An MVP star quarterback. An intern named Sly. A Middle East-based news network whose name reminds people of a terrorist group. Whether that’s fair or not. And a damning accusation that is angrily denied.

This has got to be fiction, right? And the author should really have used a slightly more original name for that intern around whose videotaped confessions hinges the whole affair. Sly?? Come on!

Will there be a defamation suit filed? Perhaps. Will there be an investigation carried out by the league? We’ll see. It’s certainly not the first time in professional sports that performance-enhancing drugs have been used. Assuming that all that HGH was used by Peyton and not his wife, in whose name it allegedly was sent.

Aside from the particularity of the players involved in this slightly sci-fi farce, the real question is one of ethics. But not the obvious one. If an athelete would use HGH, then he or she is breaking the law. That’s clear.

The more interesting question is to ask whether these types of laws should be on the books.

In other words, is it cheating to use HGH? Beyond the fact that it is an illegal substance that puts a player at an advantage over other players who haven’t cheated. But if all players could use it? Who gets cheated in that case?

Where do you draw the line between the enormous amount of technology that goes into producing those five-to-ten-second bursts of astonishing athleticism that make up the nuts and bolts of professional football, and illegal enhancing technologies?

Because if we are true Olympian purists, do we need microphones and hearing devices in helmets? For example? Or legal substances that are ingested as part of pre-season training? Or small server farms with military-like security to host all that data that a good quarterback should just memorize?

Yes, messing with your hormonal make up seems to cross an ethical line. But will we find out someday that certain legal foods or natural substances produce similar – if not quite as dramatic – effects? Do we outlaw spinach? And lock up Popeye?

It might not have the same intensity as the stem cell research debate, where the vulnerability of human life in its most immediate and fragile state is at stake. But we seem to be headed that way with professional sports. Genetic design tailored to produce perfect sports babies? Australia has a national program that fits kids into sports at an early age, depending on things like hand size (you get to be a swimmer mate!).

How far away are we from adding genetic manipulation? Or is that already here? At a clinic in China for example.

It’s not just enhancing drugs that need to be debated. It’s what we the audience expect from our favorite life-saving superheros out there on the gridiron.

A report in the Washington Post is all it takes for the identity politics circus – sorry that should be circo – to send in the clowns. An apparent plan to start a few very targeted raids to deport illegals has brought out cries of horror from Democratic candidates Sanders and O’Malley. Hillary has joined in as well, if not quite as ferociously, seeing her dependence on identity politics voters – including the Latino vote – is overwhelming.

Never mind that a judge considered the evidence and ordered about a hundred people from Central America to be deported. The law on the books does not matter. Worse, it is “mindless” if you follow the bouncing ball of O’Malley’s rhetoric. The law, the constitution, the considered decision of an immigration judge, are all mindless.

We attack in others what we fear in ourselves. Could O’Malley perhaps have the uncomfortable feeling that his own position is mindless?

Could it be the terror of liberals to be seen as politically incorrect? America owes it to people from anywhere there is a problem, a drought, violence, instability. But it’s not even that. The substantive reasons will change from time to time. An activist group will let you know – loudly and aggressively – what you need to do to not be politically incorrect. And if you don’t do what they demand, you are cursed. At least by them, with the help of the media.

Add this fear to an election cycle and you have Democratic and many GOP candidates trapped in a maze they dare not walk their way out of. Like rodents scampering down corridors in search of goodies, they respond as if Pavlovian psychology was all that mattered.

Fortunately voters are a little more aware that there are other possibilities, beyond the unbearable lightness of being fashionably correct on immigration. So a DHS plan to target a hundred or so people who have already been ordered by the courts to leave the country is not seen as an assault on humanity. But rather a modest instance of following the rule of law.

Blue collar – does anyone really use that term anymore? – or working voters who tend to support the GOP can take heart. They are healing the divisions that are fracturing America. Why, they might be responsible for bringing together President Obama and the Republican Party Business Lobby!

How’s that? H-2B visas of course! Lobbyists representing fishing and agricultural interests managed to slip a rider into the omnibus bill that will allow returning H-2B visa workers to ignore the 66,000 annual cap. In other words, Barack Obama and the pro-business lobby of the GOP love immigrants especially unskilled ones that help ensure workers do their underpaid work with little complaining. Because of likely deportations.

If you drill down a little into that logic however, it is hardly reassuring. Yes, these type of jobs tend to involve hard, unpleasant work that Americans may not want to do. At least not at the going wage. And making a profit running these types of business is harder than, say, running an investment scheme that closes down and leaves investors holding the bag.

But is it really a workable solution to hand over HR functions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Because if H-2B visa workers start to massively underperform, that’s who’s going to have to enforce compliance. Or, owners could fire them all and import more H-2B visa holders. The way things are going, that may be a feasible solution. One wonders, however, if running your business with nothing but untrained, low-skilled immigrant workers is the best way to add value.

And if all those fired, underperforming H-2B’s don’t actually leave the country, it’s no longer the business owners’ problem. Is it?

But that’s business lobbying to defend what it sees as it’s interests. The question of who in the House or the Senate helped pave the way for the backdoor, late-night insertion of the rider is one of guesswork.

If this story does gain legs and make it past the holidays, it’s one more issue that widens the gap between working GOP voters and business inside the GOP.

For how long has Israel been acting discretely – or not – in Syria? Netanyahu admitted that Israeli forces operate from “time to time” in its war-torn neighbor. Netanyahu also met with Putin in Paris, and apparently they co-ordinated the movements of their respective militaries in Syria to avoid a confrontation similar to what happened between Russia and Turkey.

If that isn’t tough pragmatism on the part of the Israeli leader, the term is meaningless. What is happening in Syria matters to Israel greatly, especially when it comes to ISIL. Israel’s response has been focused, ruthless, and discrete. A very impressive trinity.

Then there’s Obama’s strategy in Syria. Inconsistent, self-righteous, and unfocused. A less than holy trinity. Which has left allies and former colleagues like Secretary of Defense Hagel angry and confused. Lines get noisily drawn and then are allowed to be swept away by the swirl of events as the administration carefully does nothing.

Is President Obama like a ghost in the machine? Impelled by the executive power inherent in his job and by his position as a world leader to say something, but do little? Or do the wrong thing?

How about Obama phoning up Netanyahu and asking him for some advice? Admitting things haven’t gone well and then asking “what would actually work in your neighborhood Bibi?”

An unlikely event of course. Though chat by phone they must do from “time to time.”

What did get talked about in those long wandering meetings on Syria when Hagel was still Defense Secretary? Was it filled with politically correct caution over how to allow Syrian rebels find their own destiny as America aided their battle with Assad? Nation-building and political correctness thrown like spinning dice into a deadly civil war. With a leader that refuses to actually place a bet. No one has – or would have had a few years ago – an easy answer to Syria, because there never was one. But the Obama administration’s actions in the Middle East have lacked any pragmatic workable answer at all.

You want to blow up Donald Trump? Flatter him, and let him keep talking. And hope enough of his supporters drift your way. Or at least get them to think about it. Is this true? An emerging story on Ted Cruz’s strategy not to attack Trump suggests this.

While Trump-haters rail in frustration that the Senator from Texas did not unleash his deadly rhetoric on Trump in Vegas, the poll numbers seem to say that Cruz is on the right track. He’s rising, especially with Tump supporters.

And no one up to now has benefited from attacking Trump. No one has come out a clear winner – or even a winner – in the polls after trading barbs with The Donald. One can understand Jeb Bush unleashing a little anger Trump’s way. He is everything that conventional GOP wisdom might have suggested the party needs. A decade or two ago. And to watch Trump – who’s minute detailed knowledge of the issues is somewhat less than Jeb’s – go from strength to strength in the polls must be maddening. Especially when your A-team has seen it’s numbers go exactly the other way. What gets called a death cross in financial chart-talk.

So is Cruz’s strategy to expand his base of supporters to include – week by week; point by point – Trump’s crowd? And if it is, will it work?

For it to work, for Senator Cruz to win the nomination, Trump must lose big. And he hasn’t so far. Despite some setbacks and some weakness in places like Iowa, he remains strong nationally. You can nitpick and say national polls are meaningless; you have to go state by state. And if Trump is still ahead in early March, what then?

With Rubio having essentially taken over Jeb Bush’s formidable early position, at least in terms of donors and endorsements, the race right now is really a three-way slug-fest where hardly any punches are being thrown Donald Trump’s way. Only third-tier outsiders are willing to criticize Trump, as a matter of principle really.

So the question is, for how long can Ted Cruz play at being nice? And is Trump falling into Cruz’s trap by lauding how nice he is straight from the stage? Or is Trump using a similar strategy? At some point Cruz and Trump have to slug it out? Don’t they??

Ben Carson had a nice focused set of goals that he carefully laid out in Vegas. With Sean Hannity on Fox after the debate was all over. As people milled about buzzing and chatting over who won on stage. And with Hannity carefully prompting him.

Carson can work a crowd. His way. He can convince voters one on one in intimate gatherings, as much by his soft-spoken evangelism as by his policy ideas. But on stage in a debate focused on national security, he just doesn’t convince. Perhaps his meditation on tough choices – civilian deaths that would result from bombing ISIS strongholds in this case – will someday be seen as wise. On stage in Vegas it came across as bizarre, whatever the underlying logic.

Where is your surgeon’s decisiveness Dr. Carson? No one else up there has a problem with rhetoric – much as some of the rhetoric may offend or delight or glaze over one’s eyes.

Ben Carson has a problem with rhetoric. It may even be a philosophical problem: as a physician and by extension an applied scientist, he may find the posturing that is part and parcel of rhetoric a frivolous vice that borders on propaganda.

Maybe Congress – as reformed by Dr. Carson – would carefully diagnose a problem and then apply a scalpel where needed, without the enormous bulk of add-ons that every representative and senator so loves. Maybe the House floor would resemble an operating room with dry focused comments and legislative remedies swiftly slapped into the waiting speaker’s outstretched hand.

Maybe debates would be replaced by symposiums – taking it back to really old school style – where evidence-based solutions would be collegially crafted.

And maybe then, and only then, would Ben Carson win the nomination and the presidency of the United States.

Otherwise, he’s going to have to learn how to swing a few punches – he doesn’t even have to raise his voice – if he wants to regain his momentum in the race. No one expects Ben Carson to act like a career politician. That’s exactly why he’s where he is. But to at least some, if not a majority, of voters; he must show he can lead. And that means a little convincing rhetoric.

Michelle is apparently going to give Barack some workout stuff for Christmas. Whether that was a tender little jab at any vanity on the President’s part is a little hard to tell.

What is undeniable is the public’s overwhelming desire for a sense of protection on behalf of their government. The one Barack Obama is Commander-in-Chief of.

But this isn’t just a case of Obama having a flabby ideology when it comes to dealing with terrorism. It is the fact that terrorism under ISIL or ISIS has mutated into an online virus that infects tiny, obscure corners of social media but also parades it’s crazed hatred right through the middle of the online world. It broadcasts it’s bloody blogs anywhere anytime, and lets it’s demons seed seep into far flung ticking time bombs. To people who don’t have to enter a targeted country, because they’re already there.

As has been stated, all recent terrorist attackers in America have apparently entered on legal visas.

That means that Obama’s world of executive action on illegal immigration and climate talks as a literal response to terror attacks is even more exposed as inadequate compared to the security threats of a decade or more ago. Senator Cruz is at least partly right when he says that political correctness is killing people.

But setting aside current cultural fetishes over perceived discrimination is necessary but hardly sufficient in the face of ISIL.

That’s because responses by intelligence and security forces cannot be perfectly transparent. That gives the defenses away and allows the terrorist to change tactics. And in a cat-and-mouse game played out behind the scenes with the endless gigabytes of data as the raw material that has to be interpreted almost in real time, Obama’s mushy liberalism and identity politics is useless to the point of being dangerous.

For example, Rand Paul’s warnings have to be listened to respectfully and – if necessary which at times will be the case – set aside in certain focused cases. The problem is, to access the data, interpret it, and send it downstream to local law enforcement where it becomes actionable, often involves dancing down a judicial high wire.

Yes, that judicial high-wire – it’s also called the constitution – is why America is and why it must be kept safe for it’s citizens own life, liberty, and pursuit of their happiness. You need both. The constitution and the determination to defend the nation that the constitution gave birth to.

But Obama is not doing a high-wire act over the constitution in these dangerous times. He’s saying we need to change our attitude on illegals and drive electric, or take the subway. And he’s doing it despite the constitution with his fondness for executive actions. In other words, the worst of both worlds: a shattered sense of security, and a president impatient with the constitution.

Is it any wonder people are angry and scared?

It’s so bizarre to read countless amounts of negative stories and headlines regarding Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, yet none of these headlines and media stories correlate to the actual polls.

Back in September/October, it was beginning to level out after a few debates, but since then, Trumpster has taken a significant lead once again. It’s interesting because when Mr. Trump announced his Presidential Candidacy this summer, I thought, “We’ll see where he is in December…with less than a year to the election.” And here we are.

If the polls are any indication there are FAR more people [voters] in favor of this guy that what the media is trying to indicate. The problem is the rest of the GOP. If/when Trump wins the primary [from the looks of it now], they will all join the band wagon because of loyalty to the party, but that is exactly what Trump is against. He may make a controversial or less than favorable statement, but he stands by them with conviction. The rest of the “politicians” are wet noodles with no spine and just go along with the bandwagon all the time. I think this is reflective in Trumps poll numbers regardless of the latest headline today.

Did the internet play a role in the radicalizing of the San Bernardino terrorists? Of course it did. A role among other factors, like their ties to Pakistan and perhaps, within Pakistan, other connections that may have led pushed them towards terror.

Do we shut down the internet in response to the growing threat of lone wolf attacks? Like Trump has suggested? How? Ask Bill Gates. As if Bill Gates understood better than anybody else. For example, better than a 26-year old mid-level manager at an ISP.

It isn’t that ISIS-inspired lone wolf attacks are not a clear and present danger across America and much of the rest of the world. They clearly are. And it’s not that social media and other online forums don’t play a vital role. They do.

But that kind of decision making: Get Bill on the phone and let’s solve this! seems a little clumsy to be charitable. If not outright silly. Of course, if Trump actually did call Bill Gates (perhaps the other Gates would be a much better call to make) he might learn something. And he might listen to Bill who would explain what’s feasible and who to actually ask and why, Mr. President, it’s a really dumb idea.

There won’t be that call – at least not with the words Mr. President in it – if Trump continues to throw out suggestions like this. Not because they are blunt and aim squarely at a very real concern. They do, and that’s fine. But rather because they flub the job by sounding off base and foolish.

It is very hard to kill an idea. Tyrants have tried for ages immemorial and those ideas often come back from whatever grave they have been violently assigned to. That can be inspiring.

Or it can be terrifying when the idea is an atavistic barbaric delusion. Like the vision of a worldwide caliphate that shimmers like a dehydration-induced hallucination in the brains of converts to the ISIS creed of vengeance and submission to the brutal edicts of their self-appointed prophets.

If Trump had said we need better intelligence and that means careful monitoring of online activity, that at least would have the merit of being focused and relevant. Even if it borders on being unconstitutional. And it would put Trump in Rubio’s camp. Not an objective of The Donald.

It is unlikely, of course, that Trump is that silly. He almost certainly has people who are advising him on a coherent intelligence strategy. But his shots across the bow are getting a little sloppy. Will they begin to damage his numbers in a serious way? Or is Trump in fact a genius at prodding voters on issues that matter to them? Even if the way he does it borders on the ridiculous.

How long does it take new highway construction to pay for itself? And how do you tax those who presumably use it? Toll roads are not overwhelmingly popular and since Eisenhower’s Highway Act in 1956, the federal government has shouldered an important part of the burden. That means gas taxes of course. But less toll booths as the years have passed.

It should be remembered that the prime motivation was General Eisenhower’s military experience, and his observation of Germany’s infamous and famous autobahn system, which was a way to move military material around Germany in an efficient manner. Yes, the highway system is essentially a Nazi invention.

So carefully measuring internal rates of return based on the expected time it takes to return the cost of a project were not the drivers of America’s massive roadway project. It was rather a case of providing a durable and robust series of connections between military – especially Air Force – facilities in case the nation faced a soviet ground invasion.

And the beneficiaries were Americans in general, both consumers and businesses, who could trade and travel at far more efficient levels than before. Imagine Wal-Mart without the current highway system.

So highways have often come to us often by the heavy hand of a protective state. From the King’s highways in England to your local stretch of interstate, that’s being redone at a hefty cost that needs financing on terms the private sector would be reluctant to offer without revenue streams like toll booths.

And the heavy hand of government tends to take care of it’s other hand, as well as other grasping hands. So it is almost a categorical imperative that highway bills shall be leavened with K Street goodies like farm subsidies. This is not a sneaky detail snuck into a worthwhile bill in the dead of the night. This is the raison d’Atre of any hard working senator worth his or her salt.

You want federal funding for that stretch of interstate? Sure, you bet! And we’ll make sure that America benefits from protected farm production. Or at least the targeted constituency that has bent our ears.

Or instead, you could have a smaller more focused set of farm subsidies flowing to those small family farms that really need them.

America could follow that giant of capitalism and freedom, New Zealand. Where they cut farm subsidies – very substantial farm subsidies – 30 years ago. Guess what? The overwhelming majority of farmers adapted, and are thriving, diversified entrepreneurs today.

It may be a while before America’s mobile consumer economy can prosper without a subsidized highway system – even with those annoying gas taxes. But the time is long past due for a shakeout of the goodies forged by beltway insiders. And dispensed by the federal government.

Did you hear the joke about the German-Scottish billionaire trying to be funny to room full of powerful and concerned business leaders? Who happen to be Jewish and to whom America’s relationship with Israel matters. A great great deal.

Commentators on the left have swooped on a handful of jokes of questionable taste to condemn Trump as a blatant bigot. But as an article in Vox listed out those he has apparently insulted, one sees a wide range. This is just the latest in a long list, in other words.

Others cringed a little at what may be a discomforting undercurrent of stereotyping. Trump, for better or for worse, did not cringe. And he did not back down from his refusal to make up his mind and declare his support for Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, earning him boos (actually one loud boo from one specific guest who none the less almost certainly expressed the feelings of many of his more polite fellow attendees).

But his same old schtick on how great a guy he is and how great his dealmaking is apparently drew a loud roaring silence. A lack of substance does not fly with this type of audience. And that may be more of a problem politically for Trump than the delight that his detractors have displayed over his comments.

So perhaps this won’t show up immediately in the polls. But over the longer term – weeks and months – this may be a hindrance. In other words, Trump is certainly not going to gain any additional support with comments like these. Even if it was just a couple of jokes. His angry-moderates supporters will forgive him or discount the affair as meaningless media meddling.

But for uncommitted voters who doubt Trump’s character and who are having trouble seeing him in the Oval Office in January of 2017, this will be one more piece of discriminating evidence.

There was a meteorologist in the land of USA, whose name was Job, or Sarah Randramighan, or Kip Li, or whatever, and that meteorologist was perfect and upright and one that feared the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or good old NOAA, and eschewed evil data. So as not to get fired and blacklisted.

So in order not to have the NOAA, sorry Satan, put forth his hand and strip her or him of all that they cherish, the perfect upright meteorologist ensures the data is correct. As in politically.

At least until we have more transparency on the methodology and the actual raw objective data that the NOAA bases it’s climate studies and doomsday projections on.

But even assuming the data is made public, a less than overwhelming possibility, we are misguided fools in fact. Why?

Who are we to believe that objective data actually exists? Have we not disabused ourselves of Locke’s quaint notions that objective reality can be perceived, discovered, and even measured? We need to hire more German meteorologists; say Dietrich Dingansich, who will enlighten our crude North American minds.

Reality is mere perception, a feeble gazing out at an unknowable world by our prejudiced little minds. Renounce Locke and turn to Kant! The coming of the Solar Gods and Wind Sprites shall not be detained by those who insist on actually seeing and analyzing the data. Or furtively sharing temperature readings in a dark parking lot somewhere in DC. Hey, maybe we could get Reford to star in and produce a film about our upright meteorologist! Maybe not, he’s getting a little old. But he’s alive and well thank god.

So of course the NOAA is keeping it’s cards close to it’s chest. It’s not even playing Texas hold’em. It’s about belief. Not objective data. Obama is good. Paris loves him. Immanuel Kant blesses him from the beyond. Repent objectivists and deliver your souls to the NOAA!