Politics Byron York's Daily Memo: Biden vs. the Pentagon
Byron York's Daily Memo: Democrats thwart will of majority
Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.DEMOCRATS THWART WILL OF MAJORITY. Texas is the latest state to have a big fight over reforming its election laws. Remember that in Georgia, some Democrats -- like President Joe Biden -- said a Republican-passed law that made several commonsense changes to election practices was "Jim Crow on steroids." You won't be surprised that some Democrats are saying similar things about a bill that would make commonsense changes in Texas.
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BIDEN VS. THE PENTAGON. President Joe Biden surprised some observers this week when, addressing U.S. military forces at the Royal Air Force base in Mildenhall, England, he said that the nation's top military leaders told him the "greatest threat" facing America is global warming.
Biden described going to a meeting in 2009 -- he had just been elected vice president -- in "The Tank," which is the super-secure Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting room in the Pentagon. "And this is not a joke," Biden said. "You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming."that was because warming would cause "significant population movements," leading to "fights over land."
Byron York's Daily Memo: House GOP pushed Biden to probe COVID origins
Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.HOUSE GOP PUSHED BIDEN TO PROBE COVID ORIGINS. On May 26, President Joe Biden announced that he had asked the Intelligence Community to "redouble their efforts" to find the origins of COVID and the pandemic it caused. That same day, House Intelligence Committee chairman Representative Adam Schiff announced that his committee had already been doing a "deep dive" into "the emergence and spread of COVID-19 from China." Schiff said the committee hoped to finish its work "in the coming months.
Given the actual military threats the United States faces today from China, Russia, North Korea, and a host of other bad actors around the globe, Biden's statement seemed crazy. Is the new administration really so woke that it in a military setting -- speaking to U.S. troops -- the president would say that global warming (Biden used the older term rather than the more commonly-used "climate change") is the greatest threat facing the United States? The answer is yes. And Biden's remarks were consistent with those ofat the Naval Academy placed climate change -- along with pandemics and hacking -- as the threats today's military must deal with.
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Byron York's Daily Memo: The source of all Democratic frustration
Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.THE SOURCE OF ALL DEMOCRATIC FRUSTRATION. During his speech in Tulsa Tuesday, President Biden tried to exhort Congress to pass the Democrats' election "reform" bill that critics characterize as an unconstitutional federal imposition on the states' authority to conduct elections. But at the same time, Biden explained why that probably won't happen, at least without major changes to the bill.
Biden's remarks sent the nation's top generals and defense officials scrambling to explain. As it happened, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Asked about Biden's remarks, Milley tried to argue that there was no inconsistency between what the president said and what the U.S. military's mission actually is. But Milley, when asked about the greatest threats the U.S. faces, clearly was not buying the global warming argument.
"The president is looking at it from a much broader angle than I am," Milley testified. "I'm looking at it from a strictly military standpoint. And from a strictly military standpoint, I'm putting China and Russia up there."
Austin was also questioned about the military's priorities. U.S. military strategy puts great value on "lethality," for obvious reasons. Indeed, Milley wrote a few years ago that the Army's modernization strategy "has one simple focus: make soldiers and units more lethal." So Republican Senator Dan Sullivan asked Austin, "Mr. Secretary, in your opening statement, you mentioned climate change 15 times and lethality twice, which I think is a bit of a mismatch." Austin tried to backtrack a bit, questioning whether he had really mentioned climate change 15 times (), before answering that, "Lethality is important. This is the most lethal force that has ever occupied the planet, and it will remain so going forward. And that's what we remain focused on in the Department of Defense -- defending this nation."
Byron York's Daily Memo: Filibuster frustration boils over
Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.FILIBUSTER FRUSTRATION BOILS OVER. New presidents have only so long to get big legislative initiatives done. It's already June, and the clock is ticking for President Joe Biden. Big bills take a long time. Congress will spend much of the summer on recess. They'll be at work in the fall, but by the end of the year, Democratic and Republican lawmakers will be obsessed with winning re-election in 2022.
Of course, that's not what the president said. It's not what the vice president said. Addressing military audiences, both Biden and Harris placed climate change at the center of the American military agenda. (In his Mildenhall speech, Biden at least celebrated past greatness, citing the Britain-based U.S. military's heroism in World War II, while Harris, in her Naval Academy address, neglected to mention any wars the Navy or Marines have fought or may fight.)
This is not a defense issue. It is a political issue. Civilian control of the military is a bedrock principle of the United States government. The president is the military's commander-in-chief. If he orders U.S. forces to place climate change, or global warming, at the top of their agenda, what are they going to do? The debate that Biden's and Harris's speeches should set off is a political one: What does the nation's civilian leadership want the military to do?
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Byron York's Daily Memo: Democratic SCOTUS anxiety sky-high .
Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.DEMOCRATIC SCOTUS ANXIETY SKY-HIGH. Many Democrats are hoping that 82-year-old Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire soon in order to give President Biden a chance to replace him while the Senate is under effective Democratic control. (Democrats do not control a majority of Senate seats -- it is tied, 50-50 -- but Vice President Kamala Harris can break ties in the party's favor.