Friday Reads: A Return to ‘Radical Normalcy’*

Fellini – Satyricon (1969)

Good Day Sky Dancers!

For the first time in four years I had CNN or MSNBC news on during the day while I was working with students and grading. It’s been my background noise for years but I gave it up for at least the last two. Yesterday and today,  it’s like being a kid on Christmas morning just about every hour.  Presents! Presents! Presents!

We heard an unleashed Dr Fauci give a press conference filled with facts and science!  There were presidential signatures with actual pens–not childlike sharpie markers–placed on executive orders giving us a Federal Response to Covid-19 and to future Pandemics.  And freeing us from so much of the damage Trump has done to the environment, diplomacy, and collective bargaining.

We welcomed back the idea that women have a right to moral agency and to make decisions concerning their own bodies without politicians. Two wonderfully able people were put into cabinet posts for the nation’s defense and intelligence.  *Katie Tur called it a return to ‘radical normalcy’.  I felt years of stress fall from my shoulders and today, I slept in late again with no Felliniesque Dystopian nightmare.

Today, Jane Yellen was approved for Treasury Secretary.  I’m thrilled.

La Strada (1954, dir. Fellini) – The Fool: “What a funny face! Are you a woman, really? Or an artichoke?”

The House will send its Articles of Impeachment to the Senate on Monday where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the new Democratic majority will work with what’s left of the Trump-Free Republican Party to deal with sedition charges.  This is from Axios and Zachary Basu.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for “incitement of insurrection” on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. the day after the article is transmitted.

  • Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been pushing for the trial to begin in mid-February to allow senators more time to gather evidence and to give Trump proper due process.
  • Schumer had countered that it would force the Senate to delay other important business, such as passing COVID relief.

What they’re saying: “I’ve heard some of my Republican colleagues argue that this trial would be unconstitutional because Donald Trump is no longer in office. An argument that has been roundly repudiated, debunked by hundreds of constitutional scholars — left, right, and center — and defies basic common sense,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

  • “It makes no sense whatsoever that a president or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country and then be permitted to resign so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disbar them from future office. It makes no sense,” he continued.

The bottom line: Trump is the first president to be impeached twice, and he will be the first to face a Senate trial after leaving office.

Talking Heads consider Trump’s choice of lawyers to be a signal he’s taking this impeachment with more gravitas.  He’s no longer protected by the Presidency and he’s already facing financial problems.  This should be a seriously good watch.

Some Trump allies believe the president plans to use his trial to further his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him, according to two former aides familiar with his strategy. One of the aides cautioned that no defense strategy had been definitively agreed upon, though.

Bowers’ history suggests that the ex-president is keen on focusing on how votes were cast and counted during the 2020 cycle.Bowers served under President George W. Bush as special counsel for voting matters in the Justice Department, and worked as counsel in Florida for John McCain’s 2008 presidential run.

“All I can say is based on the Butch Bowers I know and respect, I would hope that he wouldn’t be sucked in as a tool in advancing the president’s conspiracy theories,” Sanford said.

Trump’s push to bolster his defense team comes one week after House Democrats impeached him for a second time on charges of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the building — injuring law enforcement officials and forcing the evacuation of members of Congress — after rallying with the ex-president outside the White House.

Clowns: ‘one of Fellini’s most complex, allusive and elusive pictures’.

There’s actually a lot of there there.

Meanwhile, back in the Trump clown car that still functions in and around Capitol Hill, one of the whack-a-do QAnon Congresswomen Margorie Taylor Greene is fundraising off of it as reported by Newsweek.   Hunter Biden’s Laptop is the new What about her emails?

According to a press release posted to Twitter by Greene, the impeachment articles are for Biden’s “corrupt actions involving his quid pro quo in Ukraine and his abuse of power by allowing his son, Hunter Biden, to siphon off cash from America’s greatest enemies Russia and China.”

There’s already a twitter troll army out there that seem to be freshly minted like a few hours ago.

The lawyers on the Impeachment side are an impressive list of prosecutors.  But so are the ones waiting to hit him with all kinds of suits now that he’s left office.

On the other side of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency, the lawyers are waiting.

Leaving aside his Senate impeachment trial, mounting government investigations include a civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and a federal probe by acting U.S. attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin that may include Trump’s role in the catastrophic storming of the U.S. Capitol this month.

But already pending for the South Florida retiree is a trio of lawsuits that allege defamation, fraud and more fraud — all of which are helmed by one attorney.

Roberta Kaplan’s clients include writer E. Jean Carroll, who filed a defamation case after Trump claimed she was “totally lying” about her allegation that he raped her a quarter-century ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, and niece Mary L. Trump, who claims that Trump and two of his siblings deprived her of an inheritance worth millions.

“I became the go-to person to sue the president,” says Kaplan, 54, with considerable relish.

She is in many ways the ideal legal adversary to take on Trump. Kaplan is a brash and original strategist, with neither a gift for patience nor silence, a crusader for underdogs who has won almost every legal accolade imaginable. Kaplan, says New York Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in an email, “has been indispensable in the fight against the cancer of hate and division that Trump spent four years exacerbating.”

Before the presidency, Trump was often as engaged in legal tussles as he was in real estate, suing and threatening to sue his way out of financial trouble. With a return to private life, “his terror is that he will no longer be protected by the office and will have to deal with these lawsuits,” says his niece. Trump faces the prospect of spending considerable time in the role of defendant. Kaplan says she will seek to depose him in all three cases. Trump’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment on the cases in this article.

8 1/2, (1963)

So, if you like Law and Order Shows, we have what seems an endless stream of them coming for Unindicted Co-conspirator Number One.  Radical Normalcy will indeed by Radical for the Trump Crime Family.  The reckoning is coming.

Meanwhile,  GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!  Buck up White Christian Nationalists! You snowflakes you!

From  WAPO:   Biden calls for LGBTQ protections in Day 1 executive order, angering conservatives

On his first day in office, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order making it clear that gay and transgender people are protected against discrimination in schools, health care, the workplace and other realms of American life.

Via  KLRT-TV: President Biden has button used to order Diet Coke removed from Oval Office’s Resolute Desk—  (NEXSTAR)

The furniture and artwork may be largely the same, but one ornament has apparently quickly disappeared disappeared from the White House Oval Office following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2 (1963)

From Susannah George at the  Washington Post: U.S. to resume processing thousands of stalled visas for Afghans who aided Americans

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul will soon resume processing thousands of stalled special visa applications for Afghans who aided U.S. forces after halting visa interviews in March because of the pandemic.

A State Department official said the U.S. Embassy in Kabul would begin “a phased resumption” of in-person interviews in February. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the State Department, would not comment on how many visas the embassy expects to process.

More than 7,000 special visas allocated to Afghans by Congress in 2020 went unissued, compared with about 5,000 the year before, according to State Department data. Nearly 19,000 visa applications were stuck in processing as of September 2019, according to a State Department audit last year, a number that was all but guaranteed to grow with the coronavirus disruptions.

Doesn’t Radical Normalcy feel grand?  I, for one, am looking forward to another boring Press Conference where we learn endless details and actually information about all kinds of things that just go along with basic competent governance.   No more of any of this:

I’m beginning to feel human and alive again!

How are y’all doing? What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Biden Gets Down to Work

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Good Afternoon!!

Last night I slept better than I have in a long time. For the first time in four years, I actually felt safe. I know there will be times when I disagree with what Biden does as POTUS, but at least I don’t have to worry about him blowing up the world in a fit of pique. The images are from yesterday’s inauguration ceremony.

Mark Leibovich at The Washington Post: Washington Breathes an Uneasy Sigh of Relief.

Quite a difference between two chilly Wednesdays in January: Under a crystalline Inauguration Day sky and a bunting-draped Capitol, the Marine Band welcomed the 46th president into office with a procession of fanfares — in the same spot that a mob answering the call of the 45th had ransacked the building two weeks earlier to try to stop this transfer of power.

There was no mention of Donald J. Trump, the departed and deplatformed commander in chief who flew out of town early in the morning as the first president in 152 years to refuse to attend the swearing-in of his successor.

Whether or not related to the former president’s absence, a bipartisan lightness seemed to prevail across the stage. Snow flurries gave way to sun and an aura distinctly serene. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, and now former Vice President Mike Pence — both close allies of Mr. Trump who broke bitterly with him in his final days — were seen cracking grins, even chuckling with their counterparts in the opposing party.

Supreme Court justices greeted former presidents with elbow bumps and waved to masked members of Congress from several feet away, a literal separation of powers mandated by the pandemic. The rampage on Jan. 6 had brought on uniformed troops clustered in all directions across a Capitol complex otherwise abandoned by civilians. Still, the inauguration felt like a friendly gathering, a small step toward President Biden’s elusive promise of national unity.

After his inauguration in 2016, Trump took the weekend off. Biden got right to work signing executive orders that reversed some of Trump’s worst policies. 

The New York Times: Biden’s 17 Executive Orders and Other Directives in Detail.

In 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations signed hours after his inauguration, President Biden moved swiftly on Wednesday to dismantle Trump administration policies his aides said have caused the “greatest damage” to the nation.

Despite an inaugural address that called for unity and compromise, Mr. Biden’s first actions as president are sharply aimed at sweeping aside former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic response, reversing his environmental agenda, tearing down his anti-immigration policies, bolstering the teetering economic recovery and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.

Head over to the NYT for the details. Here’s a brief list:

Biden quickly dumped some problematic Trump appointees. Slate: Biden Has Already Fired Three of Trump’s Worst Appointees.

Hours into his presidency, Biden has already ousted three of his predecessors’ most unqualified and corrupt appointees. This clean break sends a clear message that Biden will not tolerate hostile Trump holdovers in his administration, including those with time remaining in their terms.

First, Biden terminated Michael Pack, who was confirmed to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media in June. Pack sought to transform the agency, which oversees the international broadcaster Voice of America, into a propaganda outlet for Trump—despite a statutory mandate that prohibits such political interference. He purged the staff of VOA and its sister networks, replaced them with Trump loyalists, demanded pro-Trump coverage, and unconstitutionally punished remaining journalists who did actual reporting on the administration. In a perverse move, he refused to renew visas for foreign reporters who covered their home countries, subjecting them to retribution by authoritarian regimes. Pack also illegally fired the board of the Open Technology Fund, which promotes international internet freedom, and replaced them with Republican activists….

LMYXVFEUGFHGLKFLJ3SCIXGY3ASecond, Biden sacked Kathleen Kraninger, who was confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. Kraninger, who had no previous experience in consumer protection, immediately tried to undermine the agency’s role as a watchdog for the financial sector. She scrapped a landmark rule that restricted predatory payday lending, pressuring staff to downplay the resulting harm to consumers. And she refused to enforce a federal law that protected military personnel against a broad range of predatory lending. Her decision yanked federal support from military families who were defrauded by lenders. In the midst of the pandemic, Kraninger also approved a rule that allows debt collectors to harass Americans with limitless texts and emails demanding repayment….

Third, Biden demanded the resignation of Peter Robb, who was confirmed as the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel in 2017. The NLRB was created to enforce federal laws that guarantee workers the right to form a union and bargain collectively. Yet Robb is vehemently anti-union; during his tenure, he tried to limit employees’ free speech, give managers more leeway to engage in wage theft, hobble unions’ ability to collect dues, and prevent employers from helping workers organize. He also tried to seize near-total control of the agency by demoting every regional director and consolidating power in his office. If successful, this gambit would’ve given him unprecedented authority to bust existing unions and prevent new ones from forming.

Other personnel moves:

The Washington Post: Former GOP operative Michael Ellis placed on administrative leave from NSA’s top lawyer job.

The director of the National Security Agency on Wednesday put the agency’s top lawyer on administrative leave days after the Pentagon ordered the installation of the ex-GOP operative in the job, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter.

Gen. Paul Nakasone, the NSA director, placed Michael Ellis, a former Trump White House official, on leave pending an inquiry by the Pentagon inspector general into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

Nakasone took the action on the day Joe Biden was inaugurated as president.

The NSA chief was ordered on Saturday by then-acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller to install Ellis by 6 p.m. that day. 

Meanwhile, the Senate approved Biden’s choice for DNI.

CNN: Bidens quickly fire White House chief usher installed by Trump.

The Bidens moved quickly on Wednesday to fire White House chief usher Timothy Harleth, who was installed by the Trumps, two sources with knowledge have confirmed to CNN.

Harleth was hired by Melania Trump in 2017 to fill the important role of chief usher. Harleth came to the White House from Trump International Hotel DC, where he was rooms manager….

Harleth took the place of Angella Reid, who was hired during the Obama administration. Reid made history when she took the job in 2011 as the first woman to serve in the position. She was previously the general manager at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, just outside Washington.

Lady GagaShe was let go by the Trumps a few months after they took over the White House….

The White House usher is responsible for the management of the building and oversees residence staff. “Construction, maintenance, remodeling, food, as well as the administrative, fiscal and personnel functions” fall under the role’s responsibilities, according to the White House Historical Association.

Reid was the White House’s ninth usher and the second African American.

The chief usher and residence staff are not political positions, and it’s highly unusual for someone to leave at the beginning of a new administration.

I wonder if they can hire Reid again.

There will be plenty of bad news for the new administration to discover about the mess Trump has left them, but they have already learned that there was no plan whatsoever for getting the coronavirus vaccine to desperate Americans. 

M.J. Lee at CNN: Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start ‘from scratch,’ sources say.

Newly sworn in President Joe Biden and his advisers are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration, sources tell CNN, posing a significant challenge for the new White House.

The Biden administration has promised to try to turn the Covid-19 pandemic around and drastically speed up the pace of vaccinating Americans against the virus. But in the immediate hours following Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the new administration’s Covid-related work told CNN one of the biggest shocks that the Biden team had to digest during the transition period was what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy under former President Donald Trump, even weeks after multiple vaccines were approved for use in the United States.

“There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch,” one source said.

Another source described the moment that it became clear the Biden administration would have to essentially start from “square one” because there simply was no plan as: “Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence.”

More from The Daily Beast: ‘Worse Than We Imagined’: Team Trump Left Biden a COVID Nightmare.

“What we’re inheriting from the Trump administration is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 czar, said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “We don’t have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations.”

Jennifer Lopez“I think we have to level-set expectations,” added Tom Frieden, the former director for the Centers for Disease Control in the Obama administration. “There are lots of things that an incoming administration can do on Day One, including speaking honestly about the pandemic.”

The new administration is already behind, in part because the Trump administration was unprecedentedly hostile during the transition. The question now, however, is how Biden can get a handle on a raging pandemic when his team is already so far behind.

The task at hand is enormous. More than 400,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. Every state, territory and the District of Columbia is in a state of emergency. The number of people infected with the virus who are now hospitalized is more than double the number reached during the spring and summer peaks.

It’s not just the spread of the virus that the Biden team needs to tackle. Officials will also have to confront the disinformation and misinformation about the virus that has permeated all four corners of the country—where people still believe the virus is a hoax and that public health guidelines are too great of an imposition on their personal freedom to follow. But it’s unclear what power of persuasion the Biden administration will hold and if it will be enough to convince people to take the virus more seriously.

Biden will be busy again today. CNBC: Biden to sign 10 executive orders and invoke Defense Production Act to combat Covid pandemic.

On his first full day in office, President Joe Biden released details Thursday of his sweeping plan to combat the coronavirus, announcing 10 executive orders and directing agencies to use wartime powers to require U.S. companies to make N95 masks, swabs and other equipment to fight the pandemic.

The president’s plan emphasizes ramping up testing for the coronavirus, accelerating the pace of vaccinations and providing more funding and direction to state and local officials. A key component of the plan is restoring trust with the American public. It also focuses on vaccinating more people, safely reopening schools, businesses and travel as well as slowing the spread of the virus.

“The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century,” the plan says. “America has always risen to the challenge we face and we will do so now.”

Biden has taken office at a pivotal moment in the pandemic, many epidemiologists and U.S. health officials say. Nearly 3,000 Americans are dying every day of Covid-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and newly discovered, more infectious strains are establishing footholds in the U.S., threatening to push the nation’s outbreak to even more deadly heights. The plan released Thursday expands on initiatives outlined last week and details how Biden plans to bring the outbreak under control and help the country recover.

So this seems like a good start. I’m beginning to feel somewhat hopeful again. It’s such a relief to know that I won’t be waking up to horrible tweets and stories about the childish man in the oval office throwing epic tantrums and demanding undying loyalty from everyone. How are you feeling today? As always, this is an open thread.


Wednesday Inauguration Reads: Finally!

Yes! The day is finally here…

See you at 12 noon…

Until then:

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Goodbye and Good Riddance!

Good Afternoon!!

Our long national nightmare is almost over. Tomorrow morning Trump will leave the White House for the last time with the blood of 400,000 dead Americans on his hands.

Trump’s horrific “legacy” includes his “Muslim ban,” the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents, his effort to build a ridiculous wall on the Southern border, the violation of long-held government norms, his active promotion of racism, sexism, and xenophobia, his corrupt use of his office to enrich himself, his efforts to weaken NATO and our most important foreign alliances while expressing support for foreign dictators, his multiple attempts to interfere with the 2020 election, and most recently his active promotion of an attempted coup to overthrow the election results and stay on as a dictator.

For an expert take on the Trump legacy, check out this BBC article: US historians on what Donald Trump’s legacy will be.

Stephen Collinson at CNN: Trump’s legacy will take years to purge from the American psyche.

After four exhausting years of raging tweets, lies, “fire and fury” rants and orders for far-right extremists to “stand back and stand by,” it’s almost over.

Donald Trump’s presidency is ending in a riot of division, discord and disgrace that encapsulates the pandemonium of his single term that culminated in him inciting an insurrection against Congress and a legacy that will take years to purge from the American psyche.

Trump is expected to unfurl a new list of pardons, including for white-collar criminals and celebrity rappers, in his last full day in office Tuesday that is likely to reflect the self-dealing contempt for justice that was a dominant theme of his tumultuous term. And there are sure to be more political traps for Joe Biden’s incoming administration on his way out the door.

20210111edstc-aThe very experience of being alive in America will change at noon on Wednesday when the mandate expires of the loudest, most disruptive and erratic commander in chief in history — who forced himself into every corner of life on his social media feed and constant craving for the spotlight.

Millions of Americans who viewed the twice-impeached Trump’s assaults on decency and the rule of law with shame and alarm will finally be able to breathe easily again, liberated from his strongman’s shadow. Biden will be a President who seeks to unify an internally estranged nation in contrast to Trump’s obsession with ripping at its social, racial and cultural fault lines to cement his power. Trump’s cynical weaponizing of race reemerged on Monday when his White House chose the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. to issue a commission report that minimizes slavery and insults the modern civil rights movement.

But this is only one view of Trump. The 74 million Americans who voted to reward him with a second term saw him as a leader who voiced their anger at political, business and media elites. Trump channeled their belief that an increasingly diverse and socially liberal nation threatened their values, religion, gun rights and cultural heritage. His exit could trigger volatile political forces among a community that will mourn his White House. The continued devotion of Trump’s loyal base voters means that while Biden can wipe out many of the outgoing President’s policy wins, removing his influence from politics may well be impossible.

There can be little doubt that Trump is by far the worst president in U.S. history. Tim Naftali at The Atlantic: The Worst President in History. Three particular failures secure Trump’s status as the worst chief executive ever to hold the office.

President Donald Trump has long exulted in superlatives. The first. The best. The most. The greatest. “No president has ever done what I’ve done,” he boasts. “No president has ever even come close,” he says. But as his four years in office draw to an end, there’s only one title to which he can lay claim: Donald Trump is the worst president America has ever had.

In December 2019, he became the third president to be impeached. Last week, Trump entered a category all his own, becoming the first president to be impeached twice. But impeachment, which depends in part on the makeup of Congress, is not the most objective standard. What does being the worst president actually mean? And is there even any value, at the bitter end of a bad presidency, in spending energy on judging a pageant of failed presidencies?

lk011521daprIt is helpful to think of the responsibilities of a president in terms of the two elements of the oath of office set forth in the Constitution. In the first part, presidents swear to “faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States.” This is a pledge to properly perform the three jobs the presidency combines into one: head of state, head of government, and commander in chief. In the second part, they promise to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Trump was a serial violator of his oath—as evidenced by his continual use of his office for personal financial gain—but focusing on three crucial ways in which he betrayed it helps clarify his singular historical status. First, he failed to put the national-security interests of the United States ahead of his own political needs. Second, in the face of a devastating pandemic, he was grossly derelict, unable or unwilling to marshal the requisite resources to save lives while actively encouraging public behavior that spread the disease. And third, held to account by voters for his failures, he refused to concede defeat and instead instigated an insurrection, stirring a mob that stormed the Capitol.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

Trump has also perverted the presidential pardon process, and he is expected spend today issuing as many as 100, largely corrupt pardons. That link is to the NYT story that details many of the planned pardons. This is from Vanity Fair: Trump’s Last Power Grab Will Involve Around 100 Pardons in Massive “Influence Peddling” Operation.

Tuesday’s list, which was reportedly finalized during a White House meeting on Sunday, will likely be the final pardoning spree of Trump’s tenure and is not expected to include the president himself; advisers have urged Trump not to issue a self-pardon because it would imply guilt, CNN reports. Advisers close to the president have apparently also encouraged him not to grant clemency to anyone involved in the insurrection, a move Senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime loyalist, warned against during a Fox News interview Sunday, saying he thinks pardoning Capitol rioters “would destroy” Trump. Instead, allies expect Trump to grant clemency to those who could benefit him after leaving office. “Everything is a transaction. He likes pardons because it is unilateral. And he likes doing favors for people he thinks will owe him,” one source told CNN.

Criminals have been clamoring at Trump’s heels to achieve exactly this result, one well-connected lobbyists helped facilitate—some for a hefty price. Trump associates have apparently tried to monetize their access to the outgoing administration by selling pardons, or the hope of them, to convicted felons seeking clemency, with some allies bringing in tens of thousands of dollars to promote their clients’ position to the White House in recent weeks, the New York Times reported Sunday. The lucrative pardon lobbying reportedly ramped up as Trump’s chances of overturning the election became more and more distant, and people seeking pardons or commutations turned to fixers advertising their clout within the administration for last-minute reprieves. Since November, at least 10 convicted criminals have retained lobbyists whose described services include “pardon,” “commutation,” or “clemency,” according to Axios.

lk011421daprTrump’s final insult is his refusal to participate in the passing of power to his successor. That said, most of us are glad he won’t be there to ruin the day for the Biden and Harris families. Kate Bennett at CNN: Trumps’ snub of Bidens historic in its magnitude

The dissolving of one of America’s most enduring transfer-of-power rituals — the outgoing president welcoming the incoming president on the steps of the North Portico, and then riding with them to the United States Capitol — is just one of the snubs the Trumps are perpetrating as they leave Washington.

Instead of a president and first lady, the Bidens will be greeted by the White House chief usher Timothy Harleth, according to a source familiar with the day’s events and planning. Harleth, a 2017 Trump hire from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, will likely not stay on in the Biden administration, the source said, noting the role of chief usher in all probability will be filled by someone more familiar with the incoming president and first lady.

The afternoon of Inauguration Day, then-President Biden will participate in a ceremonial wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. It is during these hours the bulk of the Bidens’ personal effects will be moved into the White House and unpacked, according to another source with knowledge of executive residence practices.

By that time, all Trump paraphernalia will be gone, and a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning of the entire White House campus will have been completed. Deeper cleaning protocols were arranged via the White House with outside contractors, on top of regular cleaning done by staff, including specialized attention to rugs, carpets, curtains and surfaces, to tackle any possibility of lingering germs, of the Covid-19 sort or otherwise.

“Moving furniture and vacuuming, cleaning baseboards, vacuuming drapes, wiping down shades, cleaning chandeliers, washing windows, high dusting,” are areas all covered during the traditional move-in of a new president and his family, according to the residence source. “That cleaning will start as soon as Donald Trump and Melania Trump depart.”

2_HU-showtime-Band_-JKnight__Today, the Senate is holding hearings on some of Biden’s cabinet appointments. Axios has a list of the hearings scheduled for today:

Jan. 19:

  • 10 am: Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of homeland security nominee, before the Senate Homeland Committee.
  • 10 am: Avril Haines, nominee for director of national intelligence, before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  • 10 am: Janet Yellen, nominee for treasury secretary, before the Senate Finance Committee.
  • 2 pm: Antony Blinken, nominee for secretary of state, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
  • 3 pm: Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, nominee for defense secretary, before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Washington Post on Janet Yellen’s appearance: Janet Yellen urges lawmakers to ‘act big’ on economic stimulus relief at Senate confirmation hearing.

Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, urged lawmakers Tuesday to “act big” on economic relief for the coronavirus pandemic as she appeared before a Senate committee for her confirmation hearing.

“I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later,” Yellen said in written testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee ahead of the hearing.

She faced immediate pushback from Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who used his opening statement to slam the Biden relief plan as a “laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms” that would not be appropriate to enact.

Yellen, 74, spent years as a professor before entering politics as head of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers in the late 1990s. She chaired the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, playing a key role in the economic recovery from the Great Recession with a studied approach that helped push down the unemployment rate over time. President Trump broke with tradition when he opted not to reappoint her to the top Fed job.

I’m still bracing for Trump to pull something in his remaining hours, but it’s such a relieve to know that we’ll soon be rid of him and his trailer trash family. It will be wonderful to have a normal person in the White House again. 


Monday Reads: Two Days until the Tumor is gone, but what about the Cancer?

Nick Anderson / Hearst papers

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I feel like we’re in this place of being close to the road to normalcy, competency, and the end of lies and malignancy in the White House. On the other hand, we face this angry white nationalist insurgency which is trying everything it can to remain relevant.  State and Federal buildings–where the peoples’ business takes place–have a heavy military presence.

In the District, National Guard have undergone a sweeping background check to ensure none of the guard present have a background that shows any form of radicalization.   They’re calling this a layered scrub because it involves all kinds of federal agencies as well as the military.  This is via WAPO.

Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said in an interview with Defense One that the screening represented an “extra layer” of security for this deployment, on top of the continuous monitoring that the U.S. military does of its service members.

“For this deployment everybody is screened additionally, but it’s more of a reassurance, because we do everything we can do [to] know our Guardsmen, our soldiers and airmen,” Walker said.

Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy, who is overseeing the D.C. Guard and the military’s preparations for the inauguration, said in an interview with the Associated Press that so far the vetting process hasn’t flagged any issues with the troops coming to help protect the inauguration.

We’re also seeing these things: “FBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters”.  This is also from WAPO.

A heavy-metal guitarist, the alleged leader of a Colorado paramilitary training group and two self-styled militia members from Ohio have been charged with taking part in the riot at the Capitol last week, as the FBI ratchets up its investigation into the role extremist groups played in storming the building.

Jon Schaffer, an Indiana musician, turned himself in to the FBI on Sunday afternoon, officials said. On Jan. 6, Schaffer was photographed inside the Capitol, wearing a hat that said “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member.” Schaffer founded Iced Earth, a heavy-metal band, and music fans quickly recognized him as the FBI circulated wanted posters with his face on them.

Schaffer was charged with six counts, including engaging in an act of physical violence. Authorities said Schaffer was among the rioters who targeted U.S. Capitol Police with bear spray.

Also charged in a court filing made public Sunday was Robert Gieswein, 24, of Cripple Creek, Colo. Court papers say that Gieswein is affiliated with an Oath Keepers-related extremist group called the Three Percenters, and that he assaulted federal officers outside the Capitol with bear spray and a baseball bat; “encouraged other rioters as they broke a window of the Capitol building; entered … and then charged through the Capitol building.”

Gieswein runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, and a patch for that group was visible on a tactical vest he wore during the attack on Congress, an FBI affidavit said.

Gieswein gave a media interview in which he echoed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the affidavit said, and said his message to Congress was “that they need to get the corrupt politicians out of office. Pelosi, the Clintons … every single one of them, Biden, Kamala.”

There was evidently something burning in one of the tunnels.  Fortunately, this was the fire from a homeless encampment and not something worse.

I’m also seeing signs that these militia morons maybe trying to mount false flag attacks at state capitols.  I imagine these cosplayers are going to get played up as some ANTIFA leftists but tell me, have you ever seen a liberal or progressive activists in militia attire loaded down with semi automatic long guns?

These pictures are from the Michigan State Capitol.  Go to the Deadpool thread and you’ll see close up pix of 1776 badges.  Not even the leftwing activists of the’60s and ’70s wore paramilitary outfits. This is clearly to provide the Fox nasties like Sean Hannity and worse with pix that he can mislabel.  Is this the start of a Reich stag

State troopers swing billy clubs to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., March 7, 1965. John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (in the foreground) is being beaten by a state trooper. Lewis, a future U.S. Congressman sustained a fractured skull. (unknown/AP)
This is a peaceful protest turned into a Police Riot.

Trump Allies definitely helped with the Capitol Hill Riot via (AP).

Members of President Donald Trump’s failed presidential campaign played key roles in orchestrating the Washington rally that spawned a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, according to an Associated Press review of records, undercutting claims the event was the brainchild of the president’s grassroots supporters.

A pro-Trump nonprofit group called Women for America First hosted the “Save America Rally” on Jan. 6 at the Ellipse, an oval-shaped, federally owned patch of land near the White House. But an attachment to the National Park Service public gathering permit granted to the group lists more than half a dozen people in staff positions for the event who just weeks earlier had been paid thousands of dollars by Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. Other staff scheduled to be “on site” during the demonstration have close ties to the White House.

Since the siege, several of them have scrambled to distance themselves from the rally.

The riot at the Capitol, incited by Trump’s comments before and during his speech at the Ellipse, has led to a reckoning unprecedented in American history. The president told the crowd to march to the Capitol and that “you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

johnlewisedmundpettisbridge640

In tribute to John Lewis: Renew the Voting Rights Act this year!!!

And today is a Federal Holiday. We’re celebrating the legacy of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. while fending off insurrectionists that are basically the sons of the NeoConfederacy.  Trump is readying 100s of pardons and it will not be for any one that actually deserves it.  They we all be paying for them or get them because they’ve committed crimes that Trump likes or has commited himself.  Trump has destroyed the rule of law and the American sense of Justice.  This is reported by CNN.

Initially, two major batches had been ready to roll out, one at the end of last week and one on Tuesday. Now, officials expect the last batch to be the only one — unless Trump decides at the last minute to grant pardons to controversial allies, members of his family or himself.

The final batch of clemency actions is expected to include a mix of criminal justice reform-minded pardons and more controversial ones secured or doled out to political allies.

The pardons are one of several items Trump must complete before his presidency ends in days. White House officials also still have executive orders prepared, and the President is still hopeful to declassify information related to the Russia probe before he leaves office. But with a waning number of administration officials still in jobs, the likelihood that any of it gets done seemed to be shrinking.

The January 6 riots that led to Trump’s second impeachment have complicated his desire to pardon himself, his kids and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. At this point, aides do not think he will do so, but caution only Trump knows what he will do with his last bit of presidential power before he is officially out of office at noon on January 20.

This is a peaceful protest with police presence. A young boy greets police officers in riot gear during a march in Maryland. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

Noon on Wednesday is the time and day we should be rid of this monster.  I expect a period of insurgency starts on that day  However, we also have these things to look forward too.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has indicated plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit via executive action on his first day in office, sources tell CBC News..

You can read more about this at the NYT.

Via WAPO:  Facebook, Google to face tougher regulation under Biden anda Democratic-controlled Senate.

Even before he won the White House, Joe Biden had been unsparing in his criticism of Silicon Valley, practically pleading with Facebook in June to stop President Trump from publishing “wild claims.”

“Anything less,” the Biden campaign said in an open letter, “will render Facebook a tool of misinformation that corrodes our democracy.”

Seven months later, rioters descended on the U.S. Capitol, stormed the House and the Senate, and sought to overturn Biden’s victory — mounting a deadly, failed insurrection that illustrated the corrosive power of Trump’s false online screeds.

The aftermath of that attack now sets the stage for a political reckoning between Washington and Silicon Valley, as long-simmering frustrations with Facebook, Google, Twitter and their digital peers threaten to unleash the most aggressive regulatory assault against the tech industry in its history. On the eve of his inauguration, Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress are pledging to take aim at the country’s largest social media platforms out of concern that they imperil the very fabric of American democracy — and the billions of people who use these digital services every day.

DC cop assaulted in Capitol riots, shocking images show. These are violent insurrectionists and this is a violence-filled riot where Police are being harmed and killed.

And the MLK holiday is generally seen as a day where we should provide service to our community. I’m planning on filling up my neighborhood fridge as much as I can and then will be delivering what children’s books I can find remaining in my house to the nearest little library. I wish I could set up a huge foundation but I’m just a little old semi retired prof.

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day might have a different meaning for many this year.

There will be no events at the MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C. because the National Mall is closed.

Also, America bid farewell to civil rights activists and King’s friend John Lewis in 2020.

MLK Day, celebrated each year on the third Monday in January, became a national celebration on January 20, 1986.

It was signed into law by then President Ronald Reagan.

On August 23, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Martin Luther King Junior Federal Holiday and Service Act.

Events celebrating Dr. King’s achievements are still being held all across the country.

The day is designated to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Dr. King is widely know for his “I have a dream speech” where he rallied for better race relations.

King also led several marches advocating for the civil and economic rights of African Americans.

Dr. King would have been 92 years old on January 15.

He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

Ask yourselves, what kind of country do we want?  Want kind of vision of American do you have?

My vision was formed early watching the treatment of protestors in the South during King’s movement to get Voting Rights and economic and social justice.  Even as a small child I was horrified by the footage of police officers sending dogs after the peaceful marchers.  I also remember that famous picture of the National Guard shooting and killing war protestors at Kent State.  What we saw last week  was a riot has nothing to do with protesting anything but the ability to be hateful and selfish.

I really hope the Capitol Riot has an impact on young children and a small voice in them screams this is not what we want to be when we grow up. This is basically what my thoughts  were as I saw police officers turn powerful fire hoses on kids my age.  It is also what I thought when I saw Ruby Bridges try to get to the first day of school in New Orleans in 1960.  I was hoping my first day at kindergarten was not going to look like that.  The ugly hateful faces on all those white people and a girl my age surrounded by federal officers for protection just to go to school!!

In a matter of minutes, Senator Kamala Harris will become Kamala Harris and then on Wednesday she will become Vice President Kamala Harris.  Lawrence interviewed Ruby Bridges about this iconic painting last night.  You can watch it here.

Ruby Bridges was six years old when she was the first Black student at her New Orleans elementary school. She tells Lawrence O’Donnell that the inauguration of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has renewed hope and faith in the U.S. “There’s so much more work to be done, but we have to also be able to look at the strives that we make and this is truly one for all women and especially for Black women.”

Hang on there. We’ve made it through trouble before.  We can plow through this deep shit again together.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  “How long must we sing this song?”