Sean Spicer is holding his first press conference today. The first three questions go to the New York Post, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Fox News. They all ask softball questions.

How about those reports that Russian planes are attacking ISIS in collaboration with the Russians? Spicer refuses to deny it even though the Pentagon has already called the claim "rubbish."

Finally someone asks about Spicer's debacle on Saturday. It turns out that Spicer is upset about anyone questioning his integrity and claims that everything he said on Saturday was based on the best information at the time. Furthermore, he stands by his statement that Trump's inauguration was the most watched of all time. Sure, Reagan had 41 million viewers, but Reagan didn't have YouTube.1 Once you add in that, plus Facebook and smartphones and all that stuff, then Trump kicked Reagan's ass, amirite?

Then Spicer refuses to say what the unemployment rate is. There's a lot of different statistics out there, and anyway, Trump prefers to think of people, not faceless statistics. That's just the kind of guy he is.

What is Trump going to do about climate change? "He's going to meet with his team."

What are Trump's first three legislative priorities? Immigration, tax reform, regulatory reform. And that's not just the wall, either. We need a complete immigration overhaul.

Trump has no immediate plans to revoke DACA, the "mini-DREAM" act signed by President Obama. I wonder what the immigration hawks think of this?

What kind of relationship does Trump plan with China? "He understands what a big market that is." Okey doke.

Spicer is now denying that the cheers during his CIA speech were mostly coming from folks that Trump brought along. "Just listen to the cheers. It was more than a few people."

I guess this could last forever, and I'm getting hungry. My professionalism has a limit, and it's now been reached. Spicer is droning on about the perfidy of the press and how Trump always outperforms people's expectations. Then we hear yet again about his outrage over the incorrect reporting about removing the MLK bust from the Oval Office. Spicer now claiming that Trump is treated way worse that any other president in history. Blah blah blah. That's it for me.

1This is pretty much a direct quote: "Reagan didn't have YouTube."

Houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, near Jerusalem. Members of the governing coalition are pressing for Israel to annex Maale Adumim.

It's full speed ahead for creating yet more facts on the ground in Israel. The LA Times reports:

The city of Jerusalem, emboldened by anticipated support from the Trump administration, on Sunday authorized the construction of some 560 new homes in areas of the city claimed by the Palestinians as a capital of their future state....A new era has begun,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, told Israeli reporters, calling on government ministers to support a decision to extend Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank.

....Members of Netanyahu’s coalition are pushing for a parliamentary bill to annex Maale Adumim, a sprawling settlement east of Jerusalem with a population of tens of thousands. Annexing it would nearly sever the West Bank between north and south.

“There is a giant change in the policy of the U.S., and we have to take that change into account — for our own benefit,” said Ofir Akunis, a lawmaker from Netanyahu’s Likud party, who said he would support annexation.

Considering that Barack Obama spent eight years trying to slow down Israeli settlements and it had no evident impact, we can only imagine what's going to happen now that Israelis have a US president who openly approves of annexing every square meter of land they can.

I just don't know how this all turns out. It's been obvious for a while that the two-state solution is dead. Prime Minister Netanyahu has obviously never supported it, and demographic changes have pushed Israeli politics to the point where Netanyahu is actually a bit dovish compared to the rest of his coalition. They're just going to keep building and building until something stops them—and at the moment, I'm not sure what something could be. If the entire rest of the world literally stopped trading with Israel, cut off diplomatic relations, and refused entry to all Israeli citizens—that might do it. But that's not going to happen, and I'm not sure that would be enough anyway as long as the US is still in Israel's corner.

I guess Jared Kushner will be tasked with "negotiating" something that will end up making all of this official policy. The rest of us are just going to have to figure out how to respond.

CBS News has confirmed what we all suspected about President Trump's visit to the CIA on Saturday:

An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”

Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams....There were about 400 members of the workforce who RSVP’d for the event out of thousands who received an invitation in their email late last week. Officials dismiss White House claims that there were people waiting to get into the event.

We now have a president who travels with his own private cheering section and allows the press to film his events only from approved angles that hide this fact. People keep comparing Trump to Mussolini, but I'm beginning to think this might be unfair to Il Duce.

I missed this when it came out a few days ago, but here's the latest Fox poll on what people want done with Obamacare:

Very few people want Obamacare repealed without something to replace it, and even fewer want it repealed without knowing exactly what kind of replacement Republicans have in mind. There's not a big partisan split on this, either. Among Republicans, 73 percent want Obamacare replaced with something new and 68 percent want to know what the replacement is before anything is repealed.

Here's another interesting tidbit:

Even among Republicans, hardly anyone really cares about the wall. This suggests that it will be pretty easy for the wall to get forgotten in the shuffle as Republicans in Congress go about the stuff they really care about: cutting taxes on the rich and cutting benefits for everyone else.

Politico explains the infamous press event on Saturday, which was called for the sole purpose of berating the press for accurately reporting the size of President Trump's inauguration crowd:

Trump's inauguration was largely an as-expected affair, and he sounded many of the right notes, said political observers, historians and people close to him. But news coverage soon fixated on the protesters across the country Saturday that far outnumbered his supporters the day before. Trump was increasingly angered by it, sending his press secretary out to fuzz up the situation and to brag about Trump’s support, in the face of knowable facts that contradicted what he said about record crowd sizes.

....That Trump wanted Sean Spicer, the press secretary, to go out with props in the White House briefing room — two large pictures of the crowd — was trademark, people who know him say. Trump loves props.

One person who frequently talks to Trump said aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House, like the news conference idea, and have to control information that may infuriate him. He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that.

This person said that a number of people close to him don't like saying no — but that it has to be done.

How astonishing is this? This is coming from a putative friend and supporter, who's describing Trump exactly the way you'd describe a five-year-old. I hope you all liked the Downfall parody craze, because I have a feeling it's going to make a comeback.

Today in Trump

Here's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press this morning, asking White House "counselor" Kellyanne Conway why President Trump's press secretary started his first day in office by going out and lying repeatedly on national TV. Her answer: Sean Spicer was merely providing "alternative facts."

I don't want to pick on Todd, who pressed Conway hard on this, but it was almost painful watching him try so hard to avoid using the obvious word here. Over and over, he wanted to ask why Spicer had lied, which would be the usual way of phrasing his question. On a couple of occasions he even stuttered a bit while he searched for another word. He just wouldn't say it. So what's the best response to Conway's dogged unwillingness to answer questions in even a debatably truthful way? I think Jamelle Bouie has it right:

There's a limit to how much TV networks should tolerate staffers who have a consistent history of viewing airtime merely as a way of promoting lies. Kellyanne Conway blew past that limit before Trump even took office. It's hard to see what the value of having her on a news show is at this point.

In other developments, hold on to your jaw—or maybe your stomach—as you watch Trump blow a kiss to FBI Director James Comey and then give him a big hug:

Jeet Heer has the proper take on this:

Trump won because of Comey. Period. Without Comey's letter of October 28, Trump would have lost by 8 million popular votes and a few dozen electoral votes. And Comey knew exactly what he was doing. Published reports suggest that literally every single person he talked to advised him that writing his letter would be an unprecedented violation of rules against letting ongoing investigations interfere with elections.

Finally, in other news from Kellyanne Conway, we learned officially what's been obvious for a long time: Donald Trump is never going to release his tax returns.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned a couple hundred thousand people who sent in petitions on health care, talking about health care, you also have more than 200,000 who petitioned the White House calling on President Trump to release his full tax returns with all information needed to verify emolument's clause compliance. Whenever 100,000 petition, that triggers a White House response. So, what is the White House response?

CONWAY: The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care. They voted for him.

The "audit" was just a ruse all along. I don't think that will surprise anyone with a room-temperature IQ, and I guess Trump decided to stop playing the game.

1,458 days to go. I can hardly wait for the Spicer/Conway description of Trump's tax cuts and Trump's replacement for Obamacare.

I guess we've moved on from crowd size at Trump's inauguration to TV audience size. Interestingly, Trump has apparently decided not to lie about this, but only to mislead. Just for the record, then, here's the share of the population that has tuned in to watch first-term inaugurations over the past 40 years:

Ratings here. January population here.

Watching the inauguration yesterday, I saw the smallish crowds just like everyone else. My immediate thought was: Oh God, this means tomorrow will be a 24/7 offensive from the White House about how this was the biggest inaugural crowd ever in history. The boy king will demand no less.

Sure enough, that's what we got. Trump went out to visit the CIA today and informed everyone that the inauguration crowd was at least a million, maybe a million and a half. Then he sent out his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to deliver an unprecedented screed, yelling at the assembled reporters about how dishonest they were and then spewing out a whole array of fabricated numbers to back up his boss's lies. When he was done, he turned on his heels and left without taking any questions.

I'm not interested in pointless discussions of whether Trump does this stuff to distract us (in this case, from the massive number of people at the women's marches around the country). I suppose that's part of it. But it's obvious from decades of watching Trump that he simply can't abide any criticism, either express or implied. Everything he does has to be the biggest and best. He's incapable of not lashing out when anyone suggests otherwise.

That's obvious enough to be banal at this point. What I'm more interested in is when the media is going to get over its faintheartedness and start calling this stuff what it is: lies. On MSNBC, Jim Sciutto reminded us that Trump frequently says things that "defy the facts." CNN wrote about Spicer's "misstatements of fact." The New York Times said Trump's crowd numbers were "false." Other newspapers said the same thing in different ways.

But even by the strictest definition, Trump and Spicer were lying. Trump made up his numbers out of thin air, knowing perfectly well they were based on nothing. Spicer delivered a whole bunch of numbers that were obviously either invented or just plain fake—and did it in an angry tone that was clearly meant to intimidate everyone in the room.

All of this stuff was not just "false," it was knowingly false. Everyone knows this. So let's cut out the delicate language and the earnest panel discussions about whether Spicer might have a point about one thing or another. He was lying. Trump was lying. Can't we be adults and just say so?

That's it for the day. I plan to spend the rest of the weekend in deep contemplation. I hope I've left you with enough cats to get through the day.