Your blow-by-blow recap of the mute-button presidential debate, with a little help from Twitter

No matter what happens, this is Donald Trump’s last presidential debate. That’s the straw American voters grasped at Thursday night ahead of the final showdown between the impeached and infected Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. This debate—the second of what was supposed to be three—was broadcast live from Belmont University in Nashville, moderated by NBC News’ Kristen Welker, and followed the same format as the first debate on Sept. 29, which absolutely everyone absolutely hated. As the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced in September:

The debate will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.

The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Of course, that was before Trump reminded the nation why he absolutely has to go. The first debate was, as CNN’s Dana Bash said just moments after it ended, “a shitshow.” (Jake Tapper called it a “hot mess inside of a dumpster fire” moments later.) It was undeniable. Trump’s inability to let Biden or moderator Chris Wallace get a word in forced the CPD to declare that “additional structure” was needed for the debates to follow. On Oct. 19, the CPD revealed that “structure” looked like a mute button. Unfortunately for all of us, muting was only permitted during the initial two minutes granted to each candidate at the top of the six segments. Trump’s been whining about it ever since, perhaps because interrupting Biden at every turn was the Trump campaign’s only game plan. After all, the superspreader-in-chief faces scrutiny from a nation that watched him fail to keep his campaign promises on a massive scale, an electorate who’s seen him fumble just about every chance he had to move our nation forward, and, of course, a country left to fend for itself in the face of a deadly pandemic.

As always, I watched every single second of this debate so you didn’t have to. Let’s go.

It’s important to vote out Trump, but his election goes far past replacing the tyrant in the White House. Will you chip in $5 or more to help our entire slate of Democrats? We’re in the homestretch, and we’re in it together!

Welker announced six topics on Oct. 16. The Today Show weekend anchor and White House correspondent offered these points of focus: fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership. Most of these subjects were tackled in some form in the first debate and subsequent dueling town halls, but “American families” and “leadership” are pretty vague, so this should be interesting, assuming the candidates don’t pull a Pence and just answer completely different questions than those asked. We all know that Trump is lagging in the polls and that his campaign is broke, but more importantly, we know he’d rather talk about anything but COVID-19, and would love to focus on debunked Hunter Biden nonsense, insist that helping our nation’s poorest will destroy the suburbs, and yell about either Leslie Stahl or Hillary’s emails. Trump, through spokeswoman Alyssa Farah, announced his intentions on the morning of the debate; it’s clear he started the day determined to showcase the obsession that got him impeached.

WH director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah previewed this evening’s presidential debate saying Trump will answer the questions he wants to answer and “whether it’s asked or he has the opportunity to bring it up, he’s going to get into this issue of Hunter Biden.”

— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) October 22, 2020

I hate this debate already. Send chocolate.

A few minutes late, a maskless and angry Trump walked onto the stage, while a cheerful Biden emerged from his mask.

here we go pic.twitter.com/Ob4bMFuyaL

— Lauren Chou (@lauren_chou) October 23, 2020

After a polite explanation about the mute button, Trump got the first question.

The moderator just had to read all the rules of the debate like it’s kindergarten because the President of the United States is a child. #Debates2020

— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) October 23, 2020

THE CORONAVIRUS

Trump was asked how he’d navigate the next stage of the global pandemic. Trump kicked off by listing the number of people who didn’t die.

"You're lucky I didn't kill more of you" is quite an answer #Debates2020

— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) October 23, 2020

He then flaunted manipulated statistics and lies about surging states and boasts of his own recovery from the virus. He then claimed that other heads of states called him to congratulate him on his performance. He finished by promising a vaccine was coming within weeks and echoing his new refrain about “rounding the curve.” So, he didn’t answer the question.

We are not rounding any "turn" on the pandemic. It’s a vague claim, but it’s just wrong. Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are rising. Deaths are now starting to rise again, too. Most states are doing worse this week than they did last week. pic.twitter.com/y1pr4V9SXW

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 23, 2020

Trump smirked as Biden somberly stated, “220,000 Americans dead.” He then noted Trump’s refusal to take any responsibility for those deaths and declared that he didn't deserve to be president.

"Anybody who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America." - @JoeBiden #Debates2020 #PresidentialDebate2020

— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) October 23, 2020

He shot holes in Trump’s comparison of the U.S. to Europe, warned of at least 200,000 more deaths, entreated people to wear masks, and insisted that Trump has no plan before launching into his own: rapid testing, mask encouragement, and figuring out how to craft plans and direct resources to schools and businesses so that they can re-open safely and successfully. Trump, remarkably, kept quiet the entire time.

"The expectation is we’ll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year. If we just wore these masks, the president’s own advisers have told him, we could save 100,000 lives...The president thus far still has no plan." —@JoeBiden #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/r930gLOudj

— CAP Action (@CAPAction) October 23, 2020

Welker wanted to know more about the promise of a vaccine “within weeks.”

Debate moderator Kristen Welker exposes @realdonaldtrump for the fraud he is. After claiming that a vaccine would be ready "in weeks," Trump backtracks saying that it's not a guarantee. #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/IjoofogRN8

— American Bridge 21st Century (@American_Bridge) October 23, 2020

Trump then named names of companies that were on their way. Welker pointed out that his own administration says that it will take months, and asked him if he was being realistic. Trump insisted his timeline was “more accurate,” and implied his own experts didn’t know about his plan to use the military to distribute “a hundred million” vials of a vaccine.

Trump keeps saying the coronavirus will “soon be gone.” If you vote, Trump will soon be gone. #Debates2020

— Rep. Lloyd Doggett (@LloydDoggettTX) October 23, 2020

Biden was asked how he’d help Americans have confidence in a vaccine once approved, citing that 40% of Americans said they have no plans to take one. The former vice president noted the need to be transparent about the approval process. He warned of a “dark winter,” and reminded the audience that Trump said that the pandemic would be over by Easter 2019.

MUST WATCH fact check from @jaketapper on Trump's #COVID lies during the debate: "The president has been lying about the coronavirus pandemic since February." #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/dhELfVv1VE

— American Bridge 21st Century (@American_Bridge) October 23, 2020

Trump touted his “China Ban” that wasn’t a ban and brought up Biden’s critiques of it as being xenophobic, before veering into H1N1.

Trump seems upset that 700,000 people didn't die from H1N1

— Joe Sudbay (@JoeSudbay) October 23, 2020

Biden didn’t bother replying to the H1N1 nonsense, then reiterated that Trump is xenophobic and noted that Trump didn’t send scientists to China and praised Xi Jinping.

Trump replied by spending a long time talking about Biden living in his basement, made a hint about Biden making his money in a questionable way before hinting that Biden made his money in shady ways.

Trump's debate prep is just reading through his own Twitter feed

— Katy Stoll (@katystoll) October 23, 2020

He then lamented having to see Gold Star families before pointing out that young people recover quickly and declaring that if we don’t reopen the nation, we won’t have a nation.

I believe Trump wants to win the election more than anything in the world, but I do not believe Trump wants to be President of the United States at all

— Jay Willis (@jaywillis) October 23, 2020

Welker deftly slipped in a quick fact-check, noting that young people can get COVID-19 and pass it to others. She began to ask Biden a question about pandemic strategy before Biden became the first to challenge the moderator. He asked to respond to Trump’s statement that people are “learning to live with it,” by stating that we’re learning to die with it. He then repeated that Trump refuses to take responsibility for any of it.

Trump then did his signature “excuse me” without waiting to be excused and offered his first Trumpian quote of the night.

Trump just now: "I take full responsibility: It's not my fault that it came here, it's China's fault."

— Kerry Eleveld (@kerryeleveld) October 23, 2020

He then blamed China for containing it within its borders but not from spreading across the planet. Biden repeated the “whole range of things,” all wrong, that Trump said to Americans. Trump again brought up Biden’s “xenophobic” critique, and Biden basically gave it a half-hearted rebuttal.

Welker asked Biden about the economic and social impact of a shutdown. Biden vowed to “shut down the virus, not the country.” He noted that Trump’s ineptitude was the reason people were suffering, not the shutdowns. He then insisted that Trump should have been working with Pelosi to get relief to people. Trump mocked Biden for talking about shutdowns too much and rattled off attacks at states with Democratic governors.

Donald Trump is running to be president of the red states. Joe Biden is running to be President of the United States.

— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 23, 2020

He also declared that Barron, his son with his third wife, recovered from COVID-19 quickly, painting it as a miracle.

Shouldn’t they mute him when he tells wild lies about a pandemic that has killed more than 200k Americans

— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) October 23, 2020

Biden again repeated that cities and states needed resources to reopen safely, bringing up school ventilation systems as an example. Trump bashed New York as a ghost town where nobody wants to live and repeated several talking points this writer recognized as almost verbatim from his 60 Minutes interview that he leaked today.

NEW YORK IS A GHOST TOWN???!! LMAO BITCH HELLO FROM QUEENS WE JUST WENT FROM ORANGE TO YELLOW, PEOPLE ARE OUT & ABOUT & THRIVING, FUCK YOU

— porochista khakpour (@PKhakpour) October 23, 2020

Biden continued to talk basic strategy and pointing out Trump’s aversion to it.

Trump brought up and bashed as many Democratic governors in swing states as he could—Michigan and Pennsylvania—and Biden brought up Wall Street. Trump attempted to paint Biden as owned by Wall Street while simultaneously claiming he controlled Wall Street. Biden slipped in that his average contribution was $43 before Welker declared the topic completed.

ELECTION SECURITY

Biden was up first and asked about new reports that multiple nations are interfering in our election. Biden brought up that Trump has done nothing to stop Vladimir Putin of Russia, and brought up the way that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has been duped by Russia. He then vowed to lay down the law on American adversaries.

Instead of letting Welker ask a question, Trump lived up to his vow to answer the questions that he want, and used his time to first insist he’s hard on Russia before diving into his big goal of painting the Biden family as a corrupt crime family with emails and millions of dollars, all procured from Russia and China. After referencing an unnamed person who had a press conference where unspecified accusations were made, demanded that Biden answer his accusation.

Oh god no don't do the Russia shit #debate #Debates2020

— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) October 23, 2020

Biden denied everything before launching into Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, noting that he’s released all of his. Trump insisted that his accountants told him that he “prepays” all of his taxes, and that’s why he doesn’t pay any taxes. Welker asked him when he’d release his returns, and Trump played the victim, claiming that he “gets treated worse than the tea party,” and is only being audited because he ran for president.

Biden has released his tax returns, so we know he didn't receive $3.5 million from Russia. Trump hasn't released his tax returns, so we have no idea how much money he gets from Russia. And he never disclosed his secret Chinese bank account.#Debates2020

— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 23, 2020

He then shifted into a nonsensical mafia narrative where Biden is known as “The Big Man” and gets 10% of all his sons’ schemes.

You’re in bed with Russia! No YOU’RE in bed with Russia!#Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/LUf056uh1e

— ❥ Nicoco (@PetiteNicoco) October 23, 2020

Biden repeated his demand that Trump release his returns, and Trump repeated his accusations of corruption, painting himself as a victim due to being impeached and hinted at some dirt on Biden’s brother and Iraq.

Welker jumped in before Biden could reply, and asked Biden if there was any truth to the allegations. Biden said there was not, and pointed out that the only bad deeds going on was Trump trying to get dirt that didn’t exist. Trump rattled off some numbers, Biden reiterated that no wrongdoing was found.

Welker asked about the Chinese banking recently uncovered by The New York Times and Trump told a story about how there’s nothing wrong at all with anything he did. Trumpian “excuse me” steamrollers went right over Welker before she insisted on moving on, asking Biden what he’d do to China if elected.

Biden vowed to make China play by the rules and use proper policy to punish them if they do not, instead of Trump’s stupid tariffs. He brought up North Korea, and when Welker went to ask about it to Trump, he rolled over Welker again to hint at Biden crime family nonsense, and Welker actually stopped him to ask about his own policies with China. Trump insisted that his tariffs and sanctions were effective, netted billions of dollars and helped farmers. When Biden pointed out that taxpayers bailed out farmers, Trump claimed China is the taxpayer.

Pres. Trump: "I just gave $28 billion to our farmers." Biden: "Taxpayers' money." "It's what?" "Taxpayers' money. It didn't come from China." https://t.co/zkoTdi6727 #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/T5X1vpvIai

— ABC News (@ABC) October 23, 2020

When Welker finally asked Trump about his relationship with North Korea, Trump claimed Barack Obama told him war was imminent, but he became buddies with Kim Jong Un and that’s why there’s no war. Biden explained North Korean policy under Obama and why it was good policy. Trump insisted that Jong Un just didn’t like Obama. Biden pointed out that was because Obama wanted to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Trump said Obama left him “a mess” before Welker moved onto health care.

HEALTH CARE

Welker asked Trump about his administration’s current effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court, and what happens if they win? Trump railed about how terrible Obamacare is and how overturning the individual mandate made it something totally different but it’s still terrible and needs to be replaced by his nonexistent plan which totally always was going to cover preexisting conditions, totally always was going to cover them. He then said Biden would create socialized medicine. Biden was asked the same question. Pointing out that it put him at odds with most of the Democratic primary candidates, Biden vowed to create Obamacare with a public option, which would reduce prescription prices, let people keep their private insurance, and protect preexisting conditions. He clarified that it’s not the next step to fully socialized medicine as Trump always claims, pointed out that providing health care for all will help businesses. Trump, who was obviously communicating with someone in the audience, then leaned into “47 years in government” taunting of Biden, and insisted that his running mate Kamala Harris is “more liberal than Bernie Sanders” before bringing up fracking. He then thanked Welker for her “handling” of things before telling her to ask a question she did not let him finish.

A picture from my mom and dad - the only way they can watch the debates #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/uLaCVK4Xp6

— D'Arcy Carden (@DarcyCarden) October 23, 2020

Trump then repeated his fearmongering about socialism before Biden joked that he must be confused about who he’s running against. Biden then boasted that he won the nomination because he beat all the other candidates.

THE ECONOMY

Trump, deciding he was done with health care, brought up how stocks boomed under him. Trump vaguely accused Biden of harming Social Security somewhere in time, and also said Biden is not “really” from Scranton, in addition to insisting he’s the savior of the stock market and everyone’s 401(k).

Donald Trump: @JoeBiden isn't from Scranton. Scranton: pic.twitter.com/LMZnx4KK33

— Bob Casey Jr. (@Bob_Casey) October 23, 2020

Welker then brought up the struggles Americans are facing under the COVID-19-fueled recession, and asked Trump why he’s not helped. Trump blamed Pelosi. Welker asked Biden why he’s not pushed Democrats to make a deal, and Biden pointed out that the HEROES Act has been withering on the vine for months, and could have helped cities, counties, and states—teachers, firefighters, first responders—while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to take it up.

OMG Biden just reminded me that McConnell said "Let 'em go bankrupt," THIS YEAR. Losing track of time and tragic failure of the GOP-led Senate. We need the Heroes Act yesterday. #Debates2020

— Dorian Warren (@dorianwarren) October 23, 2020

Trump insisted that the HEROES Act was horrible and benefited blue states and illegal immigrants. Biden fired back that he’s a proud Democrat but will be an American president and it shouldn’t be about the politics of each state’s leadership.

Welker then asked about the fight to raise the minimum wage, and asked if this was the right time to do so. Biden said it was, because we need to help businesses. Trump claimed it be a state choice, insisting that $15 would kill small businesses. Biden said there’s no data that supports that myth.

IMMIGRATION

Welker then asked Trump about the recent news that Homeland Security has lost track of the parents of over 500 children separated at the border. Trump then blamed the baby cages on Obama before saying that his administration was looking for these parents, and wrongly implying that the children came to the country alone. Biden was disgusted and fact-checked Trump: The children were with their parents when they got here.

Trump refused to address the actual question and repeated his blaming of Obama for baby cages, claiming that his administration put migrant children in lavish digs.

"It looked like a literal prison camp"@JoyAnnReid talks about visit to facility in Tornillo, Texas, that held migrant children, after "zero tolerance" policy was discussed at #Debates2020. pic.twitter.com/mZcbjMsoEP

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 23, 2020

Welker asked Biden why voters should trust him to overhaul the immigration system. He vowed to create a path to citizenship, particularly for DACA recipients. Trump cited his own overhaul, saying that Biden had eight years to fix the system as vice president. Trump then celebrated his end of “catch and release” before blaming Obama for baby cages again.

The thing I appreciate about Joe Biden right now is that he looks just as disgusted with 🍊 as we are.

— Karla Monterroso (@karlitaliliana) October 23, 2020

RACE IN AMERICA

Welker asked Biden to speak to families of color, who have to have “The Talk” with their children to teach them about the dangers of police that they face as people of color, regardless of their economic class. Biden noted that his daughter is a social worker before stating that there is systemic racism in this country. He then ran through a bulleted list of places where people of color need investment, including education and small businesses.

After bringing up the 1994 Crime Bill and “super predators,” Trump insisted that he’s the best president for Black people since Lincoln—and implied that he might outrank Lincoln, actually.

“I am the least racist person in this room,” Trump says to Kristen Welker, the first black woman to moderate a presidential debate.

— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) October 23, 2020

He then claimed liberals cried in his office in gratitude for his work with prison reform and HBCUs, and giving Sen. Tim Scott, the lone Black Republican in the Senate a shoutout.

Black people have concerns beyond the criminal justice system. Goodness. This is so tiring.

— Amara Omeokwe (@TheAmaraReport) October 23, 2020

Biden then denied the “super predator” accusation and pointed out that the Obama administration pardoned (checks calculator) nearly 500 times as many people as Trump has. Trump then asked why Biden didn’t fix everything when he was vice president before saying that he only ran in 2016 because of him and Barack Obama.

Biden contrasted himself against Trump directly to the American people and explained his plan to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences. Trump immediately went back to his accusations of Biden family corruption and “the laptop” before Welker, who was done playing around, pulled it back to the topic at hand: race.

Reading several of Trump’s many racist acts to him, she asked him why people should trust him. Trump used his time to insist he’s not racist and disparage Black Lives Matter as people who wanted to kill cops.

Donald Trump - "I'm the least racist person in the room." Trump is not even the least racist person in a room that he's in by himself.#Debates2020 #DebateTonight

— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) October 23, 2020

Biden made an Abraham Lincoln joke at Trump’s expense that Trump pretended he didn’t get, all the better to launch into how not-racist he is, and how he is the best thing Black people have ever seen, and to bring up the 1994 Crime Bill again.

Fact Check: Donald Trump is correct when he says he’s not Abraham Lincoln

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 23, 2020

Biden took responsibility, among with the entire Senate, for the Crime Bill, and expressed regret, particularly for the disparity in cocaine sentences. Trump kept asking why Biden didn’t fix the criminal justice system when he was vice president. In an awkward moment, Biden blamed the Republican Congress, and Trump said he should have convinced them. With that, it was time for

CLIMATE CHANGE

Welker, after pointing out the candidates’ very different visions to combat climate change, asked Trump why his was better. Trump spent most of his two minutes talking about a trillion trees and bashing Obama, but claimed none of it matters since the U.S. can’t force Russia or China or India to do anything.

"India is filthy" Wow. Wonderful. Great way to win over Indian Americans, Trump. Genius.#Debates2020

— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) October 23, 2020

He also declared that the Paris Climate Accord was horrible.

Biden solemnly addressed the real crisis that is our destruction of this planet, laid out a detailed plan to combat climate change, and Trump decided to take aim at The Squad, who he calls “AOC Plus Three,” and accused Biden of wanting to knock down all the buildings with big windows and replace them with buildings that have tiny windows.

AOC +3 is a great girl group name

— John Manuel Arias (@johnmanuelarias) October 23, 2020

Biden laughed the entire time, and dismissed Trump entirely before insisting that the nation could grow and be cleaner under his plan. Trump attacked windmills and solar power with some absolute gobsmacking lies that have nothing to do with science or reality. He tried to get to fracking but Biden jumped in, insisting he’s never been against it. Trump said Biden will turn against fracking because the party said so.

The segment on the urgency of climate change has morphed into a conversation of who loves fracking more, which will be great to show children in 50 years to explain what happened.

— Taniel (@Taniel) October 23, 2020

Trump was then asked about his plans to fight environmental racism. Trump insisted that people of color are all working, and then essentially said he hadn’t heard of environmental racism before bragging about how we don’t get our oil from other countries anymore, proving he’d absolutely missed the point.

It’s actually AOC plus 115 because that’s how many House and Senate members have cosponsored the most ambitious climate legislation in American history.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 23, 2020

Biden, by contrast, spoke to the “fence line” communities that bear the brunt of oil pollution. Trump—not the actual moderator—then asked Biden if he’d shut down the oil industry, and Biden answered him, saying that he’d transition us out of it. Trump then said “he’s gonna shut down the oil industry” and named battleground states like Texas and Ohio, telling them to “remember that” in a desperate ploy for votes.

LAST QUESTION, LAST DEBATE

For the final question, Welker asked each candidate what they would say to people who didn’t vote for them in their inaugural address.

Trump blamed China for the pandemic again before insisting that everyone loved him before it, and bashed about what a horrible president Biden would be. Biden took his time to call himself an “American president” who represents everyone, and vowed to improve conditions for the whole country. He slipped in an entreaty for voters to remember what’s on the ballot and then, thankfully, it was over.

I hope someone immediately ran to give Kristin Welker a drink, candy bar, seltzer, whatever she wants. #Debates2020

— Jess the Writer (@jesilfa) October 23, 2020

It was time for the wives to join the candidates on the stage.

Melania yanks her hand away from Trump. (Spotted by @WalnutDust) pic.twitter.com/NHDzoYfSuT

— The Recount (@therecount) October 23, 2020

Daniel Dale will be working hard tonight.

CNN Factchecker/masochist Daniel Dale on Trump: "This was just a bombardment of dishonesty, much of what we heard before at his campaign rallies about subjects big and small, important stuff like the pandemic, about Biden's policies, about his own record." #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/wwOJC8GNvV

— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) October 23, 2020

And me? I never ever have to do another Donald Trump debate Twitter recap for the rest of my life. 

Your blow-by-blow recap of the only vice presidential debate, with a lot of help from Twitter

Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris descended upon Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday for the lone debate between the two people vying to be the nation’s No. 2. The debate about the debate has been particularly fraught in recent days, after at least 27 people nearly three dozen people (including Donald Trump)—in the White House, the military, the press, and the upper echelon of the anti-mask, pro-reopening Republican Party— have tested positive for the highly contagious and dangerous novel coronavirus. Pence’s handlers reported at least two negative COVID-19 tests, and insist he doesn’t owe it to anyone to quarantine, despite attending the Hug and Smooch Rose Garden Superspreader event on Sept. 26. So adamant was Team Pence that there was no cause for concern or cancellation, they actually managed to turn the presence of a Plexiglass barrier into a debate death hill for most of Tuesday, before ultimately agreeing to requests that both nominees and moderator Susan Page sit behind them. The barriers were the most visible tweak to the debate stage, in addition to an increased distance of 12 feet, 3 inches between the nominees’ desks.

Despite the Plexiglass and Trump’s COVID-19 case dominating most recent discussions of the veep debate, an interesting event awaited the limited in-person audience—who the Commission of Presidential Debates (CPD) swore, for realsies this time, would all be wearing masks. It’s not a stretch to expect both Pence and Harris to run for the top spot in 2024, and both are seasoned politicians with plenty of experience on both debate stages and in courtrooms. Pence’s biggest job? Defending the indefensible, infected man who wishes he could sign Pence’s paychecks with a Sharpie; defending Trump’s failures, his controversies, and his classlessness, while attempting to simultaneously convince American voters that Pence is the grown-up in the room, but also that no such grown-up is necessary. Harris, on the other hand, needed to shred Trump (let us count the ways) and do no harm to her running mate—particularly as the Biden-Harris ticket continues to skyrocket in the polls. She’ll likely face some low blows from Pence and the peanut gallery, due to her gender, her race, and Pence’s deeply ingrained, wooden, and purportedly faith-based misogyny.  Let’s do this.

The debate was 90 minutes long, with not one break, just as the CPD warned us last month.

The debate will be divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Unlike Chris Wallace, who moderated the “shitshow” known as the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, USA Today’s Page did not release her list of topics in advance. Like Wallace, Page will not be fact-checking the nominees in real-time.

Harris has been preparing with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg standing in for fellow Indiana Hoosier Pence, while Pence recruited impeachment attorney Pam Bondi to play Harris in his own debate prep, which makes no damn sense. However, all signs indicate that Mayor Pete and Momala weren’t playing around during their mock debates.

Pete Buttigieg - Fox News might not let you back after you destroyed their set like that 😂#Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/pWyCvBwxjo

— Nerdy Pursuit (@nerdypursuit) October 8, 2020

And just a few minutes after 9 PM ET, we were off. Page kicked things off by showing off the small but socially distant crowd, the Plexiglass, and insisting people would have to keep their masks on. The nominees came out to cheers and promptly took a seat. Pence had a noticeably red eye.

His eye is getting noticeably worse. pic.twitter.com/ZFooDFAOH8

— Jennifer Hayden (@Scout_Finch) October 8, 2020

Page sent thoughts and prayers to Trump and Melania, then vowed to enforce the rules that the campaigns and commissions had agreed to, and demanded a civil event.

2020: When All Good Things Are Indefinitely Postponed But Somehow We’re On Our Second Indoor Debate

— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) October 8, 2020

COVID-19 IS NOT UNDER CONTROL

Page asked Harris how January and February 2021 under Biden-Harris would look different than under Trump-Pence. After reciting the grave statistics that face us now, Harris turned back to what the White House knew in January. She promised that the difference would be that Joe Biden has a plan, while the Trump administration did not. As her time ran out, Harris insisted that Trump-Pence had “forfeited” the right to be reelected.

Pence was up next, and Page pointed out that the U.S. death toll (as a percentage of population) was higher than that of any other wealthy country, and asked him, quite simply, why. After a string of platitudes to the University of Utah, Page, and Harris, Pence said Trump was working hard from day one, and leaned into the “China travel ban” that wasn’t actually a ban, predictably bringing up Biden’s critique of that move as xenophobic. After admitting that he’s the head of the coronavirus task force, Pence boasted of testing rates and protective equipment delivery, as well as vaccine development, before he accused Biden of plagiarizing Trump’s plan. 

Harris fired back that the administration’s efforts hadn’t worked, before laying failures at Pence’s feet as the head of the task force. She brought up Trump’s infamous interviews with Bob Woodward, noting that the president kept his knowledge of both the deadliness of COVID-19 and the virus’ fast transmission quiet—so that Americans would stay calm. The crosstalk began immediately, and Harris won 15 seconds to look into the camera and ask Americans how calm they were as they navigated pandemic realities like not seeing their family, kids being stuck home from school, or not being able to find toilet paper. 

Pence looked into the camera and claimed he cared about people before he said Harris’ characterization of the administration’s handling of the virus thus far was an insult to Americans. He then claimed that Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx told them months ago that if they did “everything right,” they might still lose over 200,000 people. Pence then made a huge deal of standing up for the American people in the face of Harris’ assessment of his own failures, continuing to attempt to frame her delivery of facts about his and Trump’s failures as attacks against Americans. 

Page then asked Pence about his attendance at the maskless Rose Garden super spreader event on Sept. 26, and asked how the White House expected Americans to follow the rules while their leadership did not. Pence launched into a speech about how much he and Trump trust “the American people” (cue new debate drinking game) and mocked Biden and Harris for not trusting or respecting them.

Kamala Harris has the best “I can’t believe this bullshit right HERE” face I have ever seen

— Chris Redd (@Reddsaidit) October 8, 2020

Harris pointed out that “respecting the American people” requires telling them the truth when allowing them to make their own decisions. Pence attempted to interrupt but was denied soundly by Page. After a somewhat friendly exchange where Page apologized for calling Sen. Harris “Kamala,” Page asked if Harris would take a vaccine. She vowed to be first in line … if the scientists said it was safe, but not if Trump claimed it was.

THESE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ARE REALLY OLD

Pence was up first, but he railroaded Page and turned back to the vaccine, insisting that Harris was attempting to undermine confidence in it. He then circled back to Harris’ use of the word “failure,” and brought up H1N1, aka the Swine Flu, and spewed random numbers of people who did not die of it. His time was up, and he had not answered the actual question posed to him. This is how Pence debates.

The split screen suddenly became the great equalizer of the debate.

pic.twitter.com/BSPNsAlxtt

— Anna Holmes (@AnnaHolmes) October 8, 2020

Throughout the night, Harris silently voiced her thoughts on Pence’s evasive nonsense and lies.

LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/d4kyMwVci4

— amorphous (@loneamorphous) October 8, 2020

Harris was given the full time to address Page’s actual question: Have you discussed with Biden what happens in the face of presidential disability, and should you? Harris focused on the history she’s made and the day Biden called her to ask her to be his running mate. 

TRANSPARENCY IS EVERYTHING

Pence was up first, and was asked if voters deserved access to detailed information about Trump’s health. He rambled about how much sympathy and kindness Trump received while hospitalized and congratulated Harris on her nomination, but didn’t answer the question. 

Every woman I know has given this look when some man attempts to mansplain or present an idea that isn’t theirs. #VPDebate pic.twitter.com/l02K8eIzO4

— Jamira Burley (@JamiraBurley) October 8, 2020

Harris was next, and focused on the importance of transparency, zooming in on Trump’s appalling tax returns and massive amount of debt, so that Americans know whether his self-interest is fueling his decisions. She reiterated the need for transparency and Biden’s commitment to it. 

Pence jumped in with a “47 years in Washington” dig at Biden before praising Trump for being a businessman and job creator, who turned the economy around. Page attempted to silence him but he just. kept. talking.

THE ECONOMY IS HURTING

Page thanked Pence for the segue into the next topic, and dropped startling—and recent—statistics and bad news from the job market. She asked if the Biden-Harris jobs plan and tax increases would stifle the economic recovery. Harris pointed out that Trump evaluates the economy’s health by checking in on how rich people are doing. She touched on their plan’s innovation, infrastructure, clean energy, and education opportunities, all while contrasting them against Trump’s first-term failures. 

Pence was asked if Americans should brace for a recovery that takes two years or more. Pence chided Barack Obama and Biden for taking too long to fix things after the Great Recession. He then claimed most voters got $2,000 back from Trump’s 2017 tax scam, before insisting that Biden-Harris want to raise taxes, ban fossil fuels, ban fracking, and force the Green New Deal onto Americans. Again, he refused to stop talking when his time is up.

📈 Searches for 'smarmy' are up 5000%https://t.co/GI3ESqdIWS

— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) October 8, 2020

Harris insisted that this debate was supposed to be about truth and facts, and began to explain that Biden has vowed not to raise taxes for anyone making less than $400,000 a year or ban fracking. Pence interrupted her and Page did nothing. Harris refused to engage in crosstalk until Pence gave in.

Kamala needs to say, Susan, you must give me the 2 minutes Pence has taken going over limits.

— Greg Mitchell (@GregMitch) October 8, 2020

She then reminded the room about Biden’s work with the Affordable Care Act, and Trump’s determination to crush it. Page attempted to cut her off, but Harris reminded her that Pence had interrupted her moments ago, and reclaimed her time.

"He interrupted me, and I'd like to just finish" - every woman in America, every single day.

— Suzanne Maloney (@MaloneySuzanne) October 8, 2020

She looked into the camera and warned people with preexisting conditions: “They’re coming for you.”

.@KamalaHarris has a message: "They're coming for you."@realdonaldtrump and @Mike_Pence are suing the American people right now to rip away protections for pre-existing conditions. Health care is on the ballot. VOTE like your life depends on it. #VPDebate #VPDebate2020 pic.twitter.com/GfViHVYoQL

— American Bridge 21st Century (@American_Bridge) October 8, 2020

Pence tossed a canned line about opinions and facts … and Harris told him it was a good line. He then rambled on and didn’t answer his question, repeating that Biden was going to ban fracking.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL

Pence was asked, as Hurricane Delta looms and wildfires ravaged the west coast, what the Trump-Pence administration planned to do about it. Pence dove deep into his delusions, rambling about forest management, more fracking, and deregulation.

Harris repeated that Biden would not ban fracking, or raise taxes on anyone making less rhan $400,000, before listing the environmental crises Biden has seen and is determined to fight. She also brought up the Trump-Pence administration’s war on science, and reminded us of Trump’s pesky habit of claiming the he knows more than scientists. 

Pence was then asked if he believes climate change poses an existential threat. Pence spent five seconds saying that the climate was changing before he veered right back to Biden’s vow to repeal the Trump-GOP Tax Scam, and repeated that Biden was going to ban fracking … again … and kill jobs. He then insisted that Biden-Harris are going to force the Green New Deal onto Americans.

Pence has the aw-shucks nonchalance of a priest telling you it's okay to take your pants off. Without the moral stature.

— Bradley Whitford (@BradleyWhitford) October 8, 2020

Harris zoomed in on Pence’s mention of jobs, bringing up the failed trade war with China, our struggling manufacturing sector, and struggling farmers. She brought up her stepdaughter in the context of high school and college graduates worrying about what jobs await them, thanks to the Trump administration. 

Pence used his time to ramble on about how many jobs Trump has created, insisting Biden and Obama ruined the economy. Harris pointed out that Biden saved the automotive industry, and Pence voted against it.

CHINA: FRIEND OR FOE?

Page brought up Trump’s continued war with China, and asked Pence where he thought we stood with China. He spent the bulk of his time attempting to frame Harris as a far-left demon before backing up Trump’s blame of China for the coronavirus, and bringing up the Chinese travel ban that wasn’t a ban, and Biden’s opposition of it. He then refused to stop talking, and Page did nothing.

She talks to him the way I talk to my children when I'm angry but someone is watching

— Taffy Brodesser-Akner (@taffyakner) October 8, 2020

Harris was given the same question. She pointed out the aftereffects of Trump’s war with China, and brought up his obsession with erasing all things Obama, including an agency devoted to pandemic preparation. She then brought up the COVID-19 death toll before bringing up the ripple effect of Trump’s tariff-driven trade war. She also pointed out that Trump has decimated the United States’ standing in the world. 

Page then asked Harris what she thought America’s place should be in the world moving forward. She leaned on Biden’s relationship-focused approach to governing, noting that it’s important to keep your word to your friends and keep your adversaries in check. She then pointed out that Trump did the opposite, bringing up Russian intelligence attacks, NATO, and the Iran Nuclear Deal. 

Pence claimed that Trump “kept his word” by moving an embassy to Jerusalem before shifting to ISIS, claiming that Trump “unleashed” the military and destroyed the Caliphate. He then told the story of humanitarian Kayla Mueller, who’d been held hostage during the Obama administration, insisting that servicemembers had told him that she’d be alive if Trump had been president.

This lying ass motherfucker

— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) October 8, 2020

While Page tried to call Pence for time, he continued to talk, and talk, and talk, bringing up the strike that killed Qassem Soleimani in January of this year. 

Page then gave Harris a chance to respond, warning her to not talk as much as Pence did so they could move on. Harris demanded equal time, then expressed condolences to the Mueller family, who was in the audience, before noting the injuries sustained by U.S. soldiers in the wake of the Soleimani assassination. She then brought up Trump’s disrespect of soldiers writ large, and John McCain specifically, as well as the bounties on U.S. soldiers that Trump’s ignored.

Pence rolled right over Page when she attempted to stop him from talking. She pointed out that he’d had more time than Harris but he just kept talking. As he spoke about Trump’s love for the soldiers, Page played the “your campaign agreed to the rules” card, and he finally shushed himself.

Laughing about the memes of debate night, but then remembering this is the actual future of our country #Debatenight pic.twitter.com/6paCihbcmQ

— Dom McHenry (@dommymchenry) September 30, 2020

WHAT IF AMY CONEY BARRETT HELPS OVERTURN ROE v. WADE?

Pence was asked what would happen in his home state of Indiana if a newly-conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Pence went right back to the previous topic, and said Biden didn’t want Obama to kill Osama bin Laden, before saying that he hoped Coney Barrett wouldn’t be attacked for being Christian during her confirmation process, and stated that he hoped she’d be confirmed, without ever answering the question at hand.

Harris was asked what she’d like to happen in her home state of California if Roe is overturned. She noted that she and Biden are religious people. She voiced opposition to confirmation hearings, citing public opinion. She briefly answered the question—the choice belongs to the pregnant person, not Trump—before circling back to Trump’s war on the Affordable Care Act and preexisting conditions. She then offered some tidbits from Biden’s health care plan.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY PREEXISTING CONDITION?

Pence was up first and dodged the question, instead lying about late-term abortions, and Biden-Harris’ support for them, before deciding he was the new moderator.

Moderator: We’re moving on now. Pence: Ok I hear you but I’m actually going to go back and talk about the previous topic instead#VPDebate

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 8, 2020

He directly asked Harris if Biden was going to pack the Supreme Court if Coney Barrett is confirmed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement.

Harris instead thanked him for bringing up the history of the Supreme Court, and launched into a quick lesson herself, noting that Abraham Lincoln declined to appoint a Supreme Court Justice in an election year. Pence repeated the packing question, and—without letting Harris speak—insisted that they plan to do just that.

Pence demanding that Harris answer *his* own personal questions when he won’t even answer the moderator’s is gross, and exemplary of the gender dynamics so many women have to deal with at work.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 8, 2020

He then looked into the camera and told viewers that if they respect the Supreme Court, and want a nine-justice Supreme Court, they would vote for Trump.

Harris then pointed out that Trump had packed the court with judges during his first term, making lifetime appointments, and not one of them was Black.

THE TRAGEDY OF BREONNA TAYLOR

Page offered the broad strokes of the Taylor case before asking Harris if she believed justice had been served. Harris said it had not. She touched on her conversation with Taylor’s mother before bringing up the murder of George Floyd that Americans watched in May and June. She brought up the protests, noting that she didn’t condone violence, but supported fighting to achieve our ideals. Noting that “bad cops are bad for good cops,” Harris vowed that a Biden win would bring the end of cash bail and private prisons, the decriminalization of cannabis, and a ban on choke and carotid holds.

Pence kicked off his time by saying he was sad she died but he trusts the justice system. He then accused Harris of being dismissive of the Taylor grand jury and said he hoped justice would be served for Floyd’s murderers.

In the case of Breonna Taylor, Kamala Harris, a former state attorney general, says she doesn't believe justice was done Mike Pence says "I trust our justice system" and says it is "remarkable" Harris would assume a "Grand Jury got it wrong"https://t.co/VZTi41JXWn #VPDebate pic.twitter.com/kAfvMNVjsE

— BBC North America (@BBCNorthAmerica) October 8, 2020

He skipped right past marches and protests to riots and destruction with a big fly stuck in his white hair. It was there for two minutes.

Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly. https://t.co/CqHAId0j8t pic.twitter.com/NbkPl0a8HV

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 8, 2020

Pence claimed that acknowledging systemic racism was an insult to law enforcement. He then muttered a few talking points about Trump being great for Black Americans.

Mike Pence's answer about racial justice was such bullshit it started attracting flies. pic.twitter.com/NrVmtO3SIZ

— Jennifer Hayden (@Scout_Finch) October 8, 2020

Harris responded by pointing out that she was the only prosecutor on the stage. She then rattled off Trump’s long—so long—history of cultivating racism, bigotry, and hate in this country. From the Muslim ban to Charlottesville, to his “stand back and stand by” nod to the Proud Boys at the first debate. 

Pence kicked off his time by raging against the media and holding up Trump’s Jewish grandchildren as proof he’s no bigot. His time was up, but Page let him kick off a rambling attack on Harris’ record as a prosecutor. He kept talking and talking as Page tried to stop him, slipping in more “Trump loves Black people” talking points, including school choice. 

Page attempted to move onto the next point but Harris fought for equal time AGAIN.

Kamala Harris is every Black woman who had to remain calm in a work meeting when lesser qualified white men rudely spoke over them, spouting less than mediocre ideas while the person "in charge" does nothing to stop it and everyone judges *you* for "appearing" frustrated

— Shanita Hubbard (@msshanitarenee) October 8, 2020

Harris spoke to the reforms she implemented in San Francisco, including officer-worn body cameras. Page attempted to cut her off, but Harris wasn’t playing nice.

BUT WHAT IF TRUMP LOSES?

Page posed the last question of the night: What if you win, and Trump won’t leave? Harris painted a picture of a broad coalition of support, before telling everyone to vote. She told viewers we have the power to shape the future of our country and protect our democracy by voting.

The election is fly-ing by. Make sure to make a plan to vote. https://t.co/dMhxJsRcW7#BidenHarris2020 #VPDebate2020

— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) October 8, 2020

She then brought up Trump’s effort to suppress the vote, specifically at the first debate last week.

Page then asked what Pence would do if Trump refused to concede power after losing the election. Pence instead insisted that his ticket was going to win, and touted the Trump administration’s “movement” and some vague accomplishments, including appointing conservative judges and supporting law enforcement. He then told Harris that her party was trying to overturn the 2016 election, and somehow, SOMEHOW, managed to sneak in a thinly-cloaked “BUT HER EMAILS.” He then railed against voting by mail. 

THE GREAT DIVIDE

The final question came from Brecklynn, a Utahn in eighth grade. She noted the constant fighting she sees on television. among politicians and among citizens, and asked what each nominee thought their good example might do to effect change and foster unity.

In closing, an 8th grader thinks you should suck less. Thoughts?

— Mike Mackert (@mackert) October 8, 2020

Pence was first, and insisted that she shouldn’t trust her local news before touting that RBG and Antonin Scalia were good friends, implying that people can agree to disagree.

Harris brought up Biden’s decision to run: the hatred in Charlottesville, and exactly what the eighth-grader described. She noted that Biden has a long history of working across the aisle and uniting people. She then promised Brecklynn that it would get better, and encouraged her leadership. And then, thankfully, with one more round of thoughts and prayers for Trump and his COVID-19 cluster, this horrible debate was over. 

The low-hanging fruit of this night? The damn fly.

Coming up after the break, a @CNN exclusive pic.twitter.com/3p4SN7uFws

— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 8, 2020

It’s fun, I get it. And I’m always here for Obama clips.

real presidents kills flies with their bare hands pic.twitter.com/vzliIkXd2S

— alex (@alex_abads) October 8, 2020

But the reality is that Mike Pence just did a polite version of what Trump did last week. He railroaded and ignored the rules, and used the exact same right-wing lies and talking points to avoid the topics at hand. He just does it without raising his voice.

What Mike Pence adds to the ticket is that he lies in a calm voice.

— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 8, 2020

The reality is that Susan Page did a terrible job moderating this debate. She deferred to the white guy every time, at the expense of a woman of color. 

Only a white man could get away with not answering any questions from the moderator, then demanding your opponent answer your ridiculous gotcha question.

— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) October 8, 2020

Kamala Harris fought a battle on that debate stage that will be familiar to many women, particularly Black women. In the end, CNN’s official timers insist that she only clocked a few seconds less time to speak than Pence, but she had to fight for it, again and again, as Page and Pence had no intention of letting her be heard.

This debate? It was as much of a shitshow as last week’s was, just in a different outfit. 

Senator’s cellphone seized amid federal investigation of stock trades made ahead of COVID-19 spread

Months after it was revealed that he had made dozens of questionable stock trades ahead of a global pandemic—and advised wealthy constituents to do the same—Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina had his cellphone seized by federal agents Wednesday night. The agents were at the senator’s Washington, D.C., residence.

Burr, who is a member of the “Gang of Eight” and the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sparked scrutiny in mid-March after making 33 transactions in February, that rid him of a significant chunk of his stock portfolio and netted him anywhere between $628,000 and $1.72 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. The transactions came after briefings on the potential impact of the novel coronavirus from the U.S. Department of Health.

While NPR broke the story about the private warnings to rich Tar Heels, ProPublica was the first to report on the selloff. 

ProPublica’s analysis indicated that the Feb. 13 selling spree was Burr’s “largest selling day of at least the past 14 months.”

As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story.

A week after Burr’s sales, the stock market began a sharp decline.

[...]

Burr is not a particularly wealthy member of the Senate: Roll Call estimated his net worth at $1.7 million in 2018, indicating that the February sales significantly shaped his financial fortunes and spared him from some of the pain that many Americans are now facing.

The newest and wealthiest member of the Senate, Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler, also got in on the secret selloff, making 29 transactions that add up to millions.  It’s worth noting that Burr is just one of three senators (and the only one still in office) who voted against the 2012 STOCK Act, which, as McClatchy puts it, “explicitly prevents members of Congress and their staffs from using nonpublic information for insider trading.”  Both the FBI and the DOJ have refused comment, as has Burr’s team; however, as the LA Times notes, the search warrant indicates “a significant escalation” in the investigation into Burr’s possible violation of the STOCK Act.

Grandparent magic, blatant voter fraud, and more: This week’s Picks from the Daily Kos Community

Happy happy Saturday, dearest Daily Kos Community! You keeping it together over there? Between this president’s antics, the ever-intense Democratic primary, and the fear of a potential pandemic gripping not just the nation, but the world, there’s a lot to be anxious about. All eyes are also on South Carolina this Saturday, as voters hope their candidates do well and fear what comes next if they don’t.

This week’s Picks aren’t a full reprieve from the issues that are haunting us today. All the same—come on in and enjoy ten great stories from our magnificent cadre of Community scribes that you might have missed!

This week’s stories, as always, cover a wide range of topics, and while some of them already have hundreds of recs and comments, most have far fewer. Dig in and see if I found a story that slipped by you. We’ve got two first-time diarists in the mix as well! Let’s hear it for the newbies, and for everyone else! 

Embedded Content

Without further delay, let’s get to it!

The Mass Psychology of the Religious Right By psychusa

This fascinating analysis of the psychology that keeps the religious right obedient to all the wrong people is a must-read as November speeds towards us.

Doctors Are Examining the Vaginas of Unconscious Women Without Their Consent

By ZawnVillines

Yes, really. And if the patients push back, they’re told to go elsewhere for treatment.

Oldest plant fossil ever found: Green plants were already big and multicellular a billion years ago

By skralyx

Science is amazing. This story not only explores a discovery of something (extremely) old, it also celebrates an exciting new discovery!

White Parents Force Suspension of 'Whiteness Studies' High School Course

By herbinchi

A Wisconsin school shut down a class that explored “American Diversity” after white parents called it “indoctrination.” Again: yes, really.

Vote fraud, the old-fashioned way: Philadelphia 1972

By afmeyers

A remarkable look back at the Nixon campaign’s manipulation of the race for president—from someone who was on-the-ground for team McGovern.

Republicans searched the world to find an 'Anti Greta,' and found a hard-right German teen

By The BigotBasher

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right? Even when it comes to the rightwing hunt for a teen sensation.

Another ex-GOP conversion story...a slow evolution in my case

By Joe Btfsplk

Another ex-Republican—and first-time diarist—shares a more-common-than-you-might-think journey from the hard right.

Jesse Jackson Explains Democratic Socialism

By whiffleberry

Regardless of who your preferred candidate for President may be, check out this dismantling of the seemingly inescapable fear-mongering about these two buzzwords.  

In Honor of my Grandfather - and ability itself

By Rogerwolfson

Another first-time diarist shares a loving and relatable tribute to his grandfather, and challenges us to think of the ways our own grandparents and elders have shaped us.

Burning Coal in the USA

By RustyRobot

A snackable, accessible, and must-read primer exploring the coal industry’s rise—and its collapse.

That’s it for this week, friends. How’d I do? As always, feel free to send your recommendations my way all week long, and don’t hesitate to sound off below if I overlooked some of your favorite writing this week. Most importantly, KEEP WRITING. Reading your work, and hearing from such a diverse array of voices is absolutely my second-favorite part of my job! (I cannot lie: Collaborating with my cherished Community Contributors team is my most-favorite task!)

Till next week, dearest ones! 

Your blow-by-blow recap of the 10th Democratic debate, with a little help from Twitter

The 10th Democratic presidential primary debate kicked off in Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of that state’s primary on Saturday. Norah O’Donnell, anchor of “CBS Evening News,” and Gayle King, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” were the main moderators, but were joined mid-debate by “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan, “60 Minutes”’ Bill Whitaker, and CBS News chief Washington, D.C. correspondent Major Garrett. 

With Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders the current frontrunner after three strong finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and particularly in Nevada, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg buying his way into every market, and former Vice President banking on South Carolina to keep his campaign alive, there is a LOT at stake in the Palmetto State, which will is the first of the early states with a significant black voting population.

Let’s dig right in—but be warned: The tension was high and the candidates have stopped being polite, and started getting real. Yes, that’s a MTV’s Real World  reference, but it really was quite hectic on that stage.

can someone get these dingdongs some jeopardy buzzers or something

— Mike Case (@MikeACase) February 26, 2020

CAN PROGRESSIVE IDEALS FIGHT TRUMP IN A “GOOD” ECONOMY?

Sanders got the first question, which positively framed the current economy and asked the Vermont senator how he thought he “can do better” than Donald Trump. Sanders was quick to note that the current economy only benefits people like Bloomberg, before listing several realities that millions of Americans currently face.

YouTube Video

Bloomberg got the rebuttal and deflected the economy talk to bring up recent intelligence that indicates Russia aims to support Sanders’ candidacy. The audience erupted in “oohs” reminiscent of the “Jerry Springer Show.” Sanders, clearly disgusted by Bloomberg’s statement, alluded to the billionaire’s relationship with China and vowed to shut down Putin as president. 

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren chimed in, asserting that progressive ideals are clearly popular now, and that while she and Sanders agree on a lot of issues, she’s got the plans to actually get it done—with a side note about the attacks she’s been fielding from the Sanders campaign.

Buttigieg was next, and said that Russia wants chaos. He then asked people to imagine a campaign that pitted Sanders vs. Trump, and what that political climate might do to our country between now and November. He then acknowledged the progressive wing of the party before demanding that a different tone was needed.

The other billionaire on the stage, Tom Steyer, asserted that he agrees with Sanders’ analysis of, but not his solutions to current issues. He then vowed to end corporate control of the government, while still keeping a robust private sector in place. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden brought up Sanders’ gun voting record against the Brady Bill in particular, implying that it enabled Dylann Roof’s deadly 2015 attack at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church near the debate venue; he also brought up recent oppo research that revealed Sanders once considered primarying Barack Obama in 2012. 

�I�m not saying he�s responsible for the nine dead.,� says Biden, the nicest thing anyone has said about Bernie so far.

� Dan Froomkin/PressWatchers.org (@froomkin) February 26, 2020

Sanders noted that Buttigieg has accepted billionaire donations. Buttigieg used it as an opportunity to entice grassroots voters to donate via his website.

Biden was asked why his support was dropping in South Carolina. He voiced his long relationship with the state before stating that he intended to win the state on Tuesday. King asked him if he’d drop out if he didn’t—and Biden repeated that he would win.

BLOOMBERG: IS HE RISKY? HOW ‘BOUT STOP AND FRISKY?

Bloomberg was then asked what exactly he’s apologizing for when he apologizes for Stop and Frisk. He repeated the false talking point that he stopped using it by 95% when he “realized” it was a bad practice, before attempting to segue into a different topic.

Bloomberg did not �cut back� stop and frisk. He continues to lie about this, and it�s disturbing. A judge ruled stop and frisk unconstitutional. Bloomberg fought for *years* defending the policy, and only reversed course when he decided to run for president.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 26, 2020

King pushed back on the topic—though not the facts—and Bloomberg asserted that people are only talking about Stop and Frisk because it benefits their campaigns, before rattling off several of his other accomplishments as mayor of New York City, including another lie—that he supported teachers.

So - Bloomberg was in an all out war with the teachers union in NYC for years. If you call them as Bloomberg suggested you will get quite an earful.

— Eliza Shapiro (@elizashapiro) February 26, 2020

When asked, “mayor to mayor,” if Stop and Frisk was racist, Buttigieg agreed that it was, quoting Bloomberg’s comment that “white people were being stopped too often.” Stopping just short of owning his own controversy with black people and the police in South Bend, the former mayor noted that it was weird to be talking about racial justice as one of seven white people on the stage, listing a bunch of racist and harsh experiences that people of color have.

Pete's outreach to black voters getting a little desperate pic.twitter.com/DefnSKYwou

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 26, 2020

Bloomberg then piped in with the newsflash that his life would have been harder if he’d been black, and vowed to do more than “just demagogue” about it. Klobuchar was asked about race next; after quoting MLK, she vowed to protect voter rights nationwide.

Warren was asked about her characterization of Bloomberg as the “riskiest” Democratic primary candidate. She confirmed she still feels that way before pointing out all key races he’s thrown his money and voice into, including his support of her own opponent and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and said no Democrats would accept him as the nominee.

YouTube Video

Bloomberg said he’s been training for the presidency since 9/11; Warren shared her oft-repeated story of workplace discrimination while pregnant before invoking the “Kill it!” allegation against Bloomberg—to boos from his supporters.

�Mike Bloomberg has on repeated occasions faced and fought allegations that he directed crude and sexist comments to women in his office, including a claim in the 1990s that he told an employee who had just announced she was pregnant to "kill it."� https://t.co/MVc30HsNjp pic.twitter.com/w9kwzvbBcG

— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) December 16, 2019

Bloomberg denied the allegation before noting that Warren wouldn’t have been fired for being pregnant in today’s New York City. Warren then repeated her call for the billionaire to release his former employees from their NDAs. He was then asked if he was wrong to make “jokes,” or if the women just took them wrong. Yes, that was an actual question.

After saying he did not recall the jokes, Bloomberg noted that since the Nevada debate, he’d released three women from their NDAs and his company would no longer use them, saying that, for Warren, “enough is never enough.”

Still thinking about Bloomberg saying about Warren, �The trouble is with this senator, enough is never enough.� Which basically is the equivalent of �Nevertheless she persisted.� ������

— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) February 26, 2020

Instead of stopping there, Bloomberg then said that he’d changed the world and corporations everywhere by banning the NDAs. Warren was then asked what her basis was for the “serious” allegation, and she cited the woman’s “own words.” Bloomberg insisted again that he never said “Kill it” to a pregnant employee.

FUNDING PROGRESSIVE DREAMS

O’Donnell asked Sanders about the math on his proposals, saying he can only pay for “about half” of his proposals. Naming recent research from the Lancet, which endorsed the financial and human impact of Medicare for All, he started to list potential revenue streams to fund it—starting with a payroll tax. He was cut off by Klobuchar, who cited different data and Sanders’ own recent “60 Minutes” interview. Calling his plans “a bunch of broken promises on a bumper sticker,” she touted her own proposals.

All hell broke loose right about then, as Sanders tried to respond, Buttigieg started shouting soundbites over him, and Steyer entered the fray for the first time. 

Out of control! WTH #DemDebate

— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) February 26, 2020

Sanders was given the chance to respond. He said that Buttigieg’s program was more expensive both financially and with regards to human impact. More chaos ensued before Steyer declared that Democrats are on the cusp of either choosing a “democratic socialist or a lifetime Republican,” and thus handing Trump the win. Bringing up economic, racial, and climate justice, the philanthropist fought for his last seconds on the clock when the moderators tried to silence him.

Buttigieg promised that with Sanders as the nominee, we were facing four more years with Trump, Kevin McCarthy as Speaker, and the continued GOP control of the Senate; he then entreated candidates to pay attention to who was behind the Blue Wave of 2018. 

Biden came in hot, noting that the majority of those Blue Wave folks were supporting him for president, and calling out Sanders for few accomplishments in his lifelong tenure in Congress, and Steyer for owning private prisons that he knew were toxic, citing harmful policies in both South Carolina and Georgia. When Steyer angrily protested his innocence, Biden shut him down.

Joe Biden ate his Wheaties this morning. #DemDebate

— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) February 26, 2020

The shouting resumed; Steyer insisted that he didn’t know about his prisons’ atrocities and sold them as soon as he learned of them. He then declared his commitment to racial justice. Klobuchar got the floor by shouting over the fray. She then explained that she’s far more effective when it comes to legislation than Warren or Sanders, before noting that many promises have been broken to the African American community by our society.

Bloomberg than noted that he helped fund half of the Blue Wave Democrats, to an audible grunt from Buttigieg. 

wait, did Bloomberg just refer to the new House Democratic majority by saying **�I bought that?�**

— Amanda Fischer (@amandalfischer) February 26, 2020

The former mayor then echoed the same story about Sanders vs. Trump that the other moderates told, namely that he’ll lose and commit the nation to four more years of the madman in the White House. Sanders was greeted by boos when he said only billionaires supported Bloomberg before highlighting his diverse coalition as a counter to the former New York mayor’s prediction that moderates will never vote for him. Warren then asserted that she too has popular progressive plans that will unite moderates, stressing that she knows how to pay for them all.

Then, 38 minutes in, it was time for our first glorious break!

NEW MODERATORS, SAME LACK OF GUN REFORM

The new moderators joined O’Donnell and King, who circled back to Biden, who had been the first to bring up the Mother Emanuel A.M.E church massacre of 2015. She asked why anyone should believe he can finally get meaningful gun reform through Congress. Calling out Sanders’ gun stances, while listing his gun control accomplishments going back to the 90s, Biden asserted that he was the only one on the stage who’d gotten gun legislation through in the past, end promised gun manufacturers that “I’m coming for you.”

Warren used the topic as an opportunity to voice her support to end the filibuster in order to push through gun reform.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks about her plan for passing gun safety legislation as President. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/MaJD0XBAc3

— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 26, 2020

Sanders was then asked why, out of all the industries he’s gone after, gun manufacturers get a pass. Sanders admitted his vote to shield gun manufacturers from wrongful death lawsuits was “a bad vote,” careful to point out Biden has a few bad votes in his history. He then touted his D- rating with the NRA.

Bloomberg then cited his funding of the gun reform groups Moms Demand Action and Everytown before Klobuchar noted that she wrote the bill that closes the “boyfriend” loophole. She then invoked her ability to win Midwestern voters, again citing her dear “Uncle Dick in the deer stand.”

Noting Sanders’ refusal to support the ending of the filibuster, Buttigieg explained that he was in high school for Columbine and waited for the government to fix things so it never happened again. They never did. Buttigieg next invoked his military experience as giving him an understanding of what guns can do. 

Sanders again invoked his D- NRA rating before Steyer brought up popular polling for gun reform and the Senate’s endless blocking of it. He segued his support of term limits as a way to get McConnell, Ted Cruz, and Graham out. 

EDUCATION FOR THE NATION

Whitaker brought up the education gap among white and black students in South Carolina. Citing Bloomberg’s heavy-handed expansion of charter schools in New York, he asked if he’d expand them nationwide. Bloomberg claimed that New York’s charter schools are some of the top in the nation, but he couldn’t speak to whether or not such expansion would work nationwide.

Warren boldly stated that her Secretary of Education would be a former public school teacher, who would eliminate high-stakes testing and keep public funds in public schools. She also noted that “education is not free,” and that an investment in education was necessary.

YouTube Video

Sanders went further, by naming several of the policies that they agree upon, including universal pre-K and free college tuition. He cited his funding plan—taxing “Wall Street speculation”—clearly in a preemptive strike against criticism of his lack of funding plans.

Noting that he was married to a public school teacher, Buttigieg brought up the fact that teachers are expected to defend their classrooms from gun violence. Warren tried to keep the education discussion going, but Garrett jumped in with the first Twitter-sourced question of the day.

Klobuchar got the first chance to respond: How will she help minimum wage workers with housing and education equity. Klobuchar focused on affordable housing in urban and rural areas. Warren cut her off, pointing out that race-neutral housing policies don’t acknowledge redlining, with a quick jab at Bloomberg for blaming its end for the 2008 crash. 

�We can no longer pretend that everything is race neutral� @ewarren nails it!!! I�m tired of this �I don�t see race BS�.... #WokeAF #DemDebate2020 if your plans don�t incorporate people of color throw them TF out! Period.

— DanielleMoodie-Mills (@DeeTwoCents) February 26, 2020

Bloomberg denied that he supported redlining, despite that not being the question, before pausing for a failed joke about winning the last debate. He then segued awkwardly to his early support of marriage equality.

pic.twitter.com/hTf7IGWd1f

— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) February 26, 2020

Biden was then asked why black voters should believe he can change centuries of inequality. The former vice president focused on supporting black entrepreneurship and first time homeowners, as well as a pushback against gentrification and the institutionalized devaluing of homes in communities of color. While talking about dismantling institutional racism, he was cut off by moderators. Biden then openly declared that his signature politeness about time limits was a thing of the past in this debate.

Sen. @AmyKlobuchar (D-MN) reacts as former Vice President @JoeBiden and @TomSteyer get into it during the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary debate #DemDebate2020 �: @WinMc pic.twitter.com/HL92lONWFH

— Getty Images News (@GettyImagesNews) February 26, 2020

Steyer explained his banking approach to affordable housing, then asserted that he’s the only candidate open to establishing on commission on reparations, but moderators squashed all other attempts to discuss it—O’Donnell even demanded that candidates “respect the rules of the debate.”

Sigh. I like Tom Steyer. I think he could be so useful. Just not on this stage.

— Tiffany Cross (@TiffanyDCross) February 26, 2020

She then lobbed a question at Klobuchar, about health care access in rural areas. Klobuchar spoke about making it easier for better and more doctors to get their education, and for immigrant doctors to come to the U.S.

Buttigieg was next, saying that there was no difference between life expectancies along rural and urban Americans when he was born, but there is now. He then cited his Douglass Plan’s voting rights act before Sanders brought up the tenets of his Medicare for All plan that support rural health care. 

Bloomberg admitted that what works in New York won’t work everywhere (via a Naked Cowboy joke) before he asserted the value of science, and noting that his policies shaped the nation’s policies. He specifically cited the city’s indoor smoking bans as an example, conveniently omitting the fact that California banned smoking in public places in 1995, while New York City got there eight years later. He also pointed out the crisis at the CDC that Trump’s created.

Biden explained his plan to expand the National Institutes of Health, insisting that it would have bipartisan support, before Klobuchar was asked if it marijuana conviction expunging was realistic; after citing the importance of process, she agreed that it could be done. Bloomberg was less eager to legalize cannabis. saying that while he would not take legal weed away from states who had passed it, it was too soon to move on legalizing marijuana without doing the scientific due diligence about its effects, particularly on young minds.

Sanders then clarified the differences between narcotics and opiates versus marijuana and vowed to effectively legalize it, expunge convictions, and support people of color as they enter the legal-cannabis industry.  Biden began to assert that he wrote the “drug court” bill before it was time for yet another break!

Once again, shocking that a dem debate goes this far and does NOT mention Trump post impeachment purge, attacks on independent justice and intelligence, and just today Supreme Court justices...

— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) February 26, 2020

COMBAT, CORONAVIRUS, CHINA, AND CASTRO

Back from commercial, O’Donnell asked Warren about how bringing combat troops back from the Middle East will impact national security. Citing a need to use “all the tools in the toolbox,” Warren contrasted her multi-faceted foreign policy against Trump’s. Bloomberg was asked if he’d pull all combat troops, and he made a jab at George W. Bush and the Iraq War looking good on paper. 

As the only combat veteran on the stage, Buttigieg noted that he first visited South Carolina as a member of the military, just before he headed to the Middle East. He also focused on his own multi-pronged ideas, starting with restoring American credibility. 

Klobuchar was asked about the coronavirus: Should we close the border to those who have been exposed? Klobuchar didn’t answer, instead zooming in on the need to treat and quarantine those who are sick, agreeing with Bloomberg’s earlier assertion of Trump’s failure to properly support the work of the CDC. She then plugged the CDC website, noting that she could have given the one of her campaign instead. 

Biden was then asked what he would do. He invoked his work containing the Ebola virus during the Obama administration, including supporting and funding the CDC and NIH, also noting that he had the relationships with world leaders to get them to better cooperate.

After a Trump joke, Sanders essentially agreed with Biden. Bloomberg was then asked about his statements about working with Chinese president Xi Jinping, and asked if Chinese firms should be permitted to help build critical U.S. infrastructure. He vehemently asserted that he did not, but that he also planned to negotiate with Xi as president. Biden got the same question and also answered “No,” before noting that he had a relationship with him. Warren got the same question and, noting that Bloomberg had long relationships with China, brought up the billionaire’s tax returns, which have not been released, before saying that she would not work with China on infrastructure. 

Bloomberg, as in the last debate, said the tax returns were on their way, but fellow billionaire Steyer dismissed his excuse, saying he’d already released a decade of his own. He then brought up his commitment to combating climate change. Sanders got into a small bicker with the audience after noting that the communist Chinese had made great strides in education before saying that he wouldn’t work with authoritarians—all referencing former president Barack Obama, who once noted that authoritarian governments are bad thing but still could manage to do good things. Buttigieg took that as an opportunity to allude to the recent Sanders-Castro scandal, and offered general disdain for nostalgia for the mid- to late-1900s, but Sanders was not having it. 

Pete pretends to be intelligent, but pretending that the coups from the 1950s and 1960s don't have a bearing on today's foreign policy just shows that you're dumb as an effing rock. #DemDebate

— Jonathan "Boo and Vote" Cohn (@JonathanCohn) February 26, 2020

As the audience exploded, Klobuchar got in there to say that the whole conversation was the worst nightmare of a moderate, particularly in Super Tuesday states. Sanders responded by reminding her that he’s got the highest favorability scores among anyone on the stage.

Biden was then asked if he’d launch cyberattacks in retaliation if it was proven that Russia intervered in the 2020 election. Biden asserted that it’s already been proven they are interfering, it was proven they interfered in 2016, and that sanctions should be imposed now. Steyer then asked where Trump was in the face of the “hostile” acts of cyberwarfare, noting that Trump has sided with a hostile foreign power—getting the biggest applause of the night.

Sanders then was asked about being Jewish, and about Jews who might believe he is unsupportive of Israel; he was also asked if he’d move the U.S. Embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv. After calling out Benjamin Netayanhu for his corruption and evil deeds, Sanders voiced that he wouldn’t make any action as president without considering the Palestinians. Bloomberg, as the other Jew on the stage, vowed to leave the embassy where it was, and was cut off as he began to explain his own two-state solution.

American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic & are not single-issue voters who favor whatever is in the Israeli government's best interest. Acting like this isn't reality is deeply problematic

— Stephen Wolf (@PoliticsWolf) February 26, 2020

Warren agreed with Sanders that a two-state solution was essential, but that it’s not up to the United States, as allies, to decide what that looks like: It’s up to Israelis and Palestinians. She refused to answer further when pressed about moving the embassy. 

Klobuchar was then asked if she, like Trump, would meet with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. She said that she would, but not like Trump has, instead working with allies and having required deliverables. Biden said he would not work with any dictator; noting that Trump has given Jong Un, whom he called a “thug,” legitimacy. Despite his feisty promise to go over time, Biden stopped talking when moderators asked, noting that it must be his “Catholic school training” that made him do it.

The next Twitter question, which centered on the chaos in Idlib, Syria, which is facing violence at the hands of the Syrian regime and Russia, came to Buttigieg first; he cited military action, while Warren voiced a desire for anything but.

It was then time for the final break; King promised the final question would be a personal one, letting candidates share their “words to live by.”

A CORNY CLOSE: MOTTOS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

King asked the final question, a two-parter: What’s the biggest misconception about you, and what’s motto that describes you?

Steyer noted that he draws a cross on his hand every day, as a reminder “to tell the truth and do what’s right no matter what.” He said it’s untrue that he’s defined by his business success and money.

Tom Steyer doesn't want to be defined by his billions even though he's only on stage because of his billions. #DemDebate

— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) February 26, 2020

Klobuchar asserted that she is not boring before quoting Paul Wellstone; “Politics is about improving people’s lives.”

Biden didn’t offer a motto; rather he named several mottos about resilience and representation before vowing to put a black woman on the Supreme Court, to huge cheers. He also noted his loyalty. Biggest misconception? “I have more hair than I think I do.”

Sanders declared that “the ideas I’m talking about tonight are not radical,” he said. He quoted Nelson Mandela as his motto: “Everything is impossible until it happens.” 

Warren joked that she eats all the time as a joke; but the real misconception was that she’s always thought she was supposed to be president. She returned to Matthew 25 for her motto: “In as much as ye hath done int unto one these, the least of thy brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Buttigieg said that the biggest misconception was that he’s not passionate, since he’s “kinda level”; his motto? “Of you would be a leader you should first be a servant.”

Bloomberg joked that people mistakenly believe that he’s six feet tall; his motto was his own word: “I’ve trained for this job for a long time, and when I get it, I’m going to do something, not just talk about it.”

"What is your motto?" BIDEN: Stay loyal WARREN: Be true to yourself BLOOMBERG: [mouth opens and money shoots out]

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 26, 2020

O’Donnell then attempted to end the night—but King said there was time for more debate after the break … yet when they came back, O’Donnell then actually ended the debate.

Wait, did CBS seriously delay the conclusion of the debate to get in another commercial block? Truly insulting to viewers

— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) February 26, 2020

Once all was said and done, it was hard to declare a clear “winner”; but talking time was a pretty evenly distributed, according to CNN, as long as you look past Sanders and Steyer, that is.

At the end of the #DemDebate, Sen. Bernie Sanders had a clear lead in speaking time with nearly 16 minutes, followed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, all at more than 13 minutes. https://t.co/nSKHArYd3p pic.twitter.com/OSVt6Pc8NA

— CNN (@CNN) February 26, 2020

Love at first sight, using music to activate young voters, and more—this week’s Community Picks

Oh, dearest Community. It has been A. Week. I feel like it’s A Week every week, but this week was a horrible week. Iowa. That SOTU circus. The cowardice of every Senate Republican but one. The coronavirus. What. A. Week. 

Yet still we must fight. We must fight for those who come after us, and we must fight for ourselves. I’ll get to this week’s great writing in a moment, but first I want to talk about persistence.

I still remember the first time I became aware of politics. It was the 1988 election, I was 8 years old, and I remember seeing Jesse Jackson on the debate stage, and SNL’s brutal “Dukakis After Dark” parodies. I remember the Gary Hart scandal, though I was far too young to understand it. We had family over for a Democratic debate watch party, and I remember my mother telling me that I could make history in 2016 if I wanted to ... by becoming the first black, Catholic woman president. The men in the room laughed. 2016 seemed so far away at the time, but we did get our first black president after all.

I digress. 2000 was the first presidential cycle where I was eligible to vote; I was devastated by the “hanging chad” debacle and genuinely worried for our country under Dubya’s leadership, even before 9/11. By 2004, I was almost old enough to rent a car and definitely ready to help defeat Bush II; I joined Sean “Puffy” Combs’ “Vote or Die” movement, and learned how to leverage both my blackness and my youth to engage first-time voters who looked like me. 

On Election Day 2004, I took off work and drove elderly people to their polling places all morning. In the afternoon, it became my job to protect voters in line at an understaffed polling center on the east side of Cleveland. I paced the long line for hours, giving people free umbrellas to help them stay dry, and as it got colder, I handed out paper cups of hot cocoa and coffee, all in an effort to encourage people to stay in line, and make it worth the wait to exercise their right to vote. Eventually, I dropped my car at home and cabbed downtown to watch returns at the Democratic Party’s official watch party. I switched hats yet again, and interviewed politicians like Dennis Kucinich and Sherrod Brown for our local NBC affiliate. I binged on hors d’oeuvres and free booze.  Then … John Kerry was not elected president. The ballroom filled with despair, then cleared out long before all the returns came in. I lingered waiting for a surprise that didn’t come until 2008.  By then, I lived in California, and I was in grad school, so burdened by academic obligations that I barely had time to vote, much less donate my time to the Obama campaign. My polling place was at the bottom of the Hollywood hill where I lived, and it took two hours to cast my ballot. But oh, what a delightful two hours it was. People were so excited to vote for Barack Obama. People passed out water and sweets, much like I passed out cocoa and umbrellas four years earlier. We sang songs and played goofy games with our neighbors. Suddenly, in a city where nobody makes eye contact, we were a community! 2016 was brutal. My polling place in Berkeley, where I lived at the time, was a ghost town. At the watch party at my office, the joyous “first woman president” vibes quickly turned dark as we realized the impossible had happened: Donald Trump won the Electoral College. It was then that “closeted” Trump supporters back in Ohio posted jubilant “coming out” treatises to their social media, suddenly spewing Trumpian rhetoric that they’d secretly embraced. “I voted for Trump! Deal with it,” they crowed. 

I still haven’t forgiven them.  But 2018 brought the Blue Wave. 2020 must be a Blue Tsunami. A Blue Deluge. A Blue Eagre, which is a word I just learned today. We must foster community in the party, and persist in getting out every vote we can. We must unite behind the nominee—blue no matter who—and come together as the inclusive party that we are. As Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said time and time again during Friday’s debate, “We’re the Democrats.” We are the Democrats, dearest ones. Let’s do what we do.  Thanks for reading all of that. Let’s get to this week’s stellar stories for you, that show who we are and what we can do. Why is Taylor Swift the lead image? Because she’s using her platform to get out the youth vote, much like Puffy did when I myself was a young voter. You’ll see. Without further delay, here are this week’s Community Picks!  

Diary of a recovering Republican By WastedPotential

“The way our country looks now, I can’t imagine ever casting another R vote.”  There are people without a party out there. Let’s bring ‘em over to Team Blue.

Clemson University honors our white supremacy heritage

By Thoth777

This look at the well-documented racist vitriol of Ben "Pitchfork" Tillman will make you wonder how one of the nation’s top universities can continue to honor him. 

The Trump recession is already happening

By voidstuff

Trump is touting the supposedly great economy every chance he gets … but like almost everything else that comes out of his mouth, it’s a lie.

Silencing corporate bullies

By Tom Conway

Union-busting is alive and well in Ohio.

GOP admits climate plan is messaging to appease voters, not policy to reduce fossil fuel use

By ClimateDenierRoundup

True to form, Republicans have crafted “a plan that doesn’t actually address climate change by reducing fossil fuel use, but merely sounds like it would while in fact promoting fossil fuels.”

The urgency of remembering the Holocaust

By eclift

Ignorance of the Holocaust is rising right alongside acts of anti-Semitism. Both must be confronted.

Fifty years ago today as I stepped onto the balcony barefoot, something incredible happened

By FishOutofWater

This adorable story of love at first sight will warm your heart, even if you’re braving a winter storm. 

Let's remember the heroes of the Greensboro sit-ins on its 60th Anniversary

By AKALib 

They just wanted a cup of coffee, but they ended up making history.

Taylor Swift is working hard to get out the youth vote

By progressive2016

The Christian-country-pop superstar stopped singing about high school a long time ago … but now she’s using her talents to activate her huge and devoted fanbase of young people.

Broken jaw, Johnny Bright, football helmets, and this impeachment is just like the good ole days

By CA148 NEWS

This amazing and appalling story of Jim Crow bigotry in college football will blow your mind.

That’s it for this week, friends! How’d we do? As always feel free to share great writing we may have missed, and sound off on pretty much anything, really, in the comments. I say it every week, but it feels truer than ever this week: Thank you for being a part of the Daily Kos Community. We’re so glad you’re here. 

‘HELP!!!’ Internal emails reveal panicked weather agencies during ‘crazy’ SharpieGate crisis

Over 1,000 emails dropped Friday reveal the multi-agency upheaval that followed one of the stranger moments in recent Trump history: SharpieGate. Remember SharpieGate? It feels like a lifetime ago, but it was actually just five months ago that Donald Trump altered a National Weather Service map with a marker, rather than concede that he’d incorrectly named the states in path of a hurricane, sparking unnecessary fear.

Let’s back up a moment and do a quick recap of SharpieGate before we dig into the emails. Like so much of Trump’s nonsense, it all starts with a tweet. 

On the morning of Sept. 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas hard as a Category 5, with 185mph winds; at least 70 people died. Trump took to Twitter to fire out conversational, somewhat presidential blessings and caution towards those on the mainland who might be in harm’s way.

x

Exactly 20 minutes later, the Birmingham field office of the National Weather Service sent out a tweet of its own.

x

Minutes later, the National Hurricane Center offered its own guidance.

x

The Twitter universe swooped right in.

x

Did Trump screw up? He had, most likely basing his list of states on out-of-date, earlier forecasts, which did include Alabama, as recently as just two days' earlier, not because he wanted to spark a cat-5 hurricane panic for the fun of it. It was one of the rare situations where most Americans would forgive the man for his error … if he’d just admitted he’d made a mistake.

Instead, Trump doubled down on the (non) danger posed to Alabama during a FEMA briefing a couple hours later, implying that it was NWS Birmingham who had outdated information—without quite saying its name. “(I)t may get a little piece of a great place: It’s called Alabama.  And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be.  This just came up, unfortunately,” Trump said, according to the White House’s official transcript.

Later on Sunday, on the South Lawn, Trump included Alabama again. “We don’t know where it’s going to hit, seems to be going to Florida, now it should be going to Georgia, the Carolinas,” he said. “Alabama to get a bit of a beat down. You’ll be learning more probably over the course of the next 24 hours.”

By early the next morning, Trump was lashing out at the media for reporting on his error, calling journalists “bad people” in a two-part tweet aimed at ABC News’ Jon Karl. What a way kickoff Labor Day.

x

Yet even then, this strange saga wasn’t yet known as SharpieGate. It didn’t get REALLY weird until Wed., Sept. 4, when Trump, while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, presented a poster-sized image of NWS guidance as “proof” that Alabama was in Dorian’s path and thus he was perfect and right and right and perfect.

There was just one problem.

x

When a reporter commented on the modification, Trump didn’t deny it, ensuring that the absolutely ridiculous scandal would continue. 

x

And so #SharpieGate began. After just a few hours, Trump continued to refuse to admit he was wrong, and used an even more outdated map than the one he drew on. This one was an Aug. 29 “spaghetti” model from a Florida water management agency.

x

The Florida map says that NOAA/NHC guidance “supersedes” all. Also: Trump altered THAT model!

x

Unfazed, Trump just kept going.

x

On Friday, almost a week into the fiasco, NOAA finally spoke; it tossed NWS Birmingham right into the eye of the hurricane with an unattributed statement. 

x

SharpieGate didn’t end there, of course. The NOAA statement sparked rage throughout the weather science community, and soon The New York Times was reporting that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was the driving force behind the horrible statement. The chief of NOAA denied it on Sept. 11, and most people didn’t believe him, but for the most part, both Trump and the weather scientists got their way: The SharpieGate scandal fell off the news cycle, and the whistleblower complaint took its place. 

It seems fitting somehow that, just as the impeachment of Donald Trump is coming to its end, SharpieGate is back in the headlines.

Again, this never needed to be a thing. Trump, or one of his spineless minions, could have just said “Whoops, this was based on bad data” and moved on. Instead, He Who Is Never Right had to be right; when NWS Birmingham sent out the correct information, Trump took it as a slight, hearing his name where it hadn’t been called. I read a bit more than half of the email cache, and the Birmingham office’s chief meteorologist maintains that his “day shift” had no idea about Trump’s tweet until about 10 minutes after they sent out their own. The chief, Chris Darden, was forced to insist that his team wasn’t tweeting in “’direct’ response to the POTUS.” Only in this presidency would such a “direct” tweet be considered a bad thing! The NOAA didn’t necessarily cover things perfectly—staff were ordered early on Day One of SharpieGate to “not provide any opinion” and direct all queries to the agency’s Public Affairs department. The edict was sent out again after Trump showed off his poster on Sept. 4, and again the next day. The email trove also shows how unprepared a bunch of weather PR people—some of whom were also scientists—were for their time in the center ring of a Trump circus. The NWS Director of Public Affairs, Susan Buchanan, challenges Social Media Lead Corey Pieper when he warns her about Trump’s special map: “Are you sure they were doctored?” (“Yes,” he writes back.)

“HELP!!!” is all Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and communications officer, offers as commentary on a forwarded media request from ABC News after Trump showed off his altered weather map. “I pray this thing dies off by morning,” writes Deputy Chief of Staff Julie Roberts just a couple hours later. The next morning, a Deputy Undersecretary, Benjamin Friedman, calls the doctoring of the map “crazy.”  More telling? The anger at the NOAA statement that undermined NWS Birmingham. “You are not going to believe this BULL,” NOAA official Maureen O’Leary writes to a colleague on vacation, attributing the anonymous statement to Roberts. “I hope you are having a great trip.”

The outrage over the NOAA statement, which was loud in public, was just as hot internally. “Please address this crisis in moral leadership our agency is facing,” wrote a Seattle-based senior biologist to NWS Director Neil Jacobs, gaining the attention of retired Navy Rear Admiral and Deputy NOAA Administrator Tim Gallaudet, who said he and Jacobs “did not approve or support” the NOAA statement.  BuzzFeed’s self-declared “FOIA Terrorist,” investigative reporter Jason Leopold, has been updating this thread with new gems as he and his team make their way through the cache.  

x

Go ahead and dig in to see just how many people scrambled to protect Donald Trump’s ego after they correctly reported hurricane projections. That Trump expects to have his own errors handled in such a way is no surprise in light of the impeachment case presented by the House Managers in recent weeks. It’s just that much more disturbing.

Anything but impeachment … again! This week’s Picks from the Daily Kos Community

Hello, dearest Community! Somehow it’s Saturday again and we’ve made it through another week of the Democratic presidential primary, Trump doing terrible things, a terrifying new disease, and the absolute failure of our democracy at the hands of Senate Republicans! Plus an NBA legend, his teen daughter, two of her friends, plus five other people died in a helicopter crash. What a week.

Our nation is hurting, and the purported leader is reveling in it. Yet through it all, you, fearless Community, kept writing, kept interacting with each other, and helped each other face another day in Trump’s America. And that’s something I really want to honor. I won’t lie: It was EXTREMELY hard to find content that fit the Picks of the Week bill. It wasn’t just hard to dodge the subject of impeachment, which of course moved almost too fast to follow this week; wiith the Iowa Caucuses less than 48 hours away, it was hard to avoid primary talk and the pie that comes with it. 

But I did it! Ten stories await you on this week’s reading list.

Before we dig in, I must be honest: One story does discuss a Trump rally, and another was written by a Warren supporter. That doesn’t make the stories any less important. 

When Trump Came to My Town

By maisey

DJT’s campaign events awaken the worst in people—and the filth doesn’t end once Trump leaves.

The ABC test was designed to protect workers, but its having the opposite effect

By kimkavin

Attempts to protect workers in the new “gig economy” might come from a desire to do good, but they’re actually doing a lot of harm.

Sir Nicholas Winton - the Hero who rescued 669 Jewish children on the eve of WWII

By AKALib

The heroes of the Holocaust are many. This is the story of one, but check the comments for even more people who risked it all to do what was right. 

New Emails Show Trump Admin Exploited Wildfires to Help Logging Industry

By ClimateDenierRoundup

The Trump administration suggested that trees were to blame for past California wildfires, in support of chopping them all down. Yes, really.

A dog offers lessons on how be a better guy

By dogsbody

You can find wisdom in the most expected places. Also, dogs are lovely and we don’t deserve them.

How James Baldwin changed my life

By Chitown Kev

A scared and aimless 19-year-old finds “marching orders” for his future in the words of a literary hero.

The Inoculation Project 1/26/2020: Ozobots and Science Labs

By belinda ridgewood

The education crowdfunders are at it again, this time helping kids in Kentucky learn to code, while Missourians get to explore space.

A Safe Place To Camp Is The First Step In Getting People Housed

By RachaelRoseLuckey

 A Los Angeles activist makes the case for managed, intentional tent cities to help provide safe, clean shelter to those waiting for something more stable or secure. 

I phone banked for the first time today

By sujigu

This dispatch from a terrified campaign volunteer will inspire you to get to work, no matter who your candidate is!

On Medicare For All, From a Ford Retiree

By Enoch Ro0t

Once upon a time, Ford’s healthcare plan was all-inclusive, and this retiree and his family got used to it. Then everything changed.

That’s it for this week, friends! How’d we do this week? Did we miss any gems among all the impeachment coverage? Let me know in the comments.  

As always, I’d love to hear how you’re doing this week! Also, here’s a shameless plug for the new Community Contributors Team! Give our blog a follow and see what we’ve been up to so far in 2020! Till next week, cherished Community, keep on writing! This place wouldn’t be the same without your voice …. we are so glad you’re here.

Anything but impeachment: This week’s picks from the Daily Kos Community

Hey, Daily Kos Community! I don’t know about y’all, but it feels so good to not be watching the Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump this afternoon. I can’t be alone in that mood. I won’t waste any more of your time talking about that which has consumed us. Instead, I’ll go on ahead and send you into this week’s dreamy collection of great Community writing—a list that’s entirely free of impeachment content.  Enjoy!

Indigenous youth occupy office of B.C. Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

By Dan Bacher

Need another reason to be in awe of today’s young people? Here’s further proof that the kids are determined to save the world and save us all.

Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama

By AKALib

Forever FLOTUS is just so gosh dang pleasant and delightful. There’s never a bad day for a nice collection of some of her finest moments, but her birthday was definitely a good day for it.

There was no place for a Muslim journalist in 1980s America

By YasminaReality

A look back at life as a Muslim in America, by someone determined to tell the world’s most important stories since the 1970s.

Supreme Court to review "faithless electors" case

By ptalbert

As resistance to the Electoral College grows, four 2016 electors who didn’t reflect the wish of the voters they represent are headed to the nation’s highest courts.

I came back from "death"

By Eihenetu

This is not the story of a near-death experience. This is a story of redemption.

A country funeral

By Christopher Bauer

My gosh this story is beautiful. Just read it.

The 2020 “everything terrible Trump has done” year end summary report

By smallch

The Trump Omnibus has grown so large, it’s becoming overwhelming to the average reader. The heroes who collect the Popular Vote Loser’s bad deeds created this accessible summary of 2019. Take a look just for the scandals you may have already forgotten thanks to the most recent scandals (or the ones before that).

"It's local elections, stupid"

By kid oakland

Without local victories, there is not progress. It’s just not possible. 2020 is about registering voters, organizing locally and challenging for every seat that we can win, and some we can’t.

GOP Rep introduces a bill to let Christian jewelry company profit off Bible and military

By ChrisRodda

Florida man abuses his position of power for the benefit of one company that got busted using U.S. military insignia without permission.

Indiana legislators propose making abortion murder, arresting judges who strike down law

By ZawnVillines

Indiana’s newest forced-birth legislation is extremely draconian and unreasonable, just like anti-choice activists like it.

What happens when it's your town's turn?

By xaxnar

“When Anderson Cooper is late to your local disaster, you know something is wrong.” The media mostly ignored a horrific flood in Nashville back 2010, which impacted the resources the community received. As such natural events of devastation become ever more common, can society keep up?

Crazy/Stupid Republican of the Day: Roy Moore

By republicinsanity

There is so much wrong with Roy Moore. The Daily Kos Community supported the fight to keep him out of the U.S. Senate in a 2017 special election, but he’s running again! 

That’s it for this week, friends. How’d we do? Let me know in the comments!  As always, feel free to drop a line in my Kosmail if you’ve got suggestions and submissions. Most importantly, keep writing! I love reading your work every day. We’re all so lucky you’re here.