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HUFFPOST HILL – President Readies Second-Worst Contribution To Primetime TV

Written by Tom

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Freakishly warm weather in Washington is threatening the early appearance of both pollen and kickball leagues. According to Pennsylvania’s AG, President Trump said a spate of attacks on Jewish community centers was a false flag, making us wonder what else happened at Steve Bannon’s kids’ school that pissed him off. And in anticipation of the president’s address to Congress, lawmakers secured aisle seats, advocacy groups finalized reaction statements and cable news networks have procured America’s biggest morons to appear in their on-air focus groups. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, February 28th, 2017:

OOOH, ‘SHARK TANK’ MARATHON ON CNBC TONIGHT – Not that anyone wants a repeat of Bill Clinton’s addresses to Congress, but yeesh. Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump will not embrace a specific plan to replace Obamacare or overhaul the country’s tax code in his major speech Tuesday night, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told GOP officials, but will make an aggressive case for building infrastructure and increasing school choice…. Spicer depicted the speech as fairly lengthy — 70 to 80 minutes, with Trump still revising and writing Tuesday afternoon — but light on details and more about the president’s vision…. While the president will address the need to pull back on other spending to ramp up military spending, the president won’t outline potential cuts to other federal programs.” [Politico]

Read Sam Stein’s preview of Trump’s address to Congress because he’s our boss and we have to write that.

Framing the Dems’ response: “Steve Beshear, the former Kentucky governor who will deliver the Democratic Party’s official response to President Donald Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, is not a fresh face, rising star, or future presidential candidate. He’s taken positions that buck Democratic ideology. And at 72 years old, his electoral career is over…. Beshear’s Kentucky emerged as Obamacare’s signature success story soon after the health care law passed, and it has continued to serve as a lens into the law’s past and potential future since Beshear left office.” [HuffPost’s Travis Waldron]

DOES THE WALL HAVE A DOOR OR SOMETHING? What’s even going on here? Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer: “President Donald Trump envisions compromise immigration legislation where those who aren’t serious or violent criminals could stay in the US legally, hold a job and pay taxes, without having to worry about being deported, a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday…. The President believes that the nation is now in a position where it can pass immigration legislation, the senior administration official said, with the need to have ‘a softening on both sides. There’s got to be a coming together.’” [CNN]

Haircut: Ben Jacobs (h/t Matt Fuller).

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON INFOWARS – Trump loves conspiracy theories and Steve Bannon, so… Chris Geidner: “Asked about the recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks and threats across the nation, President Trump on Tuesday told a group of state attorneys general that ‘sometimes it’s the reverse,’ Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said of Trump’s comments in his and other officials’ meeting with the president. ‘He just said, “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people — or to make others — look bad,” and he used the word “reverse” I would say two to three times in his comments,’ Shapiro said…. Earlier in the day Tuesday, a Trump adviser, Anthony Scaramucci, tweeted that it is ‘not yet clear who the #JCC offenders are’ and linking to a story from October 2016 at Breitbart alleging a Democratic ‘effort to incite violence at Trump rallies.’” [BuzzFeed]

AND THEN THERE’S THIS – Yeah, Barack and Richard Branson cooked up this plan while kitesurfing. Brian Bennett: “President Trump said Tuesday morning he believes former President Obama ‘is behind’ nationwide protests against the new administration’s policies, taking an unusual swipe at his predecessor…. ‘I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it,’ Trump said. ‘It’s politics. I mean I’m changing things that he’s wanted to do.’ Trump said he believes that some of the ‘very serious leaks’ out of his administration probably come from former Obama staffers.” [LA Times]

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PRESIDENT BRAVELY PASSES BUCK – Hey, he was handed some information, y’know? Igor Bobic: “President Donald Trump on Tuesday dodged responsibility for a botched mission he ordered in Yemen last month, placing the onus on the military and Barack Obama’s administration instead. Bill Owens, the father of Chief Petty Officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens, the Navy SEAL who died in the operation, demanded an investigation into his son’s death over the weekend. Owens further revealed he couldn’t bear to meet Trump at the airport as Ryan’s casket was carried off the military plane last month. Asked about the matter during an interview with Fox News’ ‘Fox ‘n’ Friends,’ Trump repeatedly said ‘they’ were responsible for the outcome of the mission, in reference to the military. ‘This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something they wanted to do,’ he said. ‘They came to me, they explained what they wanted to do ― the generals ― who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.’” [HuffPost]

Sad pro-Trump rallies are sad.

DEVOS ON SEGREGATION: GOTTA HEAR BOTH SIDES! It’s almost as though she doesn’t know anything about education! Avalon Zoppo: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos drew widespread criticism after describing historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as ‘pioneers when it comes to school choice’ — prompting lawmakers to slam the remark as everything from ‘tone-deaf, uninformed’ to ‘totally nuts.’ DeVos made the comment in a meeting with dozens of HBCU presidents who had met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office Monday…. Many were quick to point out, however, that HBCUs were born out of a lack of options for black Americans following the Civil War — when segregation and Jim Crow laws barred them from attending institutions of higher education. [NBC News]

GREAT NEWS FOR PEOPLE LOOKING TO GROW WEBBED TOES – Merrit Kennedy and Susan Phillip: “President Trump signed documents Tuesday directing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the Obama administration’s ‘Waters of the United States’ rule. In doing so, Trump said he is ‘paving the way for the elimination’ of the rule…. Last August, then-candidate Trump echoed that criticism when he addressed the homebuilders association. It’s worth noting that Trump has a stake in the rule’s fate. As Greg Allen has reported, the Trump Organization has about a dozen golf courses across the U.S. And the president’s new EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, sued the agency over the water rule when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.” [NPR]

PAUL MANAFORT’S FAMILY JUST AS CREEPED OUT BY PAUL MANAFORT AS YOU – Ken Vogel, David Stern and Josh Meyer: “Paul Manafort’s family expressed misgivings about the political consultant’s work for both Russia-aligned Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych and Donald Trump, according to text messages allegedly hacked from one of his daughters’ phones…. In one March 2015 exchange that appears to be between the two sisters, Andrea Manafort seems to suggest that their father bore some responsibility for the deaths of protesters at the hands of police loyal to Yanukovych during a monthslong uprising that started in late 2013. ‘Don’t fool yourself,’ Andrea Manafort wrote. ‘That money we have is blood money.’ In another hacked exchange a few months later with someone else, Andrea Manafort wrote that her father’s ‘work and payment in Ukraine is legally questionable.’” [Politico]

Remember, per Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump is super-compassionate toward women: “President Donald Trump hosted the nation’s governors at the White House on Sunday night and welcomed them and their families ― well, the married male governors with daughters, anyway. ‘He welcomed all the governors, their wives and their daughters last night,’ Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) told The Huffington Post on Monday. ‘It was weird.’ Brown, one of four female governors in the U.S., took the slight in stride. ‘It was just ― I’ve been there before,’ she said. ‘I think people forget that there are female governors in the world.’ Other women in charge of states include Govs. Susana Martinez (R-N.M.), Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) and Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.).” [HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery]

THE HOUSE ALSO WANTS TO HIDE TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS – They share this one now.  Alana Horowitz Satlin: “House Republicans shot down an effort to finally make President Donald Trump’s tax returns public. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) on Monday proposed a resolution to invoke an obscure law allowing the Internal Revenue Service to turn over the president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee for review. But the House voted 229-185, almost exclusively on party lines, to reject the effort…. Trump is the first president in modern history to not release his federal tax returns.” [HuffPost]

JEFF SESSIONS REALLY WORRIED ABOUT THE WACKY TOBACKY – LOL, Jeff Sessions believes in science. Hayley Miller: “’States can pass whatever laws they choose,’ Sessions told a crowd of attorneys general at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting…. Sessions then appeared to criticize a column The Washington Post published Tuesday by Sam Kamin, professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver. In the op-ed, Kamin argues that the opioid crisis is ‘a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it.’ A 2016 study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found ‘adverse consequences of opioid use’ decreased over time in states where marijuana is legalized as individuals substituted marijuana for opioids to treat pain. But Sessions scoffed at Kamin’s reasoning. ‘Give me a break,’ Sessions said. ‘This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [It’s] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove me wrong.… My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.’” [HuffPost]

HERE’S W., MAKING SENSE AGAIN – Sure, it’s a low bar, but hey: Sandra Sobierja Westfall: “For eight years since leaving the White House, George W. Bush has refused to criticize publicly those who succeeded him, saying he didn’t want to make an already tough job any harder for President Obama and, now, President Trump. But one rocky month into Trump’s tenure, it’s harder to keep quiet. ‘I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling and I don’t like the people feeling alienated,’ Bush, 70, tells PEOPLE in an interview for the new issue of the magazine on newsstands Friday.” [People]

BEN JEALOUS MULLING MD-GOV BID Jealous is the former head of the NAACP, which was, according to the Department of Education founded by W.E.B. DeBois. Erin Cox: “Former NAACP chief Benjamin Jealous is ‘actively weighing’ a campaign to be Maryland’s governor. Jealous said Tuesday he is in the early stages of contemplating a Democratic challenge to popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, and that he has been recruited since the summer to enter the 2018 election…. Democrats have yet to coalesce around a candidate to challenge Hogan, who has high approval ratings, even among Democrats. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz are also considering the race…. Jealous, now 44, rose to national prominence in 2009 as the youngest president and CEO of the NAACP, and is widely credited with rejuvenating the storied civil rights organization. He also played a crucial role in helping Maryland repeal the death penalty.” [Baltimore Sun]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a cat on ice.

MAN ACTUALLY FINDS SUCCESS IN PUBLISHING – Much like “The Beltway Bible,” Barack Obama’s memoirs may fetch a $60 million advance ― ask us about Eliot’s helicopter polo league. Brian Stelter: “A bidding war has broken out between several prominent book publishers, according to a person involved in the sale process. A deal is expected to be announced sometime this week, possibly as soon as Tuesday afternoon, the source said. According to the Financial Times, at least one of the bids surpassed $60 million, which is ‘a record sum for US presidential memoirs.’ Both the former president and the former first lady are writing books about their time in the White House. The pair of books will be published separately, but publishing houses like Penguin Random House are bidding for the books together. It is unclear when the books will come out.” [CNN Money]

COMFORT FOOD

– The best “Kellyanne Conway on the couch” memes.

– Dogs talk a big game.

– A history of the Mardi Gras king cake.

TWITTERAMA

@aedwardslevy: the internet is running like a fine-tuned machine

@savittj: trump: goodnight moon
moon: release ur taxes

@nancyayoussef: Overheard at the Pentagon, re: proposed $54 billion increase in the US mil budget: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

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