming book “The Last Days of New York.”

Twitter: @SethBarronNYC

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Lockdowns don’t work and other commentary

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Lockdowns don't work and other commentary

Libertarian: Lockdowns Don’t Work

“Despite the stark difference in policy,” America and Britain “saw remarkably similar COVID-19 trends this winter,” Reason’s Jacob Sullum points out. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown “closed most businesses” and required everyone without a “reasonable excuse” to stay home. Britain’s “seven-day average of new cases peaked” Jan. 9, while America’s peaked Jan. 11; cases then “fell sharply in both countries.” The same story of “starkly different policies and similar outcomes” appears in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a lockdown, and Texas, which “remained largely open.” The two states have had “almost the same drop” in cases: 85 percent and 81 percent. And California’s infection rate tripled in December and January while Texas’ doubled. Lockdowns, with their “economic and social costs,” simply weren’t “necessary to bring case numbers back down.”

Ex-hostage: What I Learned in an Iranian Prison

At The Wall Street Journal, Wang Xiyue recalls his shock at being ­arrested in Iran in 2016 “on false espionage charges,” even though the ­nuclear deal had been implemented and it seemed to be “a period of rapprochement between the US and Iran.” He had thought doing research there would be safe, since his professors stressed that Tehran’s hostility was exaggerated, stemming largely from the bad behavior toward it by the West, “particularly” America. Yet his 40-month captivity gave him an “intense re-education”: The regime’s hostility “isn’t reactive, but proactive”; the “menace of Iran can’t be appeased” but “must be countered and restrained.” And “only by showing strength of will can President Biden hope for genuine progress in containing the Iranian threat to peace.”

Iconoclast: America’s Real Divide

America is supposedly divided along race and gender lines — yet, ­observes Joel Kotkin at The American Mind, the conflict might really be between those who primarily make a living manipulating “incorporeal” information and those who toil in the “tangible world of making, growing and using real things.” President Biden’s campaign was propelled by the incorporeal class — and so far, he has mainly delivered for its members, with anti-industrial climate plans and sops to the woke. Yet “it’s unlikely” that the heartland’s oil riggers, welders, haulers and machine-tool operators will be “too thrilled” by Team Biden’s promise of “green jobs.” Worse, Biden’s folks “must address the fact that the key Democratic base — the big coastal core urban areas — has been fundamentally undermined by the pandemic, last summer’s disorders and a steady rise in crime.”

Conservative: Fauci’s No Shaman

President Biden’s chief pandemic adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “is a bureaucrat,” National Review’s David Harsanyi ­declares, “not our parent, or our personal physician, or a shaman, or our life coach.” Yet Democrats and media elites treat him as all that and more — including by unquestioningly accepting his calls for harsh lockdowns and a “unified approach” to the pandemic. Yet “the Fauci approach” is basically “an Andrew Cuomo approach”: “centralized,” devastating to the economy and to individual rights — and far from effective. And don’t forget Fauci’s early ­anti-mask guidance and “praise for the Chicoms’ lackeys at the World Health Organization.” Bottom line: “The press should never have canonized Fauci.”

Defense beat: China’s Hidden Weakness

At The Hill, Susan Yoshihara flags an overlooked but huge problem for Beijing’s ambitions: Thanks to decades of state-ordered population control under the harsh one-child mandate, “China’s downward human spiral is ­accelerating.” That’s “on top of nearly a decade of contraction in working-age Chinese citizens.” As a result, “China’s main state pension fund and ­urban-worker pension fund are projected to run out of money by 2035.” In the short term, the population drop helps explain Beijing’s aggression from Tibet to Taiwan and the South China Sea, as well as its genocide of the ­Uighur minority: It sees “closing windows of opportunity to resolve manpower-intensive security disputes before losing its robust working-age population.” Longer term, America “should be thinking about exploiting China’s strategic weaknesses.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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