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WTF Overview

So a little overview of how we're going to approach this very weird debate night. By schedule the Donald Trump counter-event is supposed to start at 8 PM. And that will be preceded by an "exclusive" interview with CNN - probably a chit for their being the first network to announce they'd cover his speech live. The Fox debate gets underway at 9 PM. But of course, it's already 8:15 PM. And the 'exclusive' interview hasn't even started yet. So there's little doubt that Trump plans to let his extravaganza roll right into and maybe right through the gutted Fox debate. We will be covering both events, simultaneously, whenever they happen.

Just in Awe

This would appear to be what we're in store for tonight ...

I hedged a bit on whether Trump could pull this off in my post last night on Trump's mastery of dominance/aggression politics. But I think this is going to be a long night for the folks at Fox News.

It Just Might Be Working

It's a pretty safe bet that by seizing the opportunity to decapitate the leadership of the Oregon occupiers, federal authorities were hoping the remainder of the ragtag outfit would just shrivel and go away. It sounds good in theory, but it's still a roll of the die. The risk, obviously, is that you end up with a more emboldened, more radicalized, and more paranoid rump group left behind that is nervous, twitchy and less predictable.

I would say the signs over the last 15 hours or so are looking pretty good for the feds' strategy. Here's why.

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The Trumph of the Will

I wanted to make a couple related observations about this Donald Trump debate drama.

First, an admission.

When I heard last night that Trump was pulling out of the Fox News GOP primary debate I was quite certain he had every intention of finally attending tomorrow night's event. The point was simply to engineer 48 hours of cable news drama, begging by Fox News, all topped off by Trump finally deigning to attend the event after all the other players had been sufficiently humiliated. But unless the man is managing a far better bluff than I can imagine, that is clearly not the case. It also seems clear it was never the case. I see no evidence that Trump fumbled this gambit or boxed himself into a non-attendance he didn't intend. Being a no show was the plan.

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Violence, Tragedy and Nonsense

As luck or fate or random chance would have it, as the news about the Trump debate drama and the arrests of the Bundy-ites broke last night, I was out for a celebratory dinner with our New York City editorial staff to gear up for the many late nights of the primary season proper. So the DC team carried the ball and we here in New York tried to follow the sketchy developments as they emerged from Oregon on our iPhones. By the time I got home, we knew that one militant was dead and, a bit later, that it was Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, one of the most high profile of the militants and the one who'd openly said he'd prefer to die rather than be taken alive. Here's a look at who Finicum was.

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Watch Oregon Presser Live

Law enforcement convenes its first press conference since last night's arrest of the Oregon standoff leaders that resulted in one death. Watch.

New Level Of Seriousness

Lurking in the background since the beginning of the Oregon standoff was the possibility of violence and bloodshed, but the feds' hands-off approach combined with the occupiers' sometimes goofball circus antics helped keep that mostly below the surface. Last's night violent confrontation has now changed the equation considerably, and the remaining occupiers are ramping up their rhetoric and are taking a more confrontational and aggressive pose, as is law enforcement.

The FBI has warned journalists this morning that it cannot guarantee their protection at the refuge, so many of them have gotten out of Dodge. Occupiers are issuing calls for supporters to rally to the refuge in their defense. And the tone and tenor of the occupation via their own live feed is, well, unnerving.

We'll have more on the implications of last night's death shortly.

Standoff Not Over

With their leaders under arrest or dead, the remaining occupiers at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge are now under a new tighter federal cordon. Here's the latest.