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Newsletter: Does Donald Trump have the guts to debate Hillary Clinton again?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Sept. 26.
(Joe Raedle/Pool via Associated Press)

Happy Saturday, everyone. It’s your friendly neighborhood Opinion digital editor Matthew Fleischer here, filling in for Paul Thornton one last time before his return from leave.

Everyone knew the first presidential debate was going to be a three-ring circus. It certainly did not disappoint. More than 80 million people tuned in to watch Donald Trump sniffle and bumble his way to a resounding defeat against an infinitely better-prepared Hillary Clinton.

Can you believe we have two more of these things to go?

If the first go-round is any indication, Trump might want to either try to prep for the next round or stay as far away from Clinton as possible.

Opinion columnist Doyle McManus took the time to read the transcript of Trump’s finer debate points. He found that, stripped of its theatricality, Trump’s performance was borderline nonsensical.

Both candidates agreed that cyberwarfare — the growing efforts by Russia, China and others to hack American computer networks — are a top priority for the next president. “It is a huge problem,” Trump affirmed.

His policy, then? “We have to get very, very tough,” he said. “I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable. But I will say we are not doing the job we should be doing.”

When candidates cite their children as experts, it’s a safe bet they haven’t studied the issue themselves.

Nuclear weapons, then; surely Trump has thought hard about the most powerful part of the U.S. military arsenal.

It’s been widely reported that President Obama has considered adopting a policy of “no first use,” meaning the United States would promise never to use nuclear weapons first in any conflict. It’s not a new or obscure issue.

Trump’s view? “I’d like everybody to end it, just get rid of it, but I would certainly not do first strike. I think once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over,” he said. “At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table.”

Oops, as a previous debater once said.

In his answer, Trump took two opposing positions at the same time. “I would certainly not do first strike,” he said — that’s “no first use.” But “I can’t take anything off the table” — that’s the opposite of “no first use.”

It sounded as if he didn’t know what he was talking about.

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(David Horsey)

It remains to be seen whether Trump will subject himself to another round of debate battering from Clinton. If he does, expect him to be more belligerent than ever. He’s already threatening to bring up Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs. What happens if he decides to completely step on Hillary’s speaking time? Here’s a solution from a former high school debate champion: Cut his mic. L.A. Times

Los Angeles has always been a car town. But do we have to stay one? Is it our fate to forever sit in soul-sucking traffic? No. We can and will change if we pass Measure M in November — which will permanently fund transportation projects in L.A. County — says The Times’ editorial board. L.A. Times

Can removing lanes of traffic from L.A.’s clogged roads actually make the city’s streets better? Yes, it can. Data scientists analyzed Silver Lake’s notorious Rowena “road diet” — which shaved the busy through-street from four lanes to three, much to the chagrin of neighborhood residents — and found that accidents and pedestrian deaths went down, while traffic volume stayed the same. Livable City

You’d have to follow politics pretty closely to know this, but President Obama was America’s first foodie-in-chief — as far a cry as possible from Bill Clinton’s Big Macs and the notoriously green vegetable-phobic Bushes. The man brewed his own craft beer in the White House, for goodness sake. Being skilled with chopsticks and fluent with an array of international culinary traditions isn’t exactly his signature accomplishment in office, but the impacts of Obama’s dedication to good, healthful eating have been more profound than many realize. The New Yorker

Would it kill In-N-Out to add a veggie burger to its menu? Apparently it would, if online commenters are to be believed. For merely suggesting the popular burger chain alter its menu, op-ed contributor Emily Byrd was accused of sending America on a path to becoming “a gender-free, multicultural safespace to cuddle in” that’s populated by “the worst types of humans.” L.A. Times

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