Open Thread: Always Be Grifting, Donnie!

The spin — “Surprisingly, Trump inauguration shapes up to be a relatively low-key affair“:

President Obama’s first inaugural festivities stretched over five days. Donald Trump is spending barely three on his.

Bill Clinton hit 14 official balls on the day he was sworn in. Trump plans appearances at three.

And while other presidents have staged parades that lasted more than four hours, Trump’s trip down Pennsylvania Avenue is expected to clock in at 90 minutes — making it among the shortest on record.

In a word, the 45th president’s inaugural activities will be “workmanlike,” said Boris Epshteyn, communications director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a pop-up staff of about 350 people scrambling to put together the proceedings from the second floor of a nondescript government building just south of the Mall.

The notion of a relatively low-key inaugural bereft of many ­A-list entertainers may come as a surprise, given the president-elect’s flair for showmanship and his credentials as a reality TV star. Epshteyn said that Trump settled on a less flashy approach, however, including keeping the ticket prices for the inaugural balls at $50 apiece so that ­working-class Americans who helped fuel Trump’s victory can take part…

The old man wants to get home in time for his Matlock Apprentice reruns. Also, there’s that whole “can’t get any entertainers, or sell many tickets” problem.

But it’s not that he doesn’t have the funds! McClatcheyDC, “Big money names behind Trump inaugural start to come out despite his secrecy plan“:

Donald Trump is trying to keep the names of the people and companies donating millions of dollars to his inauguration festivities this week a secret — a break from his Republican and Democratic predecessors in the White House.

At least the last three presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all disclosed names of donors before they were sworn into office .

A federal law passed when Bush was in office required presidents to reveal names of contributors, but only 90 days following the inauguration.

Some names have been leaked out or been released by the donors themselves. Chevron gave $500,000 and will sponsor additional events and Boeing pledged $1 million, according to the companies. AT&T and JPMorgan Chase also donated, according to the companies. Other corporate donors include those who donated to Obama’s inauguration or had declined to contribute to the Republican National Convention last summer, including UPS, Bank of America and Deloitte, according to the New York Times.

“It is all about access and influence,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the nonpartisan public advocacy group Public Citizen. “Donations come in very large amounts and from those who almost always want something from the new administration.”…

John Wonderlich, executive director for the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for more openness in government, called Trump one of the most secretive candidates in modern history. “This trend is continuing through the pre-presidency and likely the presidency,” he said.

Trump is expected to raise more than $90 million — a record amount — from people and corporations to pay for days of activities, including receptions, balls and the parade surrounding the 58th inauguration celebration. Taxpayers will spend millions more on the official swearing-in ceremony, security, construction and cleanup…

Am I the only one who suspects some large portion of these ‘donations’ will go straight into Trump’s pockets, while the usual party preps get skimped?



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Keep Going After the Bastids

Per Crooks & Liars:

A frustrated Senator Warren asked Rep. Price direct questions about his own policy prescriptions, but he refused to give a definitive answer, even about the cuts he has repeatedly called for.

Sen. Warren discussed his calls to cut funding and asked, “You recently authored as chair of the House Budget Committee would have cut spending on Medicare by $449 billion dollars over the next decade, is that right?

Rep. Price replied, “I don’t have the numbers in front of me.”

She replied, “I have the numbers.”

He said, “I assume you’re correct.”…

Sen. Warren then brought up Trump’s positions on both health care plans, in which he states there will be no cuts to the programs, funding-wise. She asked if Trump was telling the truth and he replied, “yes.”…

Warren said, “Can you guarantee to this committee that you will safeguard president-elect Trump’s promise and while you are HHS secretary, you will not use your authority to carry out a single dollar of cuts to Medicare or Medicaid eligibility or benefits?”

Price said, “What the question presumes is that money is the metric. In my belief from a scientific standpoint, if patients aren’t receiving care even though we’re providing the resources, it doesn’t work for patients.”

Warren said, “We’re very limited on time. The metric IS money. The President-elect…said he would not cut dollars from this program. So that’s the question I’m asking you. Can you assure this committee you will not cut one dollar from Medicare or Medicaid should you be confirmed to this position?

Price replied, “I believe that the metric ought to be the care that the patients are receiving.”

Warren said, “I’ll take that as a no.”…

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Apart from applauding Women Who Take No Shit, what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Late Night Open Thread: Hail, Glowryus Leeder

If only it were as lazy easy as trademarking someone else’s slogan!

… The slogan itself was not entirely original. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had used “Let’s Make America Great Again” in their 1980 campaign — a fact that Trump maintained he did not know until about a year ago.

“But he didn’t trademark it,” Trump said of Reagan…

The trademark became effective on July 14, 2015, a month after Trump formally announced his campaign and met the legal requirement that he was actually using it for the purposes spelled out in his [2012] application…

“It actually inspired me,” Trump said, “because to me, it meant jobs. It meant industry, and meant military strength. It meant taking care of our veterans. It meant so much.”…

Halfway through his interview with The Washington Post, Trump shared a bit of news: He already has decided on his slogan for a reelection bid in 2020.

“Are you ready?” he said. “ ‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point.”

“Get me my lawyer!” the president-elect shouted…

“I never thought I’d be giving [you] my expression for four years [from now],” he said. “But I am so confident that we are going to be, it is going to be so amazing. It’s the only reason I give it to you. If I was, like, ambiguous about it, if I wasn’t sure about what is going to happen — the country is going to be great.”…

Or at least that’s what Trump’s personal media will tell us! Remember Jeff Gannon?

Other journalists would be grilling [[press secretary] McClellan over the Bush administration’s activities. McClellan would call on Gannon for a question. And Gannon would bail McClellan out, frequently with a leading question laden with false assumptions.

In August 2004, for example, after taking several questions from a reporter about whether American forces had killed any innocent people in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and another seeking President Bush’s opinion of the disgraced Ahmad Chalabi, McClellen turned to Gannon. And Gannon came through: He asked McClellan about a new “piece of evidence showing the direct terror ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda” and followed up by asking “how damaging” a New York Times story had been “to our war on terror.”…

Trump has already deployed the Gannon strategy as president-elect. During his press conference last week, he pivoted away from a series of questions about the intelligence community’s fears about his interactions with Russia to take one from Matt Boyle from Breitbart, the conservative website previously run by his chief strategist and that spent the election pushing his candidacy. Boyle’s softball sought Trump’s opinion of what “reforms” the media industry should undertake to avoid the “problems” of its election coverage. We should expect Trump to continue to use his platform to lift up such supportive outlets…



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: “I Don’t Try to Predict the Future, I Try to Prevent It” (R. Bradbury)


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So many falling anvils, so few anvil-rated shelters — and that’s just in my small personal circle.

I’m stockpiling non-inauguration-related stories for Friday, in the cynical expectation that they’ll be preempted by breaking news.

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Apart from the slow-rolling tshit tsunami, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Open Thread: Little Man in the High Castle

Everybody relies on their routines, to some degree. But when a 74 70-year-old isolates himself in his home, refuses to deal with anyone outside of a small circle of intimates, uses gimmicks to screen himself from contact with input he can’t control… From the Washington Post, “Donald Trump waits in his tower — accessible yet isolated“:

Exactly one week after becoming president-elect, Donald Trump stepped outside his namesake fortress here for the first time. He ventured just five blocks, to dinner at the 21 Club — a dark-mahogany-and-red-leather-banquette throwback, where model airplanes and sports memorabilia hang from the ceiling and jackets are de rigueur for men.

The vintage haunt, where Trump dined with family members, feels like home. The waiters know his preferred table (No. 14, which Frank Sinatra and Richard M. Nixon also used) and his regular order (the $36 burger, well done, with fries).

So it has been for the president-elect, who has retreated to one comfortable, familiar refuge after another — his soaring Manhattan tower, his white leather-upholstered Boeing jet, his lush golf courses, his opulent beachside castle.

Trump is a man isolated, increasingly cocooned away from the voters who lifted him to his seemingly improbable victory. He favors his own people and his own places, creating the veneer of accessibility — his tweets reach millions and he still answers his cellphone — while placing himself in almost entirely habitual settings.

He spends most of his days in Trump Tower, with few close friends and few meaningful one-on-one interactions beyond the family members, advisers and loyalists who are whisked by gold-colored elevator to his 26th-floor office for private audiences. Trump rarely leaves, not even for a breath of fresh air; nor does he encounter many people he does not already know or who do not work for him…

In many ways, Trump seems most comfortable communicating at a slight remove, with a stage or a screen — television, Twitter, phone — serving as the intermediary between him and the public. Such tools are both his megaphone and his shield, allowing him to blast out a message undiluted with little risk…

At least when Reagan was first inaugurated, he was a skilled enough performer that he didn’t overtly present as an Alzheimer’s victim. Or maybe we just didn’t recognize the symptoms as quickly, back in those innocent days.



Open Thread: Repeal and…. Uhhh…

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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It’s all fun and games, until your constituents realize they’ll be losing their insurance…

Of course, the GOP’s own President-Asterisk has been running his mouth without bothering to check on the Party Line — it’s HIS party now…


Read more



Monday Morning Open Thread: Re-litigating the 1960s At Their Worst


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Here come the cheap thugs in their ill-fitting, flag-pin-bedazzled suits…


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Apart from uplifting fantasies, what’s on the agenda for the day?

(Tim Eagan via Gocomics.com)

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