Where does the Trump saga end? Matt Bai 4 hours ago President Trump at a news conference in the White House on Feb. 16. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Where is all this headed, and how does it end?These are the questions you hear all over Washington right now. Which is strange, because normally you wouldn’t be idly speculating about the end of a presidency barely a month after the inauguration. Certainly, in parts of the country that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, the sense is he’s just getting started.But the pervasive view in the capital is that President Trump at this point is like a guy behind the wheel who hasn’t slept in a week, surrounded by a small mountain of empty Red Bull cans as he weaves his way across four lanes at night, squinting to read the signs and ignoring the angry blasts of horns.Sure, it’s a straight drive home on a sparsely populated highway. But at this rate, what are the odds he makes it very far without hurting himself … or someone else?Some of this is just the lingering shock of the election. A lot of people in Washington are still waking up every morning with a feeling of “this cannot be happening,” and from there it’s a short jump to “this cannot go on for very long.”But it’s also the sense that Trump himself has skipped right over the opening and middle stages of a normal presidency — honeymoon, legislative push, midterms and reelection — and leaped straight into the self-pitying, paranoid, scandal-shadowed slog of year seven.Already he spends half his time golfing in Florida and the other half watching cable TV. While hostile nations brazenly test the boundaries of this new United States of Entropy, the president labels the media “the enemy of the American people,” as if he’s planning to storm the network studios and replace their programming with endless “Apprentice” reruns.If all of this doesn’t frighten some wide swath of voters, then it’s bound to exhaust them. So it’s reasonable to ponder the fate of the Trump presidency, just weeks into the grand experiment.Trump could get his act together any day now, dedicate himself to learning the job. If this were a movie, he might have this moment of epiphany at a soup kitchen somewhere when he realizes the nation is depending on him to be a bigger man, and we’d instantly time-cut to three days later, when he’s pored through a raft of presidential biographies and decided to fire his entire staff and start again.Then again, if this were a movie, it might also be called “The Siberian President,” and it might end with Trump trying to hold off Ben Affleck and a unit of elite Rangers with an AK-47 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, shouting epithets in Russian. Either seems equally plausible to me.Democrats have their own wishful scenario, which involves impeachment. But absent some cataclysmic revelation (like, say, that Trump agreed to hand over all of Ukraine to the Russians in exchange for turning the Kremlin into the most incredible, most elegant five-star resort you’ve ever seen in your life, you wouldn’t believe), it’s hard to imagine a Republican Congress evicting a president who remains a folk hero to its base.You can more easily see how Trump might talk his administration into total paralysis. If he decides to stay on the current erratic trajectory, and if his approval ratings keep sinking in search of a bottom, a lot of governing Republicans will run from him as fast as they can, and he’ll find himself isolated and unable to achieve much of anything.Down that path lies an almost certain primary opponent — probably a Marco Rubio or a John Kasich — and the very real possibility that Trump would walk away voluntarily, in order to at least give Mike Pence a fighting chance to succeed him.Leaving all these possible outcomes aside for the moment, though, the one that seems most likely to me is probably also the most mundane. The presidency isn’t going to change who Trump is, but he may very well end up changing the way we think about the presidency.Eventually, and not so very far into the future, two things are going to happen. The first is that Trump is going to realize that a White House can’t really run this way — the president at war with the media, aides at war with each other, fictions at war with facts. Someone needs to get control of the operation, and hopefully before an economic or international crisis comes along to make the dysfunction even clearer than it isThe second is that Trump is going to decide he actually doesn’t like the job very much — or at least not the part of the job that’s all about policy and vote counts and other things you have to think about for more than 90 seconds without changing the subject to yourself.And that’s the moment when Trump, who knows nothing if not how to bail out failing business ventures, will bow to the protestations of establishment Republicans and retool his administration. He’ll bring in a chief of staff who knows something about day-to-day governing — maybe a Chris Christie or a Haley Barbour, or perhaps a member of his Cabinet, like Nikki Haley.The fringe ideologues and campaign aides will be relegated to the margins, where they belong. The details of Republican government will be directed by the conventional power centers of Pence, an empowered chief of staff, Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Paul Ryan in the House (with assists from veteran strategists like Newt Gingrich and some big-time lobbyists). Legislation will move; modest deals will be brokered.All of which will leave Trump to do what he most enjoys and does best: build the brand. He’ll hold rallies, fire off outrageous tweets, commandeer the press room, pop up on late night TV. He’ll convene and bluster. He will be the central character in our national consciousness, but a supporting actor at best in our government.And if I’m right, and this is what ultimately transpires, then Trump will succeed in redefining the presidency in our time — or, perhaps more accurately, defining it down. We will come to regard him as a forceful figurehead, the outrageous star of the highly rated presidential series, a born performer expertly playing a role for our amusement. Which is pretty much how he started out anyway.Maybe this is what we deserve, in an era when politics and entertainment have become so deeply intertwined and so hard to differentiate. Maybe, from here on out, the president is destined to become more like a quasi-monarch, asked to form a government and to preside over it, but not necessarily to manage or direct it. Maybe that will be Trump’s lasting innovation.There was a time when presidents didn’t campaign for the office, after all. There was a time when they didn’t debate, because debating was beneath them.Perhaps we’ll soon say there was also a time when they didn’t mostly preen and provoke, but actually endeavored to govern instead.
U.S.Andrew Napolitano: The chickens have come home to roost
Fox News 7 hours agoTwo Young Women Blow Sharks Away With Largest Deal…SF Book Last week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that members of the intelligence community — part of the deep state, the unseen government within the government that does not change with elections — now have acquired so much data on everyone in America that they can selectively reveal it to reward their friends and harm their foes. Their principal foe today is the president of the United States.Liberty is rarely lost overnight. The wall of tyranny often begins with benign building blocks of safety — each one lying on top of a predecessor — eventually collectively constituting an impediment to the exercise of free choices by free people, often not even recognized until it is too late.Here is the back story.In the pre-Revolutionary era, British courts in London secretly issued general warrants to British government agents in America. The warrants were not based on any probable cause of crime or individual articulable suspicion; they did not name the person or thing to be seized or identify the place to be searched. They authorized agents to search where they wished and seize what they found.The use of general warrants was so offensive to our Colonial ancestors that it whipped up more serious opposition to British rule and support for the revolutionaries than the „no taxation without representation” argument did. And when it came time for Americans to write the Constitution, they prohibited general warrants in the Fourth Amendment, the whole purpose of which was to guarantee the right to be left alone by forcing the government to focus on bad guys and prohibit it from engaging in fishing expeditions. But the fishing expeditions would come.In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was intended to rein in the government spying on Americans that had been unleashed by the Nixon administration. FISA established a secret court and permitted it to issue warrants authorizing spying on agents of foreign governments when physically present in the United States.People born in foreign countries who are here for benevolent or benign or even evil purposes have the same constitutional protections as those of us born here. That’s because the critical parts of the Constitution that insulate human freedom from the government’s reach protect “persons,” not just citizens. But FISA ignored that.And FISA was easy for the government to justify. It was a pullback from Richard Nixon’s lawlessness. It required the feds to seek a warrant from federal judges. The targets were not Americans. Never mind, the argument went, that FISA has no requirement of showing any probable cause of crime or even articulable suspicion on the part of the foreign target; this will keep us safe. Besides, the government insisted, it can’t be used against Americans.That argument was bought by presidents, members of Congress and nearly all federal courts that examined it. We don’t know whether the authors of this scheme really wanted federal spies to be able to spy on anyone at will, but that is where we are today. Through secret courts whose judges cannot keep records of their own decisions and secret permissions by select committees of Congress whose members cannot tell their constituents or other members of Congress what they have learned in secret, FISA has morphed so as to authorize spying down a slippery slope of targets, from foreign agents to all foreigners to anyone who communicates with foreigners to anyone capable of communicating with them.The surveillance state regime today permits America’s 60,000 military and civilian domestic spies to access in real time all the landline and mobile telephone calls and all the desktop and mobile device keystrokes and all the digital data created and used by anyone in the United States. The targets today are not just ordinary Americans; they are justices on the Supreme Court, military brass in the Pentagon, agents in the FBI, local police in cities and towns, and the man in the Oval Office.The British system that arguably impelled our secession in 1776 is now here on steroids.Enter the outsider as president. Donald Trump has condemned the spying and leaking, as he is a victim of it. While he was president-elect, the spies told him they knew of his alleged misbehaviors — vehemently denied — in a Moscow hotel room. Last week, his White House staff was shaken by what the spies did with what they learned from a former Trump aide.Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, himself a former military spy, spoke to the Russian ambassador to the United States in December via telephone in Trump Tower. It was a benign conversation. He knew it was being monitored, as he is a former monitor of such communications. But he mistakenly thought that those who were monitoring him were patriots as he is. They were not.They violated federal law by revealing in part what Flynn had said, and they did so in a manner to embarrass and infuriate Trump.Why would they do this? Perhaps because they feared Flynn’s being in the White House, since he knows the power and depth of the deep state. Perhaps to send a message to Trump because he once compared American spies to Nazis. Perhaps because they believe that their judgment of the foreign dangers America faces is superior to the president’s. Perhaps because they hate and fear the outsider in the White House.The chickens have come home to roost. In our misguided efforts to keep the country safe, we have neglected to keep it free. We have enabled a deep state to become powerful enough to control a powerful president. We have placed so much data and so much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable, opaque spies that they can use it as they see fit — even to the point of committing federal felonies. Now some have boasted that they can manipulate and thus control the president of the United States by selectively revealing and concealing what they know about anyone, including the president himself.This is a perilous state of affairs, brought about by the maniacal passion for surveillance spawned under George W. Bush and perfected under Barack Obama — all with utter indifference to the widespread constitutional violations and permanent destruction of personal liberties. This is not the government the Framers gave us. But it is one far more dangerous to human freedom than the one from which they seceded in 1776.Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel.
World Romania: president fails to overturn property ownership case Washington Post Tue, Feb 21 11:08 PM PST BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president has lost his bid to overturn a ruling on a property he lost ownership of, following an 18-year court case. A court in the southern city of Pitesti on Wednesday rejected President Klaus Iohannis’ appeal for the annulment of a lawsuit connected to a property that he and his wife bought in 1999 in the central city of Sibiu. The couple bought the property from someone who claimed to be the rightful owner of the building, which had been expropriated by the communists. They then rented it to Raiffeisen Bank for reportedly 5,000 euros ($5,250) a month. In April 2016, a court ruled that the communist-era tenants, not Iohannis and his wife, were the rightful owners. …
Conservative provocateur James O’Keefe says he plans to leak ‘hundreds of hours of tape’ in CNN exposéDavid Choi James O’keefe(Conservative undercover journalist James O’Keefe.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Conservative provocateur James O’Keefe said Tuesday that he plans to release „hundreds of hours of tape” he said would expose CNN.Speaking with Fox News host Sean Hannity in a radio interview on Tuesday, O’Keefe said he had accrued the unaired footage inside CNN’s newsrooms from employees, according to reports from the network itself and The Huffington Post.He also alluded to releasing the obtained footage „WikiLeaks-style,” or in systematic batches. Some of the footage is scheduled to be released on Thursday afternoon, O’Keefe said. He said it centers on „one corporation, multiple newsrooms.”O’Keefe’s planned exposé follows a tenuous month during which President Donald Trump, his staff, and allies have devoted much airtime in criticizing and labeling CNN as „fake news.””My audience, the American people, are deeply upset at the media,” O’Keefe told CNN in a telephone interview. „We think our media needs to be held to account, and CNN is kind of the leader of that. CNN has a very important role as an arbiter of news.””This is all legally recorded information,” he said.The purported leaks also come after O’Keefe’s statements from last month’s pre-inauguration party dubbed the „DeploraBall.” At the event, he said he planned on „going after the media next” and even called his footage „CNN Leaks.””We are inside their newsrooms,” he said, according to Politico. He added he had spies „embedded in your institutions.”O’Keefe has built a reputation of using questionable methods to secure recordings and has been accused of selective-editing practices during his video investigations. He first gained notoriety in 2009, after releasing undercover videos that alleged illegal activity by employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a nonprofit organization that advocated for issues like voter registration.One employee sued O’Keefe, alleging he broke the law by taping without consent. O’Keefe ended up settling the case for $100,000. The videos led to the federal defunding of the group. ACORN later filed for bankruptcy.
30 Facts About the F-22 Raptor HOW MUCH DOES ONE COST?The F-22 Raptor is one of the most secretive planes in existence. The military doesn’t want you to know much about this stealth monster, but that’s why we are here today. Here are 30 facts about the iconic aircraft that will blow you off the tarmac