Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

... has been cancelled due to a change in management.

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, January 20, 2017.

Washington Post: "The world’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, was extradited to the United States on Thursday night, whisked away from the country where he built an empire that delivered tons of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the world." -- CW ...

     ... New York Times Update: "While most Americans were turned toward Washington and the inauguration of Donald J. Trump..., prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn held a news conference on Friday morning detailing the charges against Mr. Guzmán, who was flown out of Mexico on Thursday afternoon and arrived that night at MacArthur Airport on Long Island.... The government’s detention memo also gave an early glimpse of the case against Mr. Guzmán. It said that prosecutors planned to call several witnesses who would testify about the staggering scope of Mr. Guzmán’s criminal enterprise: including its multi-ton shipments of drugs in planes and submersibles and its numerous killings of witnesses, law enforcement agents, public officials and rival cartel members." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- CW 

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Washington Post: "The Kennedy Center Honors showcased the breadth of American music Sunday night [Dec. 4] with emotionally charged performances celebrating the gospel roots of Mavis Staples, the honeyed vocals of James Taylor and the Southern California harmonies of the Eagles. The 39th annual celebration of lifetime achievement in the performing arts also honored actor Al Pacino and pianist Martha Argerich in a three-hour party that offered a wistful goodbye to Barack and Michelle Obama, who were hosting their last Honors tribute. The sold-out audience stood and cheered for several minutes when the president and first lady were introduced."

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

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Saturday
Jan212017

The Commentariat -- January 22, 2017

Scene from the Women's March, Washington, D.C.... Scott Lemieux: "It would have been nice if [the media] had laid off the 'Shape of the Earth, views differ' before the election, but…" ...

... CW: It is beyond remarkable that on the first full day of his presidency, Donald Trump not only lied repeatedly and extravagantly, but the New York Times, the paragon of propriety, called him a liar on its front page. (The headline in the dead-tree edition is awkward: "Slamming Media, Trump AdvancesTwo Falsehoods.") We are in uncharted waters and thar be dragons. ...

I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, and they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. The reason you’re the No. 1 stop is, it is exactly the opposite. I love you, I respect you, there’s nobody I respect more.... Probably everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did. We’re all on the same wavelength, folks. -- Donald Trump, speaking at the CIA HQ in Langley, Va., Saturday

Former CIA Director [John] Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of C.I.A.’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself. -- Nick Shapiro, Chief-of-Staff to Director Brennan

This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period — both in person and around the globe. -- Press Secretary Sean Spicer, "less than a minute after declaring that 'no one had numbers'”

** Julie Davis & Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times: "President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd. In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency designed to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago. He ... said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved. Later, at the White House, he dispatched Sean Spicer, the new press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing, where he delivered an irate scolding to reporters and made a series of false statements. Mr. Spicer said news organizations had deliberately misstated the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday in an attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country, warning that the new administration would hold them to account." -- CW ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds.... His statement included several specific misstatements of fact in addition to the overarching one.... Glenn Thrush of The New York Times wrote on Twitter, 'Jaw meet floor.' 'I've run out of adjectives,' wrote Chuck Todd.... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post said Spicer's assertion about 'what you guys should be writing' was 'chilling.'... Brian Fallon, who was in line to become press secretary if Hillary Clinton had won, wrote, 'Sean Spicer lacks the guts or integrity to refuse orders to go out and lie. He is a failure in this job on his first full day.' Conservative commentator Bill Kristol said 'it is embarrassing, as an American, to watch this briefing by Sean Spicer from the podium at the White House. Not the RNC. The White House.'" -- CW ...

... Dangerously Delusional Donald. Matthew Nussbaum & Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "... Donald Trump declared fresh war on ISIS — and the news media — while trying to forge a new alliance with the intelligence community in a visit to the CIA headquarters, his first to an executive agency as president. Speaking Saturday in front of the wall memorializing fallen officers at CIA headquarters, Trump promised to give the intelligence community his full backing, and hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama in the fight against ISIS. 'We haven’t used the abilities we’ve got. We’ve been restrained,' Trump said. He described reporters as 'the most dishonest human beings' and claimed he'd drawn as many as 1.5 million people to his inauguration despite official estimates closer to 200,000 and repeated images of empty standing spaces." (Emphasis added.) -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: On the other hand, maybe Trump isn't just a crazy old coot with the nuclear code biscuit in his pocket. Dispensing false propaganda and disparaging the media for accurate reporting are typical tactics of dictators. I would not be surprised to see certain media outlets like Breitbart "News" get some kind of "state seal of approval," for starters, then receive financial backing from Trump oligarchs, & finally become state-sponsored outlets. In the meantime, other media would be subjected to increasing restrictions & "punishments," including being shut down. What we've seen today looks a lot like the opening salvo in an all-out executive-branch war on media. These are dangerous times. ...

... Ezra Klein: Trump's "war isn’t with the media. Trump lives off media attention and delights in press coverage. His war is with facts. And it’s there that his tactical skirmishes with the press begin to make sense. Delegitimizing the media is important to Trump because delegitimizing certain facts is important to Trump.... The Trump administration is creating a baseline expectation among its loyalists that they can’t trust anything said by the media. The spat over crowd size is a low-stakes, semi-comic dispute, but the groundwork is being laid for much more consequential debates over what is, and isn’t, true. Delegitimizing the institutions that might report inconvenient or damaging facts about the president is strategic for an administration that has made a slew of impossible promises and takes office amid a cloud of ethics concerns and potential scandals." -- CW ...

... Somebody in the Dallas Stars hockey organization has a mighty good sense of humor. ...

... Philip Rucker, et al., of the Washington Post: "With Americans taking to the streets in red and blue states alike to emphatically decry a president they consider reprehensible and, even, illegitimate, Trump visited the Central Intelligence Agency for a stream-of-consciousness airing of grievances.... Shortly thereafter, press secretary Sean Spicer addressed the media for the first time from the White House, where he yelled at the assembled press corps and charged it with 'sowing division' with 'deliberately false reporting' of Trump’s inauguration crowd.... In a highly unusual move, Spicer left the briefing room without answering questions from reporters, including one shouted at him about Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.... Trump claimed that the crowd for his swearing-in stretched down the Mall to the Washington Monument. It did not. Trump accused television networks of showing 'an empty field' and reporting that he drew just 250,000 people to witness Friday’s ceremony. 'It looked like a million, a million and a half people,' Trump said. 'It’s a lie. We caught [the media]. We caught them in a beauty.'” -- CW ...

... Susan Chira & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Protesters jammed the streets near the Capitol for the main demonstration, packed so tightly at times that they could barely move; in Chicago, the size of a rally so quickly outgrew early estimates that the march that was to follow was canceled for safety. In Manhattan, Fifth Avenue became a tide of signs and symbolic pink hats, while in downtown Los Angeles, shouts of 'love trumps hate' echoed along a one-mile route leading to City Hall, with many demonstrators spilling over into adjacent streets in a huge, festival-like atmosphere. The marches were the kickoff for what their leaders hope will be a sustained campaign of protest in a polarized nation, riven by an election that raised unsettling questions about American values, out-of-touch elites and barriers to women’s ambitions. On successive days, two parallel and separate Americas were on display in virtually the same location." -- CW ...

... Perry Stein, et al., of the Washington Post: "More than 1 million people gathered in Washington and in cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became an unprecedented international rebuke of a new president that packed cities large and small — from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia.... Many in the nation’s capital and other cities said they were inspired to join because of Trump’s divisive campaign and his disparagement of women, minorities and immigrants. In signs and shouts, they mocked what they characterized as Trump’s lewd language and sexist demeanor.The marches provided a balm for those eager to immerse themselves in a like-minded sea of citizens who shared their anxiety and disappointment after Democrat Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for the presidency ended in defeat." -- CW ...

... Cindy Chang, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "A day after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president, several hundred thousand people gathered in Los Angeles to protest in a historic women’s march. It was a peaceful and massive counter-inauguration movement, the first act of resistance to a conservative administration. Beneath sunny skies, a group of women on motorcycles kicked off the march. Many protesters wore a symbol of feminism in the age of Trump: a bright pink, knitted 'pussyhat.' Some carried their babies on their chests and pushed their grandmothers in wheelchairs. They chanted, waved signs and held hands; a few braved the cold and went shirtless." -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "In Los Angeles, the marchers were 500,000 strong, by the LAPD’s estimates – and 750,000 by those of the organizers." -- CW ...

... Duaa Eldeib & Marwa Eltagouri of the Chicago Tribune: "An estimated quarter-million demonstrators poured into downtown [Chicago] on Saturday, so many that organizers of the Women's March on Chicago told the throngs that the event would only be a rally because there wasn't room to march. But people marched anyway." -- CW ...

... Adam Lusher of the (U.K.) Independent: "Donald Trump is so unpopular that there are even women marching against him in Antarctica." -- CW ...

... CW: Say, why haven't we heard from the Twit-in-Chief about the millions of women & men around the world who came out to protest his illegitimate presidency? ...

Reports from Reality Chex readers who participated in the Women's March throughout the country world (republished from yesterday's Comments):

So we march on Saturday. I went to Mount Vernon with my out-of-town cousins as Alternative Programming on Friday. MV was packed, mostly it seemed with women in town for the March. We then went to a craft store to buy poster board to make signs - several women doing the same thing there too. Was very heartening to see so many of us. -- Rockygirl ...

Back from the D.C. rally. Was yuuuuuge. News reports say was 500,009 and I would not doubt it. Women - and men! - of all ages, colors, faiths, sexual preference. The rally went way too long and the p.a. system was completely overwhelmed, as was the cell network. Today is Day One. -- Rockygirl

Headed out the door for the Boston March. Last time I checked, over 70,000 people had registered. Fired up! -- Julie in Massachusetts ...

... Wow! What a day. Sounds like the Boston March had similar experiences as those in other cities - larger turn out than expected. It slowed down the start of the March, but what a good problem to have. By the end of the day we were all wondering how the heck trump won. Turn out in Boston estimated at 145,000. Gives one reason to hope. -- Julie in Massachusetts

I just got home from the Women's March in Denver. They estimated that there were over 200,000 people there. They were estimating 40,000 the day before. What an amazingly diverse crowd of men, women and children, all unified and happy. There was no violence. It was truly inspiring. -- Lisa

Our small town of about 1200 combined with the about 1200 residents across the bridge had a turnout of 1500 women. There was no violence, no shots fired, just loving and hugging. Would whats-his-name understand that. He would have sent in police with clubs and sprays. Sad. Sad. Sadder than tiny fingers. -- Forrest M.

Our rural Western Washington country had 500-700 gather on the main street of the county seat. Almost all the horn honking and thumb pointing was positive. One of our sons, who marched there with his wife and two small children, reports 125,000-150,000 in Seattle. Just as the popular vote indicated, those detesting Trump, the truly detestable, again greatly outnumbered the deplorables. The only one who doesn't know that is Trump. But then, as he continues to prove, he's delusional. -- Ken W.

Great turn out for the Women's March (everyone invited) in my part of the world, too. -- Gloria

On a bus returning from D.C. Estimates of 500,000 or more-- I believe it-- happy gridlock. The march got too big to march except in segments. Signs and pussy hats abundant-- Meanwhile Sean Spicer lies his silly head off re numbers at the behest of his crazy boss. All 500,000 hate Trump. -- Jeanne

Just back to the hotel after the March in Washington. Taxi driver said MUCH bigger crowd today. 500,000 seems like a low-ball estimate -- we were in an almost constant crush of people from 9 am until after 4 (when the March continued past Penn Ave to McPherson Square.) 15 hour drive home tomorrow, but we've already planned a demonstration for Monday afternoon on our Village Green. We all have work to do. -- Gail L.

Got home a bit ago from the Sacramento march and rally, in time to hear a infuriated, almost spitting at the reporters, Spicer give a "press briefing" about inaccurate reporting on the inauguration numbers and its overall wonderment.... According to one of the speakers at our Sacto rally, there were 20,000 attending. My husband said our rally was on MSNBC. I'm not good at estimating, especially since I'm vertically challenged and had a hard time seeing. It seemed like an awful lot of folks to me; kids in strollers, young folks, old folks, dogs and every ethnicity. Favorite sign held by an older lady; 'I can't believe I'm protesting this fucking shit again.' -- Diane

The New York Times has photos of the Women's March in cities around the world. Take a look. If your faith in humanity took a nosedive Friday, these pictures should restore it. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... More photos in the Atlantic. ...

Women's March, Sacramento, Calif., January 21. Photo by Diane.

"Super Callous Fascist Racist Extra Braggadocious." Dana Milbank's favorite signs from the March include the one Diane highlighted. CW: The signs are good, because unlike the guy who repeatedly claims -- he did it again yesterday -- that he's "very smart," the mostly-women who hoisted these signs actually are very smart. And dedicated. And inspirational. And exceptional, in the best sense. Those who showed up for rallies & marches here & around the world deserve to be proud of yourselves. You have demonstrated not just against an evil imperialist but that you are the living, breathing better angels of our natures.

** Here's the Washington Post's liveblog of the Women's March on Washington. 11:50 am ET: "More riders showed up for Women's March than inauguration.... The numbers Friday were also much lower than past inaugurations." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are being planned for Jan. 21 in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history.... Participants outside the United States say they are marching in solidarity with American women and standing up for the rights of women in their own countries." --CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

With some the word ‘liberty’ may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor, while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. -- Abraham Lincoln, April 18, 1864

... ** The Progress of Racism. Ibram Kendi, in a New York Times op-ed: "Racial disparities in everything from wealth to health have persisted in the United States because racist policies have persisted, and oftentimes progressed. When the Obamas of the nation have broken through racial barriers, the Trumps of the nation did not give up. They organized and sometimes succeeded in putting new racial barriers in place, new discriminatory policies in our institutions. And they succeeded in developing a new round of racist ideas to justify those policies, to redirect the blame for racial disparities away from their new policies and onto supposed black pathology.... [Racism & antiracism] have been at war ever since a slaveholder wrote America’s heralded philosophy of freedom. And they remain at war this weekend, organizing separate marches to protest or praise the arrival of President Trump." -- CW 

Friday
Jan202017

The Commentariat -- January 21, 2017

Dangerously Delusional Donald. Matthew Nussbaum & Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "... Donald Trump declared fresh war on ISIS — and the news media — while trying to forge a new alliance with the intelligence community in a visit to the CIA headquarters, his first to an executive agency as president. Speaking Saturday in front of the wall memorializing fallen officers at CIA headquarters, Trump promised to give the intelligence community his full backing, and hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama in the fight against ISIS. 'We haven’t used the abilities we’ve got. We’ve been restrained,' Trump said. He described reporters as 'the most dishonest human beings' and claimed he'd drawn as many as 1.5 million people to his inauguration despite official estimates closer to 200,000 and repeated images of empty standing spaces." (Emphasis added.) -- CW 

CW: Say, why haven't we heard from the Twit-in-Chief about the millions of women & men around the world who came out to protest his illegitimate presidency?

The New York Times has photos of the Women's March in cities around the world. Take a look. If your faith in humanity took a nosedive yesterday, these pictures should restore it.

** Here's the Washington Post's liveblog of the Women's March on Washington. 11:50 am ET: "More riders showed up for Women's March than inauguration.... The numbers Friday were also much lower than past inaugurations." -- CW ...

... Perry Stein, et al., of the Washington Post: "Tens of thousands of women, determined to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inaugural gathering for Donald Trump, poured into Washington Saturday for the Women’s March. Coming from around the country and sometimes sleeping on the couches of people they had never met before, the marchers occupied a swath of terrain around the National Museum of the American Indian. Organizers, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday they now expect as many as a half million participants — potentially dwarfing Friday’s inaugural crowd." -- CW ...

     ... New Lede: "Millions of women gathered in Washington and cities around the country Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of Donald Trump one day earlier. The historic protests of a new president packed cities large and small — from Los Angeles to Boston to Park City, Utah, where celebrities from the Sundance Film Festival joined a march on the snowy streets. In Chicago, the demonstration was overwhelmed by its own size, forcing officials to curtail its planned march when the crowd threatened to swamp the planned route."

Hundreds of demonstrations around the world are being planned for Jan. 21 in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington, which is expected to be the largest inauguration-related demonstration in United States history.... Participants outside the United States say they are marching in solidarity with American women and standing up for the rights of women in their own countries." --CW ...

... Perry Stein: "The Women’s March on Washington is turning into the weekend’s star-studded event, with celebrities including Janelle Monáe, Scarlett Johansson and Ashley Judd making an appearance at the demonstration the day after inauguration. Activists Angela Davis and Michael Moore and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser also will be speaking. In the days leading up to the march, the organizers have released details about the event, giving marchers and spectators a sense of what the day will look like. The lineup of speakers and performers totals around 50." -- CW 

The Muzzle Is On. William Turton: "The National Park service retweeted some sick Donald Trump burns, noting how, uh, lightly attended his inauguration was compared to Barack Obama’s in 2009. But now, the NPS has been ordered by its Washington support office to 'immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice,' according to an internal email obtained by Gizmodo." CW: I don't know what a "sick Donald Trump burn" is, but the retweets didn't seem "sick" to me: one was Binjamin Appelbaum's, linked below, & the second was similar.

One hour after talking about helping working people and ending the cabal in Washington that hurts people, he signs a regulation that makes it more expensive for new homeowners to buy mortgages. -- Chuck Schumer, on the Senate floor yesterday ...

... ** Joe Light of Bloomberg: "Soon after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, his administration undid one of Barack Obama’s last-minute economic-policy actions: a mortgage-fee cut under a government program that’s popular with first-time home buyers and low-income borrowers. The new administration on Friday said it’s canceling a reduction in the Federal Housing Administration’s annual fee for most borrowers. The cut would have reduced the annual premium for someone borrowing $200,000 by $500 in the first year." Thanks to PD Pepe for the reminder. -- CW 

... CW: One thing I noticed in a brief video of a ceremonial signing that took place yesterday afternoon: a hour or so after raking "Washington politicians" over the coals, Trump was all smiles. When Paul Ryan (or one of his staff) handed Trump a document (not sure what it was), Trump just asked, "Where do I sign?" 

New Rule: No Rules. Lydia Wheeler of the Hill: "President Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a memo Friday night telling federal agencies to not issue any more regulations.... Priebus told the agencies not to send any regulation to the Federal Register until the rule is reviewed and approved by the new president's appointed agency head. Any rule that’s already been sent to the Office of the Federal Register, but not yet published, must be withdrawn, the order says. For rules that were published in the last 60 days, Priebus told agencies to publish a notice to delay the effective date of the rule for at least another 60 days." -- CW 

Timothy Lee of Vox: "Donald Trump campaigned for president with a handful of big, simple ideas, including building a wall, renegotiating trade deals, and strengthening the military. His new White House website reflects that same sparse, policy-light philosophy. If you click on the 'issues' tab, he has sections on just six issues.... It’s a striking contrast to ... Barack Obama. Like Trump, Obama had a website ready to go on his first day in office. But Obama’s site covered almost two dozen policy issues and dove into detail.... In total, Trump’s six issue pages have 2,243 words. Obama’s 23 pages had 25,150." CW: Yes, but the Trump site is already way longer than the Trump attention span. ...

... Rebecca Leber of Mother Jones: "The original White House page dedicated to the problem of climate change and former President Barack Obama's policies to address it is now a broken link: 'The requested page "/energy/climate-change" could not be found.' Instead, the White House website features Trump's energy talking points from the campaign. The page — titled, 'An America First Energy Plan' — makes no mention of climate change, other than to say, 'President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.'" -- CW: Undoubtedly false, but who cares? Many of us will die from drinking poisoned water & breathing foul air so we won't have to worry about not getting our fake $30BB bonanza. ...

... Wait, Wait. There's More. Justin Miller of the Daily Beast: "WhiteHouse.gov immediately wiped pages on LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change, and health care from its 'issues' section after Donald Trump took the oath of office." CW: Maybe they aren't "issues" because Trump has already solved all the problems associated with LGBT rights & so forth. ...

... Corrupt from Day One. Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "On his first day in office, President Trump declared on the White House website that he would roll back a clean-water rule that has been opposed as bad for business by a coalition that included his own golf courses. He also effectively became his own landlord at his District hotel, which his company rents from the federal government despite a lease that forbids such benefits going to any elected official. A Trump golf course tweeted congratulations to its owner as he became president, though a Trump lawyer had previously promised that no company social media accounts would reference his office. And in his official biography on the White House website, Trump bragged of the success of the business he still owns and his book, 'The Art of the Deal,' which remains for sale. Likewise, first lady Melania Trump’s biography included a reference to sales of her jewelry on the cable television channel QVC and notes it is trademarked, a registration now overseen by a trademark office that is part of the executive branch led by her husband. Trump’s first day as president was full of reminders that his administration will be entangled with his personal interests in a way unprecedented in presidential politics." -- CW ...

... ** Derek Kravitz & Al Shaw of ProPublica: "At a news conference last week..., Donald Trump said he and his daughter, Ivanka, had signed paperwork relinquishing control of all Trump-branded companies. Next to him were stacks of papers in manila envelopes — documents he said transferred 'complete and total control' of his businesses to his two sons and another longtime employee.... To transfer ownership of his biggest companies, Trump has to file a long list of documents in Florida, Delaware and New York. We asked officials in each of those states whether they have received the paperwork. As of 3:15 p.m. today, the officials said they have not. Trump and his associates 'are not doing what they said they would do,” said Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. 'And even that was completely inadequate.'” (Emphasis added.) -- CW 

... Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "Visitors to the newly revamped White House website get more than a simple rundown of first lady Melania Trump’s charitable works and interests — they also get a list of her magazine cover appearances and details on her jewelry line at QVC.... The website includes a lengthy list of brands that hired her as a model and several of the magazines in which she appeared, including the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.... Early on Friday, the website listed the brand names of Trump’s jewelry lines sold on QVC. But the website was updated after the publication of this story to remove any mention of QVC." -- CW 

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "President Trump signed his first executive order in the Oval Office late Friday, targeting Obamacare, as his administration ordered an immediate freeze on new regulations just hours after his inauguration.... It was not immediately clear what the executive order would do to pave the way for Republicans to make good on their longstanding promise to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters the order would 'ease the burden' of the law. He did not share further details." -- CW 

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "The Senate confirmed James N. Mattis as President Trump’s defense secretary Friday, breaking with decades of precedent by making a recently retired general the Pentagon’s top civilian leader. Mattis, 66, was approved with a 98-1 vote.... The sole vote against Mattis was cast by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.-N.Y.), who said repeatedly that she was against a recently serving general become defense secretary. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, did not vote." -- CW 

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The Senate confirmed John F. Kelly as secretary of homeland security on Friday, putting the blunt-spoken retired Marine general in charge of securing the nation’s borders, including construction of the controversial southwest border wall that was a centerpiece of President Trump’s campaign." -- CW 

CW: The other day a friend of mine was imagining Donald Trump's redecoration of the Oval Office from bland early American to gilded schmaltz. I said that besides that, at least two things would change: the bust of Winston Churchill would come back & the rug would go. (Obama's rug is ringed with the following quotes: “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt; “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice” – Martin Luther King, Jr.; “Government of the People, By the People, For the People” – President Abraham Lincoln; “No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings” – President John F. Kennedy; “The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” – President Theodore Roosevelt. (The citation attributed to King was a riff on a saying of 19th-century transcendentalist Theodore Parker.) Well, the rug is history & Churchill is back.

NBC News: "The Obama family, who will ultimately remain in Washington D.C. while daughter Malia is still in school there, are traveling for a vacation in Palm Springs, California immediately following President Donald Trump's Inauguration.... Walking out to chants of 'yes, we can!' and leaving to chants of 'yes, we did!' President Barack Obama gave final remarks at a farewell gathering of staff at Joint Base Andrews before boarding his last flight on the military aircraft that ferries presidents on their travels.":

White House photographer Pete Souza -- and President Obama -- say farewell.

He Alone Can Fix It. Peter Baker & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, ushering in a new and more unpredictable era in which he has vowed to shatter the established order and restore American greatness. From the West Front of the Capitol, overlooking a crowd of admirers gathered as rain threatened on an overcast day, Mr. Trump used his Inaugural Address to promise that he will use the next four years to rebuild the nation’s economy, reassert control over its borders and regain respect for the United States around the world." -- CW ...

...The transcript of Trump's speech is here. As Patrick wrote, it probably sounded better in the original German. CW: I didn't watch the show, but I read the transcript later, and I thought half of what Trump said was bull. ...

... Glenn Kessler & Michelle Lee of the Washington Post: "Generally, inaugural addresses are not designed to be fact-checked. But President Trump’s address was nothing if not unique, presenting a portrait of the United States that often was at variance with reality. Here’s a guide to understanding whether the facts back up his rhetoric." CW: Worse than I realized. ...

... Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: Democratic members of Congress tweet their reactions to Trump's speech. The best one (CW: IMO) comes from a former Congressman, Steve Israel of New York: "That speech had all the soaring sentiment of 'Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.'" As an aside, Rep. Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.) tweeted, "GOP colleague let me see his Trump hat. It was made in China. Awkward given Trump's #BuyAmerican pledge. All talk no action?" CW: Make that all hat & no mettle.

** The New York Times publishes a roundup of reactions to Trump's inaugural address by "our opinion writers in Washington and around the world." Most of the assessments are both scathing & illuminating. -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "President Trump presented such a graceless and disturbingly ahistoric vision of America on Friday that his Inaugural Address cast more doubt than hope on his presidency." -- CW ...

... Gail Collins, as usual, takes none of this seriously. CW: I think that's a big mistake. Is she really intent on making us laugh our way to totalitarian government? ...

... Libby Nelson of Vox: "... Trump’s unapologetically negative portrait of American schools is striking because it’s seemingly all he has to say about education. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush didn’t hesitate to use harsh words to criticize 'failing schools.' But they usually deployed those descriptions in service of a broader vision for improving them. For Trump, struggling schools aren’t a warmup act for a policy proposal. They’re rhetorical props in his description of a burned-out American landscape." CW: Don't worry, Libby. Betsy DePrivatize is full of ideas. 

Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post: "When Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer came to the podium at the Capitol today, he made an unusual choice of reading: a letter written in 1861 by a Union soldier to his wife shortly before the first battle of Bull Run. The writer, Sullivan Ballou, was mortally wounded there. The letter is a striking expression of patriotic loyalty and sacrifice. And Schumer’s decision to read it also invoked sharp criticism of Donald Trump from the campaign trail and the incoming administration’s plans to eliminate federal support for the arts and humanities." CW: Here's Ken Burns' version, read by actor Paul Roebling, which I'm sure sounds a lot better than Schumer's reading, especially with the assist from Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell":

Amie Parnes of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton kept a stiff upper lip Friday as Donald Trump took the oath of office for a presidency she was favored to win. Clinton was just feet away from Trump when he took the presidential oath, sitting with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. There was no interaction with Trump during the ceremony, and Trump did not mention Clinton — who won 3 million more popular votes — during his speech. The two did cross paths later, shaking hands. Trump thanked her for coming." -- CW 

Chris Matthews of MSNBC compares Trump to Benito Mussolini, who had his son-in-law executed; suggests Jared Kushner should "be a little careful":

... CW: The video kept bailing on me. Must be Trump's fault. At least Mussolini made the trains run on time; Trump just mucks up things.

President Obama leaves White House for last time as POTUS, helps portly, elderly man down steps:

And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.... Now arrives the hour of action. -- Donald Trump, inaugural address ...

... John Cox, et al., of the Washington Post: "Less than two miles from where Trump and former president Obama joined hundreds of other elected officials at the west front of the U.S. Capitol, anarchists armed with crowbars and hammers marched through the city’s streets, toppling over news boxes, smashing bus-stop glass, vandalizing businesses, spray-painting buildings and, in one case, bashing in the windows of a black limousine. The acts of violence prompted helmeted police to chase the protesters with batons, hose them with pepper spray and apparently toss flash bangs into their ranks. Three D.C. police officers were injured as the sound of explosions and sirens filled the air – marking the first intense confrontations in a day that began with protesters shutting down at least a few security checkpoints. The clashes intensified during the afternoon as protesters hurled objects — including concrete bricks — at police in black riot gear, who fired back with more flash bangs and pepper spray.... In total, more than 200 people were arrested throughout the day, and the confrontations continued as darkness fell." ...

     ... CW: Sounds like "American carnage" to me, and it happened just as -- and after -- Trump promised it "stops right here and stops right now." What the hell happened to the "hour of action"? Does this mean Trump can't fix it? What a disappointment.

Theresa Vargas, et al., of the Washington Post: "Protesters who had promised to shut down the city for the inauguration of ... Donald Trump were successful at several security checkpoints Friday morning, as they slowed crowds from entering onto the Mall and, in one spot, stopped them completely." -- CW 

We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars. -- Donald Trump, January 9, 2017 ...

... Binyamin Appelbaum of the NYT posts on Twitter this comparison of the crowds on the Mall for the 2009 & 2017 inaugrations. CW: I believe the temp is a lot warmer today than it was Jan. 20, 2009, but you know, I guess the 2009 crowd was so big it warmed the place up:

... Update: Tim Wallace, et al., of the New York Times have bigger & better comparison shots here. Each photo was taken 45 minutes before the oath was administered. And in all likelihood, a significantly higher percentage of the Trump crowd was there to protest.

Friday
Jan202017

The Inaugural Speech You Missed

On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted this picture of himself, above the message, “Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday. #Inauguration.”:

Twitter users found plenty to mock about the photo. Mostly they found it unbelievable, because it was. A guy, a Sharpie, a blank legal pad and a statue of an eagle? That's it? No notes? No reference books? No WIPs? Well, no, there wouldn't be, because the desk in the pic isn't one that Trump would actually use. Rather, it "appears to be one usually occupied by an administrative or hospitality professional — a receptionist or concierge, maybe — in a public hall at Mar-a-Lago, and not in a private office." So if you believe Trump's tweet, then you believe he wrote his inaugural speech, from scratch, while sitting out in the hall helping Mar-a-Lago guests find the route to Neiman's on Worth Avenue.

BTW, here's what #realDonaldTrump's #realdesk looks like:

And for the record, this is what an actual president looks like when he's writing a speech. He is not wearing a suitcoat, and he has three aides, working from computers & dead-tree notes, to help him refine the message:

President Obama and his staff work on a speech he delivered December 15, 2015, during a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives. White House photo.According to Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer, Trump has watched some previous inaugural speeches and spoken with historians about those speeches. Although Spicer had previously said Trump would rely on the assistance of speechwriter Stephen Miller, historian Douglas Brinkley met with Trump at Palm Beach in December and reported that Trump "was intent on drafting the entirety of the speech himself, with input from his team." Whatever that means. One thing Trump discussed with Brinkley was the speech of William Henry Harrison, which was the longest inaugural speech in American history, delivered on a cold day. Harrison died of pneumonia a month later. Trump told Brinkley he planned to keep his speech short.

Since we know that Trump has been studying up on the inaugural speeches of former presidents, and since many Reality Chex readers will be tuned to the Weather Channel all day today, I decided to let you in on this draft of Trump's speech, not plagiarized in the Trump family tradition, but borrowing heavily on the remarks of Mr. Trump's predecessors, albeit with the necessary adaptations (and grammatical misconstructions) to better reflect Trump's own worldview.

My fellow Americans, we are provincials once again. The tragic events of eight years of poverty, crime-infested communities, terrorism in our cities, tens of thousands of Mexican rapists and drug dealers at large, able-bodied men unable to find jobs, and a president who founded ISIS, have made us turn against each other. There can be no turning back.(1) We have reached a higher degree of turmoil and insecurity than ever existed before in the history of the world.(2) In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.(3)

With malice toward all, with charity for none, with firmness in right-wing ideology, as God gives white people, let us strive on to undo the work of the previous administration, to open up the nation's wounds.(4) Then, this once-great nation will be great again, will revive and will prosper, because I alone can fix it.(5) There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by me.(6)

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing you have to fear is Donald Trump, which is me, who has an enemies list.(5) Much has been given me, and I will rightfully expect much from you. You have duties to me and you must not shirk them.(7) Ask not what I can do for you – ask what you can do for me. My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what you can do together to enrich my family and me. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, you my loyal poorly-educated supporters will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, oppose friend and foe alike – except Russia, for reasons only I know and will reveal next Tuesday or Wednesday – in order to assure the survival and continued success of the Trump dynasty, including my daughter Ivanka, who is very hot.(8)

Let us, then, fellow citizens, punch liberals, reporters and my other enemies in the face. Let us reflect that, having banished from our land religious tolerance, we have yet gained little if we countenance political tolerance for our enemies like Crooked Hillary who I beat badly in a landslide, Pocahontas Warren and talk-talk-talk John Lewis. We must return anew to despotic, wicked governance steeped in bitter and bloody persecutions.(9) Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America in my image, for my benefit.(10)

Fellow-citizens, being fully invested with that high office to which my countrymen have called me, I now take leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given to discharge all the high duties of my exalted station which I will exploit to the best of my abilities, and you shall wonder in awe why I am breaking that solemn pledge even as I speak.(11) God bless the President of the United States.

(1) We are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the 30 months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back. -- Woodrow Wilson, March 5, 1917

(2) We have reached a higher degree of comfort and security than ever existed before in the history of the world. -- Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929

 

(3) In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. -- Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981 (No editing required.

(4) With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds. --Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

(5) This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933

(6) There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. -- Bill Clinton, January 20, 1993

(7) Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. --Theodore Roosevelt, March 4, 1905

(8) My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.... Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

(9) Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. -- Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801

(10) Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” -- Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

(11) Fellow-citizens, being fully invested with that high office to which the partiality of my countrymen has called me, I now take an affectionate leave of you. You will bear with you to your homes the remembrance of the pledge I have this day given to discharge all the high duties of my exalted station according to the best of my ability, and I shall enter upon their performance with entire confidence in the support of a just and generous people. -- William Henry Harrison, March 4, 1841

Thursday
Jan192017

The Commentariat -- January 20, 2017

Afternoon Update:

He Alone Can Fix It. Peter Baker & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, ushering in a new and more unpredictable era in which he has vowed to shatter the established order and restore American greatness. From the West Front of the Capitol, overlooking a crowd of admirers gathered as rain threatened on an overcast day, Mr. Trump used his Inaugural Address to promise that he will use the next four years to rebuild the nation’s economy, reassert control over its borders and regain respect for the United States around the world." -- CW ...

...The transcript of Trump's speech is here. As Patrick wrote, it probably sounded better in the original German.

Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post: "When Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer came to the podium at the Capitol today, he made an unusual choice of reading: a letter written in 1861 by a Union soldier to his wife shortly before the first battle of Bull Run. The writer, Sullivan Ballou, was mortally wounded there. The letter is a striking expression of patriotic loyalty and sacrifice. And Schumer’s decision to read it also invoked sharp criticism of Donald Trump from the campaign trail and the incoming administration’s plans to eliminate federal support for the arts and humanities." CW: Here's Ken Burns' version, read by actor Paul Roebling, which I'm sure sounds a lot better than Schumer's reading, especially with the assist from Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell":

President Obama leaves White House for last time as POTUS, helps portly, elderly man down steps:

Theresa Vargas, et al., of the Washington Post: "Protesters who had promised to shut down the city for the inauguration of ... Donald Trump were successful at several security checkpoints Friday morning, as they slowed crowds from entering onto the Mall and, in one spot, stopped them completely." -- CW 

Binyamin Appelbaum of the NYT posts on Twitter this comparison of the crowds on the Mall for the 2009 & 2017 inaugrations. CW: I believe the temp is a lot warmer today than it was Jan. 20, 2009, but you know, I guess the 2009 crowd was so big it warmed the place up:

*****

The Guardian is liveblogging events related to the inauguration, and the liveblog is worth following. At least so far, the pomp has not outshined the circumstances outlined in these mini-reports. For instance, Julian Borger (9:03 am ET): "The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has released a report by its general counsel on the campaign’s hiring of actors to enthuse at Trump’s candidacy announcement at Trump Tower in New York on 16 June 2015, revealing that the ersatz supporters had to wait four months to get paid for their cheering. The campaign committee only coughed up the $12,000 it owed to the casting company that hired the actors a month after a complaint was made to the FEC." -- CW 

Robert Dallek, in a New York Times op-ed: "Donald J. Trump comes into office on Friday with an agenda largely built around tearing down that of his predecessor — rescinding executive orders, ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, backing the repeal of Obamacare and withdrawing from international climate change agreements, to name just a few of his possible first steps. If Mr. Trump expected Barack Obama, who will be the first president since Woodrow Wilson to continue living in Washington, to retire to silence, he got a rude awakening on Wednesday. Mr. Obama told reporters at his last news conference that action by the new president on any number of things — voting rights, rescinding the so-called Dreamers program for immigrants who came to this country as children — 'would merit me speaking out.'” He should do so. -- CW ...

... Brian Beutler: "Over four or eight years, Trump can repeal a lot of laws, but to genuinely erase Obama’s legacy, he’ll have to do more than sign bills. He’ll have to challenge major new points of consensus — that government should guarantee the public health care coverage; that same-sex couples deserve all the same rights as heterosexual ones; that climate change is a major threat to the future of civilization; that Obama rescued the country from global recession — and undo them. I expect him to lose every one of those arguments, and by losing, he will vindicate Obama’s presidency, if not Obama’s governing vision for the country.... The fight over the closing era — and the fight to protect everything that Trump puts in the firing line — begins on this ominous Inauguration Day." -- CW 

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "... on Thursday, his last full day in office, [President] Obama announced 330 more commutations, for nonviolent drug offenders, bringing his total number of clemencies to 1,715. He has granted commutations to more people than the past 12 presidents combined, including 568 inmates with life sentences. He has granted 212 pardons. His final group of clemencies was the most Obama granted in a day and the most granted on one day in U.S. history." -- CW  

The Last Honest Man in Washington Will Turn out the Lights. Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "The Bidens will vacate the vice-presidential residence at the Naval Observatory to head to Wilmington on Friday, but the couple intend to find a small house in Washington near their friends Barack and Michelle Obama so that Dr. Biden can continue teaching English at a community college in Northern Virginia." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Trumpocalypse Day 1
Return of the Dinosaurs

... Thanks to Whyte O. for the link. ...

... Alex Shephard of the New Repubic: "Good morning! Donald Trump will have the nuclear codes shortly." -- CW ...

... David Remnick of the New Yorker: "The reality is that the Donald Trump of birtherism, of Mexican 'rapists,' of Muslim registries, of 'grab them by the pussy,' of bankruptcies and lawsuits and colossal conflicts of interest — this is the same Donald Trump who, with his hand on Lincoln’s Bible, is taking the oath of office, vowing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.... Since Election Day, Trump has managed to squander good faith and guarded hope with flagrant displays of self-indulgent tweeting, chaotic administration, willful ignorance, and ethical sludge.... There is every reason to be on guard against a President whose attachment to constitutional norms seems episodic at best.... It will be on us, resolute citizens, to protect the republic — to demand, as [Benjamin] Franklin said, that we keep it." -- CW ...

... Gene Robinson: "Never in my lifetime has a new president been anticipated with such raw enthusiasm on one side and such fear and loathing on the other.... [Trump] is a 70-year-old business executive and self-promoter extraordinaire whose lifelong working habit is to go to his office, see what opportunities the day presents and then improvise. He is not going to change.... In his whole career, he has worked only for his father and himself. Now he has 320 million bosses, and each of us has the right to tell him what to do. I believe this will be a difficult concept for him to grasp." -- CW 

Michael Schmidt, et al., of the New York Times: "American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of ... Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said. The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts.... The counterintelligence investigation centers at least in part on the business dealings that some of ... [Trump]’s past and present advisers have had with Russia. Mr. Manafort has done business in Ukraine and Russia. Some of his contacts there were under surveillance by the National Security Agency for suspected links to Russia’s Federal Security Service, one of the officials said.... Two other [Trump advisors under scrutiny] are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative." -- CW ...

... ** Scott Lemieux, in LG&$, calls the Times story another "desperate leak before Trump shuts the investigation down.... It’s not just that the FBI chose to inform the public about one, and only one, ongoing investigation [of the two presidential candidates]. The investigation that the FBI did the inform the public about 1)served the longstanding partisan interests of the director and 2)was utterly trivial, and in the most decisive intervention there was absolutely no relevant new information about it.... The FBI stole the election, on behalf of the minority candidate. Trump is not a legitimate president and should not be treated as such. And let us note as well that the media outlets who chose to give Comey’s letter saturation coverage are accessories after the fact." -- CW ...

     ... CW: What Lemieux does not acknowledge, however, is that -- so far as we know -- the FBI was investigating actions by Clinton herself, but it (along with other agencies) is investigating Trump's associates, not Trump. Believe me, I am not excusing Comey, and I generally agree with Lemieux, but it appears, at this point, that he's comparing an apple & a few orange pips, not the Orange himself. ...

... Adam Silverman of Balloon Juice: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is privy to intelligence briefings, strongly implies there's more to the story. CW: In any event, we probably should not be surprised if it turns out there was an international conspiracy, involving Americans close to Trump, to throw the election. Whether Trump was in on the plot or is just a dimwitted bystander -- Trump as Gump -- in his own election remains to be seen. 

Trump the Unscrupulous. Eric Lipton & Susanne Craig of the New York Times: "Perhaps more than any other location in Mr. Trump’s real estate empire, [the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.,] epitomizes the convergence of Donald Trump the global businessman and Donald Trump the president-elect. Conflicts that for months have been theoretical are now about to become real — most immediately a possible challenge by the federal government. It owns the building that houses Mr. Trump’s hotel and has granted him a 60-year lease. From the moment he is sworn in as president at noon Friday, Mr. Trump may be in violation of that lease, given a provision that appears to prohibit federal elected officials from renting the Old Post Office building, the Pennsylvania Avenue landmark that houses the hotel, from the government. Guests at the hotel include foreign diplomats and politicians who could be looking to curry favor with Mr. Trump — but even the act of paying their bills as they check out after the inauguration may open Mr. Trump to a challenge that he has violated the United States Constitution, which prohibits federal government officials from taking payments or gifts from foreign governments." -- CW ...

... Matea Gold & Jonathan O'Connell of the Washington Post: "As he held court Thursday afternoon inside the ivory-and-gold ballroom of the Trump International Hotel..., Donald Trump could not resist plugging the luxurious locale playing host to his Cabinet appointees, top Republican congressional leaders and hundreds of the GOP’s wealthiest donors. 'This is a gorgeous room,' [he] ... said of his new hotel’s presidential ballroom. 'A total genius must have built this place.'... The U.S. Capitol is the backdrop for the official swearing-in ceremony on Friday, but the hub of inaugural action is Trump’s hotel, the site of a slew of official events and some of the week’s most sought-after private gatherings.... Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.) and other congressional Democrats have pushed the General Services Administration to cancel the Old Post Office Pavilion lease. GSA officials have said that no violations have yet occurred.... [But as of Friday at noon] GSA will be part of the new administration — raising the prospect of a Trump appointee renegotiating the lease with one of his sons.” -- CW 

Not sure where this sign is posted, but thanks to the reader who sent the photo. Both he & the signboard remind me, by the way, that Reality Chex has by far the highest IQ of any site ever assembled. (Don't blame me for the construction of that nonsense sentence. It's derivative.)Trump the Unready. Maggie Haberman & Glenn Thrush of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump arrived in Washington the day before his inauguration ... facing serious questions about whether his chaotic transition has left critical parts of the government dangerously short-handed. Mr. Trump['s] ... team was still scrambling to fill key administration posts when he got [to Washington] on Thursday, announcing last-minute plans to retain 50 essential State Department and national security officials currently working in the Obama administration to ensure 'continuity of government,' according to Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary. The furious final staff preparations included designating Thomas A. Shannon Jr., an Obama appointee, as the acting secretary of state, pending the expected confirmation of Rex W. Tillerson. As of Thursday, only two of Mr. Trump’s 15 cabinet nominees — John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security, and his nominee for defense secretary, Gen. James N. Mattis — had been approved by congressional committees and were close to assuming their posts.... In all, Mr. Trump has named only 29 of his 660 executive department appointments.... That is a pace far slower than recent predecessors, falling far short of the schedule originally outlined by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was Mr. Trump’s transition director before Mr. Trump ousted him 10 weeks ago." -- CW ..

... Eli Stokols & Josh Dawsey of Politico: Donald Trump's "mixed messages, constant contradictions and open-ended statements, however hyperbolic, have left Republican allies, would-be administration appointees, and the public unclear about his true intentions for the presidency. 'On Election Night, he said he was going to be a president for everyone,' said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “Since that time, that outreach has been shattered by Russian hacking, the bullying of the news media and the constant controversies. He would meet with people like Al Gore on climate change, and then a day later, he’d pick a climate-denier.' Trump has fought publicly with his critics ... and offered an ad hoc, mercantilist approach to foreign policy that is already destabilizing the world order — talking tough toward America’s longstanding allies and its intelligence community tasked with keeping the nation safe, while praising Russian President Vladimir Putin.... On the whole, Trump has done little over the past two-plus months to ease the broader fears that he will be a de-stabilizing presence in the Oval Office—fears shared by foreign leaders, intelligence officers, Wall Street analysts, journalists and First Amendment advocates, corporate CEOs and even Republican politicians, all of whom face a more uncertain future in the dawning Trump era. If anything, he’s exacerbated those fears.” -- CW ...

... John Dawsey: "Trump can't stop talking about how he won.... His inability to sometimes move on has sometimes left allies scratching their heads, as they want him to home in on hiring and running the government. In the weeks during the transition, he has often seemed more interested in litigating the past than focusing on the present, these people say. He has convened longtime New York friends to Trump Tower to talk about the win.... He has grown particularly agitated when anyone questioned the legitimacy of his victory.... The mention that he lost the popular vote seems to particularly enrage him." -- CW 

Greg Sargent posts a brief rundown of what awaits Trump after the balls are over. "Happy inauguration day, Mr. President. You finally beat them. As of this afternoon, bluster and tweets ain’t gonna cut it anymore, though." -- CW 

We have by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled. Donald Trump, Thursday

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... Donald J. Trump’s cabinet nominees, while moderating some of their stances, have made it clear during two weeks of hearings that they intend to work hard to sweep away President Obama’s domestic policy by embracing a deeply conservative approach to governing. In dozens of hours of testimony, Mr. Trump’s nominees told senators that they favored less regulation, a smaller federal government, more state control over policy decisions and taxpayer money, and greater personal responsibility by Americans across the country. The sometimes contentious hearings continued up until the day before the inauguration, as Mr. Trump triumphantly arrived in Washington on Thursday to kick off three highly choreographed days that will usher Republicans back into full political power in Washington for the first time in more than a decade." -- CW ...

... Paul Krugman: "It was obvious to anyone paying attention that the incoming administration would be blatantly corrupt. But would it at least be efficient in its corruption? Many Trump voters certainly thought they were choosing a smart businessman who would get things done. And even those who knew better may have hoped that the president-elect, his ego finally sated, would settle down to running the country — or at least delegate the boring business of governing America to people actually capable of doing the job. But it’s not happening. Mr. Trump ... [is] still the insecure, short-attention-span egomaniac he always was. Worse, he is surrounding himself with people who share many of his flaws — perhaps because they’re the sort of people with whom he is comfortable.... So there you have it: an administration unprecedented in its corruption, but also completely unprepared to govern." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Brian Beutler (I think it was) made this same point last week. There are consequences to cronyism & corruption that go far beyond the obvious impropriety & venality. The best, most conscientious people make mistakes; the worst, most careless make them constantly and yuuugely. As Krugman writes, "We're fucked." "It's going to be terrific, let me tell you."

Wow! Glasses Do Make You Smarter! Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "Rick Perry ... said in his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday that he regretted having recommended the abolition of the Energy Department in the past. He ... [told] the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that after 'being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy,' he no longer believed, as he said while running for president in 2011, that it should be eliminated. Mr. Perry also offered a full-throated reversal of his views on the science of human-caused climate change, which he called a 'contrived, phony mess' in a 2010 book. 'I believe the climate is changing,' he said. 'I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity....' Mr. Trump, by contrast, has called climate change a 'hoax' and has continued to express doubts about established climate science. Mr. Perry also appeared to signal a somewhat different position from Mr. Trump on nuclear weapons policy, the Energy Department’s chief portfolio. Mr. Trump has said the United States must 'greatly strengthen and expand' its nuclear capability, 'Let it be an arms race,' he said. But Mr. Perry, asked by Senator Bernie Sanders ...the Vermont independent whether he believed expanded testing of nuclear weapons was a 'dangerous idea,' replied, 'I think anyone would be of the opinion that if we never have to test another nuclear weapon that would be a good thing for the world.' He added, 'I think nonproliferation is a good thing.'” -- CW ...

... New York Times Editors: "To prepare for the job and the hearing, Mr. Perry said he had spoken several times with Ernest Moniz, the current energy secretary and a respected nuclear scientist, and also with others who have held the job. That shows a greater readiness to learn from his predecessor than other cabinet nominees have displayed; Rex Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, was scheduled to meet with the incumbent, John Kerry, but did not, although he squeezed in a meeting with Mr. Kerry’s deputy on Thursday." ...

    ... CW: It's pretty damned troubling that the only Trump Cabinet nominee who has shown any interest in even learning the basics of his job is Rick Oops! Perry, a guy who previously said the job itself was superfluous. As Krugman wrote.... ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Kelsey Sutton of Politico: "The New York Times is standing by its story about former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s nomination as energy secretary that drew criticism after its publication Wednesday night. The story, which reported that Perry 'knew almost nothing about' the secretary of energy position for which he was nominated, faced criticism and additional scrutiny after the named source in the story said the Times misinterpreted what he said." See also yesterday's Commentariat.-- CW 

Ylan Mui of the Washington Post: "Treasury secretary nominee Steven T. Mnuchin defended his ties to offshore business entities and his management of a controversial California bank during a testy confirmation hearing on Thursday.... The hearing began with a sharply combative tone before Mnuchin even started speaking — an unusual departure for what is typically a staid and wonkish committee.... At several points during his hearing, Mnuchin appeared stung by the sharp questioning from lawmakers." CW: He was expecting questions more along the lines of, "Am I pronouncing your name right, Mr. Munchkin?" and "Which are cuter? Kittens or puppies?" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Paul Waldman: "Donald Trump’s cabinet brings with it a combination of ethical problems, inexperience, hostility to the missions of the departments its members are being called to lead, and plain old ignorance that is simply unprecedented. This is shaping up to be nothing less than the worst cabinet in American history.... One can only imagine the damage they’re going to do." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Trump Outsources Draconian Budget Plans to Heritage Foundation. Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned. The changes they propose are dramatic.... Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years. The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Emily Heil of the Washington Post: "Organizers of a glitzy inaugural ball for military veterans canceled the event late Wednesday, citing 'security reasons and events beyond our control,' according to its website. But what led to the unraveling of the Veterans Making America Great Again gala, which was slated for Friday night, is a bit murkier. The soiree was being put together by Florida businessman Luis Quinonez, a member of ... Donald Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council. Quinonez’s name had been mentioned as a top candidate for the post of veterans affairs secretary, though he ultimately withdrew his name, citing health problems. (According to the Military Times, Quinonez had also been in a legal dispute over child-support payments that could have clouded his confirmation process.) A source with knowledge of how the ball fell apart says financial issues were its downfall." -- CW 

John Cox, et al., of the Washington Post: Early this morning, protesters & Trump supporters were already clashing on the National Mall as police struggled to separate them. ...

... Clarence Williams of the Washington Post: "Anti-Trump protesters jeered and screamed at supporters of ... [Donald Trump] outside the 'DeploraBall' at the National Press Club on Thursday night, in one case throwing an object that struck a counterprotester in the head. D.C. police closed the 1300 block of F Street NW to motor vehicles as hundreds of demonstrators filled the roadway. Some protesters raised their middle fingers and shouted obscenities and terms such as 'racist' and 'Nazi' at those attending the celebratory ball on the eve of Trump’s inauguration. A small group of protesters in hoods and black masks set a fire in the center of the street. Another fire was set in a trash can." -- CW 

Mark Santora of the New York Times: "On the eve of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump..., thousands of protesters and a group of Hollywood celebrities took to the streets in New York City in what was meant to be a show of unity and a prelude to what organizers hoped would be a weekend of dissent around the country. In the days after Mr. Trump’s election, protesters gathered night after night, often at the base of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. On Thursday..., they rallied near Central Park, in the shadow of another one of the many skyscrapers bearing the Trump name." -- CW

Luz Lazo of the Washington Post: "Thousands of people are expected to be in the region Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, an event that could draw larger crowds than Inauguration Day itself, and present travel challenges for participants and residents." The story contains info on what to expect in terms of transportation, etc. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Claire Landsbaum of New York has the list of speakers for the Women's March. -- CW