Coming Sunday evening: the debut of Jonathan Swan's new week-ahead newsletter, Sneak Peek: what's coming on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus Sunday-show keepers.
Top Republicans tell us they're as rattled as ever by President Trump and his White House -- and want an intervention. Their gravest long-term concern (beyond the Russia scandal): Trump's devil-may-care effort to run the free world in the same improvisational, family-focused style that worked so well with for his campaign and business.
Parallel Universe: winning bigly ... To Trump, this will feel laughably familiar to the Republican establishment whining when he announced, when he won the nomination, when he stumbled in debates, when he surely couldn't win the presidency. He truly believes this had been the best start to a presidency in history, and no one around would ever disagree to his face.
New communications director, per CNN: Mike Dubke -- a founder of Crossroads Media, a media-placement firm in Alexandria, serving American Crossroads, other Republican groups, and corporations -- is expected to be named White House communications director.
Dubke is a founding partner at the Black Rock Group, a graduate of Hamilton College, and a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder.
Choice cuts from yesterday's East Room presser (1 hour, 18 minutes -- 12:55 p.m. to 2:13 p.m. -- transcript runs 14,300 words):
David Brooks column, "What a Failed Trump Administration Looks Like" (in the paper: "When Government Breaks Down"): "Bannon has a coherent worldview, which is a huge advantage when all is chaos. It's interesting how many of Bannon's rivals have woken up with knives in their backs."
Sentence of the day: "Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump's mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued."
Runner-up: "We're about to enter a moment in which U.S. economic and military might is strong but U.S. political might is weak. Imagine the Roman Empire governed by Monaco."
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met Jonathan Swan a week into her job:
It's not just health reform that's floundering ...
"Meager Gains for Republicans On Bold Legislative To-Do List" -- N.Y. Times A1, above fold, by Jennifer Steinhauer: "The inactivity stems from a lack of clear policy guidance — and, just as often, contradictory messages — from the Trump administration, which does not appear to have spent the campaign and transition periods forming a legislative wish list."
Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group, in his D.C. Download, "Tax Reform in Jeopardy": "The legislative year could well be a hockey-stick -- nothing and then everything in late Q4. It could also be an inverted hockey-stick -- nothing and then shutdowns and debt ceiling fights with nothing on taxes."
Fareed Zakaria WashPost column, "A circus with lots of noise, little action": "For many people, the bargain of the Trump presidency was that they would put up with the freak show in order to get tax reform, infrastructure projects and deregulation. That may still happen, but for now at least, reality TV is in overdrive, and not much is happening in the realm of serious policy."
Longtime Washington watchers are talking a lot about the beast Trump is rousing, partly unwittingly -- the bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all the hidden powers of permanent Washington. A great piece on this in The Times this morning as a "The Interpreter" column by Amanda Taub and Max Fisher, "Echoes of a 'Deep State' as a Culture of Conflict Gains New Intensity."
Using the decapitation of Flynn as a case study, the authors point to "growing reliance on leaks and other tools of bureaucratic resistance":
Mark Zuckerberg posted a 5,700-word manifesto, "Building Global Community," saying the wo most discussed concerns this past year "were about diversity of viewpoints we see (filter bubbles) and accuracy of information (fake news)."
Recode's Kara Swisher Kurt Wagner call it his "letter addressing fake news and saving the world" -- using Facebook "to help fix everything from polarization to terrorist attacks":
"A number of his visions include the use of artificial intelligence technology to monitor what is happening on Facebook, which should attract some level of scrutiny from privacy advocates. ... Zuckerberg mentioned bullying and harassment and even a suicide that was livestreamed on the Facebook platform — which he said in an interview disturbed him greatly — as the types of things he thinks AI can help prevent.
"'Right now, we're starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization,' he wrote. 'This is technically difficult as it requires building AI that can read and understand news, but we need to work on this to help fight terrorism worldwide.'"
Big in business ... "Buy American" is back, per Axios' Chris Matthews: The UAW is resurrecting its "Buy American" campaign, with UAW leader Dennis Williams telling the Detroit Free Press: "No company … can survive without the market of the United States of America."
But the problem of identifying what is exactly "American" is hasn't gotten any easier since the 1980s, during the campaign's heyday. Foreign automakers build much of what they sell in the U.S. here, while American firms are often using Mexican labor for part of their supply chains.
Tops in tech ... "Why [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions scares tech companies," by Axios' Kim Hart: "Sessions has gone after the tech industry for hiring high-skilled foreign workers and resisting law enforcement surveillance requests. Pile on Donald Trump's populist disdain for big companies and suspicion of some dominant tech platforms, and antitrust experts ... say Silicon Valley has reason to be worried."
"Companies are struggling to figure out Snapchat," by Axios' Sara Fischer: "Snap ads could very well be more effective than third-party studies give them credit for, but ad buyers don't have confidence in the data."
The cover story of the new Economist says we might soon make babies without sex! "The world may soon face the possibility of eggs and sperm made from putative parents' body cells (probably their skin) rather than in their ovaries and testes. Such methods separate sexual intercourse from reproduction."
When I interviewed Walter Isaacson on Monday for Axios' forthcoming "Smarter. Faster" video series, gene editing was one of the first topics he mentioned when I asked the big ideas he's obsessed with Four key points from the Economist cover story on reproductive tech:
Jimmy Kimmel -- hosting the Oscars a week from Sunday (Feb. 26) -- talks to Elizabeth Leonard in the new issue of PEOPLE:
How will you deal with politics?
"I haven't decided exactly how much I will dwell on that. A lot of it depends on what happens that week. There are one, sometimes three, new interesting stories coming out of the White House every day it seems — so who knows what will be happening? ... I just hope whatever is happening is light."
What are you doing after the show?
"I will probably go to a party or two, unless it's some kind of disaster, and then I'll go to the hospital. I'll either go to Vanity Fair or Cedars-Sinai."