HUFFPOST HILL – CPAC Welcomes Nations Most Annoying Guys Named Ted Who Insist You Call Them Theodore

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Steve Bannon appeared at CPAC after Darth Vader commanded that CPAC be moved out of the asteroid field so that it could send a clear transmission. The Trump administration is looking to beef up the private prison system, proving that the ??? in the plan, “1. Offer to profit off of recidivism 2. ??? 3. Profit” is actually just, “a Republican president.” And Kellyanne Conway said Donald Trump is tremendously “compassionate” toward women, making us wonder whether she is truly a Republican operative or a robot created by Upworthy to drive indignant viewers to its site. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 23rd, 2017:

BANNON SPEAKS! – It sure was kind of him to take a breather from having that captured child communicate with the Upside Down. Igor Bobic: “Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference alongside White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Thursday, Bannon warned the situation between the administration and the fourth estate will only get worse. ‘If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken,’ Bannon said. ‘Every day there is going to be a fight.’ Bannon denounced the ‘corporatist, globalist media’ for being ‘adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda’ the president is pushing. He repeated a reference to the media as the ‘opposition party,’ and bashed it for being ‘always wrong’ about the workings of the administration. Priebus agreed with the sentiment, adding that he hoped the relationship between the press and the White House would improve. ‘It’s going to get worse,’ Bannon said.” [HuffPost]

GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO DIE OF NEGLECT IN PRISON – Also good news for people who profit off of such deaths: it might finally be time to get that new range hood for your kitchen!  Ryan J. Reilly: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday withdrew an Obama-era Justice Department memo that set a goal of reducing and ultimately ending the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. In a one-page memo to the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons, Sessions wrote that the August 2016 memo by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates ‘changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.’ A Justice Department spokesman said Sessions’ memo ‘directs the Bureau of Prisons to return to its previous approach to the use of private prisons,’ which would ‘restore BOP’s flexibility to manage the federal prison inmate population based on capacity needs.’” [HuffPost]

Read Zach Carter’s rundown of all the ways Donald Trump has drained the swamp in the month he’s been in office. And by “drain the swamp,” we mean “blindly serve Wall Street.”

GOP HEDGING SUPPORT FOR TRUMP – Luckily for House Republicans, gerrymandering means they can keep on sitting pretty right up until Trump declares a war on guns and/or cell phone belt clips. David Weigel: “This week’s congressional town halls have repeatedly found Republicans hedging their support for the new president’s agenda — and in many cases contradicting their past statements. Hostile questions put them on record criticizing some of the fights Trump has picked or pledging to protect policies such as the more popular elements of Obamacare. And voters got it all on tape, promising to keep hounding their lawmakers if they falter. ‘There’s more of a consensus among Republicans now that you’ve got to be more cautious with what you’re going to do,’ Grassley said after an event here, referring to efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. ‘That didn’t mean much to me in November and December. But it means a lot now.’ ... Other Republicans who held public events this week have pushed back against Trump’s characterization of protests and his attack on the media as an ‘enemy’ of Americans. ‘No American is another American’s enemy,’ [Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom] Cotton said Wednesday night. He also said: ‘I don’t care if anybody here is paid or not. You’re all Arkansans.’ Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted on Tuesday, referring to the protesters: ‘They are our fellow Americans with legitimate concerns. We need to stop acting so fragile.’” [WaPo]

MORE LIKE PAUL MANAFORK-IT-OVER, AMIRITE? –  Ken Vogel, David Stern and Josh Meyer: “A purported cyberhack of the daughter of political consultant Paul Manafort suggests that he was the victim of a blackmail attempt while he was serving as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman last summer. The undated communications, which are allegedly from the iPhone of Manafort’s daughter, include a text that appears to come from a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, seeking to reach her father, in which he claims to have politically damaging information about both Manafort and Trump.” [Politico]

WHAT ARE THE VEGAS ODDS ON ALL OF US DYING – Like gold trim in his 9th guest bedroom, President Trump wants way more nuclear weapons in our arsenal than necessary. Steve Holland: “President Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the ‘top of the pack’ saying the United States has fallen behind in its atomic weapons capacity. In a Reuters interview, Trump also said China could solve the national security challenge posed by North Korea ‘very easily if they want to,’ ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to exert more influence to rein in Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose actions. In his first comments about the U.S. nuclear arsenal since taking office on Jan. 20, Trump said the United States has ‘fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.’ ‘I am the first one that would like to see everybody – nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.’” [Reuters]

Standards! “White nationalist leader Richard Spencer was kicked out of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday. A spokesman for CPAC said that the unabashedly racist ‘alt-right’ leader was removed because organizers viewed him as ‘repugnant,’ according to NBC News. Security personnel approached Spencer after he spoke to reporters for approximately an hour in the halls of the National Gaylord Resort, the site of this year’s gathering of conservative activists and elected officials.” [HuffPost’s Igor Bobic]

GOOD NEWS: WE’RE NOT INVADING OURSELVES – What’s the over-under on Trump suggesting we need a military solution to acquiring a White House Christmas tree? Elise Foley: “Hours after President Donald Trump said that recent immigration enforcement efforts were ‘a military operation,’ Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly assured Mexican officials and the public that they were not. The secretary, a retired general, said emphatically that the military forces would not carry out deportation efforts, which are a law enforcement priority. ‘There will be no ― repeat, no ― use of military forces in immigration operations. None,’ Kelly said during a press conference after he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Mexican officials in Mexico City. ‘Yes, we’ll approach this operation systematically, in an organized way, in a results-oriented way, in an operational way, in a human dignity way,’ Kelly continued. ‘This is the way great militaries do business…. It is also the way great legal organizations ― police and federal police ― do business.’” [HuffPost]

DONALD TRUMP: COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF – From S.V. Date’s rundown of the disastrous SEAL mission that left both civilians and SEALs dead: “As a team of elite U.S. commandos found themselves under unexpectedly heavy fire in a remote Yemeni village last month, eight time zones away, their commander in chief was not in the Situation Room. It’s unclear what he, personally, was doing. But his Twitter account was busy promoting an upcoming appearance on the Christian Broadcasting Network. ‘I will be interviewed by @TheBrodyFile on @CBNNews tonight at 11pm. Enjoy!’ read a tweet from President Donald Trump’s personal account on Saturday, Jan. 28. Whether it was Trump himself or an aide who sent out that tweet at 5:50 p.m. ― about half an hour into a firefight that cost a Navy SEAL his life ― cannot be determined from the actual tweets, and the White House isn’t saying. Likewise, it’s not clear who deleted the tweet some 20 minutes later, or why the new president, just a week on the job, chose not to directly monitor the first high-risk military operation on his watch.” [HuffPost]

Alan Colmes, who for years was Fox News’ token liberal, has died. It’s unclear whether Sean Hannity will show up to the memorial service to yell at his casket.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: NATIONAL TREASURE – She was the “Hunger Games” villain that really could’ve provided that series the umami it sorely lacked. Amanda Terkel: “If you were hoping to hear more from Kellyanne Conway about the inner workings of the White House, what policies President Donald Trump might be pursuing or even whether things are running smoothly in the administration, you would have been sorely disappointed Thursday morning.  Conway, a top aide to the president, took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference and talked instead about how wonderful Trump is ― especially when it comes to his treatment of women. ‘Donald Trump is someone who is not fully understood for how compassionate and what a great boss he is to women,’ Conway told the conservative crowd Thursday.” [HuffPost]

Kick out your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free: “An undocumented woman in desperate need of brain surgery has been forcibly removed from a Texas hospital — and her relatives in New York fear she could lose her life, a family representative said early Thursday…. Earlier this month, Beltran-Hernandez, 26, began complaining about severe headaches, nosebleeds and memory loss. Last week, she collapsed and was subsequently taken to a hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor and determined that she needed surgery. But Zuniga told The News that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents forcibly removed Beltran-Hernandez from the Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth on Wednesday evening.” [New York Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt]

TED CRUZ FORESEES DEATH – *Stephen Breyer walking out of a Tastee Freez licking a soft serve, sees Ted Cruz, drops cone, scampers away* Marina Fang: “Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday predicted that President Donald Trump will get another chance to nominate a conservative Supreme Court justice as soon as ‘this summer.’ Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservatives, the Texas Republican did not specify the circumstances. ‘I think we’ll have another Supreme Court vacancy this summer,’ Cruz said. ‘If that happens, as much as the left is crazy now, they will go full Armageddon meltdown,’ he said.” [HuffPost]

We all know what his dad did to JFK.

LOL LOL LOL – You just know Boehner is loving every minute of Paul Ryan’s struggles. Darius Tahir: “Former House Speaker John Boehner predicted on Thursday that a full repeal and replace of Obamacare is ‘not going to happen.’ Boehner, who resigned in 2015 amid unrest among conservatives, said at an Orlando health care conference that the idea that a repeal-and-replace plan would blitz through Congress is just ‘happy talk.’ … ‘Republicans never ever agree on health care.’ ‘Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act…that’s going to be there,’ Boehner concluded.” [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a cockatoo that thinks it’s a dog.

ASSHOLE GETS COMEUPPANCE ON CAMERA – Savor it. “A man was taken off a United flight headed to Houston after making racist remarks towards passengers on Saturday. According to United Airlines, the incident happened on Flight 1118 as passengers were boarding and a man asked a couple if they had a bomb in their bag…. ‘The person ahead us turned around and asked where my boyfriend was from; my boyfriend said it’s none of your business,’ she said. ‘At that point he said all illegals and all foreigners and need to leave the country.’” [KHOU]

COMFORT FOOD

– What a middle finger sounds like as a piece of music.

– A minute-by-minute recap of the 1997 Oscars.

– What’s leaving Netflix in March.

TWITTERAMA

@timothypmurphy: Here in the failing city of Atlanta, which looks like Sherman only just rolled through, to see if we’ll ever get a new DNC chair.

@emmaroller: when tweeting about Tom Cotton, please keep in mind he eats birthday cake almost every day

@SimonMaloy: the “paid protester” stuff is dumb but there are worse investments than hiring people to follow Tom Cotton around and yell at him

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