Patterico's Pontifications


Joe Biden and the Newfangled Tradition of the Government-in-Waiting Acting as a Think Tank

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:10 am

[guest post by JVW]

Over at the Washington Free Beacon, Editor-in-Chief Eliana Johnson, who has already done stellar work in holding Democrats to the same standards of scrutiny to which regular media holds Republicans, has another interesting story that has thus far flown under the radar of our putrid mainstream media.

Just like John Edwards and Hillary Clinton before him, former Vice President Joe Biden has spent the years between leaving elective office and gearing up for a Presidential campaign by setting up a combination think tank and alumni club. Mrs. Clinton, of course, glommed on to her husband’s existing organization, whereas Mr. Edwards and Mr. Biden have affiliated themselves with universities, the University of North Carolina and the University of Delaware respectively. These institutes, such as they are, ostensibly serve noble public policy purposes. Here is how the Biden Institute describes its mission:

The Biden Institute, established at the University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration, is a world-class intellectual center and destination for scholars, activists, policymakers, and national leaders.

Our mission at The Biden Institute: to influence, shape, and work to solve the most pressing domestic policy problems facing America. We are a research and policy center working to bring together the sharpest minds and the most powerful voices to address our nation’s toughest problems.

The Institute is focused on the issues that have animated Vice President Biden’s public career and it is rooted in two guiding principles he has long embraced: Economic opportunity and social justice. The Institute will explore, among others, such issues as: economic opportunity for the middle class, income inequality, violence against women, civil rights and LGBT rights, civil liberties and criminal justice reform, health care reform, environmental sustainability, the state of our democracy and politics, and political reform. Our approach will be dynamic – striving always to shape the conversation and serve as a leading voice in most consequential policy debates on issues facing American communities

Did anyone else notice how this mission manages to dovetail rather nicely with the agenda of the Democrat Party? Quite the coincidence, right? And just as both the Edwards and Clinton think tanks employed ex-staffers and loyalists, quietly waiting for their return to power, so too does the Biden Institute provide a paycheck for exiled Biden luminaries, as Ms. Johnson explains:

The institute has served as a landing spot for some of Biden’s former — and potentially future — White House advisers, many of whom serve on the institute’s staff and on an affiliated policy advisory board. There is Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, the institute’s vice chair, and Biden’s former senior adviser, Michael Donilon, who serves as managing director. On the policy advisory board are, among others, former Biden chief of staff Bruce Reed, former domestic and economic policy adviser Don Graves, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, and former energy secretary Ernest Moniz.

I suppose this sort of arrangement where policy is crafted with the support of money raised from wealthy progressives and assorted business and labor interests who will want future favors from a potential Biden Administration, qualifies as much as anything could as “honest graft.” The Biden Institute, Ms. Johnson informs us, has a board of directors culled from the usual suspects such as the SEIU, the United Farm Workers, and the International Association of Fire Fighters, as well as from ex-Obama advisers such as David Plouffe who, in the words of Ms. Johnson, “could be useful to any Democratic presidential candidate.”

So what’s my beef with this arrangement? I mean, a institution with barely-concealed partisan interests operating in the open at an American public university must certainly be required to make public its finances, including its list of salaries and other payments along, naturally, with a continually-updated list of donors and the amounts that are given, right?

Well, no:

It is unusual for public universities to be exempt from Freedom of Information requests, but state legislatures in Delaware and neighboring Pennsylvania passed laws that exclude state universities from the transparency laws. Delaware state law stipulates that the “activities of the University of Delaware” are not considered public with the exception of the board of trustees and “documents relating to the expenditure of public funds.”

The Biden Institute is free to make those disclosures voluntarily, however, but has chosen not to do so. The institute did not respond to a request for comment seeking information on its donors and staff salaries. A university spokesman, Peter Bothum, responded to a request for comment sent to the Biden Institute and said simply that the university is not required to disclose the information.

In addition, Ms. Johnson reports that Mr. Biden’s senatorial papers, donated to the university in 2012, were supposed to be available to the public by the first day of this new year but have — surprise, surprise — been delayed until two years after Mr. Biden finally “retires from public life.” Meaning of course that these papers could ultimately be embargoed for the duration of a Biden Presidency, a prospect which happily appears to be fading.

So what does the candidate himself have to say about transparency? Brace yourselves:

Under [Biden’s] leadership, our system will make sure that the principles of equality, transparency, and public — not private — interest drive all government decisions.

And even better:

Today, voters have to wait until after an election to fully learn who spent money to influence their decision. Biden will propose legislation to change that, by requiring campaigns and outside entities that run ads within 60 days of an election to disclose any new contributions within 48 hours.

The same guy who doesn’t want you to know who is funding what amounts to the building of his Presidential campaign using state university resources is passing himself off as a campaign finance reformer by vowing to crack-down on the scourge of unregulated outside money. It would be funny were it not so aggravatingly typical of the biggest blowhard (Democrat division) in the race. Shame on Joe Biden for this malarky, and shame on the University of Delaware and the Blue Hen State political establishment for enabling it.


Sunday Music: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Cantata V

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:56 am

It is the fifth Sunday after the Epiphany. Today’s Bach piece is Cantata V from Bach’s Christmas Oratario:

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 5:13-20:

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

My Savior, You, You are the light,
that shall shine also for the heathens,
and they, they do not yet know You,
yet they already wish to honor You.
How bright, how clear must your radiance be,
beloved Jesus!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

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