How can voters be expected to show faith in the political institutions of America when those who run these very same institutions are partisan to such an extent that any outcome that is not to their partisan advantage is immediately dismissed as unfair? Or even illegal? If we don’t win, it must be rigged.

While Trump’s stubborn reluctance to concede any possible election loss and his persistent claims of a rigged process clearly erodes trust, Harry Reid’s threat to prosecute FBI Director Comey under the Hatch Act is as bad if not worse an example. In both cases, they only agree to the rules of the game if they win. If not, they find a way to denounce the game as rigged. Or worse, to prosecute someone who does not provide their desired outcome, in Harry Reid’s case. And not just anyone. The Director of the FBI.

In Trump’s case he does have a point that a large chunk of the media clearly covers events in a way that hammers him while granting Hillary’s campaign with the benefit of the doubt far more frequently. But to leap from the evidence of media bias to a conclusion that the actual electoral system is rigged is a stretch that not only discourages turnout (a possible tactic) but also degrades America’s democratic institutions.

The problem is that Trump is merely following cultural trends. The politics is – as the saying goes – downstream from an already cynical culture. One that, for example, includes many voters still viewing Bush 43’s victory in 2000 as a stolen election. That they happen to be Democrat voters is an inconvenient fact to those Democrats now denouncing Trump’s cynical take on this year’s electoral process. And well before the 2000 election, conspiracy theories abounded – especially on the left – on everything from assassinations to alien abductions. Including conspiracy theories on the origins of AIDS and the crack cocaine epidemic of the 80’s.

Of course, elections have sometimes been stolen. The 1960 election almost certainly involved shenanigans in Chicago that ensured that JFK would win. And Nixon himself is said to have accepted the apparent vote-swindle in order not to degrade people’s faith in American democracy. And to ensure he could survive with enough political capital to eventually make a comeback. Which he certainly did. And perhaps jaded by the bruising events of the early 60’s he had no problems engaging in his own dirty tactics in the early 70’s, which led to Watergate. America has not been the same since. Despite Reagan’s optimism, an optimism which had to constantly battle it’s way past a hostile media to reach voters.

As Tom Pepinsky writes in a recent blog post, all parties in a democratic system have to agree to disagree by the rules, regardless of which party is in power. If not, the peaceful transition of power becomes a suspicion-laden partisan power struggle. And the system itself becomes unsustainable and must, in the longer run, bend or break. Bending during the Civil Rights movement, breaking during the Civil War. Reconstruction can hopefully follow a break in the democratic order, but again, rules have to be agreed on by winners and by the losers.

Are Trump and Reid merely bluntly voicing what many voters already feel? Merely expressing the will of their supporters? Or do they have a responsibility to nourish and respect the transition of power and not feed the paranoia? One would hope it’s the latter.

You thought the storm had passed, and that your ship was sailing into safe harbor, well before the bitter winds of winter would make the seas unnavigable. But you were only in the eye of the hurricane, you misguided power seeker. And now you must reap the whirlwind, and its bitter, bracing gusts of unpleasantness. The factions rage around you: those you promised impossible things to, and those you ignored. Your power is at risk. Your future is suddenly dark.

But hey, maybe Jim Comey will somehow escape with his political skin only bruised and scratched. And not flayed to the very bone.

Pity the towering FBI Director. He has had to choose between two unenviable outcomes: you methodically go through the emails on Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin’s devices and let the election unfold. And then earn the wrath of much of Congress, and the public, and certainly GOP legislators and critics, by announcing that the Hillary email investigation has been re-opened. With a (likely) elected president possibly under criminal investigation. Or you announce 11 days before the election and earn the wrath of much of Congress, the public, and Democrat legislators and critics. And oh, yes. The media.

When Geraldo Rivera rips into Comey and calls his announcement a disgrace on prime time television, then it is clear that Comey has inserted himself firmly into the electoral process. Something he was loath to do in the hazy days of summer. And something which carries far more political weight in these final 10 or so days before November 8th.

We will see if this event has a significant effect on the polls. It may very well. But even if Hillary somehow does manage to get elected – a still very real possibility – she will enter the White House shackled to the skeletons in her private server and in the Clinton Foundation and in her lengthy political career. There won’t just not be a honeymoon. There will be an impending divorce – from her office through possible GOP impeachment efforts; depending on what exactly the emails on Huma and Weiner’s devices reveal.

Who will be sacrificed to keep the Clinton pay-to-play Ship of State afloat? Hillary herself, in the terse press conference Friday night adopted the tone of how-dare-he? As in Comey. And Abedin and Weiner? Will Huma have to resign or withdraw or move to another job outside the Clinton orbit? Or will she be dragged into the inquiry as a defendant and not just a witness?

And Anthony Weiner … Jonah Goldberg’s deadly accurate joke to Brit Hume on Fox says it all. If this had been on the Republican side the headlines would have been about a criminal coverup featuring a pedophile. Instead of the awkward but measured tone of most of mainstream media. At least so far. What hellish exile is Hillary wishing upon her close aide and friend’s soon-to-be ex?

The server scandal has now reached critical mass. There is no stopping it. If the new emails are ambiguous and don’t reveal enough to prosecute, Comey goes down in flames. If they do, Hillary Clinton may face criminal charges. And Huma Abedin life – already uncomfortable – becomes even more hellish. Weiner, hopefully, will get what he deserves. What a mess.

Given that the media is – mostly – in a full court press to ensure that voters do not make the apparent mistake of voting for Donald Trump, is it any surprise that polls are viewed skeptically? Especially given the wide divergence between different polls – or pollsters’ methodology to be more accurate – this late in the race. But are those skeptics – who tend to be Trump supporters – right?

There’s two main reasons why Trump could pull off a very unexpected upset on November 8th. The methodology of some pollsters is wrong. Or, people are lying.

Last Friday, 3 polls showed Trump leading slightly. The pollsters involved are:

LA Times: who get an A- rating from fivethirtyeight and have accurately predicted results 86% of the time.

Rasmussen: who get a C+ and have a 79% accuracy rating.

IBD/TIPP: who get an A- and have a 76% accuracy rating.

As you can see, one’s accuracy and one’s grade are not necessarily correlated. And it would be quite a slog for most of us to go through all the granular detail behind Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight’s methodology for ranking the methodology of other pollsters. So the best one can do is say that these 3 polls are from respectable pollsters and while they may very well be outliers, they might instead reflect real voter preferences. We’ll find out.

Are people lying to pollsters? Why would they? From shame? Is there a hushed army of bashful Trump fans out there? Or are they lying to pollsters due to a deep suspicion of pollsters and mainstream media in general? Even if linking these two sections of the communications industry is not always quite accurate. Both these reasons might be prompting more than the usual amount of misleading responses on the part of respondents. Again, we’ll find out.

While the Brexit results were propelled by similar political concerns on the part of British voters, the polls in the UK were significantly closer than the Real Clear Politics average currently shows for the presidential race. So a Brexit surprise is a little tougher ask on this side of the Atlantic. To pull it off, Trump has to reel in independents as well as bring back those GOP voters who have been turned away by the recent scandals.

But if he somehow does win, or makes it much closer than most are expecting, then absent a dramatic shift in the polls over the next 12 or so days, it will mean that polling is in trouble. Dead? The end of the polling era as an Observer article proclaimed? Not likely. But a Trump near-victory would send pollsters scrambling to update their methodologies (and that means everything from how often they try to contact you to more wonky statistical adjustments). And if Trump wins somehow? Pollsters will be even less trusted than the media. And even worse: they will have a tougher time getting people to pay them for their work. Unlike the generally profitable mainstream media.

The Enemy in Your Kitchen

By

Filed Under Latest News on Oct 26 

Imagine you have a secret weapon in your home. One that you don’t even think of as a weapon. A vital oh-so-common household appliance that may have been weaponized. And is being used to launch denial of service or other internet attacks on key nodes of the world wide web. Or is even collecting data on you. You know what it is?

Your fridge.

Or maybe your modem. Or maybe your webcam. Or your climate control system. Yes folks, the internet of things or IoT – as smart consumer devices are now called – are being easily hacked and marshalled towards rather un-benign ends by aggressive actors who wish to find devices that are easy to hijack. Like your fridge.

Imagine your fridge being used to launch a denial of service attack – or perhaps another more aggressive attack – on the local power grid. So far, the attacks have been aimed at bringing down websites, but this is just starting. More and more malicious attempts will surely follow.

Is this really necessary? Do you really need a smart fridge? Did anyone ask you personally if you had to have connectivity in just about every household appliance you can imagine? Did we they ask you if you’d like a world with tens of billions of smart devices? All inter-connected?

No they didn’t, although they can surely point to marketing studies. But that’s not really what gets people sooo excited about the internet of things. What has them breathing hard and heavy is the impact of all these smart (or smarter to be more precise) devices on supply chain management. That fridge that someone hacked is being wired (or chipped if you will) to send information all down the supply chain – from the manufacturing, to the shipping to the warehousing and retail stages. People in a control room somewhere will (do!) even know if your smart big fridge overheated somewhere between a plant in Asia and your kitchen.

That means there is no turning back. Too much money and intellectual capital have already been invested. And millennials surely don’t mind the cool new features that even a fridge can now have. It’s the future, and it means only one thing:

You can no longer trust your fridge. A device made overseas is being hijacked – often by actors based overseas – to disrupt internet processes that might affect your life. And no, you can’t even work at the plant manufacturing those fridges, because more often than not, they’re also overseas.

Apparently there are (and will increasingly be) ways to protect your consumer appliances. Can you imagine Norton IoT protection? It’s surely on it’s way. Sorry darling, I’m gonna be late to Joey’s party! I’ve got to update our fridge!
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So, in a time when American’s trust in their institutions – whether banks or government departments or legislatures or courts or universities or security and intelligence agencies and on and on – is at all-time lows. In a time when one’s trust in one’s fellow citizens is at an all time low. In a time when political discourse is hyper-partisan and no longer even pretends to be objective. In these times, you now have a new potential enemy that you must view with caution, and even have a protocol – or a good firewall – in place to deal with possible disturbances: your fridge.

Obamacare – ok the Affordable Care Act, is that better? – is collapsing, state by state. Younger healthier potential enrollees are not enrolling. The incentives – how much premiums you pay and what kind of deductible you face and what kind of coverage you get – are making them choose to stay away and defer their choices. Perhaps you can construct a longer term economic model based on the expected costs of a health crisis with the likely percentages and the expected cost. And decide that they should enroll, just in case. But by many metrics, younger and healthier people are making a reasonably rational choice.

As are sicker, older people who have rationally decided that Obamacare is a good deal for them. Those two subsets of health care consumers means that Obamacare is currently unsustainable without several things:

  • Higher premiums
  • Higher deductibles
  • More bailouts/subsidies courtesy of you the taxpayer

And even with all three of these responses factored in, many insurance companies are finding Obamacare unprofitable to say the least. That means that the next president will have to clean up the mess and either reform Obamacare or create a new health care plan. Hillary Clinton likely has plans all set up to effectively dump Obamacare through a vigorous reform program that preserves it only in name and broad outlines, all the while praising her former boss’s flawed plan.

Of course Hillary’s reforms will certainly involve lots more regulations. But different regulations. By new agencies or renamed agencies, or re-configured government departments working for you, the health care consumer. Regardless of what state or county you live in. That will work out wonderfully won’t it?

Thank goodness we have an alternative with Paul Ryan’s Patient Choice Act. Right??

Uhm. Have you actually looked into the PCA? Have you scanned the long-form summary, for example? Found at Ryan’s house.gov site? Here’s a few gems:

If you are on SNAP (what used to be called Food Stamps) then forget about buying junk food with your SNAP card. That means you might have to fork over hard cash for that bag of Nachos that gets you through the weekend. You will be told what to buy with your SNAP card. Or the clerk will be told what you CAN’T buy. How? Who knows? Will there be brawls at convenience stores between clerks and SNAP card people?

Seniors who adopt “healthier behaviors” will be rewarded with lower Medicare premiums. Makes sense, in terms of improving health outcomes. But it also adds another layer of paperwork for retired people and means the government is even more involved in your daily life, telling you in minute detail how to live. Of course you could live free … without Medicare. Not an option for many.

The CDC would create a web-base prevention tool based on your private data: your health records, how fat you are (sorry! body mass index), your sordid family details (sorry! your family history) which will all go into an Orwellian little app-thingy that will tell you exactly how to eat, drink, sleep, have sex, exercise, and any other part of your personal life the CDC feels is relevant.

There are some less invasive ideas in the PCA to be fair. Like reworking the tax code to incentivize health outcomes instead of health insurance outcomes. Like the HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan) combined with HSA, the Health Savings Account. This bundled option offers affordable catastrophe insurance with a tax-free way to save towards your health care costs.

But the point is that there is no perfect optimal solution. There are only tough trade-offs. The best you can do with health care is to offer smarter trade offs. And Ryan’s PCA does do that. But it also promises care for everyone AND affordable premiums. Sorry, but somebody somewhere is going to have to pay for that. The bills always come due. Just like with Obamacare.

What is Guccifer 2.0 up to now? He’s claiming that Trump’s tax returns filed last May ended up “immediately” on DNC servers. And he’s claiming that the Democratic National Committee, in conjunction with media allies, is getting ready to release financial documents relating presumably to Trump’s tax returns. Just in time for the last debate?

It’s hard to know exactly who Guccifer is really working for, but Russia would seem to be a logical suspect. Is Guccifer therefore trying to dilute the impact of any financial information on Trump that the Clinton campaign might be releasing? Or merely trying to create an alternative little scandal to turn the media – and half the world’s – attention away from the latest Trump sex scandal? The one that never seems to end.

If Trump’s tax returns truly ended up immediately on DNC servers – a rather unlikely occurrence at best – then there can only be one conclusion that Guccifer is pointing us towards: it’s all rigged folks. His private tax details in possession of the IRS are merely opposition research for their allies in the DNC and in HRC’s campaign staff. Alex Jones, come on down! Hillary should use that in an ad. Oh …

Meanwhile, with Trump filling the headlines with his claims that the elections are rigged, 54 GOP Senators got asked by The Hill if they agreed that the election is indeed rigged. Most chose to not even answer and a few (14 if you have to know) defended the integrity of the electoral process in America. And Jeff Sessions while agreeing that the media bias was a form of rigging the election, did not go so far as to suggest that the countless volunteers and local election officials would be willing, or even capable given how widespread and local the process is, of rigging the election. The way Trump has implied they might.

Not only, as a GOP senator, do you have to worry about holding on to a senate majority, (a big worry in these final weeks), but you have to assure the media and voters that America’s electoral process is fair, and do so without provoking a backlash amongst Trump supporters. Whose votes you still need. So, for the GOP senators and even for the House, the question becomes: is Trump’s the-game-is-rigged final bazooka barrage going to crush ticket-splitting? Or are voters more sensible than that?

The evidence until recently seemed to suggest that voters are more sensible, and that voting not-Trump at the top of the ticket while voting for your local senator or representative at the bottom of the ticket is a likely outcome for many. But if the last slugfest in Vegas drags the campaign even deeper into the mud, a growing number of disgusted voters might just stay away from the polls. Not in large enough numbers to somehow give Trump a victory, but certainly in large enough numbers to damage the prospects for some key senate races. In Indiana, in Missouri, in Nevada where Heck was recently heckled by Trump supporters. In Maine where Ayotte is being crucified for not distancing herself from Trump earlier. In North Carolina where Burr has dropped in the polls and risks losing in the face of low turnout.

Imagine, the GOP is going to have to convince voters that it’s still worth it to vote – especially for your senator – over the sneering dismissals of its own nominee.

How good are you at cryptography? Can you describe how a brute force attack works? Without googling it or going to Wikipedia. How up to date are you on the government’s system of classifying information? A little shaky when it comes to these sorts of matters? Like the overwhelming majority of us?

On the other hand, how good are you at sitting in front of your TV, or tablet, or laptop, or smartphone; and gawking at a compromising video on Trump? Or a video of a possible victim of an unwanted sexual advance, telling her story to the voracious press? A little easier, right? A lot more moral clarity for most of us, right?

The thing is, the Clinton campaign has not even had to make the false argument that there is no moral equivalence between possibly compromising America’s most sensitive classified information – which a Secretary of State tends to have access to and tends to be a witness of – and boorish behavior with a member of the opposite sex. The unwanted advance story tells itself, echoing around the media over and over again.

While Hillary’s email server scandal seems to have entered the area of diminishing returns, as far as the voting public is concerned. Yes, there are still those who – rightfully, if you believe in the equality before the law of all government officials and employees – firmly believe that Hillary’s server scandal is one more example of her corrupt behavior. Behavior that, in the case of the server, would land almost any other government employee in jail. Or at the very least have them facing charges.

So when the FBI claims that attempts to hack Hillary’s server by what seems to have been Russian actors were unsuccessful, you have to know more than a little cryptography to agree with their assessment. And you have to do so, without the necessary evidence that would enable you to conclude that those Russian actors were unsuccessful. In Trump’s case, you just have to stare at someone in a video talking for a minute or two, and decide if she – or Donald Trump – is telling the truth. You could be right or wrong in either case. But forced to choose between puzzling over cryptography, or catching up on some scandalous gossip, most people would go for the gossip. Even if both events are potentially scandalous and both are quite likely illegal. But only one of them, potentially fatal for American interests. An ugly choice, any way you look at it.

Yes, each new revelation (usually an older story) is part of a carefully timed media strategy to discredit Trump. Yes, the NYTimes and the folks at WaPo and at various mainstream media platforms despise Trump, and would love to see him lose badly come November.

If even half of these accusations are correct, however, then it doesn’t matter anymore how biased much of the media has been since Trump was nominated. Trump will lose because women voters – from evangelicals to pro-choice advocates of abortion – will make sure that he does. And this floating sex scandal will stay afloat for at least until the next debate. With the drip drip of further details. Like the hair raising comment about the young girl about to ride the escalator at Trump Towers.

Think about it. Hillary’s campaign has decided – since at least the first debate – that she will not win this election, as the first female president of America. Nope. Donald Trump will lose this election, as the last male boor to postulate himself for the nation’s highest office. And that’s fine by HRC’s campaign team. She gets to measure the drapes, nominate justices, and sign legislation, whether she wins or Trump loses.

But there is a lingering problem. Yes the glass ceiling will be shattered in what will be a symbolic and very real victory for women. And for Planned Parenthood. And for big government working closely with Wall Street. Lots more compliance-centered reams of regulations coming. Oh yes. But the outrage over Donald’s behavior on the part of many men may just be a touch hypocritical.

If Trump is to be savaged publicly – and perhaps charged someday but who knows? – then how about Bill Clinton? How about Hollywood exec’s? How about accusations against the former GOP governor of California? Yes, Arnie himself. How about sleazy entertainment power brokers? Porn industry leaders? If the term leaders can possibly be applied to them. Or powerful bankers, or businessmen. Athletics? And on and on … down to the local creep in your workplace lunchroom.

In times when a University of Tennessee student is being publicly lynched because he unwittingly wrote the name (Sarah Jackson a very common name) of an apparent porn star in response to a rather bizarre quiz the students had to take. In times when everything is partisan, and privacy is a quaint commodity that is fast disappearing, (no better sign of that than the slew of legislation devoted to protecting privacy). In times when debate between genuinely opposing viewpoints is either a shouting match or deadly silence. In these times, Trump is not some bizarre creature from the depths of Manhattan. Trump is of us. A part of us. A bigger, more narcissistic and wealthier, part of us.

Trump, in fact, is turning out to be the perfect scapegoat. And not just for the elites who under Hillary will retain their influence and power, and wealth. But also a scapegoat for our own incivility. He should have been the flawed bearer of an angry revolt against those elites. Instead, Trump is now Burning Man. And his going down in flames is giving many of the wrong people too many flawed reasons to dance in glee.

The end of days are upon us. Sound a little too dramatic? Not if you’re a conservative Republican like David French, who recently wrote in the National Review that Christians can only really pray and repent as Trump’s campaign descends into a civil war with his own party. Crisis can mean “a turning” in the original Greek, and to truly learn from the implosion going on in the final weeks of the GOP’s 2016 campaign, the truth has to be acknowledged. According to French.

Evangelicals are even dividing along gender after the Trump video release last Friday; with female leaders openly denouncing Trump’s recorded comments, while (some) male leaders remain grimly silent. The RNC is divided among Trump supporters furious with Ryan for cutting local campaigns loose, and NeverTrump’ers furious with Ryan for not having done so earlier. Ryan is being attacked from all sides, in other words, including Steve Bannon. Who apparently is out to destroy the affable Speaker of the House. Not to mention Trump himself.

But there’s a problem with this moral hurricane swamping the Republican party: Trump’s lewdness – whether predatory or simply boastful is beside the point – is covering over a simple key fact.

The real divide is ideological. Not moral. Yes, Trump is unskilled in hiding his scandals. Unlike JFK or FDR, to name two titans in the hallowed halls of former presidents. As a fallen man himself, the splendidly bombastic Conrad Black in an article for NR, lists some of the rather lewd actions and words of past presidents. Including JFK, an intern, an aide, and a swimming pool. You can read the article to fill in the details.

The problem with Trump is his style, his needless boasting, his publicity seeking. That is not an excuse for any possible sexual assault he may have committed. But how many among the powerful political elites – Democrat and Republican – can claim innocence in this matter? We no longer allow a discrete media to look beyond a president’s sins. If Trump is to be cast out for that video – and it sure looks like he will – how many more should join him in the wilderness? How many powerful politicians should face charges for unwanted advances that meet the definition of sexual assault? How many will? Because this method of extreme opp research will not go away. It will be used, over and over.

But beyond the moral hypocrisy, there is the ideological divide. It’s about the money more than the sex. With his populist economic policies and hard line on immigration, Trump is a threat to the Washington DC establishment. GOP members have many of them been more afraid of a Trump victory than a loss. But they now realize they may have handed Hillary a landslide victory, and given away the Senate. And maybe, just maybe, the House. And no one in Washington likes giving up power. So things have gotten really nasty, because of the money. The morals – the character issue – are a convenient reason to rage against Trump without being unseemly.

How do we know about Masada? Because of 2 women who hid with 5 children in the underground aqueducts, and lived to tell the awful story of the mass suicide to Josephus. As a conservative, it is not heresy to say that DC has seen enough of male rutting – whether crass like Trump, or carefully sensitive like Paul Ryan or Ben Sasse. The changing demographics of America do not portend well for conservatives. But America is not a basket of statistics. It is a set of values and a group of ideas that have lasted over 200 years. It is up to evangelicals, constitutionalists, and fiscal conservatives to protect both those values and those ideas from the current flames of dispute. Like the women of Masada.

Right after the debate, on Fox News, Megyn Kelly’s hand was cupped like an eagle’s talons as she rhetorically pushed back against Laura Ingraham’s downplaying of Trump’s 2005 video. Kelly was referring to Trumps comments about grabbing women, and she was being uncomfortably explicit with her quick but unmistakable gesture, even as her words were as crisp as a prosecuting attorney, gliding in for the kill. Sitting next to her, her co-host Brett Baier seemed a touch surprised at the gesture.

Megyn Kelly made her point. Clearly.

What does a conservative woman do right now? And in November? As Hillary’s campaign team run ads featuring long-time Republican voters who will not be voting for Trump and who – on balance – feel Hillary Clinton is a more reliable choice to be President of the United States, the choices are all sub-optimal if you are a conservative woman. Perhaps a working mother who worries about her daughter’s future. Of course, many conservatives – regardless of gender – feel that their choices are sub-optimal. Do not vote. Vote for Hillary. Vote for Gary Johnson.

But maybe Trump’s crassness is not the most important issue. Writing in the Federalist, Margot Anderson – in sharp contrast to others like her colleague Lumma Simms who insists it is conservative women’s moral obligation to oppose Trump – suggests that it is Hillary’s whole hearted support of abortion that is the much greater moral outrage. If we can be offended to a raging lather by the incivility of Trump, where is the public anger – beyond those who have continually fought to protect and preserve life – at abortion rights? It is the triumph of identity politics over the politics of life.

This is a fundamental debate and neither side can be taken with anything but serious attention and respect. That is why the terrible crime of rape is one where many of those who support pro-life policies, make an agonized exception. One side of this debate, like Simms, would say that is the lack of values – the moral dissolution to put in archaic but still valid language – is what leads to incivility. And can lead to rape. The other side says that the worst crime is that which is committed against the most defenseless, while acknowledging the profound evil of rape.

Of course conservative women have this debate in a world where rape is reduced to the social components of male power. Rather than seen purely as an evil springing from a lack of values, it is a reflection of the power structures in the world. And this view embraces a wide range of offenses: from violent assault on women to someone mansplaining his way to a micro-aggression. All white males are rapists, the radicals furiously chant. Reducing what should be an exceptional and terrible crime to a politically correct absurdity. And breeding false accusations in places like college campuses. Where real rape is a real problem.

One is a fifth or sixth generation version of marxist liberation theory. One is a condemnation of incivility that borders on inquisitional fervor. One is an acceptance of some of the sexist banter, of some males, in order to focus on abortion. These are three separate universes, and two of them are possessed by conservative women. We are divided. All of us. Even if it was Trump that said that.

Why wait until Friday if you want to be noticed? So a group of 30 GOP former legislators added their names to the NeverTrump universe in an open letter to their fellow Republicans. Trump is neither temperamentally nor intellectually fit to be president seems to be their opinion.

The list of qualities of character they feel Trump comes up short on is in fact, a list of 7 deadly virtues: competence; intelligence; knowledge; understanding; empathy; judgement; and in case you missed their drift, temperament. 7 virtues without which America would be neither safe nor steady under a Trump presidency. Deadly, therefore, in their absolute necessity in any conservative candidate worthy of their consideration.

So if this informal politburo of GOP veterans is to be believed, then Trump is: incompetent, dumb, unknowledgeable, cognitively challenged (doesn’t dumb cover that?); unable to feel others’ pain; unable to exercise good judgement, and beset by political distemper, a deadly illness in Washington DC.

Please, tell us how you really feel. Are they pillars of the GOP establishment? Or what remains of it’s formerly impressive edifice? There are recognizable names, and all have been fairly prominent legislators. Mid-level retired soldiers of the Republican legislative army. Their open letter has been timed, naturally, to cause maximum damage to Trump’s campaign and to poison his chances of recovering some ground in Sunday’s 2nd presidential debate.

So it will take up the next day or maybe two in the media. And hopefully, in these former legislators’ plan, work its way into the debate on Sunday, where Hillary’s team is already thinking up folksy, gosh-will-ya-look-at-that, ways to thrust it’s contents in Trump’s face, and delight in his response.

Does Jim Leach – one of the more recognizable members of the Gang of 30 – matter to voters anymore? Perhaps it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t matter to voters, as long as he can ruin Trump’s Sunday night. But there is the question of why they waited so long. Clearly if they feel Trump’s statements and behavior during the primaries and in the general campaign were so alarming that they threaten America itself, as their open letter suggests, why wait until a few weeks before election night?

Do they feel that they can do more damage to Trump now, than perhaps a month or two ago? Has this been in the works for some time now?

This election has been astonishingly unique, to put in civil terms. And the fact that you have everyone from the far left media to conservative former legislators from his own party attacking Trump, means either he is truly unfit, or perhaps the rebellion he has harnessed, and yes manipulated, threatens more than just a few narrow special interests. Hillary managed to kill off the rebellion on the Democratic side. Trump literally lives off the rebellion on the Republican side. And that to almost everyone in the beltway, is truly unacceptable. To take seriously the unwashed anger at the political establishment in America is a deadly sin in their eyes.

In other words, Trump’s supporters are also: incompetent, dumb, uninformed, and intemperate according to the Gang of 30. Deplorable, really.

Have you heard of the lovely society? No it’s not a quaint reference to salon life in the Belle Epoque or the Gilded Age. It’s a philosophical concept courtesy of the once-conservative David Brooks, writing in the NYTimes. Roll up your sleeves fellow citizens and do your part. If you are to be part of the lovelies.

You see, apparently we all have a choice: to be a lovely or not to be a lovely. To be a lovely is to give. To your employer, to your neighborhood (exactly how remains unclear: by buying groceries? by fighting for subsidized rentals so property values decline?), and especially by giving to the government.

You give to the government. The government gives to you.

While this axiom of socially correct behavior inspires a few easy jokes about what the government gives to you and how they give it to you, Brooks’ new socialism is coached in strange, warm and fuzzy language. There is a sweet reverence for all the gifts that have been handed down over the nearly two and a half centuries since America was founded. There is the warm glow of patriotism. (Does David Brooks now call himself a patriot?) A common shared beauty that is the reward for being a lovely. Or is it a lovelite? Is David Brooks the Jane Austen of the New Socialism?

And if you actively seek to legally minimize the taxes you pay, you are of course, an unlovely. And unloved, and soiled even. This is satire right?

No, it’s another attack on Trump and his bragging about using the very legal method of carrying forward tax losses. And an attack on anyone who questions the economic logic of people like Tim Kaine, for example, declaring that tax cuts caused the great recession. And above all, it is merely David Brooks humbly doing his part for the lovely society. There are some nice little quotes – worthy perhaps of a little book? Brooks’ Little Rainbow Book? To wit:

  • In a lovely society everyone practices a kind of social hygiene.
  • In a lovely society everyone feels privilege but the rich feel a special privilege.
  • Public citizenship is the path to personal growth.

Not apparently the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. In fact, lowering your taxes and advocating for limited government leads away from happiness, according to the lovely society. So while there is a professed sweet reverence for the founders, Brooks comes to bury them. Or at least to try and bury Trump and throw a little dirt on anyone who wishes to lessen the burden of taxes in their lives. And live a little more freely.

The full court press is on. Even if the NBA doesn’t officially start until the 25th, we have the H team hard at work tossing the Tax Trump Story from one pair of eager hands, ready to draw blood at the keyboard, to another. Like an under appreciated point guard, the NYT’s Susanne Craig felt her heart famously skip a beat when she saw the old-fashioned manila envelope in her mailbox on a Friday night in late September. A real honest to goodness mailbox. She had a strange intuition her hunt for Trump’s Tax Returns (TTR) was about to bear fruit.

She took off the wrapper and swiftly passed the TTR to her colleague Barstow, and then brought in more NYT staff and the battle plan was laid, as they swiftly passed the TTR around as tax experts yelled instructions from courtside.

Last Saturday, they unleashed their volley, and are still eager to tell the story behind the story. Even as the rest of the media runs and runs with the actual story. Because there are so many angles to cover, it’s true.

Never mind that nothing Trump and his advisors seems to have done in preparing his 95 tax returns is illegal. Politically it’s a disaster precisely because Trump refused to release them for so long. The ability to carry forward tax losses to future years (and backwards for a couple of years as well) is now liberated from the world of accounting and tax law, and can roam free in the hearts of frustrated millennials around America. Are you a Bernie supporter who can’t quite trust Hillary? Just look at Trump’s Tax Returns!!

Are you a Trump-suspicious moderate Republican voter? Look at Trump’s Tax Returns!! Hillary herself was rubbing it in on Monday, shouting out how Trump abuses his power and games the system. Games the system. Get it? Games. Casinos in Atlantic City. Bankruptcy proceedings. Impoverished tiling sub-contractors weeping at the kitchen table while their wives (or husbands) put a pot of coffee on the stove and try to console them. It all fits so neatly and brings us … closer together.

How can you possibly not trust Hillary? Look at Trump’s Tax Returns!!

Even in the middle of Watergate – the real one some 40+ years ago – the media didn’t quite display such a profound dislike of Nixon the way they are now, with regard to Trump, in these final weeks of the 2016 campaign. From the halls of Hollywood to the shores of Long Island, they will fight the Democrat’s battles. By taxes, by beauty contestants, by shameless baiting of someone only to glad to take the bait. Once again.

From the New York A.G.’s office putting the kibosh on the Trump Foundation’s ability to fundraise (you didn’t do the paperwork! Ha Ha), to Alec Baldwin doing a pretty good imitation of Trump on a SNL sketch that basically redid the debate, just in case you missed it. Closer Together. In step.

This is why you get ahead of a story like this. Especially since it has been a story for most of the year, if not longer. Just ask Mitt Romney. Too late now. The full court press is on. And the final buzzer is uncomfortably close. Never mind that nothing illegal happened. Just look at those returns!!