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PRESIDENT Joe Biden: A Return to Normalcy?


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Discussion of the Biden Presidency goes here. I know he's starting to put out his orders and first 100 days stuff, and that would best go here as well. Here's hoping this thread stays boring, normal, and compassionate. Progressive would be nice too. :)

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4 minutes ago, Dandruff said:

I hope Biden expands the mask mandate and institutes powerful measures of enforcement.

Agreed. I had someone die from COVID this weekend and I'm more mad than sad because he doesn't fucking need to be dead. 

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I love the title. I so hope its a return to normalcy. I so want him to deal with the virus. Mask mandates, shut downs if needed, something. Massive vacinations. To deal with the people who've lost their homes or in danger of it because they lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Same with business owners, not the millionaires and billionaires. Fix health care, and education. I don't envy the task he has. Cleaning up all of Trump's messed. It'll be nice to have someone sane who can act like an adult as president again. I'm also really, really excited about having a woman as Vice President. 

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Canceling more Trump decisions would be great cancel culture. 

Sadly these cannot be canceled.


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17 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

I am hoping for a lot of wholesome dog content.

Towards the end of her life, Patti Page co-wrote and recorded “Do You See That Doggie At The Shelter”(to the tune of “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window”, with all royalties donated to the SPCA.


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"Biden plans a flurry of executive orders, new legislation for first days as president"


President-elect Joe Biden plans to swiftly alter the shape of the U.S. government with an aspirational inauguration speech, a legislative package aimed at coronavirus recovery and a burst of executive orders designed to signal an immediate break from President Trump.

The day he takes office, Biden is planning to return the United States to the Paris climate accords and repeal the ban on U.S. entry for citizens of some majority-Muslim countries. He will sign an order extending nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and implement a mask mandate on federal property.

Those moves will launch a 10-day governing sprint that will include executive actions to help schools reopen, expand coronavirus testing and establish clearer public health standards. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain wrote in a memo released Saturday.

In his first days in office, Biden also intends to send to Congress several pieces of legislation including a sweeping immigration bill. In remarks last week, he began outlining legislation that he views as most urgent — a $1.9 trillion plan aimed at stabilizing the economy.

Any president’s opening agenda provides a window into his top priorities and offers the first clues as to which agenda items will be prioritized. But Biden’s unusually sweeping list reflects not only the multiple challenges he faces, but also illustrates his desire to quickly emerge from the shadow of his predecessor, closing a dark chapter in American history marked by false claims of election fraud, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and a second impeachment.

But Biden will face severe challenges to his attempts to turn the page: An inauguration conducted before military guards under threat from violent extremists. A West Wing largely empty because of health concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And a Republican Party that largely refuses to acknowledge that Biden won the election fairly and therefore rejects his legitimacy.

Historians struggle to find parallels to what Biden is confronting: a public health crisis that has triggered an economic crisis and collided with a social crisis. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin compared it to a combination of what Franklin D. Roosevelt faced during the Great Depression and Abraham Lincoln confronted during the Civil War.

“It’s huge what he’s facing,” said Goodwin, who has written extensively about Roosevelt and Lincoln. “History has shown when you have crises like this, it’s an opportunity for leaders to mobilize resources of the federal government. ... All the presidents we remember, they dealt with a crisis. When you’re given that chance, the question is: Are you fitted for that moment?”

The moment, at noon on Wednesday, will become Biden’s.

The six-term senator and two-term vice president, who has attended nearly a dozen inaugurations, will for the first time deliver the Inauguration Address. He has been working on his Inauguration Day speech off and on for the past several weeks with speechwriter Vinay Reddy, aiming for a message of unity in a fractured era.

“People are really anxious,” said Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), a close Biden ally. “This marks a turning point. We can see it, we can feel it. It’s a very significant break. And we will hear it in his speech. … People want to believe in their country, to feel this democracy is worth saving.”

While Biden has promoted his presidency as a return to bipartisan dealmaking, Clyburn and others have urged him not to hesitate to make liberal use of his executive powers and to consider seeking the elimination of the Senate filibuster.

“He wants to govern in a bipartisan way,” Clyburn said. “But I’ve said to him that he cannot allow his programs to get hijacked by people who have some other agenda. I advised Barack Obama again and again to use executive authority, that these people were not going to work with them.”

Clyburn said that in conversations with Biden, he has stressed that Harry S. Truman used the executive order to racially desegregate the military and Abraham Lincoln to begin dismantling slavery.

“You’ve got to lay out your vision and invite people to join you in the effort,” Clyburn said. “But if they don’t join you — whatever authority you’ve got, use it.”

Clyburn and others also emphasized the challenges Biden will face within his party, which holds only the thinnest of majorities in the House and Senate. “We’ve got a caucus that’s blue dogs, yellow dogs, moderates, conservatives, liberals. We’ve got them all,” Clyburn said. “He may have a harder job keeping us united than getting bipartisanship going.”

Former Senate majority leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) warned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been adept at stalling Democratic priorities in the past, and Reid urged Biden to take a muscular approach to working around Republicans.

“McConnell has done everything he can to damage the Senate. It’s only turned into a manufacturing site for judges,” Reid said. “They don’t do amendments, they don’t do any legislation at all.”

Reid said Biden — who served in the senate for 36 years — knows better than most how to cut deals. But he said that Biden may need to consider changing the Senate rules so that a minority cannot stop legislation from moving.

“I believe the filibuster is on its way out. It’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when it’s going to go,” Reid said. “Joe Biden has said he will see if he can work something out with McConnell to get legislation done. Maybe with all eyes pointed to McConnell, he won’t be the grim reaper he’s been in the past. But if that continues after whatever Biden thinks is a reasonable time, he may need to get rid of the filibuster.”

Biden’s team is expected to begin work Wednesday, reporting to a White House complex that many tearfully left four years earlier. His incoming press secretary, Jen Psaki, will hold a briefing that day — one that, four years ago, was marked by Sean Spicer’s falsely claiming that Trump had had the largest-ever inauguration audience on the Mall.

But many of Biden’s aides will start their tenure working from home, as they have been for months, and few visitors are expected at the White House.

Biden’s transition team has been prodigious on the hiring front, appointed 206 White House officials, a record and more than double the number of appointments President Obama had made at this point in 2009, according to the Center for Presidential Transition.

He also has already announced 44 nominees that need Senate confirmation, which surpasses Obama, who held the previous record at 42 nominations announced before the inauguration.

But though early nominations are typically swiftly confirmed, Biden may not have any Cabinet officials confirmed on his first day, the first time this would have happened since 1989.

Two of Trump’s Cabinet picks were confirmed on Inauguration Day in 2017, and President Obama had six confirmed at the start of his first term.

“I am hopeful that the Senate will move quickly, consistent with history,” said David Marchick, the director of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition. “It matters more than ever today during a crisis.”

Biden is eager to signal a rapid shift from Trump at the beginning of his tenure and to tap into the jubilation some feel at Trump’s exit. But he also is conscious of marking the solemnity of the moment. His first event in Washington, expected on Tuesday night, is a memorial marking the nearly 400,000 American lives lost to the novel coronavirus.

The nation’s second Roman Catholic president is expected to attend Mass on the morning of his inauguration, along with a national prayer service the day after.

In his first weeks, Biden’s primary focus will be moving his initial stimulus and legislation through Congress. But he’s also preparing to craft a second proposal aimed at rebuilding the economy.

“If Republicans in Congress want to show they genuinely want to move forward in this moment, quickly confirming his nominees and passing a bold package is the quickest way to do that,” said Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally.

During the campaign, Biden made a wide range of promises for action on “Day One” of his administration — and it is unclear whether he will get to all of it immediately.

“Day One, if I win, I’m going to be on the phone with our NATO allies saying, ‘We’re back,’ ” he told KPNX in Phoenix over the summer. “We’re back, and you can count on us again.”

He pledged to send a bill to Congress repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers on his first day and vowed to eliminate tax cuts passed under Trump in 2017.

“Right now, the president gives advantage to companies that go overseas and invest overseas by reducing the taxes they have to pay on foreign profits,” Biden said during a July interview with WNEP in Scranton, Pa. “I’d double that tax and do that on Day One.”

Among the other things Biden pledged to accomplish on his first day was to restore federal workers’ right to unionize and to issue new sweeping ethics standards that would apply to his administration.

He also said he would reinstate federal guidance, issued by Obama and revoked by Trump, ensuring that transgender students can have access to sports, restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.

“He is looking forward to delivering on the promises he made when running for president,” Psaki said Friday when asked about Biden’s Day One agenda items. “You can anticipate he will use the power that every president before him has used on executive action.”

But there is a long history of presidents failing, when they have their actual first day in office as president, to follow through on theoretical Day One promises they made while campaigning.

Trump said that on his first day as president, he would repeal and replace Obama’s signature health-care law (he didn’t) and begin construction of a wall on the border with Mexico (that didn’t occur).

Trump also declared that because he would be sworn in on a Friday, his first-day agenda should get an extension.

“Day 1 — which I will consider to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday. Right?” Trump said in an interview with the Times of London. “I mean my Day 1 is going to be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration.”


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15 hours ago, ADoyle90815 said:

I really hope he does more to get the vaccine out, as well as a stricter mask mandate.

At the library I work at, our director is trying to get us in for getting the vaccine. We should, we are considered essential (at least our library) and many of us have to work with the public all the time. I see employees standing next to people helping them on the computer, using the fax machine or the copier. I wouldn't. I'm glad I am in a back office. 

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I thoroughly enjoyed this fact check (full text in spoiler). It's basically "well, it might be kinda inaccurate, depending on how you define some terms" rather than the T****-era "this is bullshit." I hope it's a harbinger of the kind of fact-checking we'll see in the next few years.



Biden’s claim about employment of ‘mom-and-pop’ businesses


Glenn Kessler

Jan. 16, 2021 at 10:21 a.m. EST


“I am glad you are looking at how to support especially small businesses, the businesses that are 10 people, the businesses that are small but are not getting the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program].”

— Pilar Guzman Zavala, chief executive of Half Moon Empanadas

“We are going to push very hard because the single biggest driver of employment are mom-and-pop small businesses; they employ more people in America than the big corporations do.”

— President-elect Joe Biden, in an exchange in a video posted on Twitter by the Biden-Harris transition team, Jan. 15

The incoming Biden administration, promoting its efforts to help small businesses during the pandemic, posted a video showing a conversation between Biden and the owner of a fledgling empanadas enterprise in Miami. The video, detailing her struggles to keep alive the business during the pandemic, has been viewed more than 1 million times.

As part of the conversation, Zavala made a pitch for helping small businesses, especially those with 10 or fewer people. Biden made the observation that “mom-and-pop small businesses” employ more people than “big corporations.”

Is Biden right? Well, it depends on what counts as a “mom-and-pop” small business — and a “big corporation.”

The Facts

The Small Business Administration, in a fact sheet using Census Bureau data from 2013, says that 48 percent of workers at private employers are employed at small businesses, defined as 499 employees or fewer. That means 52 percent would work at companies of 500 or more.

On top of that, Zavala had mentioned a business of 10 people or fewer. The SBA fact sheet says just 17 percent of workers work at companies with under 20 people.

But the Biden-Harris transition team responded with 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics data (from the Business Employment Dynamics quarterly census) that shows a slight edge for the businesses with less than 500 people — accounting for 52 percent of employment, compared with 48 percent for companies with more than 500 people.

It’s a close call either way, but are firms with fewer than 500 people really “mom-and-pop” businesses? The same BLS data shows that just under 10 percent are employed by companies with fewer than 10 employees — the firm size mentioned by Zavala that prompted Biden’s comment.

The transition team declined to explain what Biden means by “mom-and-pop” businesses, pointing instead to the SBA’s definition of a small business.

Zavala told the Miami Herald she wanted more help for “the true small businesses — the ones with five people, 10 people.” She said her business had fallen 60 percent during the pandemic, and she struggled to get a PPP loan, with the first two banks turning her down. “I was one of the few lucky ones,” she said. “But I had to hustle.”

In 2016, Half Moon employed 40 people, according to a profile in El Nuevo Herald. Zavala told The Fact Checker the company had about 100 employees before the pandemic and it has now shrunk to about 50 people.

At the same time, Biden also mentioned employment by “big corporations,” which would certainly narrow the number on the other side of the scale. The BLS data only has a statistic for companies with 1,000 or more employees, showing they employ 41 percent of the workforce.

But the Wall Street Journal in 2017 crunched Census Bureau data and found that companies with 10,000 or more employees (defined as “very large employers,” which would certainly include big corporations) employed nearly 28 percent of the U.S. workforce, compared with just over 34 percent for companies with under 100 workers (defined by the Journal as “small” businesses). So that comparison affirms Biden’s observation, though, ironically, the article was about how Americans increasingly were more likely to work at a large company rather than a small one.

“The coronavirus outbreak has plunged our economy into the worst downturn since the Great Depression, shuttering thousands of small businesses that American workers rely on for jobs,” said transition spokesman Andrew Bates. “Saving and strengthening small businesses is at the heart of President-elect’s American Rescue Plan, which leaders ranging from the Business Roundtable to Senator Bernie Sanders have welcomed.”

The Pinocchio Test

This is a good example of how definitions can make a difference in terms of accuracy. What’s a “mom-and-pop” business? What’s a “big corporation”? What’s even a small business — fewer than 500 people, 100 people or 10 people?

Biden was responding to a comment about very small businesses: 10 and under. But he did not necessarily embrace it as his definition of small business. His observation about “mom-and-pop small businesses” versus “big corporations” would be wrong if one looks only at the companies of smaller than 10 people. But depending on the metrics one uses, Biden is either narrowly correct — or just slightly off. So we will leave this unrated.


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Yes! "Biden to ban special bonuses for appointees, expand lobbying prohibitions in new ethics rules"


President-elect Joe Biden will ban his senior presidential appointees from accepting special bonuses akin to “golden parachutes” from former employers for joining the government, while putting in place other expanded revolving-door restrictions in his first days in office.

The new ethics rules, which were described by transition officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the draft executive order is not public, will in some ways go beyond the guidelines for senior appointees that were put in place by the Trump and Obama administrations.

The biggest shift is the new rule that will ban incoming officials from receiving compensation from their previous employer for taking a government job, a practice that has been a flash point for government reform advocates and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Under the Biden program, appointees would still be able to accelerate vesting for compensation they have already earned.

For departing administration employees, the Biden rules create a prohibition on lobbying the administration for at least the length of Biden’s term and add a one-year restriction on assisting lobbying efforts.

That is an effort to crack down on lucrative “shadow lobbying” jobs, in which former officials go to work at law firms to help guide lobbyists without making contact with government officials themselves.

Existing law prevents senior appointees from appearing before their former agency for one year after leaving office, even in a non-lobbying capacity. Under the Biden rules, that prohibition will be extended to two years and include contact with senior White House officials.

“This is the boldest and most ambitious presidential ethics plan ever launched by an administration of either party,” said Norm Eisen, who drafted the ethics plans for the Obama administration in his first term. “My take is that it is a vast improvement on Trump and a significant step forward on our Obama pledge in a number of respects.”

For people coming to the government from the private sector, Biden will reimpose a ban on lobbyists going to work for agencies they had recently lobbied, unless they get a waiver from the White House counsel.

President Trump had removed that restriction when he came into office. Biden will also impose restrictions on registered foreign agents who seek jobs in the administration and will ban former officials from working as foreign agents right after they leave office.

The Biden executive order is expected to be signed by the incoming president in his first days in office. Incoming senior employees will be asked to sign a pledge that will also include a new preamble laying out some of Biden’s goals for the administration.

The preamble will ask officials to commit to acting in the public interest and to not do anything that would create the appearance that they used government service for private gain after they leave office, the officials said.

Appointees will also be asked to uphold the independence of law enforcement and avoid any improper influence with prosecutorial decisions at the Justice Department, a reference to the decision by Trump to frequently apply public pressure on prosecutorial decision-making, which Biden condemned during the campaign.

Transition officials said Biden will expect appointees to abide by the preamble guidelines, and failure to do so could result in employment actions.

The executive order on ethics will not address the issue of potential family conflicts of interest, which Biden spoke about on the campaign trail and after his election.

Biden has several family members involved in businesses that have potential interests in federal policy, including his son-in-law and campaign adviser Howard Krein, who helps to run a health-care start-up, and his brother-in-law John T. Owens, who owns a Delaware-based telemedicine company that markets itself as a solution amid pandemic restrictions, with medical second-opinion operations in Europe and Asia.

Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who previously worked for foreign companies and is facing a tax investigation by the Justice Department, has pledged not to work for foreign-owned companies during his father’s presidency, according to his attorney.

“My son, my family, will not be involved in any business, any enterprise that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict,” the president-elect told CNN in December.

A person familiar with the transition planning said that the executive order applies to political appointees and that no Biden family members will be appointed to the administration.

Biden will prohibit his family members from working for or serving on the board of majority foreign-owned companies, the person familiar with the plans said. The administration will also put in place internal procedures to make sure no private-sector activities by family members create even the appearance of a conflict of interest, the person said.

Concern about potential family conflicts extends to other senior members of Biden’s incoming White House staff. Incoming White House counselor Steve Ricchetti has potential family conflicts; his brother, Jeff Ricchetti, is a registered lobbyist whose business has been booming since Biden secured the nomination.

Jeff Ricchetti registered to lobby for at least eight new clients since Biden secured the nomination, compared with just six new clients in the previous eight years, according to public disclosures. They include the software firm Applied Materials, which has listed issues related to U.S.-China relations as its lobbying need, several pharmaceutical companies and Amazon, which hired Ricchetti in December. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Steve Ricchetti has an agreement with his brother not to discuss the lobbying work, according to a person familiar with the arrangement who was not cleared to speak publicly, and existing government ethics rules prohibit the disclosure of nonpublic information by senior officials.

Jeff Ricchetti did not respond to previous requests for comment.

The Biden executive order will clarify the procedures for granting waivers to the bans on registered lobbyists or foreign agents working in government, the officials said. Under the new language, lobbying work for a nonprofit corporation is now expressly recognized as a possible factor in granting a waiver.

Such language has been sought by liberals who said President Barack Obama erred by treating environmental and public-interest lobbyists in largely the same way as the lobbyists of for-profit corporations.

Under the incoming Biden rules, any waiver to allow a recent lobbyist or foreign agent to serve in the administration would have to be publicly released within 10 days of being granted, the officials said.


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It's so nice to see actual policy decisions being made, and the arguments being mostly about minutia. Like they imply that Biden's son-in-law and brother-in-law might possibly have jobs that could maybe come into a conflict-of-interest type situation someday - as opposed to the Trump nepotism train where everyone had a conflict-of-interest, the whole point of the presidency was personal gain, and anyone in Trump's family could have a high level government job with full security clearances if daddy said so.

I'm sure there will be some controversies in the Biden administration. It'll be nice for them to be more specific things instead of outright blatant in-your-face acts. 

One of my Bernie-loving friends is already starting to post the "ugh Biden should do better!!!" stuff on Facebook. I really want to be like "dude, please. Give him a chance to get inaugurated first before beating him down! I want a day or two off from this crap!"

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From former senator Flake: "What the Biden era will feel like, six months in"


The Biden era is well underway by now. The world — wary still at the bizarrely unrecognizable and unreliable United States of the previous four years — has begun to breathe just a touch more easily. The stolid daily rhythms of the new presidency have been established, and governing has assumed the assured — and reassuring — calm and dignity befitting the world’s indispensable nation.

All over the country, in every small town and big city, from the high desert in rural Arizona where I grew up to the Rust Belt, from the Big Apple to the Mountain West, the spell has broken. The miasma of strategic division and malign incompetence that defined the last presidency has been discarded for a more familiar leadership model practiced by every other president since I was old enough to vote, regardless of party — reliable, compassionate, adult. Boring, even.

No irrational pronouncements made at 3 a.m. without consulting anyone who might actually know what they are talking about. Oh, and that’s another thing: The new administration is populated by those who know what they are talking about —men and women who are valued for their expertise and experience rather than their ability to flatter an unsteady executive.

And speaking of the executive: For the first time in what seems like forever, Americans are not fixated on the president and whatever upsetting, hateful, false or anti-democratic thing he has said or done. Friends have begun to marvel to each other that it has been weeks since they’ve even had to wonder what the president is up to and are stunned by the sudden and sharp contrast: Out of worry and fear, they thought all the time about the last guy, who, following the dictates of his insatiable ego, seemed to enjoy seizing the news cycles and programming their emotions. Now they don’t think about the president very much at all, which is just as it should be in a free society.

I want my president to have reverence for our constitutional system and to communicate American values to the world, to provide strong global leadership, to be decent and truthful, and to not embarrass me or cozy up to despicable figures or do rash and unconservative things, such as starting trade wars, or espousing conspiracy-theory nonsense, or taking the word of a Russian dictator over the findings of U.S. intelligence services, or calling the constitutionally protected free press the “enemy of the people” for having the temerity to report the truth.

The past four years have been an unending succession of places where we had previously never been before — lines crossed, principles jettisoned, norms crushed, values forsaken, American freedom itself imperiled. That’s what one man of ill will can do, if he is allowed and enabled.

History will show that in the dark days of President Trump, we experienced a very close call for the survival of our American project. And this near miss stems from Republican indulgence of the whims of one man — one catastrophically self-interested man who seemed to have not even a passing familiarity with the Constitution, the institutions of American liberty, or the basic notions of service and sacrifice.

But one man alone cannot put us on the brink the way he did without our permission. And so this failure is on us, and we owe it to the generations of Americans we will never know to understand how this happened so that it might never happen again.

We conservatives succumbed to the very thing that we had once organized ourselves to oppose. We forgot that a healthy mistrust of executive power was supposed to be our most deeply held belief. We forgot that the institutions of American constitutional democracy are sacrosanct and not some twisted “deep state” plot. We aided and abetted this assault on our values and on objective reality itself. We were accessories to this deeply ugly period. We endangered our country.

And so, conservatives six months from now will have embarked on a period of soul-searching. America needs, and Americans deserve, a principled and reliable conservative party. So, to put it mildly, we Republicans have work to do. Trust to regain. And we know it. And when we are honest with ourselves in the dawn of this new era, we are just as relieved as everyone else that the malefactor was turned out, consigned to a rogue’s place in history.

In July 2021, I have gone back to worrying about things both meaningful and mundane. I’ve set countdown clocks not to politics but to the birth of a new grandchild, secure in the knowledge that a steady leader is once again in the White House.

For the first time in what seems like forever, Americans sleep soundly again.


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Less than 24 hours away now. 

I have a tab open with a Biden inauguration countdown and celebrate seeing it starts with "0 days". I live in Europe so I needed some help figuring out when the inauguration is, in my time zone.



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13 minutes ago, flowergirl said:

Less than 24 hours away now. 

I have a tab open with a Biden inauguration countdown and celebrate seeing it starts with "0 days". I live in Europe so I needed some help figuring out when the inauguration is, in my time zone.


Assuming I did this right, it should show it in your timezone. 

Edited to fix link.

Edited by Destiny
correct link
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12 minutes ago, Destiny said:


Assuming I did this right, it should show it in your timezone. 

Edited to fix link.

Thank you ?

I found this one yesterday:

https://www.timeanddate.com/counters/fullscreen.html?mode=a&iso=20210120T12&year=2021&month=1&day=20&hour=12&min=0&sec=0&p0=263&msg=Biden inauguration

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"Biden selects transgender doctor Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary"


President-elect Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will nominate Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s top health official, as his assistant secretary of health. Levine, a pediatrician, would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

As Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, Levine has risen to national prominence for leading the state’s public health response to the coronavirus pandemic, despite repeated and ugly attacks on her gender identity.

Biden’s transition team noted that Levine — appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in 2017 as acting health secretary — was confirmed three times by the Republican-controlled state Senate to serve as secretary of health and the state’s physician general. At the time, she was one of only a handful of transgender officials serving in elected or appointed offices nationwide.

If confirmed as assistant secretary of health, Levine would be the highest-ranking transgender official in the U.S. government.

“President-elect Biden said throughout his campaign that his administration would represent America," said Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Today, he made clear that transgender people are an important part of our country.”

Serving under Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Levine would oversee key health offices and programs across the department, 10 regional health offices nationwide, the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Her nomination comes after an election season in which a record number of LGBTQ candidates ran for office but after four years of a presidential administration that repeatedly erased protections for transgender people — in health care, federal employment, federal prisons, homeless shelters and other housing services receiving federal funding.

Biden has signaled a significant shift from the Trump administration when it comes to inclusion of the transgender community. He mentioned transgender people in his presidential acceptance speech, and released a lengthy platform outlining his plans to prioritize LGBTQ rights. Biden also named to his transition team Shawn Skelly, a former special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and coordinator of the Defense Department Warfighter Senior Integration Group. Skelly was the first transgender veteran to be appointed by a U.S. president.

Over the past two months, advocates have urged Biden to nominate LGBTQ leaders to key positions in the administration. Biden named Pete Buttigieg to lead the Transportation Department, making him the first openly LGBTQ person nominated to a permanent Cabinet position. As the highest-ranking appointed transgender official in the United States, Levine was often near the top of advocates’ lists of suggested names for top roles.

“She’s just so highly qualified, regardless of her gender identity,” said Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who was the first openly transgender appointee in the Obama White House. Freedman-Gurspan happened to be in Pennsylvania with friends on Tuesday morning when the news of Levine’s nomination broke.

“We all screamed,” she said. “It is well deserved and I think it sends a message to the trans community about how valued we are. We have a seat at the table. There’s no doubt about that.”

A graduate of Harvard University and Tulane Medical School, Levine was the chief resident at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, where she also taught. In 2014, she was a top doctor at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and served on the board of Equality Pennsylvania, a statewide gay rights group, when Wolf asked her to co-chair his transition team for health matters.

The following year, Wolf appointed her as Pennsylvania’s physician general, the state’s top doctor. Impressed with her background in behavioral and mental health, the state Senate voted unanimously to approve her, paying little attention to her gender identity during the confirmation process.

“With very few exceptions, my being transgender is not an issue,” she told The Washington Post in 2016, declining to comment on an attack by a former Florida congressman.

But after Levine received a promotion to become Pennsylvania’s health secretary, the coronavirus pandemic raised her profile across the state and the country. As she sought to contain the virus with aggressive social distancing rules, it also made her the target of more frequent abuse.

One attack in particular made headlines and earned a scathing rebuke from the governor: a photo of a man sitting in a carnival dunk tank wearing a floral print dress and a long blond wig. The man said he was going for a Marilyn Monroe look, but organizers of the carnival fundraiser in Bloomsburg, Pa., said he resembled Levine.

“Dr. Levine? Thank you. You were a hit and raised a lot of money for the local fire companies. Wonder why so many were trying to dunk you?” the Bloomsburg Fair Association wrote in July on Facebook, adding a smiling emoji, before deleting the post.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought hate and transphobia into the spotlight through relentless comments and slurs directed at Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, who is a highly skilled, valued, and capable member of my administration and Transgender,” Wolf wrote in a statement at the time. “The derogatory incident involving the Bloomsburg Fair is the latest of these vile acts, which by extension impact Transgender people across the commonwealth and nation.”

In May, a radio personality repeatedly misgendered Levine, calling the health secretary “sir” at least three times while questioning her about the state’s coronavirus response. A commissioner at a township near Pittsburgh said he was “tired of listening to a guy dressed up like a woman.” After Pennsylvania ordered its residents to wear masks at all times in public, a Facebook page run by one town shared a meme referring to her as “a guy who wears a bra.”

“The entire nation got to watch her succeed in the face of really difficult attacks,” said state Rep. Brian Sims (D), an LGBTQ activist who has known Levine for years. “Republicans still deny her basic equality, and she focuses on saving their lives."

Sims has seen how Levine’s leadership has forced people in the state to better understand the transgender community, and to learn how to address transgender people like her. “Never before have I seen more people proactively, correctly using pronouns,” even some of those who oppose her, Sims said. “She’s robbed people of the false premise that they don’t know any trans people and therefore don’t need to be respectful of trans people.”

Levine rarely talks about herself publicly, Sims said. But he remembered a powerful moment in July, when Levine began her regularly scheduled pandemic briefing to directly respond to the transphobic attacks she had been subjected to for months.

“While these individuals may think that they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are, in fact hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment,” she said.

Despite a Supreme Court ruling just a month earlier barring employment discrimination for gay and transgender people, Levine said, Pennsylvania is one of many states where LGBTQ people can still be denied housing and public accommodations in places that do not have local nondiscrimination ordinances. Transgender women of color in particular face high rates of violence and homicide, she added.

“We have not made progress unless we have all made progress,” she said. “As for me, I have no room in my heart for hatred, and frankly I do not have time for intolerance. My heart is full with a burning desire to help people and my time is full with working toward protecting the public health of everyone in Pennsylvania. I will stay laser-focused on that goal.”


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