When Marco Rubio trades media jabs with Chris Christie in Iowa as the voting draws nearer by the day, you know Christie is gaining a little more traction with voters each and every day. His debate performances have been funny and to the point and not at all lacking in confidence. And if Christie can somehow surprise in Iowa, New Hampshire will like him even more than they already do. Keeping in mind that he’s at best in the top three in the Granite State.

Can Governor Christie begin to put together a series of surprises, if not outright upsets? That would take some doing with his numbers in South Carolina barely in the single digits. People seem to like him and his favorable ratings are good. But he does not have the impact, or the funding at least at this point, to do serious damage to the leaders.

But that hasn’t stopped Rubio from trading barbs over his Senate attendance record and Governor Christie’s absences from his home state. It might just be a case of Rubio trying to hold onto his third place position in Iowa. Christie trails even Rand Paul with a Real Clear Politics poll average of 2.3% in Iowa. That’s less than half of Jeb Bush’s numbers.

In New Hampshire, the RCP average polling numbers put Christie and Cruz neck in neck at 11.5% and Rubio barely ahead at 12.8%. So the Rubio-Christie sparring certainly makes sense in light of what each is trying to get done in New Hampshire.

The problem is, how can Christie possibly leverage his executive experience in New Jersey in this, of all, campaigns? He’s got a businessman and a surgeon ahead of him, as well as that pesky polished senator from Florida. And most of the rest of the field in most of the primary states, to be honest.

People seem to be willing to listen to Governor Christie. To laugh at his jokes. And to appreciate his point of view. But they are not willing in any significant numbers, to vote for him. At least, not so far.

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!

It seems voters in Iowa are liking what they see in Ted Cruz more and more. The headline number in last week’s Quinnipiac poll has Cruz coming in a mere 2 points behind the still-leading Trump, at 23% vs. 25%. And on the key issues like the economy, terrorism, and foreign policy, Ted Cruz comes in with very solid numbers. Unlike Dr. Carson, who sits in 3rd with 18% but scores much lower on most individual issues.

So Iowa is fluid to say the least – Carson fell 10 points from first to third in just a month – but we are arguably in the home stretch. As far as Iowa goes that is. Will the winter caucus again throw up a winner who quickly fades when the “real” primaries begin? Given the GOP race so far, it may very well be.

But it’s getting a little late to say that anything is possible. Jeb is solidly stuck around 5%. Will he slog it through Iowa and New Hampshire and then take stock of what he needs to do? Carly is an invigorating force and one hopes she will stick it out as long as her relatively meagre funds allow.

Trump and Carson, however, are still running focused, successful campaigns. The fact that neither is the least bit wonkish on the debate stage – surprisingly perhaps on the part of Ben Carson – seems to still be convincing a portion of the party that Rubio and even Jeb will rise eventually. Is Rubio, at least, a serious contender still?

Rubio’s problem is precisely what endears him to establishment GOP types. He can take the undecideds away from Hillary. He can take enough of the identity politics vote to keep Hillary from winning. And by extension, no one else can.

Assuming this is even true, this is exactly what makes Rubio such a tough sell to many voters. As impressive as his debating skills are, he has some convincing to do to when it comes to conservatives. Voters are not likely to rally round Rubio if they doubt his credentials.

Ted Cruz does not have that problem. His integrity, his laser focus, his conservative beliefs, are all undoubted. His enemies seem to exist because he hasn’t worked his way up the ladder the way, say, a Bob Dole did. And the establishment cannot forgive him for his tactics in the senate.

At least up to now. They may have no choice but to forgive him in a few months. Could the GOP establishment eventually find themselves making peace with Senator Cruz? Rather than conservatives being forced to support Rubio? It’s more than just a thought as we enter December.

Can Obama now blame Centcom supervisors for his deadly stumbles with regards to containing Islamic State forces in Iraq? Apparently documents were edited to make Iraqui army defeats look like re-deployments, thus sparing the military the embarrassment of having their trained Iraqi allies make a mess of things on the battlefield.

That seems a stretch, even if military intelligence was doctored to put it in a more positive light. That is a serious charge, and Congress has promised to investigate. But Obama’s philosophy in the Middle East, and especially in Iraq, was one of disengagement from the get go. He promised to withdraw the US military presence in Iraq, and he did.

Would the Obama Administration have taken Islamic State threats more seriously, absent the alleged editing of emails and perhaps other documents? That’s an unknowable, but it might have made some impact. Obama’s philosophy, however, has been a combination of civil engagement and apology. A disastrous combination in the case of the Iran deal.

Once again, a little over a decade later, military intelligence and intelligence in general over Iraq is under scrutiny. And that may lead, again, to the questioning of the Iraq war. It’s helpful, however, to remember what had occured before the Iraq invasion.

The van full of explosives in 93. The embassy bombings in East Africa. The USS Cole. 9/!!. And the Taliban in Afghanistan with suspicions of support from Pakistani security forces. The Bali bombing in 2002. And while it was in 2008, the Mumbai attacks were the culmination of various acts of islamic terror in India over the years. That’s a partial list, and yet it shows a spreading wave of violent, fanatical attacks by islamic terrorists. Was Iraq the right point to engage? That’s a theoretical that – unless it spins off useful ideas on dealing with the situation in Iraq here and now – is best left to military historians.

We’re still arguing in the West how to win this war. It’s unsettling that is was apparently a tip from Morrocan intelligence sources that led the French to the main suspect in the Paris terrorist attacks. But it also shows that good sources on the ground in areas where it counts is, and always will be, key.

Was Rumsfeld’s vision of a mobile, tech-heavy force the wrong one in dealing with Iraq? Should we have this current debate in full public view so that Yale Students, for example, can do a sit-in to protest prejudice among military analysts?

As Carson said to George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday, “I’m not real big on telling them what we would or would not do.” True enough, but the debate over intelligence and tactics and strategy has to be had – whether behind closed doors or partially open to the public. It’s proving a difficult war to win. But first it has to be fought. And then won.

Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all from Political Derby. Have a healthy and safe day giving thanks and celebrating with your family and friends.

“A new light shines about us. The great duties of a new day awaken a new and greater national spirit in us. We shall never again be divided or wonder what stuff we are made of. And while we render thanks for these things, let us pray Almighty God that in all humbleness of spirit we may look always to Him for guidance; that we may be kept constant in the spirit and purpose of service; that by His grace our minds may be directed and our hands strengthened; and that in His good time liberty and security and peace and the comradeship of a common justice may be vouchsafed all the nations of the earth.” Woodrow Wilson (1917)

How much of the GOP establishment – measured by endorsements and fundraising – have switched to Rubio or are about to? Assuming that in a perfect world as viewed by traditional Repbulican stalwarts, Jeb Bush would have been steadily climbing back up in the polls, ready to retake his rightful spot. And given a world with imperfect information – no one really knows what’s going to happen, although sometimes some predictions do turn out to be uncannily accurate – who could have predicted that Jeb would have underperformed in the debates?

Yes, GOP voters and the relevant issues are not what they were a decade ago. But had Jeb showed more skill in the cut and thrust of the debates, he might have been able to hold his own. Or at least not remain at 5%.

So is Rubio now Mr. GOP Endorsements? If the choice – given their political experience – is between Cruz and Rubio, big money does not seem to want to back Ted Cruz. Both have performed well in the debates, but the Texas senator is seen as too divisive. That means Rubio’s advantage in a head-to-head with Hillary is a deciding factor. And his stance on immigration and the hoped for traction with Latino voters is pulling supprt towards Rubio as well.

But guess what? Trump is still leading. Trump’s numbers are not falling and are up slightly from 26% to 28%, according to the latest Fox poll. That’s double Rubio’s numbers. And the only person who really fell a significant amount was Ben Carson, slipping back to 18%. Apparently those stories on West Point did do some damage.

The thing is, if you do break down support among Tea Party voters, Evangelicals, and Conservative Talk Radio listeners, Cruz beats Rubio handily with all 3 groups. Especially with Conservative Talk Radio listeners where Cruz comes in first beating even Trump.

So who are the GOP voters who will propel Rubio into a 2nd place position, ready to finally topple Trump in the final stretch of the nomination battle? At least according to the new Establishment Playbook. It would have to be moderates: the unseen, somewhat-silent-but-sizable minority among GOP voters. Remember Reagan Democrats?

But who do GOP moderates support? Some suggest that they’re with Trump. That his maverick status, the skepticism over his conservative credentials, are what in fact attracts moderates to his candidacy. Even if they’re angry moderates.

Do moderate GOP voters matter? If they do, Rubio may have to win them over from Trump, in order to have any chance of surging ahead of Cruz and leaving Carson to settle in 3rd or 4th spot. That, as they say, is a theoretical at this point.

We’re at war. How many ways does this have to be restated? How many planned and horrifically executed suicidal attacks on democratic societies, on societies around the world, will be needed for Obama to state this simple truth? When will he realize that politically correct appeasement on the grounds of diversity, cultivated within the exclusive confines of Harvard and other academic institutions is counter productive? That it endangers lives, rather than provides the essential security necessary for any state to function.

Terrorist attacks decades ago had clear objectives. A marxist state, for example. ISIL is equally clear: a caliphate whose bloody borders seem to continually expand within the fanatical hate-filled minds of its leaders and followers. A return to a distant past where the only authority is a crazed man. They are hypocrites of course. Their lives have little to do with the world as it existed under the Ottoman Empire centuries ago. But their need for vengeance against a system that requires rationality and personal responsibility, will clutch at any excuse necessary.

Our kingless kingdoms for a liberal with Tony Blair’s clarity. But that type of language that stated the problem with passion and focus in the hours following the attack on 9/11, has been absent from Obama’s administration. It’s like a forbidden zone, where they fear to tread. Just in case they might find themselves agreeing with Senator Graham, or Ted Cruz.

Obama’s response is to label the media as hysterical for its coverage of the events of days past. It makes sense doesn’t it? If one digs – reluctantly – into Freud’s work with the term one finds that hysteria seems to be – for Freud and others – a social disease caused by a poor early childhood environment. Entirely psychological. Rather than a feminine physiological malfunction, a concept which was used as a sickening weapon against women in the early and mid 20th century. Both conceptions of hysteria have done a great deal of damage.

Perfect isn’t it? Just like that screaming student in the quad at Yale, we are all victims of unsafe environments. Why does the media insist that ISIL or ISIS is a grave danger to our free societies? Because we didn’t get enough hugs before kindergarten.

As the brave and dedicated men and women in various security forces in Europe and over here, stay up all night gathering the data, or risk their personal safety, in order to prevent further attacks and track down these crazed terrorists, one does not feel they are too worried about the hugs they got in early childhood.

Mr. President, leave Freud wallowing in the sewers of the unconscious world that he dreamed up. Say it clear. We are at war.

Equivalency is a fetish with the not-so-new left and it’s new adherents or offshoots, like Black Lives Matter. Terrorism, or capitalistic oppression as their forbearers would have said, lives equally at U of Missouri as it does in Paris. At least according to Black Lives Matter.

A symbol of hatred in a dorm washroom is an idiocy and even a danger and one that must be dealt with. It is not, however, equivalent to 139 lives taken by terrorists in a planned attack on the very marrow of Western freedom. And hundreds wounded, and thousands targeted.

Is this a case of Millennials’ propensity for demanding “safe” environments everywhere? It is certainly hysterical to construct such an absurd equivalency. As an American citizen, would an aid worker in Syria for example, who was or had been a BLM member, be afforded any freedoms by IS captors? We are brothers, spare my life! Give me a safe home! Unlikely that such a request be granted by a hooded fanatic full of hatred for the very freedoms that any American, or Westerner, represents to them.

But this is one more detail in long litany of moral relativism. Look at BBC World News. Try to find the word “terrorist” right after the word “attack.” Can’t find it can you? Paris attacks; yes they’ll write that. Is it true that their editorial guidelines prohibit calling an islamic terrorist attack a terrorist attack? The word does appear as: “anti-terrorist,” referring to a police squad for example. A very precise context where it can be permitted apparently.

So they are merely attacks. One side of a two-sided war. Paris deserves it because of the targeted attacks in Syria. We deserve it. We do not have a better form of government, and we are often wrong in the West. We ignorantly blame the lack of tolerance in Muslim societies, betraying our own intolerance.

And Israel, of course, is always to blame aren’t they? If only Israel had never been founded. The Middle East would be stable. This insidious undercurrent bursts into the open often enough, as it did at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. A few short weeks before 9/11.

If human rights are to mean anything, they must be based on agreed principles. The apologetic sloppiness of moral equivalency undermines human rights and the rule of law – law forged in the parliaments of democracies. We don’t even have to accept, though we clearly should, the Christian and Jewish faiths’ central role in providing the philosophical perspectives necessary for the emergence of western democracy. We merely need to start calling islamic terrorism what it is. At the BBC for example.

If the Department of Homeland Security was run by the ACLU, what would it look like? Or more accurately, would it even exist? In an age of radical islamic terrorism, continually morphing into new and ever more violent forms, how do you balance the nation’s security against openness and freedom of movement?

More specifically, how do you show compassion towards Syrian refugees when IS members are almost certainly amongst their huddled masses?

Aside from bringing to bear the best screening possible, and waiting until it’s in place and ready to accept thousands of people, you have to realize this. Many will arrive without documentation, seeing they are fleeing a collapsed state. Who they are. Where they may have been. Who they may have associated with. All of it will be unclear. So, you have to ask whether resettlement in America is the right thing to do. The right thing for America.

If a deadly virus breaks out somewhere abroad, do we rush every possible patient to the best health care centers in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago? Do we encourage the community to help re-settle the possible bearers of a deadly disease in their own communities? Given that the percentage of possible patients who will actually get sick and infect others is very low, why not?

Is it heartless and discriminatory to screen arriving passengers for disease? Of course not. Is it a slippery slope to invoke this type of an analogy, given the history of mid-20th century Europe? Of course it is. But we screen anyway for possible terrorists, as if they were a deadly disease. One of hatred and violence. The comparison is silent, but present.

Are you infected with radical islamic ideology? Are you a potential suicide bomber? Will you attempt to carry out an attack on people going about their daily business? These are the questions in the back of the minds of every member of any security operation – from immigration officials, to spymasters & analysts, to police officers – when they review a case in front of them.

At the very least a pause is in order, rather than raising the ante to 65,000 refugees as Hillary has stated should be done.

The idea of freedom has to be defended by defending those who live free lives, precisely by going about their daily business in places like Manhattan and Dallas. They are the embodiment of freedom. Not the detached floating ideal that must be appeased with bloody sacrifices at its altar of absolute diversity. Holding hands as yet more bombs go off.

As they left the stadium in Paris, knowing that a deadly attack had been unleashed on their city of lights, the French sang La Marseillaise. The very embodiment of virtue and patriotism in the face of the disease of terror and hatred of freedom.

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