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Manic Monday Markup 9/26/16…

The Feds:

We begin today in the United States, where the first general election presidential debate is shaping up to be the most watched thing on television. Expectations are higher for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, thus leaving real estate tycoon and provocateur Donald Trump, the Republican, with a lot more room to exceed.

What are you doing tonight? We’ll take a guess: watching @hillaryclinton and @realdonaldtrump face off in one of the most highly anticipated presidential debates in American history. The nationally televised event — which will take place at Long Island’s @hofstrau at 9 p.m. ET — is expected to draw up to 100 million viewers. Regardless of the issues, it seems certain to be a spectacle. But the presidential race that once seemed to be tipped in @hillaryclinton’s favor is growing more competitive as early voting begins, making tonight's #debate far more than a made-for-TV moment. While on #nytassignment yesterday, @samuelhodgson took this photo of a @cnn bus parked outside tonight’s venue on Long Island. Visit the link in our profile to see what @nytimes reporters are watching for tonight.

A photo posted by The New York Times (@nytimes) on

Trump’s debate prep has been either non-existent or a head-fake as few details have leaked other than Trump not having a Clinton doppelganger to debate against.

Clinton and Co have been bracing for a lower-key Trump, but Clinton’s Trump stand-in, long-time aide Phillippe Reines, suggests they also wanted someone who could be as bombastic as the TV showman. But Reines also knows her weaknesses. But in any event, the heat is on Hillary. While some in Obamaworld are on edge, others are more comfortable with the state of the race.

The Fourth Estatements:

The debates are also a test for the media and tonight’s moderator Lester Holt. Donald Trump has paraded the falsehood that  Holt is a Democrat—he’s actually a longtime Republican—showing a rather overt attempt to work the ref. There is pressure on Holt to fact check during the debate, although how is a fair question.

Television outlets have already said live on-air fact checking won’t happen, which means calling out Trump will happen afterward. Of course, the first 30 minutes of the debate matter most, never mind the post-game show. However, Bloomberg TV will.

The New York Times endorses Clinton. In a separate editorial, states why Trump is simply unacceptable, concluding with a rhetorical question about being a role model for our children.

…And the World:

As the latest Syrian ceasefire disintegrates, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Russia appear ready to torch rebel holdout city Aleppo.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has told the country’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not to run for the office again in 2017.

The United Nations has approved an historical agreement to combat the rise of antibiotic resistance.

Deep losses for Spain’s Socialist Party in regional elections put pressure on the national branch of the party to find a solution to the country’s political deadlock. The center-right Popular Party won the most seats in the rerun election held earlier this year—the original deadlocked election occurred last December—but nowhere near enough to govern. It would need the centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens) party and the Socialist to govern as an agreement with far-left Podemos is bloody unlikely.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with both Clinton and Trump yesterday trying very hard not to pick sides (as he was alleged to have done in favor of one-time co-worker Mitt Romney). Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s motives seem muddled.

It’s an odd dance for Netanyahu. As anti-Semitism, along with all forms of bigotry, streams into Trump’s base of support, Netanyahu probably can take little stock in Trump’s pledges to Israel. Moreover, Bibi chastized Trump last year for his call to ban Muslims from entering the US. Not that it matters to Trump’s voters, but he has a problem when he has been called out by a man who won reelection by shouting, in effect, “The Arabs are voting!”

The Feds (cont’d):

Polls have undoubtedly tightened across the presidential race. However, there is some evidence that it represents a consolidation of GOP support for Trump rather than true movement of the race away from Clinton. However, as is the case even in states not considered competitive, like Connecticut, the impact of third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein will be felt.

Speaking of the third-party folks, Stein and her minions demand she participate in the debate. While Johnson does that thing with his tongue.

Connecticut fetes its new Sikorsky helicopter deal and both parties are happy. However, the GOP says its also a sign of the state’s lack of business friendliness.

The US Supreme Court and the Election: The New York Times looks at how the election could shape the Robert Court and Chief Justice John Roberts. With issues like global warming heading through the courts, the fate of SCOTUS is the under-talked-about issue of the campaign.

What’s the matter with Maine?

Crime is up nationally, but nowhere near the level seen in the 1990’s.

The State of Things:

Gov. Charlie Baker is still reeling from last week’s revelations that some of his Energy and Environmental Affairs staffers allegedly plotted against the fiancée of a Democratic senate candidate. The Herald reported Friday his team waited three months to act on the claims. See WMassP&I’s view from the 413.

Attorney General Maura Healey goes to battle with gun dealers over her assault weapons regulations.

The race to lead the Massachusetts Democratic party grows with the entry of the Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has a sterling approval rating. Even Charlie can’t boast that.

Holyoke’s acting city solicitor Kara Cunha, who also staffs the Council, is leaving for a gig at the Attorney General’s office.

The Reminder’s Mike Dobbs’s says a recent Mass Pike meeting was a farce.

The Fourth Estatements (cont’d):

Hillary Clinton went Between Two Ferns last week. The short, hosted by actor Zach Galifianakis, poked fun at the candidate. The interview came at the instigation of Clinton herself. While there appears no movement in the polls, the interview has gotten a lot of views.

The Times profiles Roger Ailes’s (unauthorized) biographer, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.

Jane Pauley will take over CBS’s Sunday Morning from Charles Osgood.

City Slickers:

Calvin McFadden, an at-large member of the School Committee, is due to vacate his seat by the end of September as he moves to Agawam. The School Committee shall select his replacement as the only next highest vote-getter, Antonette Pepe, passed away last year.

Essentially rep-elect Bud Williams forgot to include his wife’s real estate holdings on his ethics forms.

A Mexican mobile consulate is coming to Springfield.

Twitter Chatter:

These debates will be a critical moment in American history. They are—or have the capacity to be—such in all elections. However, with the possibility of a candidate so-opening appealing to the worst demons of our nature—fear, racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny—they could prove to be among the most consequential since they began. We award the tweet prize today to journalism professor Dan Kennedy, who hits the nail on the head about how moderators can fact-check the candidates. It needn’t be a direct rebuke, but a studious follow-up that defangs Trump or counters Clinton.

Of course, our opinion of Trump is no secret to anybody (have your read our markups?). But few have distilled the image Trump has crafted as a populist truth-teller than journalist Eric Kleefield. He’s just populists like Williams Jennings Bryan—except he is everything Bryan railed against. The facts are really irrefutable. Trump is a con-man and he has conned dozens of scared desperate people into believing he is a stunning business success—in addition to the more eager and clear-eyed bigots. In fact he has been nothing than a hateful cartoon from reality TV. And television, tonight, is likely where and how we seen how far this goes.