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….
Second, 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:
Meanwhile, the Senate approved Biden’s choice for DNI.
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.
She 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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?”