Wednesday News: Unfit to lead

IN DEBATE, TRUMP INTERRUPTS SO MANY TIMES BIDEN TELLS HIM TO "SHUT UP": In the most tumultuous presidential debate in recent memory, Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who have supported him, telling one such group known as Proud Boys to “stand back, stand by.” There were also heated clashes over the president's handling of the pandemic, the integrity of the election results, deeply personal attacks about Biden's family and how the Supreme Court will shape the future of the nation’s health care. But it was the belligerent tone that was persistent, somehow fitting for what has been an extraordinarily ugly campaign. The two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”

TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENDS LETTERS TO NC (COUNTY) GOP ELECTION BOARD MEMBERS: The Trump campaign sent a letter to all Republicans on county election boards, urging them to disregard new state guidelines for absentee-by-mail ballots. "The NC Republican party advises you not to follow the procedures," the Trump campaign letter reads. “The Democrats are trying to undermine the election process through backroom shenanigans." Judith Kelley, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and an international expert on election security, said it's "absolutely not common" for a political campaign to instruct local election officials on which state rules to follow or not follow. "I don’t recall a similar situation," Kelley said, adding that the letter is the latest aspect of a national push by the Trump campaign to cast doubt on the outcome of the upcoming elections. "It’s an effort to sow confusion and to undermine the confidence in the process," she said. "We should all be able to unite around the process, and this is not – this is not helpful."

TEST MAILING BY WATCHDOG GROUP DETECTS A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF PROBLEMS: In the N.C. Watchdog Reporting Network’s sample of 153 letters, all but two pieces of mail, or 98.6%, arrived on time. Of the two that did not arrive on time, one, sent from a reporter in Charlotte to an editor in Raleigh, took six days. The second did not arrive at all, sent from a mail collection box in Raleigh to a reporter’s home in Durham. Four arrived without a postmark that was identifiable to reporters, and a fifth was smudged so badly that the postmark was illegible. Ballots that arrive after Election Day and lack a postmark are, typically, thrown out by county boards of elections. Boards of elections want assurances that voters cast their ballots before the deadline on Election Day. A postmark, which includes the date and time the post office processed the envelope, is a reliable way for election officials to make that judgment. During the 2016 presidential election, the Forsyth County Board of Elections rejected 89 ballots received without postmarks in the three days following the general election.

TRUMP TELLS PROUD BOYS TO "STAND BY" DURING DEBATE. IT'S NOW ON THEIR LOGO: “I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace," Trump said. “What do you want to call them? Give me a name." “Proud Boys,” Democrat Joe Biden chimed in, referencing a far-right extremist group that has shown up at protests in the Pacific Northwest. The male-only group of neo-fascists describes themselves as “western chauvinists,” and they have been known to incite street violence. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.” FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel last week, though, that white supremacists and anti-government extremists have been responsible for most of the recent deadly attacks by extremist groups within the U.S. “What we saw was a dog whistle through a bullhorn,” California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, said on MSNBC after the debate. “Donald Trump is not pretending to be anything other than what he is: Someone who will not condemn white supremacists.” Proud Boys leaders and supporters later celebrated the president’s words on social media. A channel on Telegram, an instant messaging service, with more than 5,000 of the group’s members posted “Stand Back” and “Stand By” above and below the group’s logo.

MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF BLASTS TRUMP FOR FALSELY CLAIMING ENDORSEMENT: As President Trump argued during Tuesday night’s debate that vast numbers of law enforcement officials are supporting his campaign, he began listing the locations of his alleged police backers. “I have Florida, I have Texas, I have Ohio,” he said. “Excuse me, Portland, the sheriff there just came out today and said, ‘I support President Trump.’” Not so, says the sheriff in the Portland, Ore., area. Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese quickly took to Twitter on Tuesday night to forcefully deny any affinity for the president. “In tonight’s presidential debate the President said the ‘Portland Sheriff’ supports him. As the Multnomah County Sheriff I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him,” Reese tweeted. In fact, as Trump has seized on unrest in Portland as a campaign issue and sent federal agents to the city for weeks of violent standoffs with protesters, Reese has regularly criticized the president’s handling of the situation. Reese won the nonpartisan sheriff’s election in 2018. This summer, he has pushed back against Trump’s decision to flood Portland with federal agents. When Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, sought a meeting during a Portland visit, Reese turned him down, saying Wolf’s statements had made it “clear law enforcement in the City of Portland was becoming highly politicized.” He also lashed out at federal agents in July after they used tear gas and “less lethal” munitions on protesters. “The actions by out-of-state federal agents last weekend failed to display good decision-making and sound tactical judgment,” Reese said in a statement at the time. “The use of force did not appear proportional to the actions of the demonstrators.”



No, I did not watch the debate

I've noticed an uptick in my blood pressure every time I hear his voice. Reading his words is unhealthy enough, frankly...

I managed about 10 minutes...

before I had to walk away. My wife somehow stuck it out. The whole thing was a failure by Wallace from the outset but not, in the end, a failure for Biden. Trump persuaded no one who wasn't already going to vote for him and didn't turn anyone away from voting for Biden with that display of rudeness and petulance, nor did he dial down enthusiasm among his opponents, so that's a loss for him, no matter how good it makes him feel.

The question of the day is, what will the next two debates look like? You can bet that the moderators were on ther phone to their agents before the first 30 minutes were over, demanding that they negotiate a mute button for the candidates' microphones. The abject failure of the whole television infrastructure on this is startling. If the director or engineers had simply exercised their own ability to mute whoever was not currently supposed to be speaking, the whole thing would have been a walkover for Biden. We'll see if they have the chutzpah to do it and if Trump will actually show up and not storm off-stage if they do.

A spectacle

I've been embarrassed to be an American in the past, but never as much as last night. A horror show.

I think the next debate is supposed to be a town hall format with candidates taking audience questions.