Wednesday, September 30th, 2020



It's a sad irony that in the age of Zoom, America lost its mute button. The host unmuted Trump and thus began the tantric tantrum (it just went on and on) that dragged America to a place many thought didn't exist: Lower. Throughout the debate, Trump falsely attacked the key pillar of democracy (with a blizzard of lies about voting) and showed no sign of being willing to leave office if he loses—and these wanton attacks on the democracy didn't even command the next day's headlines. Most of those were reserved for Trump's refusal to criticize white supremacy, and his horrific call to the Proud Boys to "Stand by." It's worth noting that the only time during the entire debate when Trump let Biden finish an answer was when Biden was calling out Trump's racism. Why? Because racism is his brand. The lie-filled, unhinged, racist, conspiracy theory riddled performance by the raging bullshitter demeaned the office and the nation on a night when the only cathartic moment came as Joe Biden channeled sane people across the globe, asking Hannibal Lecture: "Will you shut up, man?" He wouldn't. He didn't. He won't. And the result was yet another American tragedy. Aside from our adversaries and enemies, the night's only real winners were toddlers. It turns out they've been getting a bad rap.

+ "The country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions," Mr. Wallace said, directly asking Mr. Trump to yield a higher civic ideal. "I'm appealing to you, sir, to do it." ... "And him, too?" the president replied defiantly, nodding at Mr. Biden. "Well, frankly, you've been doing more interrupting," Mr. Wallace replied." NYT: Chris Wallace Struggled to Rein In an Unruly Trump at First Debate. (If we learned anything, it's that Kindergarten teachers should be paid more than debate moderators. Seriously, the next debate should be moderated by Barney.)

+ "What does the worst debate in American history look like? It looks like the debate that took place on Tuesday night between President Donald Trump and the former Vice-President Joe Biden. It was a joke, a mess, a disaster. A 'shit show,' a 'dumpster fire,' a national humiliation. No matter how bad you thought the debate would be, it was worse. Way worse. Trump shouted, he bullied, he hectored, he lied, and he interrupted, over and over again." Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker: Notes from the Worst Debate in American History. (Luckily, I was playing my debate drinking game. Rules: If Trump is still president, drink.)

+ Trump told the Proud Boys to 'stand back and stand by' after being asked to condemn white supremacists. GOP Senator Tim Scott on Trump's refusal to denounce white supremacy and call out to the Proud Boys: "I think he misspoke in response to Chris Wallace's comment. He was asking Chris what he wanted to say. I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn't correct it, I guess he didn't misspeak." (He's been misspeaking the same thing for years. How much more pathetic can this get?)

+ "To say Proud Boys are energized by this is an understatement. They were pro-Trump before this shoutout, and they are absolutely over the moon now. Their fantasy is to fight antifa in his defense, and he apparently just asked them to do just that." Proud Boys celebrate after Trump's debate callout.

+ Trump claims in debate ‘Portland Sheriff' gave him endorsement; Reese quickly responds: I ‘will never support him'.

+ Biden Raised Record-Setting $3.8 Million in One Hour During Presidential Debate (I really hope my wife doesn't look at our credit card bill and think ActBlue is a p-rn site.)


Sole Crusher

One of things we learned last night is that the media still hasn't adjusted to the Trump era. The immediate headlines continued a never-ending streak of false equivalence and both sides-ism. One guy lies constantly. One guy is a bully. One guy has dragged America's reputation into a bottomless pit. One guy turned last night's debate into a debacle. And yet, just after the conclusion of the broadcast, these were some of the headlines I screen captured, all of which give the impression that both participants were equally responsible for the disaster. NYT: Sharp Personal Attacks and Name Calling in Chaotic First Debate. WaPo: Personal Attacks, Sharp Exchanges Mark Turbulent First Debate. CNN: Pure Chaos at First Debate. AP: Debate Anger: Biden Tells Interrupting Trump, "Shut Up, Man." Boston Globe: First Debate Between Trump, Biden Marked By Chaos, Rancor as Candidates Made it Personal. LA Times: Trump and Biden Trade Bitter Personal Attacks in First Debate. Bloomberg: Trump-Biden Debate Descends into Bickering and Chaos. Time: Shouting Over Each Other. Yeah, it was just a couple of guys who were both losing their cool, and there are some very fine debaters on both sides. Give me a break. The debate did not "descend" into bickering and chaos. It was dragged there by the same monster who has dragged America to this maddeningly dangerous precipice. By morning, many of these headlines had been updated to more accurately depict what we all saw and heard. But the knee-jerk response was towards the false equivalence that has propped up Trump for years.


Sliced Bread

The pandemic exposed America's inequality. And then it made it worse. "About half of the employment lost between February and April has been recovered. But the pain is not spread evenly." WaPo: The covid-19 recession is the most unequal in modern U.S. history. Some Americans were baking bread. Others were standing in line for it.

+ ProPublica: The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning.

+ "Draw a map of Chicago and shade the areas with more poverty, pollution and coronavirus. It will start to look like being Black is a pre-existing condition." CityLab: Mapping the Disparities That Bred an Unequal Pandemic.


Palm Reader

"Amazon accounts for nearly 40 percent of e-commerce sales in the US today, and it takes a cut of even more online shopping by selling payments services and other technologies to external shopping sites. Now, the online retail giant is making a play to grab a piece of brick-and-mortar shopping, too — and it wants customers to literally lend a hand to do it." Amazon will now let you pay with your palm in its stores. And, it hopes, at other retailers' stores in the future. (At least it won't cost you an arm and a leg.)


Sharks Tank

"In short, shark liver oil helps make vaccines stronger. And that, of course, is bad news for sharks—particularly at a time when every major country in the world is scrambling to develop and produce a coronavirus vaccine on a global scale." Half a Million Sharks Could Be Killed to Make a Global COVID Vaccine.


Ice Capades

"Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, probably will travel to at least one of the jurisdictions where the operation will take place to boost President Trump's claims that leaders in those cities have failed to protect residents from dangerous criminals, two officials said." WaPo: ICE preparing targeted arrests in ‘sanctuary cities,' amplifying president's campaign theme. (Desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, the desperation is being driven by the president's poll numbers. Expect measures to get more desperate up to, and beyond, election day.)


High Above the Unswept Forest

NYT Magazine: Up, Up and Away From It All: A climb in the Tetons with Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, Savannah Cummins and Manoah Ainuu. "It is an oddity of human nature, though, discoverable only through experience, that a happy, vibrant aliveness comes from what Chin calls 'feeling the bite' — titrated danger, discomfort — and Anker, 'the anvil,' that hard surface against which nature hammers us into a more resilient relationship to our own tenderness." (I don't suppose one can get this from strolling on a treadmill with Real Housewives on in the background...)


Two Crows Walk Into a Bar

STAT: Brainiacs, not birdbrains: Crows possess higher intelligence long thought a primarily human attribute. "Research unveiled on Thursday in Science finds that crows know what they know and can ponder the content of their own minds, a manifestation of higher intelligence and analytical thought long believed the sole province of humans and a few other higher mammals." (If animals know this, then they know what assholes humans are...)


It’s Not a Chinstrap

"The strongly worded memo, sent to coaches, general managers and team executives by NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent, includes a passage in which the NFL says it will 'address lack of compliance with accountability measures that may include ... suspensions and/or forfeiture of draft picks.'" This is how much threatening is needed to get NFL coaches to set a halfway decent example and wear a damn mask.

+ Steelers, Titans game postponed after positive tests.


Bottom of the News

"There's an empty warehouse 20 miles south of Seattle that, if everything goes as planned, will soon be full of dead people. The facility belongs to Recompose, the first U.S. company to compost human bodies indoors, through a process known officially as natural organic reduction ... It's designed to hold the bodies of up to 10 recently deceased people at a time, each of them quietly decomposing into a loamy, nutritious soil, just as their previous owners wanted." The Newly Legal Process for Turning Human Corpses to Soil. (Put the debate on in the background. The process will go a lot faster.)

+ "A schoolteacher whose body, face and tongue are covered in tattoos and who has had the whites of his eyes surgically turned black said he was prevented from teaching at a French kindergarten after a parent complained he scared their child."

+ Sometimes, we need to appreciate the really big things in life — like the fact that even in 2020, Fat Bear Week has arrived right on schedule.

+ I just got my new NextDraft Let There Be Light t-shirt. It is amazing. Many people are saying it's the best shirt of all time.