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.

Trump's speech has so far had deliberate echoes of Lincoln (we are gathered here) and FDR (forgotten men and women). Now he's channeling Bill Clinton (their pain is our pain). Now Carter (I will never let you down). Now Reagan (we will shine for everyone to follow). Now himself (we will make America great again). Plus he included a very nice shout out to Sam Peckinpah (American carnage).

It's time to climb a tree and pretend none of this is happening.

Donald Trump is officially president of the United States. It is now time to commence hiding under blankets.

Mike Pence is now officially vice president of the United States. This totally deserves another cat.

Chuck Schumer says we're celebrating the peaceful transfer of power today. Then more blather. Now he's rather obviously implying that four years of Donald Trump probably won't be any worse than the four years of the Civil War. We survived that, so hey, we'll get through Trump too.

I think that deserves another cat.

We're less than an hour away from inaugurating Donald Trump as president, and this is what's on the front page 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 President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

....As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts....Of the half-dozen current and former officials who confirmed the existence of the investigations, some said they were providing information because they feared the new administration would obstruct their efforts. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the cases.

This is unreal. Surely it deserves a cat to take our minds off what's about to happen?

This is adorable:

When Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of the Treasury, was asked about tax reform in his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, he took things in a surprising direction: He suggested that the IRS needed a larger staff.

“I was particularly surprised, looking at the IRS numbers, that the IRS headcount has gone down quite dramatically, almost 30 percent over the last number of years,” Mnuchin said in response to a question from Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican....“Now perhaps the IRS just started with way too many people,” Mnuchin added. But he suggested that “staffing of the IRS is an important part of fixing the tax gap.”

That's, um, surprising, all right. Yessir, Mr. Mnuchin. Very surprising indeed.

For those of you who don't get the joke, this is sort of like Mnuchin testifying in front of a bunch of mafia dons and expressing surprise that they charge such high interest rates in their lending operation. Maybe with lower rates you gentlemen could expand into the suburban market and gain a share of the home equity business? Lotta kitchen remodels out there.

Basically, Mnuchin looked at the IRS numbers like a normal person and was surprised to see that they weren't trying to maximize tax collections. He apparently didn't realize that the Republicans he was testifying in front of have been very deliberately slashing the IRS budget for years precisely so they can't maximize tax collections. The last thing Republicans want is an IRS that audits rich people more closely.

Mnuchin will learn. After all, Donald Trump did. Remember when Trump suggested that women who get abortions should be punished? He had no idea what he was talking about, and just assumed that since Republicans consider abortion bad, the maximal anti-abortion position must be good. He didn't realize that jailing middle-class teenagers is a position unpopular enough to jeopardize GOP reelection prospects, and as a result Republicans have long insisted that even if they manage to make abortion illegal, they will always consider women who get abortions to be "victims" of unscrupulous butchers, not lawbreakers. That's the party line, anyway, and everyone is expected to know it.

Before long, I'm sure Mnuchin will learn to listen respectfully to harangues about the gold standard and fiat money and ending the Fed. It's a small price to pay for the opportunity to occupy the position once held by Alexander Hamilton.

Sen. John Cornyn, the #2 Republican leader in the Senate, took some questions today about the GOP replacement for Obamacare.  TPM's Lauren Fox reports:

When Cornyn was asked if he was concerned about people who've benefited from Medicaid expansion losing coverage, he said it was a shared concern. "We're all concerned, but it ain't going to happen," Cornyn said. "Will you write that down... It ain't gonna happen."

Reporters followed up. "You're saying nobody's going to lose coverage?" one asked. "Nobody's going to lose coverage," Cornyn said. "Obviously, people covered today will continue to be covered. And, the hope is we'll expand access. Right now 30 million people are not covered under Obamacare."

When you're dealing with Republicans and health care, you have to be mighty careful. Cornyn didn't say that people covered by Medicaid would continue to be covered by Medicaid. He just said they'd be "covered." This could mean anything. It could mean giving the poor a $1,000 refundable tax credit they can use toward buying coverage on the open market, which would be useless. It could mean giving the poor access to tax-favored HSAs and catastrophic coverage, which would also be useless. It could mean keeping them on Medicaid but instituting a 50 percent copay to make sure they have "skin in the game."

Reporters need to step up their game. If they're going to ask about stuff like this, they have to demand enough detail for the answer to mean something. Cornyn may sound like he promised something here, but he didn't. And I assure you he chose his words very carefully.

It's less than 24 hours until Barack Obama leaves the White House. In eight years, here's my top ten list of what he accomplished:

  1. Affordable Care Act
  2. Stimulus package
  3. Climate actions: Paris agreement, EPA power plant standards, auto mileage standards, etc.
  4. Dodd-Frank financial reform
  5. Iran nuclear treaty
  6. Killed Osama bin Laden
  7. Allowed gays to serve openly in the military
  8. New START treaty
  9. Delivered 74 consecutive months of job growth
  10. Declined to get seriously involved in Syria

I'm keenly aware of all the criticisms you can make of this list: the stimulus wasn't big enough; Dodd-Frank didn't go far enough; Obamacare doesn't have a public option; cap-and-trade failed; the surveillance state became permanent; there was no help for underwater homeowners; there are still troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; and so forth. These are all legit. Nonetheless, if you compare this list to other presidents of the past century, there aren't more than three or four who can match it. Here in the real world, that's pretty good.

On foreign affairs, Obama got better as he spent more time in office. In 2009 he approved a huge surge of troops into a hopeless fight in Afghanistan. In 2011, he resisted intervening in Libya but eventually agreed to a middling-size offensive. Finally, by 2013, he had learned his lesson and simply refused to allow more than a modest bit of engagement in Syria. And thank God for that. If we had committed seriously to Syria, we'd be fighting a massive two-front war there to this day. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just not paying attention.

In the end, Obama wasn't a transformative president. But that's a high bar: in my book, FDR and Reagan are the only presidents of the past century who qualify. Still, Obama turned the battleship a few degrees more than most presidents, and we're all better off for it. He also brought a certain amount of grace and civility to the White House, as well as a genuine willingness to work across the aisle. In the event, that turned out to be futile, because Republicans had already decided to oppose everything he did sight unseen. But he did try.

I don't know how much of his legacy will survive. A fair amount, I think, since repealing things like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and the Iran treaty are harder than they look. But some of it will fade or evaporate in the Trump era. And Obama was never able to make any headway against the anger that festers in the hearts of so many Americans toward the poor, the non-white, the non-male, the non-straight, and the non-Christian. Now this anger will guide our next four years. I miss him already, the best president of my lifetime.