There were three key speeches in the past 10 hours. First Trump’s speech was honestly and graciously inclusive in a way that surprised many. There was no gloating, and only some celebration, mostly in recognizing the movement he has led, and those who worked hard to help his astonishing victory take place. Including a big shout out to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman who has had a very interesting and supremely tough year as head of a party that is still facing deep divisions. And it was considerate and respectful of Hillary Clinton as a major political figure, paying tribute to her service to America.

This is astonishing if you think back only a few days ago, or a few weeks ago. But it did not seem false, it felt genuine and displayed an honest generosity. Trump knows full well he’s been in a bare knuckle brawl with his opponent. She ran a very negative campaign that focused on Trump’s past transgressions, while Trump essentially painted her as a corrupt icon of the status quo. How could he mean it, when he praised her service to the country? Because he understands the importance of a peaceful transition. Whether he would have been as gracious had he lost, is now irrelevant.

This Wednesday morning, Clinton then gave her speech, and revealed both emotion and toughness. It was perhaps her best speech of the campaign, which is a tragic irony all of itself. Suddenly, in that speech, Clinton seemed more trustworthy than she has this whole election cycle. As to what her future will be, that will play out in the months ahead. But she nor Bill are now no longer among the leadership of the Democratic Party.

That is Obama’s role, precisely the man who has presided over the electoral destruction of his own party. A very long way from the control of both houses of Congress and the White House, that they obtained in 2008. Obama’s speech came a short while after Clinton’s. It was professorial and affable. The rejection of his agenda that this loss implies was buried under carefully inclusive language. His defining of what America is about – especially through it’s unbroken peaceful transition of power – seemed a way to try and rescue what he now fears may be lost. It seemed more a lecture than a speech, even as it played the notes of unity and purpose at the root of American Democracy. Obama’s legacy will have plenty of time to be judged. This was perhaps a moment for a more focused set of words.

Markets discount what’s to come. People put their mouths, or fingers to the keyboard, in support of where their money is. And there is nothing like the threat of losing money – or making money, although the fear of losing money is apparently more powerful as a motivator for us frail human beings – to focus the mind, and force a decision. Given the information you have available.

The S&P has been down for about 3 months now. And there has been a 9-day consecutive losing streak for the index as of Friday November 3rd. That means a lack of optimism on the economy. And even the possibility of a recession. But it is also a clear indication of nervousness on Wall Street over a the very real possibility of a Trump victory.

Why? You would think Wall Street would welcome Trump’s promised tax reforms – lowering corporate and income tax rates – as well as his promise to cut regulations and support conventional energy production. It seems, however, that the compliance daemons who work and plan their corporations routes through the mazes of regulations and taxes are not happy. Could it be that big finance fears reform? Yes, fear of uncertainty is the standard answer for the political element to the market swoon, and there is something to that. But Trump has been for more granular on his economic policy proposals than he has on his foreign policy proposals, for example. Why such fear of his presidency? Especially when economically, most of his policies are business friendly.

Oh yes. Trade. And perhaps a drying up of international flows of capital as a result of showdowns with China or even Europe over trade rules. To say nothing of NAFTA. Trump threatens to re-write the rules on trade, and just the threat of that – regardless of how much he could do, or would even want to do, as Chief Executive – is also enough to worry markets.

And is it also that Wall Street – as in the movers and shakers who live and work in NYC and surrounding areas – know and dislike Trump? Is it also personal on a scale we haven’t seen before – especially for a pro-business GOP candidate? That seems a little petty perhaps. They are all about the money, after all. But what is undeniable is that Hillary has courted Wall Street shamelessly. As a candidate, and previously as a Senator. And through her and Bill’s web of charitable companies, as a Secretary of State. The compliance class, whether at an investment bank or at the EPA, consider Hillary their ally and friend.

All this may have something to do with the swooning markets. But in the end, markets are about the money and the economy. And it seems that the markets have had enough of Obama’s slow-growth, high-tax, big-regulation economy. Markets are predicting a significant downturn in the economy. And something over 85% of the time that that has happened, the incumbent party has lost the general election.

So maybe markets are indeed nervous about a Trump presidency. But they’re also sick and tired of Obama. And Hillary is essentially a promise to double down on Obama’s high-tax, big-regulation economy. Markets have had enough. Have voters?

America has had a baby boomer in the White House since January 1993, when Bill Clinton was sworn in. And now America is about to get another baby boomer – whether Hillary or Trump – when the swearing in takes place next inauguration day, Friday, January 20, 2017. Unless an Electoral College tie forces a House vote with a surprise choice, one that makes it past any legal challenges. Before a 4-4 Supreme Court.

As aging boomers are wont to do, their focus has been mostly about preserving the status quo in Hillary’s case, or returning to an America the very same boomers grew up in in Trump’s case. One that afforded them unimagined opportunities, or at the very least, a reasonably stable work environment. Even for high school graduates.

In a recent article, Michael Brendan Dougherty claims very convincingly that America has given up on the future. It seems a strange thing to say in a world of technological disruption and global trade deals, but there is something very real and unsettling in what he postulates. For example:

Our politics have ceded the future to the markets and Silicon Valley. The question of social organization, presumably, has been mostly solved by the wonks … The global elite is converging on economic integration, low trade barriers, universal benefits, light regulation, and the cultivation of a global class of politicians and plutocrats who socialize and groom each other and their children for continued benevolent rule.

In other words, the shenanigans at the Clinton group of charities is business as usual for them and they only regret that hacked emails and stubborn FBI investigators – and idiotic separated-husband-failed-mayoral-candidate-schlemiels as well – are to blame for these minor ethical matters coming to the public’s attention.

And while Dougherty’s attacks on Trump are understandable – he’s appealing to a time we can’t get back – there is something Dougherty does not say about Trump which nonetheless flows directly from the quote above.

Although Trump does come from the economic elites, he does not fit easily or well with the typical model of a Davos Man or Woman. And he is the one candidate willing to take the elites on, precisely because he understands them. And they him of course. Bloomberg’s attack on Trump at the Democratic convention last summer was exactly the response you’d expect from someone angry that a candidate is not in line with the established global order. And they have piled on to Trump, helped mightily by Trump’s joyful disregard of politically correct discourse. So Trump can claim outsider status and postulate himself as the agent of change.

At least, that is Trump’s great promise to his supporters. It’s what Gingrich praised in him in his final and defiantly ringing endorsement of Trump in the media late this week. Never mind that Trump’s children fit perfectly in Dougherty’s quote about the wealthy grooming their children for power – it’s no surprise that is the one thing Hillary, when forced to do so in the debates, praised in Trump: his children. Trump himself is seen by his supporters as the last possible agent of change.

That is likely wrong. But if Trump actually wins, we are about to find out how much change he is willing to enact. And how much he is able to enact with America’s separation of powers inevitably presenting his ambitions with the limits placed there precisely to deal with ambition and power seeking. Whether by Obama, or Trump, or Hillary. But the great difference is that Hillary has most of D.C. lined up ready to do business with her. Trump does not. At least not yet.

It’s not just that Alicia Machado – the Venezuelan ex-beauty queen with a suspicious and possibly violent past – was dragged out on stage, again, as a warm up act for Hillary’s full frontal assault on Trump’s machismo. No, the media also dutifully repeat the highlights of Machado’s speech, just to make sure the voting public is fully informed of the issues. The grim full court press, by the press, enters the last half of the fourth quarter, with all of society’s estates seemingly lined up to make sure that the unthinkable – a Trump victory – remains just that.

Every group that Trump may have offended in the last year, or much further back in the case of some of the women who have spoken out in the last several weeks, will have their wounds salted and their anger built up to a boil by a hard series of negative ads running in the media in these final days. Unless of course, they’ve already voted. Or are a little tired of these exhausting primaries and general election. And don’t vote in the numbers needed to ensure Hillary gets the victory that her greedy grasp of identity politics demands she should get.

And Nate Silver – no fan of Trump’s – has a post out today (Wednesday) that basically tells Trump supporters that Hillary still has 70% odds to win. Unless polls tighten further, in which case bets are off. But Nate Silver’s message seems to be: calm down all you Trumpkins, you’re almost certainly going to lose, and you’re engaging in cognitive dissonance, along with anyone in the press foolish enough to speculate on a Trump victory.

Maybe. But if enough further tightening happens, then a reasonable margin of error could hand Trump a victory. Will there then be a tough self-examination by the press? A hard honest look at their own cognitive dissonance? Or misguided polling methodologies?

Not likely. For several reasons. One, the world will of course soon end if Trump is elected, so they will have to write doomsday headlines before Western Civilization makes like dinosaurs. And in case the world doesn’t end as a result of an unexpected Trump victory, there will be a GOP civil war to cover. Something the press is already salivating over.

There has never been – at least in recent modern history – such a coordinated, and shared bias in the media against a presidential candidate. They surely feel they are right to feel this way, from the right to the left wings of the media. And they have no shame in doing their best to sink Trump. Plus the fear of being on a Hillary spread sheet of periodistas-non-grata is an awesome motivator. Like in some of America’s Latin American neighbors. So what’s a little bias when your future as a Hillary White House hack is in question?

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.

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.

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!!

Panic in the campaign headquarters. Pressure on the candidate. Mainstream Media sounding the alarms. Yes, Hillary’s campaign has plenty to ponder according to the pundits. Is this the media finally turning a more critical eye on the Democratic nominee?

Not really.

It’s more like an outsourcing of a portion of her campaign strategy and tactics to those in the media who – having decided that the debates are history with Hillary the winner in all 3, ignoring the tiny detail that there are 2 debates still to come – now are helping her shore up any targeted vulnerabilities in her voter base. Call it tough love.

Florida still is key. And like in 2000, there are a couple of problems in Florida for Hillary. She has to solve them to ensure she gets those 29 juicy electoral votes. Black voters are only 85% in her camp. A shameful shortcoming which has to be tackled head on. So her representatives and supporters in the Sunshine State – like Leslie Wimes and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert – are busy revealing to Politico just how bad things are and how much work has to be done. Here’s a couple of lines from the article:

… she’s polling less than 85 percent among African-American voters in Florida, while Trump polls around 5 percent.
It’s not just Clinton’s margins with black voters that concerns Democrats.

Panic because Hillary’s not at Obama’s 95% mark with black voters in Florida. And then there’s the other problem. Like in 2000 and 1992, we have a third party candidate. We, in fact, have 2 third party candidates who are drawing away millennials from Hillary while barely impacting Trump’s numbers. So to ensure that the Johnson/Weld ticket doesn’t Nader (that’s a verb) Hillary’s election, The Hill helpfully has the most evil photograph of the silliest man in politics who is nothing if not affable and quirky. And the article helpfully lists the policy reasons why millennials will be forever guilty if they vote for Johnson or Stein. Maybe sent to a special place in Hell?

We are in the final weeks, approaching the final 40 days, and the echo chamber is dialed up to 11 to do it’s patriotic duty: ensure that voters are informed of the issues – the ones that make them vote for Hillary. They successfully badgered and browbeat Lester Holt to ensure there was no repeat of Matt Lauer’s performance. And now they have turned their sound system straight at the voters. Those targeted voters who will make the difference in Hillary’s quest for 270 plus electoral votes. They are spinning up a storm as they toss out energy drinks to a reluctant and suspicious crowd of young voters. Slamming the needle, pumping up the volume.

There has rarely if ever been a media storm so one sided in electoral history. And yes, there are more than a few pundits – both conservative as well as liberal – who feel Trump deserves the volume. But they are setting a dangerous precedent.

As the left, from Vox to Politico and from CNN to MSNBC, delight at what they see as Trump’s poor first debate performance, here’s an idea that Donald Trump could use to boost his next performance. Show that the presidency of the United States of America matters more to you than your brand.

Because that’s a problem. Not that it is only Donald Trump that has corporate interests that could conflict with his role as the next president of America. The Clinton Foundation mixes money and politics in a shamelessly seamless way. There is nothing shamed or seamed about Bill and Hillary Clinton. But it’s all beltway stuff with the Clintons. Some of it was paid for directly by the U.S. taxpayer, when Hillary received her salary as Senator and then Secretary of State, for example. Some of it was paid by book sales. Much of it was paid for by speaking fees, especially Bill Clinton, but Hillary as well. All of it was directly related to politics. Building their wealth by leveraging their political power in all sorts of ways as they rose through the state and federal political structure of America was the Clinton’s daily bread.

Trump, on the other hand, has been a developer-turned-media-marketing-mogul. He built his brand the old-fashioned way, through bankruptcy and real estate bubbles and busts. And he survived and prospered – exactly by how much he prospered remains to be seen of course. And through it all, the one constant was building and rebuilding his brand.

When he decided to enter politics, Trump had a choice. He could finance and support an existing politician whose views and policies he found engaging. Or he could enter himself. He did and despite the amused predictions of a colorful collapse, he survived. And he did more than survive. He won. He is now 2 debates and a slender few (at this point) percentage points from winning the White House.

Did he really think he’d get this far? It has been suggested that he did not. But the energy and gusto with which he has taken on one challenge after another – whatever antipathy his methods have provoked in both parties – suggests he was in it to win from the start. And whether he really thought he could win it all in the June of 2015 has long been a moot point. Because he really could win it all now.

To do that he needs to let go of his brand. Not his past. His brand. Yes, he needs to effectively point out how he understands job creation from the inside of a business. And not from a policy brief in an office in the White House or on the Hill. But he can never let Hillary bait him so easily by disparaging his brand and questioning how he built it. He has to work past that, if he can.

Is he narcissistic? Pretty clearly, yes he can be. Perhaps he needs to be just a touch more of a sociopath. Able to disconnect and reconnect with whatever emotion is handy at any given moment. And do it on a dime, like Bill Clinton noticing the video camera at Ron Brown’s funeral, and switching from a chuckle to shedding tears at the drop of a hat. Now that’s impressive.

But more than anything, if Trump can keep his brand at an emotional arms length, he might find it easier to avoid the traps that Hillary’s team meticulously laid for him at the Hofstra debate.

The details are different between what happened in Charlotte and Tulsa, and the reaction has been more violent in Charlotte, but certainly angry in Tulsa. And Tulsa is where Trump has decided to stake out a position, by questioning police actions in the shooting of a black man in a strange confrontation involving an abandoned vehicle in the middle of the road.

If it was Hillary doing this, it would be par for the course. But Trump has suddenly turned on a dime from supporting police forces, after having earned the endorsement of the National Fraternal Order of Police fairly recently, and having been seen as a strong supporter of police officers across the country.

Is it a one-off comment in a church in Cleveland for the benefit of his African American audience? And will it work? And how will police officers associations react?

We’ll see is the best answer that can be given right now. In Tulsa there is clear footage from a helicopter of most of the event. But even then, police officials and supporters and friends and family of Terrence Crutcher have opposing interpretations of the facts. He had his hands up. True. But Officer Shelby states he was refusing her orders to kneel down on the pavement. He lowered his right arm and appears to be reaching into the car. For a gun? No gun was found and the car window was up, apparently. Was Crutcher high on PCP? The narcotic was found in his car, but no results for tests on Crutcher have been released or perhaps even done. Should that have changed Officer Shelby’s attitude?

Crutcher’s family paint the portrait of a decent father who was attending community college. Police seem to have seen a dangerous “bad dude” who happened to be large, and black. And acting strangely, perhaps high on PCP. Does that, however, justify pulling the trigger? Or would Officer Shelby have done better to hold back a few yards and let her colleagues taser the man. Which is exactly what one of the officers was doing at almost the exact moment when she decided to pull the trigger.

And into these turbulent waters Trump has decided to wade. Is he ready to defend his actions? Because Hillary will jump all over his comments on the Tulsa shooting, in order to score points with her audience. And Hillary’s audience would love Trump to be accused of pandering to African Americans for the sake of a town hall in a black church.

One suspects that groups like the Fraternal Order of Police will limit their reactions until more information is available in both cases. And will give Trump a waiver, while expressing their support for the men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis. Trump could have waited perhaps. And he will certainly claim his comments were taken out of context, and that he was merely expressing concern at what he saw in the footage. And that he will wait for more information to come out before making a judgement.

At the same time, in his Hannity Town Hall, Trump praised the results obtained by NYC’s stop-and-frisk program, as a way to reduce black on black violence. And the tweeted calls for unity in Charlotte and Tulsa. One suspects that Hillary’s debate support staff are taking detailed notes.

It didn’t take long. But we’ll see if it has legs and can last. The Hillary camp – and it’s a really big tent, folks all the way from State AG’s offices to mainstream media outlets like Newsweek – hit back quickly to try and divert some of the lousy press HRC has been getting over the last week. Especially this last weekend.

Never mind that even her own supporters are asking for Hillary to be a little less Nixonian in her attitudes towards transparency. The Trump Empire is an evil one and a widespread one. And one that will cause irreparable damage to America’s foreign policy should Donald J. Trump actually be elected president. And they will kindly share this vital information with the public. As many times as necessary.

In a hit piece in Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald carefully details possible conflicts of interest that might arise from Trump’s numerous business connections around the world. From Korea to India to Russia, and especially the Middle East, Trump’s relationships with local developers – who put the buildings up and then pay Trump to slap his name on them – could cause conflicts of interest between American foreign policy and Trump’s own economic interests.Even if the details seem a little stretched at times. And whether certain developers really did break the rules, or merely fell out of favor with the ruling party is an open question.

Trump, and his family, must divest all – they practically shout – after first submitting to an inquiry.

Never mind bothering with the Clinton Foundation, which is all about charity and not paying to play, as Eichenwald reassures his readers. It’s Trump’s relationship with (currently out of favor) developers in key ally Turkey that should cause panic. Or in India. And the Gulf States as well. It certainly is valid to seek out information on Trump’s business interests. And the fact that he hasn’t released, and may not release, his tax returns is something that journalists of all persuasions should and do focus on. But the timing of Eichenwald’s piece is a little suspicious.

Coming on practically the same day that New York AG Schneiderman announced his office is opening an inquiry into the Donald J. Trump foundation, it feels like a well-marshalled counter attack against Trump’s campaign to try and do something to stop the momentum that is steadily shifting to Trump’s side. Mainstream media has practically sworn to do their best to prevent a Trump presidency, and this certainly is proof of that.

Will the inquiry reveal scandalous pay-for-play at Trump’s charity? Trump’s organization donated $25,000 to a political group associated with Florida AG Pam Bondi. And that may have caused her not to open an investigation into Trump University. At least, that’s the accusation. For not disclosing the donation, Trump was fined $2,500, and he also took back the donation. Is this a scandal? Schneiderman will do his best to make sure it becomes one. Time will tell, but the New York AG is not beyond shrill activism, as a few oil company executives will testify to.

I know, let’s get CNN’s Anderson Cooper to interview Pam Bondi.

It seems clear that Trump’s business activities will be the target of people like Schneiderman and Eichenwald. One can imagine Hillary’s aides pouring through briefs on Trump’s international connections in preparation for the first debate. Does she really want to go that route?

Thank you alert Twitter user for your footage of Hillary Clinton having a rough few moments as she was being bundled into her vehicle by the strong arms of her security personnel. Nice that you happened to have a tripod or very steady hands, whoever you were.

What if that footage had not happened and not gone viral? If Hillary had made it smiling and waving quickly, before climbing into the vehicle and had then collapsed inside? Would we have had disclosure later Sunday on the bare facts of her pneumonia? Or would there have been a discrete silence, followed by an announcement that Bill Clinton would be filling in for her out west in California this week? Followed by speculation about her health. Followed by angry denouncements by her campaign team and her supporters that Trump’s followers and the media had it in for her. Because she happens to be a woman.

David Axelrod – who is as responsible as anyone for Obama’s successful election campaigns – expressed concern over Hillary Clinton’s zealous need for privacy, and the “unnecessary problems” that creates. That’s a diplomatic way of summing up Hillary’s biggest vulnerability. People don’t trust her, because they can never believe she’s quite being straight with them. This latest stumble has that lack of trust metastasizing into concerns even on the part of her own party that suddenly she may not be up to the job. In the most basic physical meaning.

Yes, FDR’s handlers hid his polio and their candidate became a defining figure in American politics. Yes, Kennedy’s handlers hid his Addison’s disease and more than a few shady dealings. But these are unsustainable options in 21st century politics. All it takes is one Twitter feed, to blow the lid off a hermetically sealed campaign strategy.

So now we have good old Bill Clinton on the way to California apparently to fill in. And nasty talk of Joe Biden being considered as a sudden back-up for Hillary should the unthinkable happen, and she be unable to continue in her quest for the presidency. The kind of talk that made Howard Dean furious at that vast right wing media outlet, National Public Radio.

In light of this nervous chatter, perhaps Joe Biden offering her his advice to take 6 days off for every 3 days off her doctors recommend is a little unseemly. Even if Biden is more than ready to look forward to his well-earned retirement as he works the hustings one last time for Hillary. Yes, apparently Article 2, Section 7, of the DNC bylaws does give the DNC authority to fill vacancies in the nominees for president and vice president. Donna Brazile, interim chair, suddenly has a possible added task she never thought she’d have. Right?

No, Hillary will likely not drop out. Yes, illness is part of many past candidates and office holders. Especially given that most are in their 50’s or older. But once again, the need to carefully control an official story has led to more questions than Hillary’s campaign would like. Will this story really be a problem several weeks from now? It certainly could. It depends on whether Hillary bombs in the debates. Will she then blame Trump’s “deplorables”? Or blame her comments regarding half of Trump’s supporters on dehydration?

In the new Suffolk University poll, Trump has edged past Hillary Clinton by a slender margin in North Carolina, but well within the margin of error. Ahead none the less. The unfavorables for both candidates are high, higher than their favorables, and as a sort of extension of that, the undecideds are statistically significant. Especially seeing we’re in the post-Labor Day stretch.

11% were either unsure of who to vote for for president, or unwilling to say who would be their choice. And in the senate race between GOP incumbent Burr and Democrat challenger Deborah Ross, the don’t-know-won’t-say crowd is double the percentages in the presidential race. 22% either don’t know who they’ll vote for, or won’t say who they’ll vote for when it comes to the senate race.

Now, the importance of this election has been broadcast continually for about a year, with even louder cries of how much hangs in the balance since Trump won the nomination of the Republican Party. The Supreme Court. The battle with ISIS and how to keep the nation secure. But especially how to bring back strong economic growth and somehow combat a growing feeling of economic stagnation and lost opportunity that’s backed up by the slow growth numbers and the 6 or 7 million silent army of unemployed middle aged men.

These indeed are key issues and who gets elected president on November 8 matters. As does who holds the Senate.

So are these fairly sizable number of undecideds a case of just now tuning in to the electoral campaigns? Or is it voters showing their clear hesitancy to embrace either candidate? Or voters keeping their choices to themselves in what is as partisan and hostile an electoral environment as America has seen for some time?

Whether North Carolina is indeed a tipping point state, or swing state, or not, every poll from here on in will help clarify the race in ways earlier polls cannot. The Tar Heel State’s 15 electoral college votes are not quite Ohio’s 18 or Pennsylvania’s 20, but it is a significant enough amount. No, it’s not Florida with its 29 electoral votes with the sunshine state’s tight race once again looming large. But maybe it’s a sign that Trump’s tightening the gap is a gaining trend. And if that’s the case, expect Hillary’s campaign to ramp up the attacks to an even nastier level with Trump counter punching as hard as he can. As in the Commander-in-Chief forum moderated/hosted by Matt Lauer, where they each tried to paint the other as unfit to lead the nation’s armed forces. And continued doing so the next day.

Yes, the demographics in Florida are very different from those in North Carolina. Florida being just the kind of place that home boy Rubio should have swept in the primaries. Which means nothing can be taken for granted, except maybe that California will stay deeply blue. So as five thirty eight’s Nate Sliver wrote a few days ago, look at how the polls are in a couple of weeks on the eve of the first debate. If Trump is still ahead in places like North Carolina that means he’s fought off a Democratic challenge in what should have been a safe state for him. Whether that means he’s then got a shot in Florida will depend on if he can keep his focus. And on how bad a debater Hillary really is.

And if the undecideds are still a significant percentage of likely voters on September 25, then 2016 will start shaping up as the defining election that no one wanted to vote in. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

With her campaign plane behind her, Hillary berated the assembled press for their unfair treatment of her, the first female president of the United States. In waiting. Unless the polls keep tightening. In which case, it’s not just Hannity’s fault. It’s the entire mainstream media’s fault.

15 minutes and 6 questions. That’s very efficient, isn’t it? 2 and 1/2 minutes per question on average and you’re back in the air and on to the next stop. And it makes sense to keep the misguided press to questions limited to things like how does it feel to be treated differently because you’re a woman – rather than a single question on the FBI’s latest report on her email scandal – because the real action is elsewhere. As in the vast progressive echo chamber that has been flogging the mainstream media even if it really kinda resembles mainstream media itself. And certainly feeds mainstream media with the Hillary-Correct narrative. Never to be confused with the evil Hillary-Crooked narrative.

Yes Twitter is where the warning shots are being fired. Where the true dem-blue narrative is being nudged into place. Like an Elon Musk rocketship steaming away on it’s launching pad. Nick Merril and Jon Favreau sent out sharp little twit-jabs against reporters who dared talk about Hillary’s health, for example. The WaPo’s Chris Cillizza sneered at those who waste their time on issues like Hillary’s health. And deftly explained why it was valid to worry about McCain’s health, but it is biased and ridiculous to do the same when it’s Hillary Clinton. And Jim Manley helped place all that silly anti-Hillary talk in its proper context: alt-right fringe ranting. Yes, ask a polite question about Hillary Clinton’s health and you will be outed as a white supremacist.

What more do you expect in terms of tactics from the progressively righteous left when they set their sights on controlling a narrative that displeases them? It’s in their DNA to shout down, or attempt to shame, any fact, opinion, or other item of speech that offends them. Or gets in the way of their official narrative of Hillary as the best-prepared candidate for the presidency. Ever. So please stick to the approved script or they will do their best to shut you up. We have all been warned.

Now that Myra Adams, writing in the Washington Examiner, has let the world know that Trump TV is not just a rumor but a very real option, a new post-Labor Day question must be asked. What if Trump wins?

If Adams is right and the CEO and COO of this yet-to-be media empire is in fact Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, then maybe Trump TV has both outcomes covered. If Trump loses – especially if it’s a very tight result – then he will assume the chairman’s role at Trump TV and become it’s spiritual leader and branding image. With the rebellion against the establishment still burning in the aftermath of a Hillary victory, what better environment to launch a media network that aims to capture a significant segment of conservative and/or populist voters?

If Trump wins the presidency, then it gets really interesting. If this planned media group is indeed to be mostly internet focused, with advice, but not day to day involvement, from Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, (who left his chairman post at the media group to help run Trump’s campaign), then Jared Kushner will have to build an internet based media group which appeals to Trump’s angry supporters. Who will now have their man in the White House. And theoretically be a little less angry.

Ah, but the separation of powers ensures plenty of anger at every legislative roadblock that President Trump would meet for his ambitious agenda. So Jared could be head of a partisan news and opinion outlet that would help out his father-in-law get his proposals into workable laws. Or he could cheerlead Trump’s suddenly pragmatic coalition building once he’s in the Oval Office, the new president confounding everyone except Rudy Giuliani, Eric, Donald Jr., and Hannity.

Or. Jared could build on his present media holdings, Observer Media, and turn it into an even bigger power player. What would his new and jacked Observer look like? Well, there’s one respected law professor and conservative commentator who might be interested in working with Jared. Greta Van Susteren. And Kushner’s New Observer Media Empire might not turn out to be as pro-Trump as everyone expects it to be. The son-in-law was running his own family’s business well before he hooked up with Ivanka.

There is another possibility. A Third Way if you will. Trump wins. Trump TV goes into production with Trump as a weekly guest. Or the president could appear even more frequently perhaps. Imagine President Trump being as available for interviews as he was back a few months ago. On Trump TV.

Wait a minute. Come on. Jared Kushner would have to rename the media group, if Trump wins in November.

Wouldn’t he?