1

Don Trumped the Shark

It's rare that I get to report good news these days, but here's some: The 2020 presidential debates are officially over. As a bonus, the final and more calm presidential debate provided a valuable teachable moment for would-be narcissistic authoritarians: The less time you spend interrupting, the more time you have for lying. And from Covid-19 to the fever dreams about Hunter Biden's laptop, there were plenty of those, and plenty of rerun content. The virus is not my fault, the stimulus failures are Pelosi's fault, I'm the least racist person in the room, I've done more for Black people than any president since Abraham Lincoln (and you thought it was weird when Matthew McConaughey talks about Lincoln), the lack of empathy for kids separated from parents (and the gutless lack of ownership of that policy which is celebrated behind closed doors), the tax returns that are still on the way, the health plan that is right around the corner ... all of it excerpted from the same, tired playbook of distractions, which prove less effective when people are jobless and watching loved ones die from a virus. The New Yorker's Susan Glasser: Trump at the Debate Was Like America in 2020: Not Winning. "Everything is a repeat of 2016, when he pulled off the impossible and beat Clinton. Everything. Hence the last-minute announcement of Trump's guest for the evening debate: Tony Bobulinski, Hunter Biden's estranged former business partner, who has accused the younger Biden son of dirty dealings abroad, in a wannabe scandal that Trump & Co. are determined to elevate to a last-minute campaign issue, no matter the facts or lack thereof." Maybe, as we wind down four endless and psychically brutal years of this craziness, the thing that was most notable about the debate was that is was boring. How great does four years of boring sound right about now?

+ The debate wasn't high stake because the cake has been baked. More than 51 million people have already voted early in 2020, surpassing 2016's overall early vote total.

2

Peak Ah Boo

"This third surge is far more geographically dispersed than what the country saw in the spring or summer: The virus can now be found in every kind of American community, from tiny farm towns to affluent suburbs to bustling border cities. This is the first of the American surges with no clear epicenter: From North Carolina to North Dakota, and Colorado to Connecticut, more Americans are contracting COVID-19." The Atlantic: The Coronavirus Surge That Will Define the Next 4 Years.

+ U.S. Hospitalizations Are Up 40 Percent in Last Month as Cases Near Peak.

+ Wearing masks could save more than 100,000 US lives through February, new study suggests. New study, old study, every study ... just wear a friggin mask.

3

Weekend Whats

What to Bruce: Bruce is out with his new album and it's the most Bruce thing he's put out in years. So Bruce already.

+ What to Hear: It was a loud night around my house last night. Not only did I have a new Springsteen album, I also got the latest album from the NextDraft-approved, Nothing But Thieves, one of the most underrated bands around, led by the virtuosic vocals of Conor Mason. And the album has a name for 2020: Moral Panic.

+ What to Borat: Borat.

4

The Khartoum Channel

"Trump announced Friday that Sudan will start to normalize ties with Israel, making it the third Arab state to do so as part of U.S.-brokered deals in the run-up to Election Day. The deal ... follows Trump's conditional agreement this week to remove the North African nation from the list of state sponsors of terrorism if it pays compensation to American victims of terror attacks. It also delivers a foreign policy achievement for Trump just days before the U.S. election and boosts his embattled ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Recently, the United States brokered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain."

+ Trump, as the cameras rolled and world looked on: "Do you think Sleepy Joe could've made this deal, Bibi? Sleepy Joe?" Bibi didn't take the bait. He can read polls too.

5

This Didn’t Wage Well

"Americans have endured economic crises before but none quite like this one. To capture the depths of the suffering, The New York Times teamed up with local news organizations across the country earlier in the year to document the lives of a dozen Americans who found themselves out of work. For months, we followed them as they dialed unemployment hotlines, applied to hundreds of jobs and counted every dollar in their bank accounts for rent and food. All of it while trying to survive a pandemic." While half of America was learning to bake bread, the other half was contemplating bread lines. A joint project between the NYT and local news outlets. Out of Work in America.

+ The most searched for term on Google during the final debate: Wages.

6

Faux News

"'Well, I think the coronavirus is a scam, first and foremost,' declared Chris Hill, the commanding officer of the militia, who goes by the nom de guerre General BloodAgent. 'Two, I think that watching all of the videos of people's civil liberties being infringed upon—being arrested for sitting in your empty business, being arrested for sitting in your car looking at the ocean, having cops or security guards tasing women that are watching their kid play football—these are things that I would not suffer.' The pandemic, Hill suggested, was nothing more than a government conspiracy to steal the rights of everyday Americans. Hill's deputy, a man named Corey Wells, who goes by the title Sergeant Treeman, likened the situation in the United States to the rise of Nazism. 'When Hitler took over Germany, he didn't do it in one day. He did it over the course of time. He started taking one little right away, the next little right away, the next thing you know, you've got millions of Jews loaded on box cars headed to concentration camps. We're watching that pretty much here in the United States now.'" (Yeah, Hitler was famous for not wanting his victims to breathe in any dangerous air.) This is the kind of madness we're dealing with. And it's not going away on November 3. And neither is the horrible organization behind all this bullshit. Alex Wagner in The Atlantic: The Militia That Fox News Built.

+ Inside the campaign to 'pizzagate' Hunter Biden.

7

Pole Position

"A constitutional tribunal in Poland ruled on Thursday that abortions for fetal abnormalities violate the country's Constitution, effectively imposing a near-total ban in a nation that already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe." NYT: Poland Court Ruling Effectively Bans Legal Abortions.

+ The price of choice – the fight over abortion in Poland, a photo essay.

8

The Ice Cream Manager

"We've all been there. You're craving a McFlurry, or a Shamrock Shake. You drive to McDonald's, excited to fill yourself up with cold and sugary goodness. But when you finally make it to the counter, you hear those dreaded, devastating words: 'The ice cream machine is broken.'" What you need at that moment is data. Meet the 24-year-old who's tracking every broken McDonald's ice-cream machine in the US.

9

Manifest-OMG

"In TikTok, teenagers share stories about how 'scripting,' or repeatedly writing down a wish, caused a crush to finally text them back. On YouTube, vloggers lead tutorials on how to properly manifest your dream future. On Instagram, someone will write that $20,000 will soon land in your hands, and all you have to do is comment 'YES.' On Twitter, stans will, ironically or not, attempt to manifest the release of a new Lorde album." Vox on the latest internet self help craze: Shut up, I'm manifesting! To paraphrase Barry Obama, "Don't manifest. Vote."

10

Feel Good Friday

Start off your weekend with a musical tribute to how - this election season especially - it's going to take some time to count. We Count! A Patriotic Musical Extravaganza in 2D.

+ Opposing gubernatorial candidates in Utah make an ad, together.

+ An Ocean Separated Them. A Surfboard Connected Them. See: 2020 Has a Happy Story After All.

+ How Special Olympics athlete Niall Guite drew the attention of Manchester City and beyond.

+ Austria's postal service issues 'corona stamp' printed on toilet paper. Oh sure, we can laugh about the toilet paper shortage now...

+ NPR: A High School Dropout Finds Support On Road From Prison To Law School. (This is like my reverse story: A promising student with every advantage ends up writing a fu-king newsletter.)