POLITICS
02/22/2017 05:06 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - More Like District Jerk Periods

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Astronomers have detected seven Earthlike planets lightyears away, even though their telescopes aren’t strong enough to measure crowd size. Kellyanne Conway is being prevented from going on television, prompting Fox News producers to scramble to find another blonde Republican woman who can lie on air. And a number of Trump administration officials have failed background checks, though one official with a history of spotty tax returns and inappropriate conduct toward women did sneak through. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017:

DISTRICT WORK PERIOD GOING GREAT - Amanda Terkel: “Rather than face angry, frustrated and raucous crowds of constituents at town hall meetings this recess, a large number of GOP lawmakers are skipping face-to-face contact with voters and instead holding conference calls or other more manageable forums (if they do anything at all).” [HuffPost]

PENCE HITS UP DESECRATED JEWISH CEMETERY - This one gets three out of four Paul Ryans Scrubbing Dishes At A Local Soup Kitchen. From the pool report: “Pence delivered very brief remarks from the bed of a pickup truck after touring the cemetery. The grave stones are all back in place. Then he went to another area of the cemetery where a rabbi said a prayer. Then Pence and the governor cleared brush as part of the larger volunteer effort to beautify the cemetery following the attack.”

CON(HER)WAY OUT? - A real blow for gender equality in the field of pathological lying. Dylan Byers: “Kellyanne Conway, once the most visible spokesperson for the Trump White House, has been sidelined from television appearances for making statements that were at odds with the administration’s official stance, White House sources told CNNMoney on Wednesday. Conway has not given a television interview since early last week. On that Monday, she told MSNBC that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had the president’s ‘full confidence.’ Hours later, Flynn resigned. The following day, Conway claimed Flynn had offered to resign, even though White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump had asked Flynn for his resignation. She has not given a television interview since then. Those statements, which came amid existing public scrutiny over Conway’s credibility, led the president and his top advisers to conclude that her appearances were doing more harm than good for the administration, the sources said. She was ‘off message,’ a White House source said.” [CNN Money]

TRUMP STAFFERS FAILING BACKGROUND CHECKS - Democrats need to stop stonewalling the process of Making America Great Again by depriving these people of the free will they had when they engaged in activities that would make them fail a background check. Tara Palmeri and Daniel Lippman: “White House Chief Digital Officer Gerrit Lansing was among the six staffers who were dismissed from the White House last week after being unable to pass an FBI background check, according to sources. A source close to Lansing said the issue with the background check was over investments... President Donald Trump’s director of scheduling Caroline Wiles, was also among the six staffers who did not pass the intensive FBI screening. She is the daughter of Susan Wiles, Trump’s Florida campaign director. Caroline resigned Friday before the background check was completed. She was appointed deputy assistant secretary before the inauguration in January. Two sources close to Wiles said she will get another job in the Treasury Department.” [Politico]

Pick a politician and watch a video of people yelling at them.

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THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IS A CHILD - Even by the standards of presidential ego, this makes Bill Clinton resemble your grandmother who puts a dollar in the tip jar when no one is looking. Tara Palmeri: “President Donald Trump’s former campaign staffers claim they cracked the code for tamping down his most inflammatory tweets, and they say the current West Wing staff would do well to take note. The key to keeping Trump’s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up — and make sure it made its way to Trump’s desk...During another damage-control mission, when former Miss Universe Alicia Machado took to the airwaves to call out Trump for calling her ‘Miss Piggy’ and ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ the communications team scrambled to place a story in conservative friendly outlets like Fox News, the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller and Breitbart.” [Politico]

JASON CHAFFETZ IS ON IT - Jason Chaffetz is a walking, breathing “This is Fine” comic, but the cup of coffee in this case are Hillary’s emails. Paulina FIrozi: “House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is investigating a months-old tweet from his state’s Bryce Canyon National Park. Chaffetz reportedly suspects that the tweet, which was posted in December the day after President Obama designated the more than 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, may reveal that the park officials had advanced notice. ‘Welcome to the family Bears Ears (& Gold Butte) NM! A hopeful slot in our front desk maps has long been held for you,’ the account tweeted. An attached picture with the tweet showed what appeared to be an empty map slot, labeled ‘Bears Ears.’” [The Hill]

PEREZ LEADING DNC RACE - Don’t count H.A. Goodman out, yet.  Lisa Lerer and Bill Barrow: “Just days before Democratic activists pick a new party chair, the contest to head the Democratic National Committee remains fluid, as national leaders grapple with how to turn an outpouring of liberal protest against President Donald Trump into political gains. The tight race between former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota marks the first heavily contested battle to run the organization in recent history, a reflection of a newly energized Democratic party struggling to find the best path forward after years of losses in Congress, governor’s mansions and statehouses. Perez, who was encouraged by Obama administration officials to run for the post, has emerged as the front-runner with the backing of 205 committee members, according to independent Democratic strategists tracking the race. The strategists spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the voting publicly. Ellison, backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters, has the support of 153 members.” [AP]

WHAT HAPPENS IF ELLISON LOSES - Daniel Marans: In an attempt to head off Perez, some prominent Ellison supporters argue that failing to elect him would squander a major opportunity to energize the progressive grassroots and heal the wounds of the 2016 presidential primary…. ‘If Perez wins, we’re not gonna come out with pitchforks and say, ‘No, no, no,’’ said Murshed Zaheed, political director of Credo Action, an online progressive heavyweight that has experienced record growth since Trump’s inauguration. ‘But people are going to roll their eyes and just keeping doing what they do. It’s going to keep the DNC what it is: an irrelevant, old, stale entity that hasn’t been re-serviced since the Howard Dean days.’” [HuffPost]

MILLENNIAL FLAKES OUT - Few things millennials can relate to more than a last-minute, “can we reschedule?” text. Well done, Rep. Elise Stefanik. Matt Fuller: “As chairwoman of the House GOP’s millennial task force, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) issued a report last week urging her Republican colleagues to hold town halls to engage and win over millennial voters. But Stefanik isn’t taking her own advice. The second-term Republican has no current plans to hold a town hall meeting in her district during this week’s so-called “district work period,” even after pushing out a 22-page report last week that strongly advises members to be accessible to millennials and other voters. “Millennials are a generation that expects their government to be open and honest, even if the message they deliver isn’t what they want to hear,” Stefanik writes in the first section of the report. She later names four “best practices” for engaging millennials: hold roundtables with them, establish a youth advisory group, use social media and hold town halls.” [HuffPost]

Dayyyy-um: Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth said Monday that he is unsure of Donald Trump’s mental state ― but added that the President doesn’t appear to be in control of himself. ‘He is demonstrating on a daily basis that he [is] totally unfit for the office he serves in,’ Yarmuth, from Kentucky, said in a speech to a local chapter of the NAACP posted on YouTube this week. ‘He is, in my opinion, a dangerous president. I’m not sure of his mental state, but I know that he doesn’t portray someone who is in control of his facilities.’” [CNN’s Andrew  Kaczynski]

HOW CPAC PAVED THE WAY FOR TRUMP - Sam Stein and Igor Bobic flashback to 2011: “The moment was, in retrospect, critical in Trump’s political ascent. He had flirted with running for president before. And at that point, he was no stranger to stirring the proverbial pot, having already spent weeks smearing President Barack Obama with lies about his birthplace. But as Trump stepped onstage on Feb. 10, 2011, the question was not whether he’d lose the schtick, but how it would play with the audience. He got the answer he craved. ‘That was pretty significant, actually,’ said Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies. ‘The conservative movement, its institutions and press, really were consistently resistant to Trump for a long time. They didn’t write about him seriously or treat him as a serious figure. But his appearance at CPAC was an important breach in that general wall of disdain and lack of interest.’” [HuffPost]

LIVE FREE OR DIE (IN AN ACTIVE SHOOTER SITUATION) - Samuel Levine: “New Hampshire residents no longer need any kind of license to carry a concealed handgun after the state repealed a nearly century-old law that allowed police to deny concealed carry licenses to people they believed could pose a risk to others. New Hampshire already permitted open carry, but local law enforcement long had discretion to deny individuals a license to carry a concealed weapon. The system, in place for 94 years, let police prevent people who they knew had a violent history from getting license. On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a law that simply allows residents to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Similar legislation had been twice vetoed by former Gov. Maggie Hassan (D).” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a parrot singing Rihanna.

DEMOCRATS NOT IN DISARRAY - Amanda Terkel and Ryan Grim: Local Democratic parties are confronting a problem in the Trump era that is as confounding as it is unexpected: space. All across the country, party meetings that had once been sleepy affairs, dominated by Robert’s Rules of Order and a handful of graying activists, have become standing room only. The overflowing crowds have sent stunned party regulars scrambling to find new venues, while the surge in interest, and the coinciding fundraising boost, is enabling local chapters to hire staff and build infrastructure in previously unthinkable ways. On the national level, Democratic politicians have been rushing to respond to the sudden outpouring.” [HuffPost]

SO EMO - “The Washington Post has reminded Donald Trump of the importance of a free press by unveiling a new masthead underlining what’s at stake if he talks down the industry. The newspaper’s slogan, ‘Democracy Dies In Darkness’,’ has emerged as the US President has been railling against the media as an “enemy of the American people” who are purveyors of ‘fake news.’...Although the slogan isn’t explicitly aimed at Trump, the new catchphrase was emblazoned on the august organ’s website and Snapchat Discover stories last week as the furore over the media dominated his astonishing press conference. “ [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Eat it, Iowa : the Mall of America’s Writer’s Residence is where it’s at.

- You can buy the umbrella from Britney Spears’ 2007 meltdown.

- Scientists found seven potentially life-sustaining planets in a single solar system.

TWITTERAMA

@mollyfitz: I know I am loved and deeply understood based on the number of people who have sent me a link to the Mall of America writers’ residency

We’re gonna find that plane eventually.

@grgdwyr: JOHN PODESTA: should we make the code word for ordering young boys “pineapple pizza”?

TONY PODESTA: no john thats disgusting. make it cheese

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