WHEW! What is up with January and Wednesdays? Thanks for following along today as we covered Joe Biden's inauguration. We saw Lady Gaga belt the national anthem, multiple historic swearing-in ceremonies, and even some toilet paper with Donald Trump's face on it. You can watch the day's festivities in full through this recorded live stream:
Celebrating America, the Inauguration Night Special begins at 5:30 PM Seattle-time and is hosted by America's dad, Tom Hanks. You can watch a live stream of it below:
We're back with our regular Slog AM + PM activities tomorrow morning. Until then, soldier on, Sloggers.
This already feels Different. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki held her first press briefing this afternoon, kicking the affair off by going through Biden's 17 executive actions signed just hours ago in the Oval Office. She stated that Biden's objective is to bring "truth and transparency" back to government as well as "rebuilding trust with the American people" which will be "central to our focus in the press office and in the White House. Every single day."
She emphasized that the president's primary concern, for the time being, is focusing on the pandemic. Psaki fielded several questions about his proposed COVID-19 relief package, saying his "preference is to move forward with a bipartisan bill." Psaki also stated that the administration will restart regular COVID-19 briefings with health officials and daily White House press briefings. She revealed that Biden's first call to a foreign leader will be to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who we're sure would like to discuss the president's recent action on the Keystone XL pipeline. Here she is on how she perceives her relationship to the president and the press:
"I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy" says President Biden's new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Read more: https://t.co/7fDTOFqhcd pic.twitter.com/8vsvNLTAnb
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 21, 2021
In front of a wall of Zoom screens, Biden held a virtual swearing-in ceremony for the almost 1,000 White House staff members. He reminded his team that the "people don't work for us, we work for the people." But Biden won't put up with any malarkey. “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treating another colleague with disrespect, talking down to someone, I will fire you on the spot," he warned, like a hard-ass gym teacher.
In his first appearance in the Oval Office as president, Biden signed a fat stack of executive actions undoing many of the Trump administration's catastrophic policies. The very first order he signed was a mask mandate on federal property, where he has jurisdiction. Other orders include halting construction on the US-Mexico border wall, ending the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization, and revoking the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. CNN reports that each day in the White House during January will have some sort of "theme": tomorrow will focus on the pandemic, Friday will highlight a push for economic relief, next week will have a "Buy American" day. Let's see how it turns out.
Here's how we got to today. (Hint: Jim Clyburn and Ms. Coronavirus.)
Comedian and Obama-era relic Jon Stewart introduced the virtual inaugural parade, praising "unsung American heroes" across the nation. Hosted by Tony Goldwyn (whom you might recognize as the unhinged President Fitz from Scandal), the virtual Parade Across America clearly learned several things from the Democratic National Convention with its cute videos from almost every state. Some notable highlights were the Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corp from Iowa, an artist making crop circles in Kansas, and the video from the Native American Women’s Veterans Warriors based in Colorado. Despite our OVERWHELMING support of Biden, Washington was mysteriously missing from today's lineup, minus a very short dance in front of the Space Needle....what gives!?
President Biden and his family walked hand-in-hand down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House, where they will reside for the next four years. The parade route is normally packed with people, but due to security concerns and the pandemic, it was freakishly quiet during the Bidens' walk. Old Joe still took the time to greet supporters along the parade route, wishing kids happy birthdays, fist bumping Al Roker, etc. Harris' crew soon followed Biden's procession to the White House. Harris said to the crowd that she was simply "walking to work." Their arrival at the White House signaled the end of the in-person inaugural day festivities, which mostly went off without a hitch. Thank God.
The flyer reads:
Grab a FREE ROLL of
on your way out!
On WEDNESDAY at high noon
you can FLUSH IT or BURN IT
or put it in your time capsule!
THAT'S RIGHT, IT IS THE JOYFUL END OF
WIPING for a CAUSE!
Who's doin' the grabbin' NOW!
Many people are thinking that quote today, but it comes from a surprising group: The Proud Boys. New York Times reports that the far-right dipshits the Proud Boys are dumping Trump. They're calling him a "shill" and "extraordinarily weak" and asking their supporters to stop attending his rallies and protests.
Another traditional part of the Inauguration Day ceremonies includes the new President and Vice President laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Biden and Harris did so while Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton looked on. "Taps" played in the background, as Biden gave a salute. All "normal," all a bit boring. Refreshing!
President Biden and Vice President Harris participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The Bidens were joined by former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, and the former first ladies. https://t.co/tcmAzrzqTx pic.twitter.com/liJDyPl8Q7
— CNN (@CNN) January 20, 2021
There's something about the gruff, old man nature of Sen. Bernie Sanders that makes him so meme-able. A photo of the Vermont senator sitting alone on a wobbly folding chair, masked up, with his handmade mittens at the inauguration instantly went viral. It should also be noted that the jacket he's wearing in this photo is the same jacket as the one he wore in that other meme that took off last year.
In place of presenting gifts at a ceremonial lunch, President Biden and Vice President Harris instead went on a strangely cute quest of gift presentations through the Capitol with their spouses in tow. It was as if the pair received tools and words of advice from each person in the kingdom.
At their first stop, Sen. Roy Blunt presented Biden with the painting "Landscape with Rainbow," painted by Black artist Robert S. Duncanson around the Civil War, chosen by Dr. Biden and on loan from the Smithsonian. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer presented both Harris and Biden with photos from their inauguration. Sen. Amy Klobuchar conferred upon the new President and VP handcrafted glass vases by Lenox, weighing 32 pounds each. Harris and Biden were also given a pair of flags flown over the Capitol building during their inauguration. This gift quest was incredible and boring all at once!
NEW: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell present flags flown over inauguration to Pres. Biden and Vice Pres. Harris.
"Please accept this flag with the highest compliments and congratulations of the United States Senate." https://t.co/qjeUynJUdz #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/eL1M5Oi2ST
— ABC News (@ABC) January 20, 2021
Finally, someone is thinking about the software engineers. Hidden in the code on the new White House website is an ask for those who can find it: “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” the message said, with a link to join the White House's tech unit, the U.S. Digital Service.
Well, the Great Awakening was supposed to happen today. For those of us not indoctrinated into the cult of QAnon, the Great Awakening was a prophecy foretold by Q where top Democrats would be arrested on inauguration day for "running a global sex trafficking ring" and Trump would take office again. Sadly, for these wackos, that didn't happen. Some reporters watched their hearts break in real time:
Our favorite take is when they stopped pining for Trump to swoop in and rescue the presidency from the clutches of evil Joe Biden in order to call for Lady Gaga's arrest:
Runner-up for Best Moment is all the QAnon posters trying to cover their asses for their bad posts by pretending it was "all satire."
CNN's coverage of the inauguration, which is anchored by Lady Gaga-loving Wolf Blitzer, reminds us that, in the way Fox News is the propaganda arm of the GOP, it is the propaganda arm of the State Department. Trump, for reasons that many connect with Moscow, tried to destroy the State Department; and so CNN naturally saw and attacked him as an enemy of the state. But now that Trump is gone, CNN can resume its key role, which is not the amplification of leftist causes or even the Democratic Party, but the amplification of the goals and interests of the holy trinity of American state power: the CIA (intelligence); the Pentagon (military power); and, above all, the State Department (the institution that manages and maintains the US's geopolitical hegemony). CNN's four-year assault of Trump's presidency had nothing to do with his political affiliation or his policies. He was simply perceived as, to use the words of Tom Clancy, the CIA's poet, "a clear and present danger' to national security.
“I don’t think the president is going to be happy with his crowd size, it looks like about 200 people here.” - Jim Acosta
“Hold on Jim, we’re having problems hearing you, they’re playing Gloria so loud it’s like a campaign rally”. Wolf Blitzer pic.twitter.com/NG7UeAeRo3
— Hoodlum 🇺🇸 (@NotHoodlum) January 20, 2021
In his first act as President, Biden signed several documents: an Inauguration Day proclamation, nominations to Cabinet positions, and nominations to sub-Cabinet positions. We can expect to see Biden sign a flurry of executive orders undoing several Trump-era policies on the pandemic, climate change, and immigration, later today. Next up for our 46th president: Biden will "review the readiness of military troops" in front of the Capitol, then head to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of congressional leaders participate in a signing ceremony in the President's Room of the U.S. Capitol. pic.twitter.com/bHhJLPfaIG
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 20, 2021
Normally, this handing over wouldn't be such a big deal, but because our last president governed from his Twitter account, it's a slight relief to know the Trump administration no longer has access to @POTUS's millions of followers. But that doesn't mean Biden inherits Trump's former audience—instead, all accounts following @PresElectBiden will automatically follow the @POTUS account. As for Trump's White House account, it will now pass to the National Archives and Records Administration, remaining up as archived public records, says the New York Times. As for Trump's personal account? Still banned.
For those who do not remember this man, he was vice president of George H. W. Bush's administration. And what's Quayle's only claim to political fame? He made a kid misspell "potato." This is no exaggeration.
Here's Inslee's statement on the inauguration:
"We have two things to sustain our nation this morning from our new president; First, disagreement cannot lead to disunion. Second, we will get through this together. What we needed on this sunny morning in our nation’s Capitol, we have received. Congratulations, Mr. President."
22-year-old Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in recent memory, delivering her remarks to the country in a brilliant yellow coat. The nation's first national youth poet laureate, Gorman wrote the poem she read today, "The Hill We Climb," after the January 6 siege of the Capitol building. She has been open about her struggle with a speech impediment (like Biden himself), but spoke strongly to the crowd this morning. "Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it." Dan wept.
FULL AMANDA GORMAN POEM:
“We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one ... There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
The 22-year-old is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history: https://t.co/SIPU57hEKH pic.twitter.com/X4JQZO8rlY
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 20, 2021
Durkan said she was looking "forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration, over the next year, to bring true relief and opportunity to Seattle residents.” Ideally, that relief is monetary. Seattle needs some cash!!!!
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on #InaugurationDay: “Today’s inauguration is an inspiring historic moment for our country and a complete repudiation of the last four years." pic.twitter.com/wqRs5Yd5K3
— Jake Goldstein-Street (@GoldsteinStreet) January 20, 2021
Garth is wearing all black because he’s a Republican in mourning. Is this enough divide-bridging for you fucking psychopaths??
This is the truth: if he had gone with “Friends in Low Places,” best believe the West Front would’ve been rockin’.
You all like symbolism and finding meaning where there isn't any? Sure, we'll play along.
A beautiful, sunny day frames the inauguration. Let there be light.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) January 20, 2021
We can barely remember it now, but Trump's inauguration weather may have set the tone for his presidency. That's mostly because Trump started his time in office lying about the weather, saying it only rained a few drops. In reality, a steady stream of light rain began as Trump started his inaugural speech. It rained all throughout the speech. Right now, Biden is squinting into the sun on a chilly low-40s day that feels about 20 degrees colder because of the wind chill. Pretty standard stuff. We saw a little flurry of snow earlier.
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has finally taken the oath of office of the President of the United States, closing four years of absolute chaos overseen by President Donald Trump. Biden took his oath on a family Bible with a giant Celtic cross that has been in his family since 1893. It's like a weight has been lifted. Now let's get to work.
Trump still has the nuclear football with him in Florida. The codes will change at noon eastern time.
The football that carries the nuclear code is still with Trump in Florida for about 10 more minutes, Nora @CBSNews helpfully points out. Then the codes change at noon Eastern time.
— Mike Lindblom (@MikeLindblom) January 20, 2021
What sold the powers-that-be that Klobuchar's biting personality would be the best way to shepherd us into this new era of CIVILITY and UNITY??? I guess we're all here for her showing up post-J-Lo to say, "Well, that was great" and to make a joke about J-Lo opening for Justice John Roberts for the first time in history. Everyone is being Very Them today. Klobuchar is acting like a midwestern mom at a coffee klatsch. Bernie is crouching in the corner. McConnell's hair looks like shit.
J-Lo decided to cover Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." The choice was moving considering the last administration's stance toward immigrants, and her hurried Spanish-language interlude carried with it a felt and poignant urgency. But for some reason, the bit wasn't hitting. In the middle of the song, our boyfriend, a lifelong devotee to J-Lo, walked into the room, sighed, and gave us the answer. "One of the great tragedies is God did not bless J-Lo with a good voice. This sounds like Kidz Bop hun."
Kamala Harris is now our vice president, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the office. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor swore her in using bibles from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Harris's family friend Regina Shelton. In order to celebrate the first female vice president's inauguration, a Facebook group with around 450,000 members tried to get everyone and their mother to don some pearls. Mostly, the founder of the group thought pearls were a nice symbol of strength and femininity. But Harris fucking loves pearls.
Bringing intense theater kid energy to the scene, Lady Gaga gave a very lively performance of our nation's anthem with an appropriately large golden dove lapel on her dress. We're proud citizens of the United States of Chromatica.
It's the sound of all of us openly praying for Brett Kavanaugh to just sort of tip over for some reason and fall over the side of the railing he’s leaning against.
President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. and Dr. Jill Biden have finally joined the party so now we can get this inauguration business on the road. The ceremony begins with remarks by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who says, "This is the day when our democracy picks itself up," referring to the January 6 siege of the Capitol building. It starting to lightly snow. Let's fucking GO.
On NBC we're hearing wholesale absolutions of people like Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, and Mitch McConnell, and all for participating in the ass-saving symbolism of showing up to the new president’s birthday party. The narrative the anchors keep mercilessly jamming down the throat of viewers is that Donald Trump was a cancer, but now that he’s gone the nation can “heal.” We all know that “healing” cannot happen until every single last one of these Republicans is stripped of power and publicly embarrassed. (This is what we mean by “accountability, yes?“) However, watching this heavily fortified transfer of power on CSPAN (or on the video feed we’ve embedded in the Slog post) is much better. When the camera pans to one of those enabling snakes, you can see in their eyes the fear of a bank robber who just changed into street clothes and who is now walking the streets wondering if he’s gotten away with it and knowing he absolutely has not—and seeing that fear is “healing.” Plus the horns really pop when you don’t have to deal with an anchor debasing herself with red carpet work. Anyway, Michelle Obama looks great.
It's unclear whether all of these will be done on Day 1 or during Biden's first 100 days, but here are some of the things we can expect to see right out of the gate:
Is Bernie Sanders fending off the chill:
Trump had some unfinished business to attend to in his remaining hours in power:
Over 140 last-minute pardons and commutations: Just as the clock ticked into Wednesday for the East Coast, Trump issued a slew of last-minute pardons and commutations. By "slew" we mean he issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations. Steve Bannon is off the hook for potentially defrauding donors of the "Build a Wall" campaign and any connection he had to the Capitol Insurrection. Lil Wayne can forget the gun possession charge he pleaded guilty to in Miami and Trump gave rapper Kodak Black a commutation for a weapons charge, reports CNN.
So much for draining the swamp: Trump issued an executive order releasing his administration officials from their ethics pledge. Part of that pledge prevented administration officials from becoming lobbyists for five years. Not anymore!
Trump just revoked the executive order that banned administration officials from becoming lobbyists within five years of leaving government pic.twitter.com/H4GboXs8il
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) January 20, 2021
Trump may have made it harder for immigration reform: According to NBC News, "the Department of Homeland Security has made a last-minute effort to 'sabotage' the incoming administration's efforts to unroll its tough immigration policies by signing legal agreements in recent weeks with state and local authorities that are intended to delay any such changes for 180 days." Four agreements like these have been signed by attorneys generals in Indiana, Louisiana, and Arizona. A sheriff in Rockingham County, North Carolina also signed onto one.
"Hopefully it's not a long-term goodbye"
As Donald Trump leaves the White House, he says being president was the "honour of a lifetime".
Live updates on #InaugurationDay: https://t.co/ofnS0CpKfw pic.twitter.com/gDVkho83qZ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 20, 2021
Not reassuring at all: Here's how his base is responding to Trump's departure. Seems like... they're hoping for violence? But hey, maybe we've completely misjudged the people who incited violence at the Capitol just two weeks ago.