To the Facebook group that claims 150,000 members and is planning a Science March on Washington, in defense of Climate Change views, for sometime this spring: there already is a science march. It’s happening today, Friday January 27, 2017. It’s called the March for Life.

As science and technology are able to present ever better data on the fetus and developing child in the womb, it is now rationally impossible to deny that it is a human life that sits in its mother’s womb. And not an entity, to be deprived of its life in the event that others, including its mother, decide it is unwanted.

Yes, faith and the belief that life is a precious gift, infuse many of those at the March of Life with a purpose and passion. But science makes clear the cost of the choice to abort. There may be conditions where that cost is justified, but to avoid or shout away the cost is a game that an increasing number of people in America and around the world reject.

Do not expect the same media coverage of the March for Life, as that for the Women’s March on Washington. It will be brief and critical and contextualized to imply that those marching for the rights of the unborn are a crazed fringe. They are not. And they are winning converts to what should be, and once was, a founding principle of human rights.

But the founding fathers lived in a world in which medical technology, technology that makes abortion easier and far less dangerous for the mother, was generations away from existing. A world in which the decision to end a baby’s life was a dark and shameful secret. And relatively rare, feminist revisions of history notwithstanding.

The world has changed dramatically since the late 18th century, but God-given inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness have not, and should not. Despite the attempts to portray an unborn child as an entity and not a life. Maybe Roe v Wade will remain settled law. It does not appear likely that the Supreme Court will overturn that decision any time soon. Even with a conservative justice or two arriving at the bench to replace Scalia, and possibly Ginsburg in the next year or two.

But Pro-life forces can still and are still winning battles every year in order to restrict abortion and not allow full and immediate access to anyone who wishes so. Part of that battle is using science to show that it is a human being in the womb. And thus make clear the costs of an abortion to those who may be unsure or who support Pro-choice views. Not in the harsh and confrontational style that has been used (understandably), but in a way that illuminates the unborn and the God-given life they possess.

The models of anthropogenic induced climate change are complex and depend on assumptions that can be debated. That there is climate change is like saying the sun rises and sets. The question is what are the measurable effects of human-caused change, and how much is climate changing? There is debate on these matters, much as the mainstream of science would like to silence those in their community who dissent.

The science on human life in the womb is far more clear. By any measure of what constitutes life – like heartbeats and movement and development of the body – an unborn child is infused with life. There is no debate on the science of that.

We are not goddesses or gods. None of us. And when we take a human life, it should be after full deliberation in a court of law, where the accused stands clearly guilty of a severe crime. Not in the brisk and soft-lit efficiency of a clinic where an innocent and suddenly unprotected life is terminated. And no, no man can understand what a woman feels in any situation involving pregnancy and loss of a child. But we should be obliged, as men, to do our best to understand and not sit on the sidelines as clumsy and silent observers.

I remember Mary Tyler Moore looking anxious and very nervous at the Oscars in 81, where she had been nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Redford’s Ordinary People. She had lost her son the previous October, just as she achieved a milestone with that film. One more milestone in an already incredible career. But at the Oscars she looked wonderfully human and vulnerable. Almost embarrassingly so for those of us who had imbibed her as a sort of comical super woman whose sly comedy made us all feel complicit, if undeservedly so.

Who really was Mary Tyler Moore? Who knows exactly. Perhaps her closest friends and loved ones. We, all of us who grew up with her, think we do. We assume we do. She was part of our lives because of how innovative and captivating her characters – her creations – were. With her passing she will be claimed by everyone from Tina Fey and Jennifer Aniston to Chelsea Handler and Amy Schumer. Feminist icon for a changing America. America’s sweetheart single working girl. All of the above.

Had she passed away last week, what would have been said at the Women’s March on Washington? How she changed the narrative of prime time television? How she kicked at the glass ceiling while beaming out that heart warming smile? Yes, but Mary Tyler Moore was also one very very successful entrepreneur. Her and husband Grant Tinker’s production company were responsible for some of the biggest shows in the 70’s and into the 80’s. The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, St. Elsewhere, and Hill Street Blues, among others. All MTM production gems.

So Mary Tyler Moore’s legacy will be fought over and re-defined as a weapon in the latest round of culture wars, in which the Women’s March on Washington is the latest battle. Her memory will be staked and claimed by feminists of all stripes, academics and cultural historians, and journalists and celebrities, and the rest of us. But that legacy belongs to all of us. To anyone who spent a perfect little while sitting in front of a bulky old-fashioned TV, laughing at her wonderful cast and their innovative and charming, and sometimes edgy, brand of comedy.

How dare White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer go to the New York Post for the first question? When the big networks were all primed to discuss the weekend skirmish over crowd size, and Sean Spicer’s loyal defense on Saturday of a clearly annoyed President Trump. And then pick on the Christian Broadcasting Network for the next question? Then Univision and Fox Business.

You would think the major networks would finally be called on. No. It was the Urban Radio Network. And finally, the Associated Press, who by tradition get the first question in any White House briefing of the media. Not anymore.

So while the president got down to a brisk – to not say full steam ahead – pace in his first full working day on the job, there was no chance for mainstream media to bear down on some of the weekend’s silliness. Or inappropriateness. Or fighting over a molehill, as the Washington Examiner put it.

Look, Obama had bigger crowds at both his inaugurals. There is no disputing that for anyone who watched the proceedings live on TV, with the endless helicopter shots of the Mall. Whether more people watched through various forms of live streaming on social media as well as more standard media is something to be decided once all the available data is in. But why stake a battle, or a bloody skirmish, on the issue?

Remember, aside from the symbolic importance of Obama’s inauguration, there is also another simple reason why it is always much easier for a progressive like Obama to fill the mall in Washington D.C. The nation’s capital, and surrounding suburbs, are a hotbed of progressive wonks and supporters. OF COURSE they’re gonna fill the mall when someone like Barack Obama is inaugurated. Yes, some came from a long way away. Most didn’t.

But President Trump is still Donald Trump, and so his speech at the CIA on Saturday delved into the media’s relationship with Trump. It didn’t have to. He clearly had a supportive audience at Langely who hooted and cheered his arrival, and seemed genuinely pleased to have him come to speak before them. Unlike the retiring top brass across the intel community. Who are still at it, leaking about what appear to be routine phone calls between Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

But the Trump Train does not slow down. So Sean Spicer did an end run around much of the mainstream media. This a disturbing precedent if you have a staff of dozens dedicated to covering The White House. Of course, mainstream media correspondents can insist on making the story about how they were left out of the story. And they have much of the print media more than willing to echo their frustrations, as is already the case with Spicer’s presser.

But it almost feels like a media version of the Quarterback face masking the DB. Like Aaron Rogers on Sunday, ripping Alford’s helmet off. He can’t do that! He’s the one who gets face masked. Not the defense!! You can’t ignore NBC! Or Jim Acosta! No!!

Of course, that would be comparing Trump to Aaron Rogers, rather than Tom Brady. And that would, with all due respect to the very talented Aaron Rogers, seem to be a mistake. At least so far.

Friday January 20, President Trump will address the nation, and the world. But his inaugural address is for America. Not the world. As much as the world will be watching, indeed many around the world watching uneasily because they sense their privileges and prosperity may be affected by Trump’s presidency.

What will he say?

Democrats in Congress have already begun to try and pushback (in Rick Perry’s hearings) at the possibility of significant – and long overdue – cuts to government spending. Byron York has outlined a fascinating way that Trump can triangulate between his voters, GOP members of Congress, and some Democrats to achieve his agenda. Or that part of his agenda which matters to voters. David Winston of The Winston Group, writing in National Review, highlights how jobs are very much at the center of voter’s concerns. Not the wall with Mexico. Yes immigration affects jobs, despite activists protests. But it’s jobs first. And reforming Washington second, on most voter’s agendas.

What will he say?

Ken Kachigian has a beautifully written piece in Real Clear Politics, offering advice and a broad and sweeping – but penetrating view – of why Trump astounded the media, the elites, the Democrats, the world etc. and won. He saw something in America others failed to see. And America sensed something different in Trump. Beyond the tweets and the outrage of the week. And they handed him the awesome power and responsibility of the presidency.

What will he say to them?

As Kachigian points out, Trump will be facing West – towards the country’s heartland, which he traversed right till the end. Giving speech after speech as the media criticized and scorned him – writers like Byron York being the rare and thoughtful exception – as they followed Trump’s campaign.

What will they say of Trump’s speech?

The Washington Post’s James Hohmann gives a clue to their likely reaction in the WaPo’s Daily 202 Report. He speculates that any goodwill generated by Trump’s inaugural speech will vanish in the wake of his first tweets as president. Hohman still doesn’t get it. The tweets are a direct link to his followers and their bare-knuckle feistiness have never been a liability for Trump. Will that change once he’s in the Oval Office?

So yes, the words will matter, and if Trump can share something unexpected about his life, as Kachigian brilliantly suggests, he can raise the curtain on this administration in an inspiring and deeply personal way. And leave a quote or two for posterity. But regardless of whether he does use such a rhetorical device or not, the main point is this:

Trump will be giving the inaugural speech. Not Hillary. Not any of the other GOP contenders favored by conservatives. Trump will be giving the speech. And after heading to a only a handful of balls, getting down to work.

Oscar Lopez Rivera returned from active duty in Vietnam to Chicago in 1967, the year Che Guevara was captured and executed as the Argentine terrorist who was Castro’s henchman and was an even crazier radical. The Che who later tried to inspire a revolution among reluctant Bolivian campesinos who were far more obedient to Moscow than to Guevara’s vision of their future. Yes. Che Guevara was even more extreme than Fidel Castro. He got sent to Africa and Bolivia for one reason: to conveniently die and become a perfect martyr for the Castro regime in Havana.

Terrorist? How dare you, you might say Manuel. Che has been lovingly analyzed, deified, and portrayed as a revolutionary, a freedom fighter, a humanist (by those who haven’t actually read his actual violent, hate-filled words) even. How dare you shine a little light on every leftist’s most cherished dream: to be a Latin America Revolutionary! Look at sub-commandant Marcos down in Chiapas, Mexico in the mid-90’s. He rode a horse across a stream and smoked a pipe while wearing a balaclava as he gave press conferences. And the progressive world fell to their knees before their latest hero. Ah, those green hypnotizing eyes that caused wealthy Mexican women to sigh lustfully. But you know this Manuel.

So 1967 was a key year for Puerto Rican native Oscar Lopez Rivera. That’s because fellow Puerton Rican Filiberto Ojeda Rios had returned from a 6 year stay in communist Cuba that very same year. And was now organizing radical, violent groups – ok that sort of classifies as terrorist doesn’t it? – to overthrow the democracy in Puerto Rico and establish a marxist state. Ojeda Rios’ groups were founded on strict marxist-leninist revolutionary principles. Che would have been pleased. Che clearly knew and perhaps helped train Ojeda Rios.

At some point in the late 60’s or early 70’s Lopez Rivera left his community organizing work in Chicago and joined Ojeda Rios’ marxist terrorist groups. By the mid 70’s they were actively involved in a massive bombing campaign against targets in America. People died and property was violently destroyed. Banks were robbed as well – a rather typical form of activity for leftist terrorists needing cash for their guns and bombs. Of course, you know this Manuel.

But this is all justified in the eyes of progressives because America keeps the noble and suffering people of Puerto Rico under the heel of Uncle Sam. Billions and billions and billions of dollars worth of oppression. To finance government, education, health, industry, infrastructure. To keep living standards light years ahead of Cuba. Evil. Pure evil. To allow Puerto Ricans to freely migrate to America as proud owners of American passports, and prosper and inspire others. Like you Manuel. Though you were born in Manhattan. Evil.

Ojeda Rios died about 10 years ago in a shootout with the FBI in Puerto Rico. But Lopez Rivera was tried and jailed in 1981. He’s still there because he refused a pardon from Clinton in 1999. He would not swear to give up violent terrorist activities. Now that’s a man of principle.

Are Ojeda – and the late Rios – little Patrick Henrys? Give me liberty or give me death? No. Because Henry was fighting for the liberty of his fellow Americans under the rule of law. The perverted, failed attempts throughout Latin America to replicate the American Revolution’s astonishing success, are still there for us to witness. From Havana to Caracas to Quito. The American Revolution had faith (mostly Puritan) and a clear eyed view of classic enlightenment thinking and the founders knew well the dangerous history of previous failed republics. The Latin American revolutionaries have Marx, the French Revolution, and other European radicals as their guides. Not the same. Never was. Never will be.

But you know all this, Manuel. You’ve studied history and politics. More than most. So go ahead Manuel Lin Miranda and shed tears for Oscar Lopez Rivera. And when he is released from jail, invite him to a “command” performance of Hamilton. Ahh the “viva’s!!” in audience that will pour forth! And then Lopez Rivera can take you backstage and start to carefully explain to you – young misguided Miranda – why Hamilton was an evil colonialist. And why true liberation is only possible in a worker’s paradise like Cuba. And suggest you travel to Cuba, Manuel. Not to bring Hamilton to a government-sponsored theatre in Havana. No. To learn the art of true political theatre: radical political theatre.

Who knows Manuel? Maybe you too can disappear into the jungles of Colombia perhaps. And join the FARC in it’s glorious last days of drug trafficking and kidnappings and killings. And become a true revolutionary. And not just a talented artist, creating exciting work as he exercises his First Amendment Rights – even as he educates and entertains Americans and other adoring fans from around the world – in the world’s most successful republic. One that has allowed you to pursue life, liberty, and happiness to it’s glorious fullest possibilities.

You are the model to be admired and imitated, Manuel. Not Che Guevara. Not Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Not Oscar Lopez Rivera. You. Even when you tweet wrong-headed praise of a violent man.

As the global elite – the wealthy, wonky mandarins of globalization – gather in Davos, that D.C. fortress of statistics and wrong-headed policy recipes, the IMF, delivered a stark warning on the effects of Trump’s incoming administration.

Global growth estimates have been revised. Upward.

As Merkel and Trump fire shots across each other’s bows, and prepare for what should be a pretty interesting sit down and chat session when they actually meet, there is a haunting, terrifying specter that is spreading across the winter sky. It has liberals truly scared, and desperately seeking a way to protect themselves. The issue at hand is:

What if Trump’s policies actually work, and produce tangible results?

No less a scrapper than historian Niall Ferguson, writing in The Times, has warned – since the election he has been repeating this – that Trump may prove to be a far more pragmatic, and far more successful president, than anyone could have imagined. More than they ever imagined, even inside the GOP itself, and down the halls of Congress. What if Trump gets it right on a number of issues?

  • On growth? Manufacturing will shrink to a rump of highly automated plants. Nothing you can do. Right?
  • On trade? Impossible! Right? Look at how mad China is! Right?
  • Russia? A disaster right? The intelligence community would like to help convince you of that. By any means necessary.
  • And you can’t succeed with most of the media dead set against you, can you? Not to mention Hollywood. Right?
  • Obamacare repeal and replace? A disaster that the GOP will end up owning! Right??

Trump has not spent one hour as president in the Oval Office yet, and he’s already had a profound effect on the rules of the game. There is no indication that he will be any different once actually in the Oval and behind his desk. With his iPhone in a place of privilege, ready to be grasped at a moment’s notice.

Ok, maybe the tweets will be less frequent. Maybe. Nobody. Not even Reince, Ivanka, and Jared, know for sure. There is geniune uncertainty as to Trump’s methods. And geniune optimism – as in putting your money where your mouth is – about the possible outcomes. After all, the Presidency of the United States is a pulpit, even if Obama and other recent administrations, have converted it into a decree/regulations- issuing office.

But Trump understands the bully pulpit in the marrow of his bones. He has already grabbed that pulpit out of Obama’s reluctant hands. He will now have, as of this Friday, the full stage that that pulpit stands on. And a shortened Inaugural Day means he can hardly wait to get to work. In fact, he’s been working overtime for 18 months. Nothing indicates that will change. Liberals, be afraid. Be very afraid.

How sloppy has America’s intelligence community gotten? It’s a valid question, and one that Masha Gessen – the Russian American journalist/activist – explores with a careful rigor in a NY Review of Books article. A rigor that one wishes was in the report the intel community delivered to Congress, Obama, Trump, and the waiting world last week. A report Gessen methodically picks apart.

Unlike mainstream media outlets like the NYT who merely echoed its poorly supported conclusions.

Masha Gessen is no fan of Trump, and yes she’s an avowed opponent of Putin and the authoritarian state he has built in Russia. But her concern is that in trying to paint Trump as a Kremlin pawn, which is basically what the report concludes even if it never directly states so, one risks getting the picture wrong. What she’s worried about, is Trump’s populist, nationalist, and conservative agenda, as a gay female writer who clearly is deeply invested in a very liberal view of America.

But her attacks on the way the report is written, and how it presents its evidence should leave the higher ups in the intel community more than a little bashful. And the rest of us more than a little worried. Trust a Russian intellectual (you too Volokh) to be soviet-like in her rigorous approach to our sloppy semantics. Welcome to America Masha – even if you’ve been on this side of the pond for a while.

But for all her fussy grammatical – and more importantly, logical – standards, Masha Gessen is absolutely right. Any report by America’s intelligence agencies that deals with something as important as Russian attempts to interfere in and degrade the electoral process should be judged by as rigorous a standard as possible. They should never be narratives. They should be concise and cohesive explanations of the available intelligence. Because in a narrative, the facts are bent to fit the story. In a report, the story presents the facts as best as is possible.

Now contrast the circular logic and lack of compelling evidence in the intel community’s report on Russia, to the statements on the web of the so-called Shadow Brokers. They are almost certainly yet another Russian semi-official hacking group; perhaps peopled by some of the same hackers who make up Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. And they have demonstrated publicly that they are apparently capable of hacking NSA code. Code that is used to gather vital information on America’s enemies (and yes, allies as well).

But The Shadow Brokers play a sort of cyber-goof role: we’re just a bunch of kids in some apartment building in St. Petersburgh or Moscow, trying to scam up some bitcoin. Like any honest-to-goodness darknet denizen. Here’s some of their online rhetoric as reported by The Daily Beast:

The ShadowBrokers is dumb asses thinking found golden ticket sitting on server and just wanting cash out without dying or go to prison.

Do the Russian intel services have manuals on how to write like a dumb Russian wannabe hacker? They may very well have such guidelines. More smoke blown straight in America’s face: we’re just a bunch of kids with a few laptops and we’ve hacked the NSA. It’s so blatant it’s almost pathetic. If it weren’t chipping away – bit by bit – at the credibility of America’s intel community, who have not done too much lately to cover themselves in glory.

Should America support and appreciate the men and women who do the analytical and the field work that helps defend the nation? Obviously. But that does not preclude demanding they adhere to standards worthy of their task, rather than engaging in echo-chamber public relations.

On the 10th day of the first month of 2017, 12 jurors returned a death sentence for Dylann Roof. Not one of them decided to spare the unrepentant killer who ended the lives of the Emanuel Nine. A librarian, a speech therapist, a state senator, heads of families, mothers of teenage children.

If these people of faith; if these nine pillars of their community could have miraculously been raised from their graves to witness Tuesday’s sentencing by the jury, what would they have said? They may very well have said: spare his life. They may even have said: Lord forgive him, for he knows not what he has done.

But those 12 jurors sat in a courtroom, not in a church. And they were instructed to follow – to the best of their ability and according to the evidence presented – the law of the state of South Carolina and the federal law of the United States of America. And Dylann Roof was tried for a capital crime under both state and federal law. He will now be the first person to be put to death for a federal hate crime.

Was there ever any doubt that Roof knew exactly what he had done? Allowing him to plead temporary insanity, for example, would have moved the judicial system ever closer to declaring that anyone who murders is temporarily insane. And therefore not fully responsible for their acts. To excuse evil – true evil – by allowing such a defense would have set a horrifying precedent. Dylann Roof would have been fed, clothed, counseled and provided with shelter by the state for the rest of his life. Or – God forbid – for a number of years, and then released back into the community.

Think about it. Dylan Roof in 15 years giving his first interview as a freed prisoner. Because if you truly believe that he is in need of therapy rather than execution, you have to accept that image of his release, and what it would mean for justice for the Emanuel Nine. Because those nine victims were by all accounts pillars of their community. That means people who respect the law, who follow the law, who counsel and guide those who risk running afoul of the law: from a misdemeanor to more serious crimes.

So if the Emanuel Nine – somehow miraculously raised from their graves – might well have asked for forgiveness for Dylann Roof, they would surely have accepted the court’s ruling, as pillars of their community. And thus rendered unto the American Republic what is the Republic’s business. And unto the Lord their lives and prayers for forgiveness for an act most of us could never even imagine forgiving.

The storm continues over Russia’s intentions. But no one, including the President-Elect, can seriously argue that Russian operatives were not involved in the DNC and Podesta hacks and subsequent leaks. What effect those leaks had on the voting public last November 8, however, can be debated. But now, there is apparently information about another recent hack. This according to a story in the Washington Free Beacon by Bill Gertz.

Apparently, members of the National Security, Defense, and Foreign Policy areas of the government – along with members of associated think tanks – were subject to a spear phishing campaign, in the days immediately after the election last November. And any material gleaned from this new hack, likely by actors like Advanced Persistent Threat APT 29, and Advanced Persistent Threat APT 28 – known to most of us as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear – may be used to muddle, subvert, and confuse on issues Putin’s regime deems vital to Russia’s interests.

Think about that. An intelligence analyst, or national security official, or State Department official, gets an email offering something, or posing as an official email from another agency say, and clicks on it. Presto. Key communications between officials privy to sensitive negotiations/information on a number of topics, some classified perhaps, fall into Russian hands because some wonk in an office in the beltway got sucked in … by an email. And clicked the darn link. Great.

The New Cold Cyber War has as one of it’s key battlegrounds: the inbox of government bureaucrats and think tank policy experts.

Please Director Clapper. Tell us it’s more than that. Please tell us that it does not boil down to one busy office worker with lots of emails in her inbox working through them as quickly as possible. And clicking that darn link. Of course, most of those who did the clicking last November are his’ers. Men. We like to rush through things. Like shopping, or email lists. And can get careless, and buy the wrong size. Or click the wrong link.

So, in fact, if there were more her’s in national security, defense, and state, would this sort of phishing campaigns have raised more alerts sooner? Would a little more cautious pragmatism have been in place? Yes, that’s terribly sexist. It’s true. So let’s take this all the way to the top.

She apparently is no longer in the running for DNI. But imagine she still is. And imagine she gets the job. And now … imagine her missives cracking down on what is truly – to quote the outgoing President – stupid stuff. Imagine Carly Fiorina as DNI. Do you feel safer?

With a mentally disturbed vet shooting up Fort Lauderdale’s airport, in the name of voices in his head urging him to kill for the sake of ISIS?

Would you feel safer with Carly as DNI?

I would.

The Democrats used to insist, a few long weeks ago, that FBI Director Comey was the reason why Hillary lost the election. Now it seems they prefer to blame the Russian hack: a term which suggests that Russian intelligence operatives or associates directly hacked the elections in America on November 8, 2016. Which is completely false of course. There were leaks of DNC emails and there were leaks of John Podesta’s emails, and this may very well have been the work of hackers linked to Putin’s regime. Although the public has not been able to see the proof, despite the Intelligence Community insisting the proof is there, and also insisting that most of that proof will have to remain off limits to voters and curious citizens in general.

So, perhaps here’s a way to combine these two villains – Russian Intelligence, and the hard-working head of a major American, Domestic (mostly) Intelligence force that we know as the FBI. Get James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, to release a public version of the report and meet with Congress, Obama, and a day later, Trump.

In other words, let’s see if Clapper can de-legitimize Trump’s incoming administration, seeing we believe that Comey threw the election to Trump. Has there been a more politicized transition between administrations? Ever? With Obama signing as many executive orders as he can before his pen gets ripped out of his hands, and with what Democrats (and a few senators like Lindsey Graham) hope will be a disturbing and embarrassing probe of the hacks of the DNC and John Podesta, Trump’s honeymoon ended sometime in mid-November it now seems.

But here’s the thing: Trump loves a brawl. Trump loves to take on his critics, and does so on his terms. Yet somehow both Obama, and much of the media think that Trump can no longer benefit from his outsider, renegade tactics. Now that he is assuming power. What if they and the rest in government and industry and NGO’s who still suffer Trump Derangement Syndrome are wrong once again?

The briefings next week, and the whole Russian hack narrative, will surely test this thesis. And it may be that any new information that does come out could erode some of Trump and his administration’s political capital. But the assumption that the leaked emails changed the course of the election are just that: assumptions that have not been proven. And cannot practically be proven. You’d have to show how voters in the Blue-Wall states from Michigan down to Pennsylvania voted against Hillary and for Trump because of those leaked emails. And not because of Obama’s policies and how they impacted on those voters’ lives. Good luck with that.

But that won’t be the issue in these briefings. The point of the briefings will be to somehow show Putin’s fingerprints on these hacks. And that should not be nearly as difficult as proving that the hacks caused Hillary to lose the election to Trump.

Will Trump mostly ignore or downplay the briefings? Will he praise the intelligence work, while questioning some of the assumptions behind the Russia hack narrative? Or will he punch back? This skirmish could be a key for the President-Elect.

By Tuesday, January 3, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi had already introduced a budget resolution aimed at resurrecting Congress’ previous attempt at repealing Obamacare. An attempt vetoed by Obama, of course, last year. A repeal bill is scheduled to be presented by January 27. That’s in a little over 3 weeks, which is at the speed of light, as far as Congressional bill-making is concerned.

On January 15, right in the middle of those two dates, Congressional Democrats are planning rallies against the repeal, to take place around the country apparently. And Wednesday, January 4th, Obama and Pence held dueling meetings in Congress to rally their respective teams around what will be the first big showdown of the 115th Congress, and President Trump’s new administration.

Wedged in between these key dates, is a dusty little ceremony that will take place at the Western Side of the U.S. Capitol. One wonders whether angry protesters dressed as zombie patients will try to disrupt the proceedings along with all the other angry identity-politics groups that feel so offended that America did not vote as they saw fit.

In other words, things are moving very fast with this new Congress and new administration. At least as far as repeal is concerned. Replacing Obamacare, however, is something that will likely be delayed by at least two years, if the rumblings coming from various legislators are any indication. Trump has made this issue his, but the GOP Congress has pushed repeal and replace for much longer.

At the American Enterprise Institute, two healthcare policy wonks, Joseph Antros and James Capretta, have suggested slowing down. Both have been part of the federal healthcare bureaucracy, and their complaint seems to center around how ACA enrollees could be harmed by destabilizing Obamacare, through repeal and a delayed replacement of the ACA. They want to keep the exchanges viable by ensuring funding keeps flowing, and worry that absent the tax penalties meant to enforce compliance, the downward spiral of insurance companies withdrawing from the unprofitable plans, and healthy people staying away in greater numbers with no penalty for doing so, will mean less coverage, more expensive coverage, all for less people.

So, this is different from what is already happening to Obamacare because … ? They make no mention of allowing competition across state lines for example. The view of Antos and Capretta is firmly from within the federally administered world of regulated healthcare. This is hardly out-of-the-box thinking.

But they do make an interesting point. Because repeal will be done through the reconciliation process, it can only affect those parts of Obamacare that have to do with taxes and subsidies or credits. Not the regulations – the detailed requirements that will still be part of what remains of the ACA after repeal. So we will be left with rules that presume – as they put it – the subsidies and mandates (that the tax penalty enforces) without the money to back it up. That means insurance companies will find it even more expensive to remain within the ACA exchanges and will drop out at a faster rate.

And what did Obama have to say to Congress on Wednesday? Avoid talking too much about policy. Talk about the impact on people’s lives. Healthcare is a minefield, it’s true. To score political points, you have to hide the true cost of any subsidized healthcare system – like ACA – and focus on the individual stories of those who gained coverage. Unfortunately, Obamacare is collapsing – whether the GOP repeals it or not – and the costs of Obama’s grand scheme can not be reduced to scare stories. Whatever plan replaces it, that new plan will have to justify its costs to a public that has seen the Affordable Care Act become far less affordable and offer less care than it promised 6 years ago.

You avoid policy, explaining it and showing how it will be paid for, in terms of healthcare at your own peril as Obama is finally realizing. The voting public will have to realize it as well.

Oh Commonwealth of Virginia! What the heck is your problem? Is it that your valleys and hills enfold the nation’s capital, creating some of the wealthiest suburbs in America? And that proximity creates a sense of privilege? At least in those zip codes well within the beltway. First there’s Mcauliffe, your governor. A partisan with little scruples some may say.

Now your elected GOP representative, Bob Goodlatte, tried to pull a fast one – along with most of the House GOP members it must be said – and gut the power of the Office of Congressional Ethics by bringing all the decision making back to where Bob and his cohorts felt it should belong. With them in the House Committee on Ethics, peopled by the same subjects who may from time to time come under the Ethics Office’s gaze.

Yes Representative Goodlatte, it is a pain when an anonymous charge brought by a crazed little NGO whispers its way into the Office of Congressional Ethics, and starts a process rolling in which you, the elected representative, do not have quite the same due process as you would as a citizen in a court of law. Yes, the process can and often will be partisan, and therefore political.

So what? You are not an ordinary citizen. You are a representative of your district and of America. You should have to face a higher level of scrutiny. And the timing … just awful, wasn’t it? Instead of the Army Corps of Engineers dutifully draining the swamp under the President-Elect’s mandate, you would instead have those Army Corps engineers feeding those submerged alligators who only pop up above the surface at feeding time. Yes, that would be you.

Your Speaker of the House told you: please don’t do it. Your House Majority Leader called an emergency meeting to scrap the plan to gut the ethics committee. And your President-Elect aimed his twitter bazooka right at you, Bob.

Do most of your colleagues, on both sides of the aisle by the way, want some sort of “reform” of the House Committee on Ethics? Absolutely, and there seems to be agreement that not now, maybe later, is the best plan. But all this does not go down well with the voting public. The House Committee on Ethics was the result of scandals on your side of the aisle, and voters don’t mind seeing you guys sweat from time to time.

So good for Trump that he went straight to his iPhone and tweeted loud and clear. Any change to the ethics committee should be done in broad daylight with lots of debate, all of it out in the open. Not snuck in through the back door.