HUFFPOST HILL - Hey, Why Are All Those Woodland Creatures Running Away

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Today is President Obama’s last full day in office, and Joe Biden’s last chance to wink and make finger guns at all the White House presidential portraits. Donald Trump wants to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts ― and here we thought him appointing the guy who creating that painting of Obama golfing while the world explodes would be the worst possible outcome for the agency. And the military denied the transition missile launchers and tanks for a military parade, a slight Trump’s people will surely remember if the military ever asks for Lee Greenwood or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to undertake a black ops mission. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 19th, 2017:  

DEAR LEADER NOT GETTING THE INAUGURATION HE WANTED - Christ almighty, at least throw in some t-shirt cannons in the mix. If there’s one thing we thought this president would bring, it’d be more t-shirt cannons. Jessica Schulberg: “During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. ‘They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,’ the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing. The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request, the source said. Their reason was twofold. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.” [HuffPost]

Reminder: The roads and Metro are going to be all $&#*ed up.

TRUMP RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO BACK OUT - He’s here. Philip Rucker and John Wagner: “President-elect Donald Trump arrived in Washington with flair on Thursday, formally launching the inaugural festivities that will lead to his swearing in as the nation’s 45th president on Friday…. ‘We have by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled,’ Trump said in a characteristically grandiose declaration before several hundred supporters, lawmakers and allies at an official luncheon.” [WaPo]

Trump is super-unpopular. We’ve never really seen anything like this for a new president.

The National Archives today published the letters Bill Clinton and George W. Bush wrote to their successors.

OBAMA PROVED NOT TO BE SUPERHUMAN - Sam Stein: “On a frigid day in January 2009, after the chief justice of the Supreme Court bungled the oath of office, Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address to a crowd of millions and implored them to understand the gravity of the moment. The time for  ‘recriminations and worn-out dogmas’ had ended, the president declared, in a nod to the bitter campaign that had just concluded and the crumbling U.S. economy he was inheriting. ‘We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.’ Eight years later, the economy has improved. But those childish things very much remain, and they have clouded Obama’s swan song in office and complicated his legacy.” [HuffPost]

Obama pens letter on the non-closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay: “[H]istory will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to bring it to a responsible end.” [HuffPost’s Ryan J. Reilly]

CHAFFETZ SKIPPED MEETING WITH ETHICS WATCHDOG - This time he means it, though. Dana Liebelson: “ Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, told reporters last week that a government ethics official who had criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deal with his potential conflicts of interest refused to meet with him. Chaffetz even threatened to subpoena the official, Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub. ‘This is not going to be an optional exercise,’ Chaffetz said. But it was Chaffetz who missed a previously discussed meeting in early December, according to Office of Government Ethics emails The Huffington Post obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. And the ethics office now says the congressman is trying to keep an upcoming meeting — proposed for Jan. 23 — closed to the public.” [HuffPost]

MNUCHIN LEFT OUT MASSIVE AMOUNT OF ASSETS IN DISCLOSURES - Y’know what they say, a beach house here, a beach house there… Alan Rappeport:  “Steven T. Mnuchin, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick to be Treasury secretary, failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets on Senate Finance Committee disclosure documents and forgot to mention his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven, an omission that Democrats said made him unfit to serve in one of the government’s most important positions. The revelation came hours before Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, began testifying on Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee, which has historically been bipartisan in its demands for transparency from nominees. Mr. Mnuchin was ready to outline his vision for the economy and defend himself against claims that he headed a bank that ran a ‘foreclosure machine’ during the financial crisis.” [NYT]

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RICK PERRY WILL TAKE YOUR POWER, THANK YOU VERY MUCH -  Remember how Rick Perry was going to be the 2012 Republican presidential nominee? Kate Sheppard: “Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he no longer wants to eliminate the Cabinet department he now wants to lead. At his confirmation hearing Thursday, Perry said the remarks he made while running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2011 ― which included vowing to abolish the Energy Department and forgetting its name ― ‘do not reflect my current thinking.’ ‘After being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination,’ Perry told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in his opening remarks. Democrats on the committee probably won’t let Perry forget his previous views, however. Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the panel, mentioned it in her own opening statement. ‘I suspect that now having had a chance to learn about the importance of this department, you have a very different opinion,’ she said.”

Who says Congress is boring? “Referring to a private meeting they’d had earlier, Franken (D-Minn.) asked Perry, ‘Did you enjoy meeting me?’ Without a trace of irony, Perry replied, ‘I hope you’re as much fun on that dais as you were on that couch.’ After the crowd erupted in laughs, Perry quickly backtracked. ‘May I rephrase that?’ he said. ‘I think we’ve found our ‘Saturday Night Live’ sound bite.’ ‘Oh my lord,’ Franken replied. ‘Let’s move on.’” [HuffPost’s Alana Horowitz Satlin]

FIRE UP THE TACO BOWL, BOYS - Not to fret, we’re sure Alberto Gonzalez will be making plenty of visits to advise how best to remove political enemies. Elise Foley: Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that Latinos shouldn’t be worried that President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet will be the first in decades to lack a Latino member ― they should be more concerned with whether he’s picking ‘the best and the brightest.’ Trump announced his pick for the next agriculture secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Thursday morning. It was the last open spot in his largely white, male proposed Cabinet, and the last chance for Trump to include a Latino in his Cabinet, as every president has done since 1988. Spicer responded to a question about Latinos on the Cabinet by pointing to other non-Latino minorities in the Cabinet and arguing against looking at one group rather than diversity in general, which he said will likely be ‘second to none’ under Trump.” [HuffPost]

FROM THE SAME PARTY THAT GUTTED AN ETHICS OFFICE ON ITS FIRST DAY OF WORK COMES…  Austin Wright and Martin Matishak: “Sen. Mark Warner couldn’t believe what his Republican counterpart on the Senate Intelligence Committee had just done. With no advance notice, Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) declared to reporters that his panel wouldn’t look into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow as part of its investigation of Russian interference in the election. So Warner, a Virginia Democrat who is the panel’s ranking member, promptly enlisted every Democrat on the committee to oppose Burr’s move and presumably boycott the investigation if he didn’t reverse himself, according to congressional sources. Barely 24 hours later, Burr issued a lengthy statement backtracking on his own comments. The committee would indeed examine ‘links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns’ as part of its larger election-hacking probe, Burr wrote in a joint statement with Warner.” [Politico]

TRUMP NOMINEES NOT HELD TO STANDARD SCRUTINY - Paul Blumenthal and Christina Wilkie: “Three of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for Cabinet positions on Wednesday revealed that they had engaged in illegal or questionable behavior that prior administrations have considered serious enough to necessitate a nominee’s withdrawal. Taken together, the disclosures by Wilbur Ross, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) offered a likely preview of a presidential administration that appears confident in its ability to cross legal and ethical boundaries without consequences…. After President Bill Clinton came to the White House, he had to withdraw two nominees for attorney general after it came to light that they employed undocumented household workers. In 1993, corporate lawyer Zoe Baird withdrew her nomination after it was revealed she employed two undocumented Peruvian workers and failed to pay their payroll taxes. Clinton’s next choice to head the Department of Justice, federal judge Kimba Wood, had also employed an undocumented household worker. She too withdrew her nomination. In 2001, President George W. Bush chose Linda Chavez to head the Department of Labor, but she also withdrew after it was revealed she’d sheltered an undocumented woman from Guatemala in the 1990s who was trying to escape an abusive relationship.” [HuffPost]

WE JUST CAN’T WITH THIS - ajkdsfj;wuhgiy Nick Wing: “Corey Lewandowski, the onetime Donald Trump campaign manager turned K Street swamp dweller, is shocked and appalled that a Democratic congressman would challenge his former boss’ legitimacy…. ‘Can you imagine just for a second if a Republican congressman would have gone out and said this about Barack Obama and continued that narrative?’ said Lewandowski. ‘It would be an uproar in the mainstream media.’ … Lewandowski apparently has a short memory when it comes to the GOP’s treatment of Obama…. For months, Trump questioned whether Obama was actually born in the United States, alleging the president’s birth certificate was forged and that there had been a massive, even deadly, conspiracy to hide this information from the public. [HuffPost]

PRESIDENT COMMUTES 330 SENTENCES ON FINAL FULL DAY - We’re sure he’s saving his Hillary pardon for the last hour. Ryan J. Reilly and Elise Foley: “President Barack Obama shortened the sentences of 330 federal prisoners on Thursday, less than 24 hours before Donald Trump takes office. With Thursday’s announcement, Obama has now granted commutations to 1,715 federal prisoners. A HuffPost review of Thursday’s list indicates that all of those 330 clemency cases were for drug or drug-related cases. Obama’s announcement followed the Tuesday commutations of the sentences of Chelsea Manning and of more than 200 federal prisoners charged with drug offenses.... Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who will soon become acting attorney general, said in a statement that the Office of the Pardon Attorney had processed 16,000 petitions since April 2014, what she said was ‘as enormous as it was unprecedented.’” [HuffPost]

SURELY, ‘HAMILTON’ CAN FIX THIS, SOMEHOW - Or maybe the cast of “Glee,” surely that will do it. Alexander Bolton: “Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending. 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…. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely. Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.” [The Hill]

CAN’T WAIT TO VISIT EXXONMOBIL’S GRAND CANYON X-PERIENCE®! And who hasn’t thought what Yellowstone is missing is a mining camp in the middle of it? Heather Hansman: “In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens…. Essentially, the revised budget rules deny that federal land has any value at all…. [T]he first places to come under attack might include areas adjacent to the majestic Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Those areas hold uranium and copper, respectively.” [The Guardian]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a slow-motion corgi.

OH, GOOD, MORE OF THIS - The far-right really needs their own Donald Rumsfeld whom they can bother. Jessica Sidman: “A group of anti-gay demonstrators holding signs that say ‘homo sex is sin’ and ‘judgment is coming’ have assembled outside Comet Ping Pong, the Chevy Chase pizzeria that’s been the victim of harassment and a gunman incident over the conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate. The group, calling themselves the ‘Official Street Preachers,’ have been harassing passersby and customers over megaphones, calling them ‘wicked perverts’ and ‘sinners.’” [Washingtonian]


- Dog is bad at catch.

- Some of the best spoofs of Trump’s speech preparation photo.

- Slow-motion video of a combustion engine.


@cwarzel: if u had told me President Elect Donald Trump would hang his head in reverence to 3 Door’s Down “Here Without You” @ Lincoln Memorial i woul

@ashleyfeinberg: how are they going to get a tanning bed into the white house without anyone noticing

@Trollin_Trump: I’m pissed @3doorsdown canceled their show at Applebee’s this Friday to do the inauguration

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com)