Trump, and His Jokes, and You

I write funny things professionally, and have done for years. I’ve made a fair amount of money and even won some awards for funny things I’ve written. So as a professional writer of funny things I have thoughts on Donald Trump’s oblique joke yesterday about how great it would be if a gun nut assassinated Hillary Clinton and/or some of the judges she might appoint. As with many examinations of humor, this will not be particularly funny. You have been warned.

1. Of course Trump’s comment was a joke, and as someone who has told more than his share of inappropriate jokes to his later regret, I’m pretty sure I can model Trump’s brain process to getting there. He’s up on stage, he’s pissed off that he’s losing, he’s with a sympathetic crowd that wants him to say something punchy, and he has no goddamn filter at all, because why would he, his brand is “I say what I think” and his brand has gotten him this far. So out of the woodwork of his brain comes the clever observation that well, actually, some jackass with a gun could offer up a lead veto to Clinton and/or her judges, and out it went through his teeth. Trump didn’t give it any more thought than that: pop! into his head, push! out of his mouth. Maybe three tenths of a second from conception to utterance, if that. This is was not a statement he’d been consciously planning months to say.

Was it a joke? Sure. Was it funny? Like most jokes, it depends on whether you’re the audience for it. It didn’t work for me. Should Trump have said it? Immaterial, since it was said.

Should it be excused as “just a joke”?

Well, but, see. Here’s the thing about that: There’s no such thing as “just a joke,” and Trump of all people knows that.

2. The first problem with saying “it’s just a joke” is that people very often use that phrase to mean “I get to say/enjoy a horrible thing without penalty.” Well, as a professional writer of funny things, I feel perfectly within my rights to call bullshit on that. Jokes don’t come out of nowhere. They are the product of a presumably thinking brain just like any other speech, and like any other speech they are susceptible to the same scrutiny and criticism. Just like any other speech the context of the joke is useful, too.

So here’s the context of that joke: Donald Trump is a man who has pursued the presidency through racism and white nationalism and by insinuating criminal activity on the part of his opponents (or their families), who has encouraged foreign agents to subvert the US election process (another “joke”) and who is actively training his base of support — angry and scared white people, many of whom have a nearly-fanatical attachment to their firearms — to consider the election process rigged if it does not produce the result they want. Then, at a political rally, as the GOP candidate for president, while speaking about the 2nd Amendment and arguing how his opponent Hillary Clinton wants to get rid of it — to get rid of his angry white supporter’s firearms! — he drops a little joke about how, well, actually, they could oppose her, nod nod, wink wink.

Trump wasn’t making a private joke with friends in the comfort of his own ridiculously baroque home. He wasn’t writing satire (which is often not funny) or black humor in the pages of, say, the New Yorker. He wasn’t on the stage of a comedy club trying out five minutes of edgy new material in front of a half-drunk midnight crowd who are there to see someone else anyway. He wasn’t putting it in the comments of his liberal friend’s Facebook post about gun control. He wasn’t doing any of those things — although even if he were, he could still be held accountable for his words. Rather, he was, as the GOP candidate for president, at a rally of his supporters, in a race he is currently far behind in, joking about someone killing off Hillary Clinton, or whomever she appoints as a judge. He wasn’t there to make comedy. He was there, quite literally, as a political statement. That’s the context.

3. What, politicians can’t make jokes? Well, speaking professionally, it’s usually better when they don’t. They can’t all be Ann Richards. Every time Hillary Clinton attempts humor my desire to vote for her goes down a tenth of a percent. I don’t want or need my politicians to be funny. I need them to wonk out on unsexy topics like water rights and trade deals, and represent the interests of their constituencies. That’s the gig, not killing it for ten minutes at The Comedy Store.

That said, sure, if politicians can make jokes, why not? Yuk away. But again, jokes aren’t Get Out of Jail Free cards for saying horrible things. And when the jokes are, in fact, saying horrible things, like when the GOP candidate for president pops one off about maybe someone assassinating the Democratic candidate for president because of her alleged position on the 2nd Amendment, it’s all right to haul the joke out into the light and begin the utterly unfunny process of picking it apart to see what’s really going on there.

Why can’t you just let a joke be a joke? Because, to repeat, and as others have noted, it’s never just a joke. Jokes mean things, just like any other kind of speech. In fact, jokes often have greater impact, because jokes aim for the pleasure centers of our brain, not the analytical centers. The information of a joke hits in a place where you have fewer defenses against it, and fewer walls barring it from sinking into your overall worldview. This is why, among other things, you probably laugh at things you know you shouldn’t laugh at. It’s also why you’re probably quicker to excuse the content of a joke — it’s just a joke! — or to minimize the importance of what’s being said within one. How bad can it be if it made me laugh? And also, if the joke is saying something horrible, what does it say about me? You have a vested interest either way in explaining away your reaction.

Trump is not a great politician — indeed, if this election cycle has done anything, it has reminded us that the oft-derided skills of being a great politician are in fact useful and needed — but he is a marvelous bully, and like any gifted bully, he’s aware of how to use humor for its manipulative qualities. This is why he mocks his opponents and gives them silly names, why he says outrageous things, planned or unprompted and then immediately wraps them in the rhetoric of humor, and why all his defenders are instructed and prompted to explain away the jokes. He’s not the problem, you’re the problem if you can’t take a joke. No one wants to be accused of not being able to take a joke.

4. This is where once again I put on my hat as a writer of funny things to tell you the following:

  • It’s okay not to be able to take a joke.
  • It’s okay to think a joke is not funny.
  • It’s okay to focus more on the content of a joke than the delivery.
  • It’s okay to hold a joke to the same standard as any other speech, and to pay attention to the context in which it is delivered.
  • It’s okay to be scared of a joke and the joke-teller. Sometimes that’s the right thing to be.

Finally and perhaps most importantly:

  • Always question the motives of the person who is telling you “it’s just a joke.”

Why? Because, well, why are they saying that? Sometimes it’s because the person is a comedian, trying to convince you they’re funny (pro tip: if you have to convince someone you’re funny, you’re probably not funny to them). Sometimes the person who told the joke realizes they just stepped in it, and is trying to backtrack without making themselves look too much like an asshole. Sometimes the person is gaslighting you, trying to make you doubt yourself, for their own purposes. And sometimes that person is trying to normalize hateful rhetoric — or keep hateful rhetoric normalized — and is trying to make you defensive about seeing it clearly as what it is: hateful.

A person saying “it’s just a joke” isn’t always an asshole. But assholes are almost always happy to say “it’s just a joke” to make it look like the problem here is you. So when someone says “it’s just a joke” to you, that’s your cue for skepticism. Jokes mean things. Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t understand the uses of humor, or is hoping that you don’t.

5. You are not automatically a bad person if you laugh at horrible things or find funny a joke whose content, on reflection, is not funny at all. You are a human being, and a skilled communicator — and Trump, for one, is a very skilled communicator — is going to play the changes on you. You might laugh because of the delivery. You might laugh because as a human you like the pleasure of laughing. You might laugh because of the context of the joke, or because it’s subversive, or because the butt of the joke is someone you dislike. You might laugh because the person telling you the joke is someone you admire. You might laugh because it’s expected. You might laugh because not laughing might be noticed. You might laugh because honestly you don’t know what else to do. You might laugh because it’s not safe to do anything else.

Laughing at a horrible joke is not the problem. Excusing that hateful and horrible joke as “just a joke” is the problem. The pleasure of humor don’t mitigate the damage it can do when the hate it offers slips into someone’s worldview, or simply reconfirms the hate they already hold. You’re not automatically a bad person if you laugh along with hate. You’re a bad person if you walk along with it. Humor makes it easy to take that walk. It’s up to you to resist moving your feet. The more you resist, the more you’ll recognize that hate actually isn’t all that funny.

6. Trump made a joke about someone assassinating his political opponent, or the judges she might appoint. Trump’s minions and enablers have been scurrying around trying to spin it, or mitigate it, or accuse people of misunderstanding it and anyway it was just a throwaway line, it was just a joke. But context matters and who is making the joke matters. Trump is a bigot and he’s ignorant and he is a buffoon and he has no filter but he is not stupid. He knows when he puts things out into the air that they are heard and that they are taken seriously. Even the jokes. Especially the jokes.

Trump wished out loud that someone would assassinate Hillary Clinton because inside, the screaming tantrum-throwing infant that Trump is wants her out of the way, and so does the slightly more grown-up version of him whose business model includes cheating contractors and workers out of their contractually-obliged fees and wages, and so does the 70-year-old version who has spent decades getting his way, who wiped the floor with the laughable opposition he had in the GOP primaries and sees no reason why he should do anything different than before, and is possibly confused as to why it’s not working any more, so just try harder. Does Trump actively want Clinton dead? No. But out of the way covers a whole lot of ground. Trump is a bully and he knows how to phrase a wish. So when that wish came howling out of his id up there on stage yesterday, he wrapped it into a joke and sent it on its way.

Trump made the joke because he knows, better than almost anyone, that there is no such thing as “just a joke.” He knows it, and the fact he knows it, and made the joke anyway, should scare the shit out of you.

As should this: When Donald Trump is president, he won’t have to make jokes anymore.

243 Comments on “Trump, and His Jokes, and You”

  1. Notes:

    1. As usual for politics-related pieces, the Mallet is out. Behave and play nicely with each other, please. If you’re new and planning to comment, remember to read the site’s comment rules.

    2. I spent the morning writing this instead of writing on my novel, and while I do not regret this, I can say I am frustrated that this election cycle is making me hard to focus on fiction.

    3. Please don’t use the comment space here to go on generalized rants about Trump or Clinton or politics here in 2016. The topic of the entry is pretty well spelled out in the headline; stick to that, please.

  2. @shakestweetz has had a really compelling twitter discussion of this kind of “just a joke” in the context of silencing women via violence. It’s not funny and it has never been funny. It is dangerous. It’s a signal to all women, not just Hillary Clinton, about what can happen to us if we try to become powerful.

  3. This was rhetorically extraordinary, just by the way. It was also useful and helpful, but you really demonstrated your point– the power of language– by example here.

  4. Fogeyman got it in one.

    We generally hold politicians, particularly those who aspire to high office, to higher standards of speech. It’s the reason most of our politicians come across as scripted/calculating. They are trying to be careful with their words. Some are better than others, obviously. Trump doesn’t give a damn.

    Speaking of which, the next defense from Trumpistas will probably involve invoking the 1st amendment. To which the response should be:

  5. “Conan! What is the failure mode of funny?”

    “To keep losing to a girl, to fall still further in the polls even in deep red states and to hear the lamentations of your spin doctors and sycophants. That is the failure mode of funny.”

  6. Tomorrow will be the 32nd anniversary of “I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes” and it could be argued that offhand joke made during a voice check is in the top ten things people remember about Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

  7. As someone who had “Can’t you take a joke?” aimed at me way too many times by my first boyfriend, many many years ago, my bullshit meter became quite sensitively tuned on this matter. Yes, I can take a joke, if it’s an actual joke. No, I can’t take a joke if it’s a passive-aggressive attack. Nor should I have to.

    I agree that Trump said this on impulse, and whether he meant it or not is almost beside the point. The guy is a walking illustration of Freud’s concept of the id, and that’s not a person who should be in the job of President of the United States. Sure, Donald, do standup, get your own shock radio show, do a cable reality show about you and your narcissism, which would probably be more entertaining than Palin’s was. Play to your strengths. Find a new career path that makes good use of your talents. This one ain’t it.

    On a slight tangent, I tried to read the transcript of that speech, which Time published. It was a bizarre mishmash of half-baked attempts to hit policy talking points and obvious projections onto Clinton of the most damaging things people are saying about Trump. He’s not only inarticulate, he’s damn near unintelligible.

  8. Before I launched my brilliant career as a science-fantasy author (that’s a joke), I spent thirty-five years as an up-market freelance speechwriter working for senior politicians and corporate CEOs in the Vancouver market.

    Something I learned: if you want people to go back to their offices and watering holes and regale them wit the message of a speech, find a way to express the heart of it in a joke. Nobody remembers speeches, but people not only remember jokes, they retell them. And so the chain begins.

  9. Who is playing it off as a joke though? Certainly not Trump. He has stated that when he told 2nd Amendment people would be able to do something about it, he meant they should go out and vote against Hillary.

    That’s not an unfair reading of what he said, and ‘assassinate Hillary’ wasn’t my first impression of what he meant – but it’s definitely the only meaning you see being reported on in most media.

    I must say though, that the joke angle is an impressive strawman you’ve built up and torn down.

    Always question the motives of the person who is telling you “it’s just a joke.”

    Interestingly, the first person to tell me this was ‘just a joke’, was you.

  10. I write humor, too, and I had a similar reaction to Mr. Trump’s “joke.” Apart from the danger and the disdain and the general disaster that is that man’s narcissistic campaign to be King of Everything, it’s too bad that he’ll likely never understand that if no one seems to be getting your jokes, then maybe you just aren’t funny.

  11. RE: “…should scare the shit out of you.” – I was already there, thanks. I have now moved beyond that to “utterly terrified.”

  12. “But that joke isn’t funny anymore. It’s too close to home and it’s too near the bone.” -The Smiths

    Mr. Scalzi, you have hit the nail on the head here with this essay. Donald Trump is no longer a laughing matter; he’s dangerously insane, yet crafty enough to say things that are truly insanely dangerous.

  13. Trump prides himself on telling it like it is when he is actually a dangerous sociopath with no impulse control… Impulse… nuclear weapons … push button… The little girl on the 60’s nuke comercial would have to cound down the daisey a lot faster to keep up with Trump’s reckless statements.

  14. I’ve been doing my best to avoid election coverage, news and politics in general because I’m going through a serious bout of Election Fatigue. That said, I see glimpses here and there. I don’t know what he said exactly (wording) but is there any validity to DT defenders saying he just meant that the 2nd Amendment folks should get together and vote in a block?

  15. That is spot-on. This comment/joke(?) cannot be taken in a vacuum. This is the man who says he wants to punch DNC speakers in the face, calls on his audience to attack protestors and alludes that he will get even with his detractors. So yes, I consider everything he says as serious. And his followers do too.

  16. This is (I hope) the only area where I relate to Trump. I have a gift for saying something funny at which no one laughs, and half the people hearing it think I’m serious and maybe they should call the police and/or psych ward. I’ve learned that, if I think it’s funny, I probably shouldn’t say it. Wait a beat, rethink it, and then maybe say it. That pause is vital. He doesn’t have that pause.

    But I’m not running for President of the United States of America, nor do I have (or want) any sort of launch authority for nuclear weapons.

  17. I wonder if Shakespeare intended King Henry’s line “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” to be presented as a complaint or a hint? An actor’s tone and body language could shift it either way.

    Trump’s tone, to me, leaned heavily toward hint.

  18. Doug nailed it.

    Anyway, I saw the original video of Trump making the remark, and I didn’t find it nearly as strong as it comes across in the media. Yeah he said it, but I didn’t hear it to mean “assassinate Hillary and/or judicial nominees”. Perhaps it’s a dog whistle that I don’t hear.

  19. I once made a joke on Twitter that there were three items for which any joke was always “too soon”:
    * political assassinations
    * the Holocaust
    * “I am a leaf on the wind, watch me soar …”

    This was before Daniel Tosh’s Stand-Up Act Which Will Live in Infamy, so yes, I would now add that there is no such thing as a funny rape joke either. But otherwise, a rule holds – untimely and unnecessary death is NOT FUNNY. To say that someone who makes such a comment is “just havin’ a laugh” means that both the speaker and the defender are incredibly callous toward and/or see little value in human life. And that isn’t a quality I (or, I suspect, most people) would want in even a casual acquaintance, let alone the leader of the world’s most powerful country.

  20. My preferred universe is absurd humor; that kind of thing that goes completely wacko until the listener of the jokes, and even the participants in the joke cannot keep a straight face, and will be unable to stop until tears flow. (QI; Who’s Line is it Anyway, and Tim Conway/Harvey Korman skits are great examples of what many of my conversations turn into, and that I would like to achieve with my writing. Think Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams as my idols.) I call those moments of inane delight the Golden Moment.

    In public speaking, however, the point of humor changes. It could be merely to entertain. But, if I have a purpose to accomplish, then humor becomes one of my tools. What a joke will do is open the audience’s hearts a bit; conjoin them with you; encourage them to accept the very serious point you are about to make NEXT. It can be devastatingly effective to help the audience seriously ponder their motivations and conduct. Go from laughing to sober analysis, perhaps even tears. Its using humor to teach, not entertain.

    What Trump is doing is different. (I disagree with your assessment of him as a good public speaker for many reasons, but that is tangential to the point.) Trump is not setting the audience up for anything. He is feeding them what they want to hear, and he is “Trumpeting” himself as their commander. The alleged “jokes” ARE his messages.

    And there is nothing funny about that.

  21. Back when the RNC was running in Cleveland, I saw the guest list included a boat-load of the alt-right’s favourites from around the world; not just the usual predatory types who’d hijacked the GOP but also Milo Yannowhatever, Bilious Barrage, Geert Whatshisface, and others. I almost cracked a gallows-humour joke about some dolt trying to solve a lot of the world’s bigotry problems with one Davy Crockett* in the Qucken Arena…. but unlike this tangerine Monster of the Id I realised it would have been inappropriate and spiked it.

    As John said, “it’s just a joke” doesn’t cut it as an excuse. Political speech has consequences that extend far beyond the laugh-line.

    — Steve

    * Not a reference to the historical or mythological figure, but rather to possibly the dumbest weapon concept of all time; an atomic rifle.

  22. We’re right back to Sharron Angle and “Second Amendment solutions” here, aren’t we? Just more red meat thrown to the Trumpenproletariat, and lordy me, don’t they ever eat it up.

    Pro tip: If someone tries to run the “just a joke” game on you, ask them to explain *why* it’s funny and watch them collapse in on themselves like a flan on a warm day.

  23. I would actually argue that “it’s just a joke” is in fact the hallmark of an asshole. It is proof positive that the protester is aware of the fact that their attempt at humor has failed, and instead of adulting up and fixing their mistake is trying to push the blame for their failure onto the person they hurt through their action or inaction.

    If that’s not at least proto-asshole, I don’t know what is. Unless you’re still getting your diaper changed by your adult caretaker, you don’t get a pass. If people don’t understand that, they need to take a long, solid look in the mirror, and I’m very sorry that their adults fell down on teaching them even the barest shred of anything they could pass off as empathy.

    And yes, I’m aware that children use this tactic. I’m also aware that children learn it, often from their adults. Kids aren’t born assholes; it’s completely environmental.

  24. Thank you, John, for taking the time to write this. I know the arguments that ‘ “it’s just a joke” is BS’ but seeing it applied directly to Trump and that particular “joke” is terribly useful. So again, thanks.

  25. I could probably treat Trump’s latest brainfart as a joke, if we lived in a world that had never seen a political assassination, nor an attempted one, indeed a world where the very concept was universally thought ridiculous. But America clearly is not that place. Neither is the UK, where we were recently shocked by the murder in the street of one of our best MPs, shot and stabbed by an unhinged right wing maniac of the stripe that seems in no short supply in any part of the world, and to require very little in the way of provocation to deadly action.

  26. When Sarah Palin went on & on about “Second Amendment Solutions”, eventually Rep Gabrielle Gifford and 18 of her constituents got shot in Tucson. A 9-yr-old girl interested in how America works was among the six who died.
    Afterward, the crosshairs-shaped icons on the map on Palin’s website were gone, and her people insisted that that’s not ever what they were (once it became clear that other people had taken screenshots).
    It’s never just a joke.

  27. My take on this (to paraphrase heavily): “your freedom of speech ends where my Kristallnacht begins”.

    Freedom of speech must be rigorously protected, but not to the point at which it becomes socially acceptable to encourage crimes against another person, particularly when that person cannot reasonably be expected to protect themselves against the consquences (i.e., minorities and fully to partially disenfranchised groups). Clinton may not pass that latter criterion test, but that’s not the point: solicitation to murder in a country as gun-crazy as the U.S. cannot and should not be considered an innocent jest.

    We always happily mumble “never forget”, and yet we continue to forget that words have power to cause enormous harm when they tap into a powerful source of suppressed fear and rage.

  28. Icarus:

    “…is there any validity to DT defenders saying he just meant that the 2nd Amendment folks should get together and vote in a block?”

    No. Beside the fact he’s painting a picture of a Clinton presidency as a done deal, immediately following the clip that you keep seeing played, Trump says, “That would be a horrible day.” I don’t know why it’s being trimmed off the broadcast comment, because it’s what locks the thing in place. What about successfully maintaining a voting block for your position would make it “a horrible day”? That final clause—spoken loudly and clearly—only makes sense in relation to a shooting response.

  29. “Trump is a bigot and he’s ignorant and he is a buffoon and he has no filter but he is not stupid.”

    I don’t think it’s necessary to give him even that much credit. Not that I know what his IQ is or anything, but the gaping void of his ignorance and his utter disinterest in its correction aren’t exactly the hallmarks of a big thinker. His two real gifts seem to be shameless self-promotion and a bully’s instinct for weakness.

  30. He has stated that when he told 2nd Amendment people would be able to do something about it, he meant they should go out and vote against Hillary.

    Nonsense. Trump said this:

    “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

    “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do.” Trump made his Second Amendment remark in the context of Clinton being president and selecting judges who would presumable be sympathetic to gun control.

    but it’s definitely the only meaning you see being reported on in most media.

    Oh, please, enough of the media bias canard. Does that label apply to Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman? There’s a reason he, like so many others, saw the comment as a thinly veiled reference to assassination — because that’s how Trump expressed himself. And as our gracious host noted, even Trump’s apologists tacitly admit as much when they say he was “only joking” when he suggested his political opponents be assassinated.

  31. At what point will all the “joking” end and we get on with the seriousness of running this country? IMHO, the person running it should not be a racist, bigot, misogynist, or intolerant of the differences which make this country great. Just puttin’ that out there…

  32. By the way, it’s fascinating how much Trump’s rhetoric has come to be based on the premise he’ll lose the election.

  33. @Icarus:

    I don’t know what he said exactly (wording) but is there any validity to DT defenders saying he just meant that the 2nd Amendment folks should get together and vote in a block?

    I don’t think so. Granted, I only watched the clip and not the full speech, but it seemed to me that he was commenting on what could be done after the election. For the sake of accuracy, here’s the full quote:

    “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick –if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

    Pundits and linguists can argue over interpretation and context, but I think the if-then-except construction is pretty clear: “IF she picks her judges THEN there’s nothing you can do EXCEPT maybe shoot her/them.”

  34. Maybe it was a joke. Or maybe we take him at his word in his defense, that we all misinterpreted, and he really just meant 2nd Amendment supporters would *vote* against her.

    The problem I have with that is that, as you and others have pointed out, he has no filter. Right now, he’s just talking about his rival in a political race. If he becomes president, what happens when he says something like that and, say, the Chinese government misinterprets it? Or North Korea fails to get the joke? “Having no filter” is probably not actually a desirable trait in a world leader.

  35. I wonder if Shakespeare intended King Henry’s line “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” to be presented as a complaint or a hint?

    Those were supposedly, give or take, Henry’s actual words (the canonical version was turbulent priest, but troublesome or meddlesome are sometimes cited).

    Shakespeare borrowed the scenario for Richard II, Act 5, Scene 4[1] – but the above words are not his.

    [1] “Have I no friend will rid me of this living fear”?

  36. 1) “He wasn’t writing writing satire” — I think there is a “writing” too many there.

    2) “Does Trump actively want Clinton dead? No.” — Not sure you are right there: If something were to happen to Clinton, he would (perhaps) shed a couple of crocodile tears, while considering her death as an obstacle removed, and he would be happy to spin it to his supporters as something that she had brought on herself. “It’s her fault… not my fault at all” sounds entirely in character for him.

  37. I don’t think so. Granted, I only watched the clip and not the full speech, but it seemed to me that he was commenting on what could be done after the election. For the sake of accuracy, here’s the full quote:

    “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick –if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

    Pundits and linguists can argue over interpretation and context, but I think the if-then-except construction is pretty clear: “IF she picks her judges THEN there’s nothing you can do EXCEPT maybe shoot her/them.”

    That’s certainly the way it seems from this side of the pond.

    Either: you could shoot the judges, or you could shoot her before she “gets to pick”.

  38. Hey, remember when Obama said he would counter Republican attacks by using a gun?

    Scary, huh?

    Only if you think Obama thought the Republicans were actually going to bring a knife. In which case, there would be guns, carried by Secret Service people. It’s clearly rhetoric, not a joke, and riffing off a well-known phrase: “bringing a gun to a knife-fight” (or vice versa, depending on where you stand power-wise).

    Not the same thing at all.

    Nice example of the tu quoque fallacy, though.

  39. A couple of thoughts.


    Sometimes the person who told the joke realizes they just stepped in it, and is trying to backtrack without making themselves look too much like an asshole. Sometimes the person is gaslighting you, trying to make you doubt yourself, for their own purposes. And sometimes that person is trying to normalize hateful rhetoric — or keep hateful rhetoric normalized — and is trying to make you defensive about seeing it clearly as what it is: hateful.

    That has been my experience in online discussions for well over 16 years. Suggestions that we modestly cut government spending/programs result in an over-the-top response questioning my humanity and/or patriotism. When called on the BS, the response is always “it was a joke!, you can’t take a joke?”. It’s less prevalent in person.


    In a nation that has lost a couple of Presidents to assassition and almost lost another, you’d think that people running for office would be more careful about such things. More importantly, the average citizen ought to hold the knuckleheads accountable for such things. But given the similar vitriolic “jokes”** aimed at George W. Bush for many years, I’m not terribly interested in listening to lectures on civility from the left.


    **More frequently from average citizens rather than politicians, but that changes little IMHO.

  40. “Trump is a bigot and he’s ignorant and he is a buffoon and he has no filter but he is not stupid.”

    Maybe this is true, but as Spacegeek says above, I don’t know if you can give him that much credit. I understand, and for a long time shared, the impulse to do so, but I honestly can’t tell if he really is that stupid or just doesn’t care. Though, from a practical perspective, I don’t suppose the difference matters much.

  41. When does this become something for the Secret Service to investigate? Simply because Trump is a candidates from a major party doesn’t and shouldn’t protect him from legitimate criminal investigation.

  42. This is perhaps slightly off topic. (placing hands above head in the shape of a nail, making it easy for our illustrious host to “hammer me”.) When talking to (some) of my republican friends about gun control I have lately come to the realization, that they don’t see their 2nd amendment rights as having to do with defense of their home or person. But as the final “vote” for the “protection” of the country. When the government goes bad, they have their guns to “put it right”. I tell them I think they are totally nuts. But that does not change their opinion. With this view into the minds of some of my fellow Americans, I find the above “joke” even scarier.

  43. From the linked article:

    Obama made the comment in the context of warning donors that the general election campaign against McCain could get ugly. “They’re going to try to scare people. They’re going to try to say that ‘that Obama is a scary guy,’” he said. A supporter yelled out a deep accented “Don’t give in!”

    “I won’t but that sounded pretty scary. You’re a tough guy,” Obama said.
    Even the article doesn’t think it means what Billy thinks it means.

    Imagine that.

  44. I think you should be able to joke about anything.
    However, that is almost never the same as if you are saying something and then when people react badly you defend yourself with “hey, it was just a joke”.

    For the latter scenario it is often fun to remind people what the Bible says about the practice. Namely, don’t do it. Depending on the translation:

    Proverbs, 26:18-19
    Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death,
    is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

  45. …Oof. That was my first, knee-jerk reaction. Oof.

    I have a broad sense of humor, but these latest shenanigans make the bile rise in my throat. Looking back on history, all I have to say is that history is repeating itself here with grim precision. In the immortal words of a certain action hero, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

  46. From the second linked article:

    Joe Biden, in an effort to convince supporters that his running mate Barack Obama was not going to take their guns, told attendees at a September 2008 campaign stop that Obama had better not take his Beretta or there would be “a problem.”

    “I guarantee ya’ Barack Obama ain’t takin’ my shotgun, so don’t buy that malarkey. Don’t buy that malarkey. They’re gonna start peddling that to you.”


    So again, the article disagrees with the claim instead of supporting it.

    The gentleman doth tu quoque too much, mehtinks . . .


  47. It’s never “just a joke.” Trump’s comment can also be seen as a direct result of the lack of outrage over Chris Christie’s televised Star Chamber performance at the RNC. Not bad, it only took 3 weeks to progress from “Lock her up!” to firing squads to assassination. I was terrified after the Star Chamber, now I wonder what is the encore to this latest pushing of boundaries?

  48. @dann665
    In re.: “…the similar vitriolic “jokes”** aimed at George W. Bush for many years.”
    Please cite references of “jokes” alluding to the assassination of GWB. Hating is one thing, killin’ is t’other.

  49. According to Wikipedia, a more contemporaneous record of Henry II’s comment was “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”. He was also quite unhappy when four of those he nourished and brought up in his household proved they weren’t the miserable drones and traitors of which he spoke by killing the cleric in question.

    I don’t quite hear “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” in Trump’s comments, but it definitely sounds like it’s in the same ball-park; or at least, that of stochastic terrorism as others have mentioned.

    I definitely heard “the Second Amendment people” as referring to not all gun owners, or even all proponents of the 2nd amendment, but rather to those who tie the 2nd amendment to be about having the means and ability to overthrow a tyrannical government if necessary, to be about fulfilling Jefferson’s quoted statement about the tree of liberty and its periodic watering with blood.

  50. @ Mysteron, 1:47 PM
    Also, it’s a popular quote from The Untouchables and is commonly used as such, metaphorically. As, indeed, “Billy Quiets” almost certainly knows.

    I’d apply a similar skepticism to the motives of the other Sea Lions in this thread saying that “Maybe he just meant people enthusiastic about protecting their 2nd Amendment rights would be inspired to vote, or to call their Congressperson”. No. Not for an instant. Look at the complete section:

    Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day, if — if — Hillary gets to put her judges in.

    1) It’s predicated on Clinton being inaugurated and appointing judges. It’s definitely not about inspiring voters to prevent her winning the election.
    2) There’s “nothing you can do” – nothing in the normal political procedures can stop her (note this is possibly wrong, depending on how committed Republican Senators are to in-person filibusters).
    3) But, wait: maybe “2nd amendment people” ie people enthusiastic about guns can stop her, or stop her judges. Since there’s nothing the political system can do, this can only be a reference to murder, or at the least to intimidation.
    4) And there’s the kicker: “that will be a horrible day”. People uniting in common purpose to act peacefully through the political system and achieving their goals is not “a horrible day”. He clearly knew what he was suggesting.

  51. “It’s just a joke” is a common tactic used by abusers to make their victims believe that they are crazy and overreacting to nothing. We won’t let this guy gaslight us any longer. When people tell you who they are, over and over again, I believe them, Trump has made it pretty clear who he is and what he stands for.

  52. My concern is a narrative arc that culminates in the attempted intimidation of the entire electorate; or, at least, a setting of the stage (normalizing) for such in the very near future.

    Think about things that came out during the primaries, esp. just after DT won enough votes to clinch, when talk of a ‘no Trump’ revolt at the RNC was rampant. A public warning was very much issued, although I can’t be sure the actual phrase ‘blood bath’ was trotted out then …

    … but it certainly was last week(-ish). Without running down the source, while DT was warning that the Left just might steal the election, another functionary warned there would be a ‘blood bath’ if that were to happen.

    ((Beyond the dangling chad thing, has the legitimacy of a US presidential election ever actually been questioned? Of course, many DT supporters aren’t exactly students of history, so … ))

    We’ve already seen the vitriol at his primary rallies, and in various comment sections on the Web, not to mention how Facebook has become: all perfectly normal now.

    And now he may (or may not) have (jokingly?) suggested that the ‘2nd amendment folks’ (right wing gun owners/his supporters) could possibly cure the whole ill right now.

    I’d say normalization of election threats, intimidation and violence is already well underway.

    And if you think that’s crazy, consider the GOPs behavior in Congress throughout Obama’s two terms. Here’s a group of elected individuals, oath sworn to #dotheirjobs, who said (in effect) ‘I hate the Democrats in general, and this president in particular, so much, that I will willfully obstruct every single thing they try to accomplish, up to and including risking the possible financial ruin of this country’ (and getting our credit rating dropped in the process).

    Who would have ever thought this would be allowable, much less acceptable behavior? But the GOP leadership and the rank and file absolutely support it, and we have all allowed it.

    So much so that when they refused outright to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, on purely partisan grounds, many of us (and the media for sure) just shrugged and thought, ‘more of the same’.

    Normalization complete. What’s up next?

    PS Bonus: Watch for Trump to come up with his own “There you go again’ Reagan homage during the debates.

  53. I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ discussion of the causes of laughter in The Screwtape Letters:

    “(Humor) is an invaluable as a means of destroying shame. If a man simply lets others pay for him, he is ‘mean’; if he boasts of it in a jocular manner and twits his fellows with having been scored off, he is no longer ‘mean’ but a comical fellow…Cruelty is shameful-unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke. A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes do not help towards a man’s damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a joke.”

    However little I care for some of his other philosophical points, this one (and the corresponding description of flippancy) has really stuck with me. No, if you’ve said something horrible trying to be funny, you don’t get to excuse it as ‘just a joke’; you’ve said something horrible, and you need to own up to it. If’ you’re a good person, you apologize for it and try to move on; if you’re not, you double down…

    It’s the same reason I’m always skeptical about people campaigning against ‘political correctness’; often they have some valid points about trying to shut down discussion, close off unpopular ideas, etc… but too often it’s trying to excuse behavior that’s unacceptable, and would be unacceptable to the target audience if presented in a neutral fashion.

  54. Jeff Hentosz pointed out: No. Beside the fact he’s painting a picture of a Clinton presidency as a done deal, immediately following the clip that you keep seeing played, Trump says, “That would be a horrible day.” I don’t know why it’s being trimmed off the broadcast comment, because it’s what locks the thing in place. What about successfully maintaining a voting block for your position would make it “a horrible day”? That final clause—spoken loudly and clearly—only makes sense in relation to a shooting response.

    This is an example of Trump’s use of weasel words to establish “implausible deniability” about the clear intent of his words. Others, more times than can be counted: “maybe”, “I don’t know”, and “some people say”.

    I think you’re wrong, John, that this was a joke. The usual “maybe” and “I don’t know” are there solely to establish a degree of deniability. The “horrible day” is there to be able to claim “I didn’t really want Crooked Evil Hilary to be shot.”

    I think Trump would be as happy as a pig in shit if Hilary Clinton were to be assassinated. I think he’d smile, and laugh, and dance a jig over her death. Because the only actual human being who lives in Donald Trump’s universe, the only person whose life matters, is Donald Trump. The only question in my mind is whether Trump would lock himself in a private windowless room before the smile and laughter and dancing, or if he’d be unable to resist celebrating before witnesses and cameras. I suspect the latter scenario would win out.

  55. The “we begin bombing in five minutes” thing from Reagan was also a joke. But Reagan didn’t say it to an audience; it was internal in a studio. It was never broadcast, it’s just that, *because* it was funny, people repeated it. And when he got shot, he said to the doctors “I hope none of you are Democrats”. Which actually *is* funny. But that’s the thing; he actually *was* being funny, and taking care not to do it in circumstances where it would be expected to reach people that would react badly.

    I do note that sometimes people react badly to a joke before they’ve thought about what it’s actually implying. They note that it’s on a sensitive topic, and they assume it’s directed at the wrong people. The analysis that humor causes people to “assimilate” ideas is only partially correct; humor also shapes *how* you assimilate them. I spend a lot of time talking to traumatized people about abuse, and you’d better believe I make a ton of jokes about horrifying abuse. Because gallows humor is a very useful tool in shaping how people relate to bad things…

    … Which has nothing to do with Trump’s usage, I’d point out. He’s not making sophisticated jokes, he’s not being subtle or indirect. He’s not really joking. That might rise to the level of quipping.

  56. @Ray Anselmo says:

    But otherwise, a rule holds – untimely and unnecessary death is NOT FUNNY.

    I disagree. I think many Darwin Award winners have the potential to be quite humorous. Not within earshot of any of their loved ones, of course. But that still leaves a significant chunk of the population to find the circumstances funny, to some degree.

  57. Gru’ud:

    There have been a couple of times when the legitimacy of the process has been called into question. In 1876, Samuel Tilden won the majority of the popular vote and 19 more electoral college votes than his Republican opponent Rutherford Hayes.. Three southern states submitted two sets of electoral college ballots and one Ohio elector had to be replaced, putting 20 electoral college votes in the “undecided” column for Congress to figure out how to deal with. The end result: a compromise was struck: grant Hayes all 20 of the disputed electoral votes (making him win by 1 vote), and end reconstruction in the south.

    There was a peaceful transfer of power, much like in the Bush v. Gore case, but how it got there is a bit…hinky.

  58. I had a co-worker once “joke” about bringing a gun to work. He was banned from the worksite. But he was crazy saying he could only talk to certain people with a certain horoscope sign. What trump said isn’t a joke. He would feel really bad if someone crazy actually does it just because he said it.

  59. Some of us are a wee bit older than our Distinguished Host.

    Some of us remember what this country was like to live in, the last time nutters with gunz decided to take an active hand in re-adjusting the political and ideological landscape.

    Some of us don’t want to see that happen again because a) It kept an awful lot of good things from happening; and b) it was a factor in an awful lot of bad things happening—

    ……wait for it…..



    That is, in the long run, even the nutters with gunz didn’t get what they wanted in political/policy terms. They were (presumably, those that survived long enough to think about it) happy with all the attention they attracted to themselves.

    But they did precisely NOTHING to bring about the profoundly-changed political landscape they were presumably attempting to enable.

    I know, I was there.

    I do not want to go there again.

  60. @Rick Gregory–My breaking news feed said the Secret Service has already had “more than one conversation” with the Trump campaign about these remarks.

  61. In the game Silent Hill 2, there’s a part where one character becomes deeply unhinged and says that killing a person is no big deal, only to say that it was “just a joke”.

    I don’t think Trump actually wants anyone killed, but his comment makes it seem like his attitude is that it would be “a shame if something happened” kind of thing. Like a mobster or something.

  62. I was honestly surprised by this.

    Republican and conservative officials and pundits have been publicly “joking” about someone shooting someone for them nearly my entire lifetime. About someone killing Obama for them his entire presidential run, about killing both Clintons and a wide variety of Democrat and other political opponents or perceived cultural opponents. Killing doctors who perform abortions, killing feminist activists, actresses and writers, killing the people heading Black Lives Matter, killing Mexicans and Mexican Americans, killing Muslim Americans, killing government officials and sheriffs, etc. Sarah Palin put a cap in her career by putting gun targets onto the pictures of Democrats running for Congressional office. Republicans running for office regularly do ads with photos or videos of them holding or shooting guns, declaring that they will take out America’s enemies and then declaring their opponents their enemies. The continual call to arms, that they will take America back — by force, the watering the tree of freedom with the blood of tyrants, and so forth. Killing people is in the Republican party political platform, including the shooting stuff essentially.

    So I really didn’t think that this remark by Trump would be that big a deal to the public. But apparently it is, and the Secret Service has in fact had to have several conversations with Trump’s campaign in the recent past about not joking about killing his political opponents, even if it is standard Republican rhetoric at this point.

    The “joke” is funny because it’s about the truth that those who insist on perverting the meaning of the Second Amendment from state police to vigilantes are fully willing and eager to slaughter their neighbors. So those people — the people who want to kill — they might indeed take out Clinton or some judges. Trump expresses helplessness to stop Clinton if she wins and then remembers that hey, we’ve got would-be killers who would do it maybe. That’s the funny part — that we have a bunch of people willing to kill their political opponents and replace rule of law (judges, elections) with rule of force (assassinations and coups.) So, you know, dark humor.

    Hilary Clinton has been threatened with death her entire legal and political career. If she wins the election, she will be threatened with death her entire presidency. And many of the threats will come from prominent conservative media figures, religious clergy, and political officials, same as before. It is in fact disappointing that Trump, who has straightforwardly said whatever he thinks Republicans want to hear and truthfully expressed their platform without apology, now is trying to pretend that all he said was a dog whistle joke instead of the usual operating procedure of Republicans calling for their opponents’ deaths.

    Nonetheless, I doubt that this is going to stop the Republican tradition of talking about shooting opponents and doing ads where they shoot off guns any time soon.

  63. Trump regularly tries to weasel out after making any kind of excessive accusation or anything he knows is going to be controversial. He also weasels after many ordinary comments. Weasel words are his life.

  64. @Seebs

    It wasn’t so much that people repeated it as much as he was being recorded and the recording leaked out and was replayed ad nauseam. When it was heard by the Soviets my recollection was they took it seriously and put their military, including nuclear, on alert. This is a really good illustration that people in high powered positions need to be really careful in what they say, where they say it, and to whom, and into what, they say it. Sure he probably thought he as only with his friends but the man was a professional actor for decades and should know better than anyone that just as you should always assume a gun is loaded, you should always assume a microphone will broadcast or record.

  65. I subscribe to Wil Wheaton’s point that what’s even scarier is that Trump’s entire speech here was a mish-mash of verbal garbage that defies any sane reading. I am sure that he was hinting at an “extra-political” solution, but there’s no actual central text to hint around. It’s flaming bags of dog poop all the way down. Or as if a thousand dog whistles were set to 11 and left on a loop in front of a megaphone.

  66. Fogeyman beat me to it. This is one of those requests to kill, cloaked in deniability.

    I am very familiar with the “just a joke” excuse. I got pretty offended when that was used by one of my Texas friends during the 2008 election. He honestly didn’t get it at first, he was just repeating “jokes” he had heard from his “conservative” friends. After he continued to say it was just a joke, lighten up, I made a horrible nasty joke about him. And then asked why he wasn’t laughing, after all it was just a joke. To his credit, he finally got it.

  67. This is just another item of things that prove Donald Trump needs to go back under the rock he crawled out from under and leave humanity alone. (Or why can’t we invent the transporter and transport him into space.)


    When will the pain end?

  68. Lenny Bruce, back in the late ’50s-early ’60s, did a take on unfunny comics saying inflammatory things: The Palladium. (Full routine is 21 minutes and has lots of names that have fallen out of memory. Warning for some derogatory names, but no actual obscenities [they’re bleeped]. Probably start at the 10 minute mark if you don’t have the full 21 minutes.)

    Trump is not even as funny as Frank Dell.

  69. One point that has been lost in the whole shuffle is that Hillary Clinton DOES NOT WANT TO ABOLISH the 2nd Amendment.The totally unfunny “joke’ is about something that will never happen. So it begs the question: what is the real reason for saying this? It is not a stretch to imagine El Douche fantasizing that the uppity woman who is making him look like a loser comes to harm. His surrogates have tried to spin this turd in several ways, that it was ‘a joke’ is but one, however the USSS has gotten involved now and 24 hours later we’re all still talking about it. So if it was a ‘joke’, it was a complete dud. Personally, I don’t think it was a joke. It was a dog whistle that even reasonable humans heard.

  70. It warms my heart to see all the concern about dangerous campaign rhetoric. Anyone who would even hint about their opponent being assassinated is certainly somebody we should worry about.

    Like that time Hillary suggested she wasn’t going to get out of the 2008 race because, “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.” (Nod, nod. Wink wink)

  71. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    This phrase is interpreted to include the right to bear arms in self defense, but it READS as the right to bear arms to resist oppression and unrighteous movements by the government. In that context it feels like Trump’s comment can only be taken in the way that most of the media is talking about . . . and he has definitely been insinuating that his target demographic is being oppressed all along.

  72. Billy Quiets:

    For the record, the entry and comment thread here on that episode.

    Good to establish we here at Whatever largely agree that some rhetoric is out of bounds. Unless you were intending to accuse people here of hypocrisy, Billy? But I don’t think that was your intent, of course.

    Let me also suggest that, as this is your second shot at this particular rhetorical maneuver, and you’ve now failed both times to get any traction with it, that you not bother with a third and leave it alone.

  73. Back when I was young and stupid, I had a boyfriend who was just terminally unable to gauge his audience and was forever saying things that insulted or offended or even “just got someone’s back up.” It was my “job” as his girlfriend to “follow behind,” soothe people’s outrage and apologize for his offenses, or, in general, clean up after him. It was thankless and exhausting, and I ended up not liking how I had to turn myself inside out to do it.

    Problem is, I KNEW my now ex- didn’t mean to be offensive and insulting, which is probably why I stayed in that relationship as long as I did. I don’t know this about Trump and I can kind of see my old self in his followers, coming together “defending” his “jokes” and telling those offended by them, that they shouldn’t be because he “didn’t mean it that way.”

    I think this is part of the way he consolidates his followers: “We get it, so he must be one of us.” In that, he’s a lot like my ex- and his “inside jokes,”

  74. Having also fallen afoul of Scalzi’s Law I try to use a simple test in these situations: If you turn it around, will the same people think it’s funny. I don’t see that Trump crowd laughing it off if H. had told a large public gathering that someone should shoot Trump for the good of America. Do you?

  75. Me, accuse people of hypocrisy!? Heaven forbid.

    Just doing my part to present a balanced view of the candidates.

    On a completely unrelated matter, I’m really looking forward to your post on the father of Orlando’s mass murderer getting VIP seating at Hillary’s campaign event there.

  76. I saw a tweet on facebook to the effect of:
    Trump Supporters: We like Donald Trump because he says what he means.
    Donald Trump: Someone should kill my political opponent.
    Trump Supporters: He didn’t mean that!

  77. Here is a good (IMO) analysis of why Trump’s comment matters:

    Pull quote: “A candidate who tells his supporters that if they see protesters, “Knock the crap out of ’em,” or who says about one, “I’d like to punch him in the face” isn’t going to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to advocating violence, and that’s no one’s fault but his.”

  78. I came to the comments to thank you for your essay. I look forward to the times you turn to national politics (the Sad Puppy stuff is just too far out of my personal experience to give me the same thrill). I almost always agree with what you say.

    That said, I enjoy your fiction even more, so if you choose to put your efforts into paying the bills, I won’t complain. There’s always the weekly op-ed by Richard North Patterson on HuffPo. I think I actually enjoy those more than his novels.

    Finally, praise for Fogeyman who distilled the essence down to one sentence. I’d have been disappointed to read something so short from you, but he really did nail it with a cultural reference.

  79. I wish I could sit Paul Ryan and the other GOP Bozos downplaying this as “just a joke” and forcefeed them your post, John.

    Great post as usual! Too bad it takes time away from your novel writing, because I’m waiting for your next book with bated breath!

    A small disagreement on Trump’s thought process, however. You essentially said “pop” the thought entered Trump’s frustrated mind and “poof” out it came with something like a nanosecond of unfiltered delay.

    Sort of. But context, again. This is a man who routinely broadcasts that he has frequent violent fantasies. Whether it’s randomly shooting someone on 5th Ave and suffering no political consequences, or “wanting to punch” his protestors, or wanting to “hit” DNC Convention speakers “so hard their heads spin”—lots of violent fantasies.

    I’m sure he’s had violent fantasies about Hillary Clinton for a long time. And we all know the high regard he holds for federal judges.

    It’s surprising he was able to control himself and not make such comments for so long! In this case, his seemingly weak filter has probably been working overtime for months.

    I shudder to think we might elect such an unprecedented, angry hothead. And give that nasty bully the power of the Presidency! I shudder to think we might elect a man with so little self control. This isn’t supposed to be able to happen in our 1st world country.

    When was the last time one of our allie’s leaders (Hollande) said a candidate makes them “want to retch”? Or the Pope, for God sake, felt obligated to denounce a candidate?

    Words do matter. And I bet there are some hard core fringe militia types who aren’t laughing one bit, but are listening hard. Bring this kind of thinking more into the mainstream.

    This isn’t funny!!!

  80. @ Gru’ud
    A good number of Republicans, in office and out, said that Obama’s victory in 2012 was the result of fraud. This was an extension of accusations that the polls were “skewed”, which of course they weren’t. And became one more justification for trying to obstruct everything he did. This is an extreme version of the R policy of delegitimizing both Democratic victors and the value of government itself, which they’ve been doing since Jimmy Carter was in office. Trump is the culmination of this policy.

    @ Scalzi,
    Thanks for this fine post. I grew up with slurs against minorities and women, being “just a joke”. I think I still have my I Am a Humorless Feminist t-shirt around somewhere …

  81. My response – fortunately not needed for many years – to “Can’t you take a joke?” is “A joke I can take. That was not a joke.”

    It seems to me that Scalzi’s otherwise fine analysis skirted around the fact that Trump’s line was not a joke. Assassinating your political rival is just not a humorous topic. Not unless you’re a real master of black humor, and Trump isn’t even very good at telling the kind of joke that has a big red banner with the word “joke” wrapped around it, the kind that begins, “Let me tell you a funny story.”

  82. Icarus, Mixed Nut, and anyone else who thinks Trump was merely telling gun rights advocates to go out and vote:

    That’s NOT what he was saying. Listen to to speech, read the clips. He was telling people that IF Hillary were ELECTED (past tense), there wouldn’t be anything his supporters could do about her Supreme Court nominations. AFTER the elections. IF she wins. AFTER voting is over.

    Get it? Then he went on to say that “maybe” something could be done, at that point, after the election. Involving “those” 2nd Amendment (militia prepper types) “people”.

    He went on to say it would be a “horrible day” after the “2nd Amendment people” took action.

    After the election. Did my best to break it down. But read it, listen to it FOR YOURSELF. it’s all over the internet. You don’t really need anyone’s 2nd hand interpretation to see I’m telling you the truth.

    Supreme Court nominations come AFTER the voting part is over.

  83. “The Anatomy of Humor”

    “What is funny?” you ask, my child,
    Crinkling your bright-blue eye.
    “Ah, that is a curious question indeed,”
    Musing, I make reply.

    “Contusions are funny, not open wounds,
    And automobiles that go
    Crash into trees by the highwayside;
    Industrial incidents, no.

    “The habit of drink is a hundred per cent,
    But drug addiction is nil.
    A nervous breakdown will get no laughs;
    Insanity surely will.

    “Humor, aloof from the cigarette,
    Inhabits the droll cigar;
    The middle-aged are not very funny;
    The young and the old, they are.

    “So the funniest thing in the world should be
    A grandsire, drunk, insane,
    Maimed in a motor accident,
    And enduring moderate pain.

    “But why do you scream and yell, my child?
    Here comes your mother, my honey,
    To comfort you and to lecture me
    For trying, she’ll say, to be funny.”

    — Morris Bishop

  84. Billy, did you mean the rally he attended without Clinton’s knowledge and whose presence she later disparaged, plainly stating she disagreed with his views and disavowed his support?

    Please note that the story this link connects to actually supports my argument, rather than undercuts it. You might do well to follow such an example should you ever choose to engage people in honest dialectics. Of course, given that so far you have steadfastly refused to do so, choosing instead to engage via extremely clumsy and dishonest passive aggression, I would be surprised to see you change your ways now.

    Keep on keeping on with your obfuscating self.

  85. I suppose this may be slightly off-topic, but I just have to think that John Boehner is sitting there in Darke County sipping an ice-cold lemonade and wiping his brow as he contemplates the bullet he dodged, so to speak, by stepping out of the Speakership last fall. If you ever happen to run into him down at the local Piggly-Wiggly, Mr. Scalzi, you should congratulate him on his sagacity at escaping public office before the GOP sank to this level.

  86. Trump’s comment

    “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

    seems like he’s suggesting people assassinate Clinton’s Supreme Court picks rather than suggesting an assassination of Clinton. Not that that’s an improvement, but that’s how I read it.

    And either interpretation is more reasonable than his supporters’ claims that he was encouraging second amendment supporters to block vote against her. Yeah, right.

  87. At the first debate (if it ever takes place) Hillary could begin with “May I start with a joke? Ladies and Gentlemen [points to DT] – Donald Trump”.
    And as Reagan used “There you go again” as a device perhaps Hillary could continually ask Donald “Was that another joke?” regardless of what he’d just said.

  88. Thank you, Scout. I wondered who would finally mention that. Show me ONE TIME in the 25 years Hillary has been in the national spotlight where she has EVER made a reference to getting rid of the Second Amendment. But that was the premise Trump used to go to the next place. Hillary is going to take your guns…unless you stop her first.

    But then, for 7 1/2 years we’ve heard that Obama was coming to take our guns. How many were taken? And how many MILLIONS of guns are out there right now, many in the hands of (to be kind) impressionable people?

    Yes, scary indeed. The first comment above was my immediate take as well. Chris Christie started this at the RNC (“Lock her up!”) and it has only escalated since then.

    That moron from New Hampshire (I can’t be bothered to look his name up) wants Hillary before a firing squad because she “lied” about Benghazi (or the emails, or both). Now first, this is almost amusing since Trump lies reflexively about virtually everything, but I digress. He seems to think that this is treason (I wonder if he can define it) and this is how traitors are treated, right? Well, no, on either count. There were only 14 (or perhaps it was 16) people convicted of treason in this country in the entire Twentieth Century, and guess how many were executed. That’s right, none. Zero. And believe me, no one was a politician convicted of lying either.

    It seems we shouldn’t have to keep explaining Civics 101 – no, Donald, we don’t kill people we don’t like – but sadly, this is where we are today.

  89. Billy Quiets wrote

    On a completely unrelated matter, I’m really looking forward to your post on the father of Orlando’s mass murderer getting VIP seating at Hillary’s campaign event there.

    I’m not Mr. Scalzi, but strongly suspect that you should get used to disappointment. Both Mateen and the Clinton campaign seem to be saying that he wasn’t specifically invited. Nor can I find a claim that he was placed by them in the VIP section. A Clinton spokesman said that she “disavows his support.” and pointed out that it is a public event (see full article). So from where I sit, it appears neither Clinton nor the campaign knew he was there, and the campaign wasn’t too happy to find out about it afterwards.

    As for being invited or in VIP seating, here’s Mateen’s father again:

    When questioned whether Clinton’s campaign knew he was going to the event and sitting directly behind the presidential candidate, Mateen said, “It’s a Democratic party, so everyone can join.”

    And he said a lot of other things, too, which you can read at this site.

  90. It is all too scary to hear a presidential candidate mouthing such odious BS to consider it a joke of any kind. As to all the rest … I’m just wondering where I left the Sense-O-Thumb and whether the Vogons will be through the neighborhood fast enough.

  91. Well written. Like the first person to comment, I too thought of Henry II and Thomas a Becket. I think in context it is unequivocally clear that Trump was talking about the assassination of Hillary Clinton and/or judges she might appoint.

    Does Trump really want Clinton assassinated or believe that he asked people to effect that assassination? I think not. (Parenthetically, there now appears to be some question as to whether the Secret Service spoke to the Trump campaign about these comments or not.)

    I also think it doesn’t matter; there is a point at which recklessness is culpable.

  92. I’ve been trying since hearing about Trump’s comment to explain to my husband why the “joke” wasn’t all right even *if* Trump really meant that the Second Amendment Folks should just vote as a whole against Hilary or anyone she appoints. My husband and I are on the same side, definitely not on Trump’s side, but he just kept saying “You know what he really meant.” And now you’ve summed up so nicely why I think I *do* know what he really meant — and why it terrifies me.

  93. “Hillary wants to abolish – essentially abolish the second amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick – if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although, the second amendment, people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
    – Donald Trump

    I would never presume to put words into this man’s mouth, so I was very careful to transcribe nothing but his exact words. Of course the punctuation is mine, but if you can find a way of punctuating this that invalidates my point and still makes sense with the soundbite, please let me know. For now, I am going to operate under the assumption that these words are what he said. This part is not up for debate. What follows is opinion, and you are free to agree with, disagree with, partially agree with, ignore, or take my conclusions however you feel, but let’s start with facts.


    I have seen multiple articles on both sides of this issue — one side decries a clear call for violence against a political opponent, while the other dismisses those concerns as over-reactive to an obvious call for voter unity, or at worst to a joke. I’ll address those possibilities in reverse order.

    First, if this is a joke, it is in the poorest taste I have ever seen. This is a man who is asking the American people to invest him with the power to order missiles to launch, bullets to fly, and secret knives to un-sheathe. That he would jokingly call on his supporters to exercise their second amendment rights to do something about Hillary’s choice of judges is, first of all, un-funny. To rephrase his comments as a clearer “joke,” one could choose to hear “…there’s nothing you can do folks. Although, you could just shoot her, ha ha — I kid, I kid.” That’s a joke. It’s not funny but it’s clearly not seriously suggesting assassination of what would be a sitting president. Let me reiterate that, because it bears remembering. Trump said “if she gets to pick her judges,” and only the President gets to pick judges, so another way of telling this joke would have been “If she becomes President, nothing you can do folks. Although, if that happens you could just shoot her, ha ha no I’m joking.” One more time — his “joke” was about assassinating a sitting president to prevent appointment of politically disagreeable judges. And that’s the best-case scenario.

    Possibility number two, still giving the benefit of the doubt, is the “call for voter unity” option. If that’s what it is, he certainly did not do anything to make it sound like one. He began his statement with “Hillary wants to essentially abolish the second amendment.” He then went on to say “And if she gets to pick her judges…” which, since we’ve already established that only the President gets to pick Supreme Court judges, clearly and unambiguously means that he’s addressing the scenario where she becomes President. He concludes with “there’s nothing you can do.” This is, of course, true — if his opponent is elected, Trump’s supporters will have lost the opportunity to influence the Supreme Court nominations. He then proceeds to say “Although.” Although is a funny word. When used at the beginning of a sentence like this, it is a word that is used to contradict a previous statement. The previous statement was, of course, “There’s nothing you can do,” referring to the situation if Hillary becomes President. His next statement must, then, be his explanation of what can be done about the situation if Hillary becomes President. And his next statement is an invocation of the second amendment. That’s not something you can invoke on a sitting President, and calling on “second amendment people” to band together as some have suggested simply does not fit the statement that was made. If that was his intention, perhaps something like “if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although, if the second amendment people get together and vote in November, maybe there is a way to keep her out, I don’t know.” Except he does know. If she is not elected, then of course she won’t get to pick her judges – problem solved. And that doesn’t “maybe . . . keep her out.” In that scenario, she is kept out, no maybe about it. The only reason for saying “maybe” and “I don’t know” in this context would be if he were not sure that his plan was possible, and if he was not sure that it would work if enacted. So to believe that what he was trying to say was a call to “second amendment people” to vote is, frankly, one that requires you to believe that he has literally no idea how either elections or the office of the Presidency work.

    Finally, there is the third option. There is the option that is beyond the pale. There is the interpretation that states that Donald J. Trump, Republican nominee for the Presidency of the United States, suggested to his supporters that if they allowed his opponent to be nominated, they would need to look to the second amendment for the solution to their problem of judges incompatible with their views. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t need to pad his words to make that interpretation viable. I don’t need to add anything or take anything away. I don’t have to put a single thing into those sentences, into that vile, reprehensible statement that is not already there. I don’t have to come up with some other way he could have said that he condones assassinating a sitting President. I don’t have to figure out how he could have better expressed that losing an election should be met with violence against the People’s choice of leader. I don’t have to do anything. I can just let him do the talking. And if you will glance up, you’ll see that I said I did not want to put words into his mouth, so that is where I’ll leave it.

    So, to conclude – If you believe he was joking, please really think about the kind of man who would joke about killing his opponent. Is that someone who you want in the Presidency? If you believe he was calling for voter unity among second amendment supporters . . . I just . . . really? Read his statement again. Now please, I’m begging, tell me how that is in any way a call for people to vote. And finally, if you believe that Mr. Trump is actually standing in front of a crowd of people and not even bothering to hide the fact that he thinks his supporters should kill Hillary if she’s elected to keep her from nominating judges that they don’t like, then you must not support him in any way. A man who would say that in the privacy of his own home is a terrible person. A man who would say that to a crowd of people, including television cameras that will broadcast his message to millions, is the basest, most reprehensible, most cowardly, most unfit person who has ever asked for the job of President. If you feel you must not vote for Hillary, then don’t. Vote a third party that shares your values. Vote for an empty sack. Vote for me. But you must not allow this man to wield executive power. He is unworthy of the office, and he is unworthy of your consideration.

  94. Long ago, in another life, I helped moderate a board that, for unimportant reasons, generated far above its fair share of drama, and I was, for lack of a better term, the heavyweight. Because I was funny.

    If someone was being an absolute jackass, but public opinion was not yet against them, and the moderators wanted to look like the good guys, I was dispatched to make them ridiculous, but to be so amusing about it that everyone else would laugh along. The other mods knew I could do it, and I knew it, and on multiple occasions, I was asked to do just that. And I did it.

    It is a skillset. It may not change the mind of the victim, but if done well, it can sway the view of nearly everyone else. It was not a board of professional writers, the way most groups I hang out around now are, and I’ll freely admit, I was punching way below my weight class with some of them, and I was younger and crueler than I hope I am now.

    I can’t tell you if it was a good thing or a bad thing. It was a thing. And one day a person who knew she was not as..ah..articulate as I was told me that I was sometimes a very clever bully. I do not think she was entirely right, but I also don’t think she was entirely wrong. Sometimes someone does have to be the heavy. Some people do need to be shown the door, and if you can make it funny, it’s better for everybody. Sometimes we aren’t as funny as we think we are. But anyone who thinks a joke is only a joke has far too little respect for what humor can do.

    But I’ll tell you the truth–I’m glad Trump’s not REALLY funny. A genuinely funny candidate could walk away with this one in a heartbeat. So probably it’s for the best, after all.

  95. Robert Sawyer addressed some theories of why we laugh in one of his earlier works. One possibility is surprise at a new thought.

    Perhaps none of us are laughing because none of us are surprised.

  96. I agree that Fogeyman nailed it with the Becket quotation.

    As a Canadian, that scares the crap out of me.

    And if that was a joke by Mr. Trump’s lights? I’ll answer with another quotation: “I’ve heard it before…and it wasn’t funny the first time.”

  97. @Cassidy, I’m genuinely curious, if you know – why is your husband so invested in denying what Trump so obviously meant? As others have pointed out at length, it’s one thing to say ‘he meant it as a joke and not a serious call for an assassination’, quite another to contort oneself into believing that it was a call for some kind of retroactive post-election-anti-judge voting that was willfully blind to what “Second Amendment solutions” means.

    In the case of party hacks and ideologues, it’s obvious why the contortions are there: can’t admit that Our Team did a bad thing and anyway what about that one time that [Googles frantically for similar quotes by Democrats]. But in the case of someone not inclined to give Trump a partisan pass, why?

  98. @KFL, Jeff Hentosz and others, here the full quote of what Trump said just so we are talking about the same thing:

    Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick…if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know. But — but I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day if — if Hillary gets to put her judges — right now, we’re tied. You see what’s going on

    With the full context, it’s clear that when he said ‘that will be a horrible day’ he is referring to the day that Hillary gets to nominate a judge who is against the 2nd Amendment, because currently the Supreme court is tied and judge hostile to the 2nd Amendment will tip the balance. Any other interpretation is a willing distortion of what he said.

    Everyone knows that there is a group of people who are single issue voters with respects to gun reform ‘Second Amendment people’ if you will. He’s clearly exhorting them to vote. This is even more apparent if you keep reading what he said after the quote above – it’s too long to quote here but he talks about the balance of the Supreme Court and how it will be important to people who value the 2nd Amendment and he’s clearly appealing to 2nd Amendment voters to go out and do the right thing by voting for the candidate endorsed by the NRA.

    @John, with respect to your link to Paul Ryan’s comments, the link appears to be broken for me (I can’t click it and there is no indication of where the link goes) but I Google searched the title and the top response was from the Washington Post, not sure if it’s the same one but the article states:

    Ryan noted that he had not yet seen the clip. “I didn’t actually hear the comments, I only heard about those comments.”

    So Ryan is only commenting on other reports, the vast majority of which are misinterpreting what Trump said as a call for an assassination. Without seeing what Trump actually said, he doesn’t have any other option but to defend it as a joke, because he’s not going to say that Trump seriously intended for people to assassinate Clinton. Unfortunately though, that just feeds a cycle of bias. He’s been asked for comments about Trump’s assassination remarks, and by saying it must have been a joke it makes it seem that he implicitly agrees with the assertion that Trump called on people to assassinate Hillary. That is to say, it validates the misinterpretation of what Trump said, and his comments can be used as ammunition for further biased commentary – e.g. yourself and others saying ‘See, even top Republicans agree that Trump was calling on people to assassinate Hillary’. Which is simply not true.

    Note also that Ryan and Trump are not exactly best-buddies (see for example the recent tit-for-tat withholding of endorsement until as late as feasibly possible), and I’m sure Ryan is not going to be in any hurry to clear up any misunderstanding that makes Trump look bad, because Trump losing the election gives him a shot at a run in 2020.

    Anyway, I have no love for Trump, but I absolutely despise what is going on in the media with its blatant anti-Trump bias. I used to think this sort of reporting and demonizing was only found in crackpot right-wing sites, the type that brand Obama as Kenyan-born Muslim out to destroy the US, but yet now we have media sources I used to respect basically doing the same thing to Donald Trump and willfully distorting and misinterpreting what he says paint him in a negative light.

    Assassination, the baby thing, the Russia thing, and more, all of which have been distorted, and all of which anti-Trump supporters lap up, without seeming to bother to follow through and get to the bottom of any particular issue.

    There seems to be a belief that Donald Trump must be stopped no matter what the cost, and so impartiality and accurate reporting are thrown to the wind in order to push a narrative. And boy do I hate saying something like ‘push a narrative’, but the DNCleaks made it clear, the DNC is actively colluding with major media outlets to push a very specific anti-Trump narrative regardless of the facts, and no-one except the pro-Trump people seems to care, and that is worrying.

    Sure, it helps Hillary win, but at what cost to democracy when it involves the total weakening of the 4th-estate.

  99. Two questions with hyperbolic exaggeration, but meant seriously:

    1. Is this what it was like in late 1930’s Germany, as a political candidate waved his fist and shouted what I’m told were often semi-coherest rants, and disaffected extremists flocked to party uniforms, while a great many Germans didn’t buy the rhetoric and didn’t think it could happen there?

    2. I wonder, at what point do people wake up and find that the country they love and grew up believing in, has somehow changed, so subtly over time, but then has become something so clearly not what that country was supposed to stand for? What a nightmarish, dystopian scenario that is. And yet, what happens if a country heads down that road, and goes from a democracy, a republic, to a fascist dictatorship, with many of the same symbols and agencies, still in place, but their meanings twisted by new laws bypassing old constitutional guarantees, and so on?

    There have been many science ficiton novels and films set in dystopian futures or alternate realities like that. And somehow, some plucky band of heroes seems to know right away what’s gone wrong and how to fix it.

    But… In real life, as in 20th century history, or in what we might be at risk of seeing here in the USA, if either Trump wins or (scarily) his sympathizers/followers and their ideas live on and fester…. Would we recognize that switch from “good country” (democray / republic) to “bad country” (fascist / dictatorship / police state) so easily?

    I’m not trying to rant or spread paranoia. What I’m asking is: How do we honestly prevent such a nightmare from coming true? How would we recognize if a nation (this one or some other) turns that corner and goes from a free country to its direct opposite?

    Seeing someone like Trump as the official candidate of a major party, seeing that party’s senior people excuse so much of what he says as, “Aw, he doesn’t really mean all that,” and not renouncing it for the awfulness that it is, truly bothers me as an American citizen. I find the idea that he’s even that close to getting elected President to be a scary thing.

    However — I still believe that there are plenty of people who don’t fall for all that nonsense and don’t want their country to be like that. I still have to believe that my one little vote cast in the November election, not for Trump, has to matter, and that, when added to all those other votes, can win out.

    All right, if some sizable percentage of my fellow Americans want what Trump stands for, well… shudder. I don’t want that kind of country. That would be an unrecognizable country, and not America to me.

    I can be OK with it if people vote for Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein or the Libertarian candidate (sorry, blanking on his name). I can be OK with it if voters write in “None of the Above” or some real-world name. (But I’d really hope they’d vote for a candidate who can really be elected.) (I could wish for an official option for “None of the Above, start over.”)

    And…whatever actually happens in November’s election, I will have to live with it, here in America, as a citizen. It’s a rather long swim across the Atlantic, for instance, and Canada’s too cold to suit me, though otherwise quite nice, I hear. And Mexico is not so far, but they have their own problems, and at the moment, might not be too pleased to see people from a country where a major party has advocated building a wall to keep them out. As I’m from a city that relies on international port trade with most of the world, I could sympathize with them. So I’m here, whatever happens in, eegad, just a couple of months and a few weeks now.

    I am very tired of this election, and very horrified to see what’s happening to that major party. For several elections, it hasn’t been the party it was when I was first old enough to vote. For several elections, I’d thought we might see a party split in one or both parties and a realignment, as has happened before a few times in American history. But no, I never, ever would have expected to see the way this election cycle has been. Ugh. I think in any case, we’re seeing that party self-destruct, implode.

    I hope after the election, things will settle down, people will come back to their senses, and at least the one party will split and we’ll get something better all around, rather than the awful thing we’ve been subjected to for months now. I do *not* want to see anything like that rise to any serious power ever again. It would be bad enough to see it in some extremist splinter group cult type thing. But to see it in a major party and get as much support as it has? Ugh. That is not the America I know and love. Those are not my values, my ideals, or what I want to wake up to each morning. — I like the great variety of people and ideas in my own city and my country. I do not want some lunatic fringe movement telling me that people who are my neighbors and friends are any threat to me and my city and my country, because they are not. They are free citizens here too, with as much right as me to live and prosper and be Americans, because they either were born here to begin with, or they moved here and worked very hard to become citizens or are doing so at present.

    I would not be white enough or non-handicapped enough or straight enough for some “master race,” but I wouldn’t want to live in a place that followed that anyway. — I’m a white male, but that’s not all that’s back in my family tree, thank you, including current relatives. I’m handicapped. I’m gay. I’m Protestant, but not sure I’d say I’m practicing anymore. (I still pray, though, there’s some belief there, but lots of questions.) So…I would not fit in with any sort of racist, eugenics, homophobic ideology.

    Yes, the America I live in now has many problems. But they can be worked on, either within the system or by making changes to the system, through a rather nice process we have called the rule of law and a peaceful transfer of government, and yes, by volunteering, compromise, statesmanship, public service, you know, all those silly old ideas that so seldome get talked about now.

    I do know which candidate I’m voting for. That candidate is not perfect, but has exhibited some measure of sense over the years and an actual plan and ideas made public, both currently and previously. I can vote for that, even if I don’t agree on everything and have concerns ahead.

    I cannot in good conscience consider a vote for Trump. I think he shouldn’t be anywhere near the candidacy, and certainly nowhere near the actual office of President. I truly hope he won’t get elected.

    I do not believe he was making a joke. I think he was all too serious and knows it. — But hey, if he keeps up this baloney, he just might start convincing more people that he’s not the right guy for the job, and that, well, is kinda how the process is supposed to work. (Well, it’s supposed to work better than that.)

    Phooey. This feels like some bad time travel / alternate universe trope, where the heroes know instantly that something has gone very wrong. Only… I want the episode to end so we get back to the original, prime universe, please. Please?

  100. FYI for everyone: I’ll be turning off comments when I hit the hay, probably in the next hour or so. The comments will be back on in the morning.

  101. The “joke” is on the American people. We let our leadership impose licensing requirements on every profession from beauticians to contractors and landscapers, doctors, lawyers, investment advisors, all kinds of people who hold our individual health or money but not – oh, no, never! – on politicians themselves despite the fact that they hold the lives and fortunes of 320 million Americans in their hands. It’s one of the last professions where there’s no minimum entry criteria, no particular qualification, no board or review process, nothing. Maybe we ought to start there and have a pre-screening process, hmm?

    For now, we’re stuck with a nauseating choice. On the one hand stands an open criminal who gleefully racked up a billion dollars in “side” money with over a hundred million dollars of personal money while ostensibly serving the nation as Secretary of State then burned all of her calendars and purged all of her emails relating to any of that without suffering a single charge of obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, witness tampering, or any substantive charge for the myriad security law violations, failures to follow federal records retention and security law and on and on and on. Why not? Well, the DOJ said she’s basically electronically illiterate and couldn’t possibly be expected to adhere to such high-falutin’ new-fangled concepts that have been around for thirty years.

    If that was true, why hasn’t the Clinton Foundation been hacked? Why haven’t those emails been spewed everywhere? Could it be because they know good and gosh-darned well how to actually maintain security when they want to? Of course it is. There’s no way anyone other than the Clintons will ever touch Clinton cash. Point is, however, that her manifest disdain for law, adhering to the law or even paying lip service to the law and similar niceties probably isn’t prosecutable by itself, but should absolutely chill anyone considering giving her power over their person or family. This is a person who should have been disbarred not only from the practice of law like her husband, but from holding high political office.

    Then there’s the other one, who’s been variously described as the Angry Cheeto, FFVonClownstick, and Cheeto-Faced Ferret-Wearing Sh*tgibbon. While he hasn’t killed anything other than the English language and almost all hope for the future so far, there’s a palpable sense of dread that he might inadvertently summon the Old Ones and unleash a thousand years of misery and torment upon the Earthly Realm while purportedly talking about the weather. He’s never found a topic that he couldn’t instantly convert to nigh-mortal offense to someone which would be great if we were trying to start a war rather than avoid wars in flashpoints all around the globe. The list of people he’s alienated is enormous, much larger than he could count on both hands and no, that’s not a “small-hands” joke. Or maybe it is. What does it even matter?

    It’s not like nobody’s ever made a horribly distasteful joke, that’s true. John Kerry, in 2006 on Bill Maher, spoke about President Bush thus:

    Maher: … you could have gone to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.


    Kerry: I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.

    I’m sure there are other examples, but it’s not even this one particular comment, but the dozens that spew from Trump in an unending stream. The Hyperbolic Huckster keeps on churning out the hits with absolutely nothing of value to counterbalance them. This is not a person who should have made it through any kind of screening process for high political office either.

    I fully expect Gozer the Gozerian to appear and demand that we choose the form of our doom, for choose we must. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man might actually be a preferable alternative.

  102. Mixed Nut, your argument that Trump was only trying to “get out the vote” of Second Amendment voters doesn’t hold water.

    To achieve the scenario you posit, Trump would need to beat Hilary Clinton in the election, at the ballot box. He would need, simply, to garner more votes, and to garner them in states with the greatest electoral advantage.

    That’s not happening. His support is dropping, and the more he speaks, the more that process accelerates. If it continues, it may be a record-breaking rout in November.

    So he needs every vote he can get to have even a ghost of a chance for an election victory. He needs to appeal for every possible vote he can get.

    That’s what Hilary and the Democrats are doing. “Everyone needs to vote” is the constant refrain on that side. “Everyone needs to vote.” “Everyone who can possibly vote needs to vote.

    But that’s not what Trump, according to your interpretation, called for. He didn’t urge “everyone” to vote in November. He only made his call-out for, according to you, the “Second Amendment people”. Numerous as they are, fervent as they are, their votes aren’t sufficient to guarantee Trump an election victory.

    So, why wasn’t his supposed call for voting support addressed to everyone who might possibly support him in November? Why would he possibly undercut and restrict his call for voting support that way?

    Because it wasn’t a call for votes. It was a call-out to the people who have guns. It was a call-out to the people who have bullets. It was a call-out to a group who include extremist elements who are eager at the prospect of armed revolt against American law and government.

    It was a call for the assassination of Hilary Clinton, with just enough “implausible deniability” to make weak, senseless and contradictory arguments about its “real” meaning.

    You’re being an enabler for a monster, Mixed Nut. Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  103. May I make one minor point? It is obvious from this statement that Trump has NEVER read the Constitution. If he had, he would know that a president has no power to change or abolish one letter of the Constitution. The only body that can do that is Congress — and any change must pass both the House and Senate and then be ratified by a two-thirds majority of States.

    So Trump is calling on the gun nuts to kill Hillary Clinton over something SHE CANNOT DO.

    He is calling for the assassination of Judge(s) who also CANNOT change the Constitution. They can only rule on the cases they elect to hear.

    It’s not a joke — it’s the kind of thing nasty brutish men have done to women for centuries, and I’m damn sick and tired of it. Yes, Trump would be delighted if someone gunned down Clinton, Kagan, Ginsburg and Sotomayor.

  104. You’re being an enabler for a monster, Mixed Nut. Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

    No, what I’m doing is asking people to look at facts and not to let personal biases allow them to accept and promote things that are misleading and/or not true. If that is embarrassing myself, well so be it, but I think that’s a principle worth standing up for.

    Trump has a lot of problems, but that doesn’t make it right to willingly distort the things he says and does in order to make him look worse.

    And that’s what is happening. People above are worrying about a future dystopian Trump presidency without realizing the magnitude of a very serious issue being committed now, by the anti-Trump folks, that actively undermines a free society – namely the government actively co-opting a willing media as a propaganda unit to spread misinformation and distort the truth. Yes it happens all the time to some degree, but it seems like we’re ignoring the lessons learned the last time it got out of control (after 9/11 and in the lead-up to the Iraq War part II), because the degree and fervor with which it’s happening now is far stronger and really, really worrying.

    I hate saying something like that because it makes me seem like a conspiracy nut, but the DNCleaks (which no-one, not even the DNC, disputes the veracity of) clearly show DNC and media collusion. You have emails showing the DNC suggesting and vetting articles, arranging to pull content off-air and generally pushing pre-arranged talking points designed to paint Donald Trump as racist, sexist, homophobic, violent, unstable, dangerous, fascist – literally Hitler even – and wouldn’t you know it, that’s what people think of him.

    It starts with Democrat-friendly and/or anti-Trump media outlets taking something Trump said and putting a spin on it based on the above set of attributes they are trying to brand him with, and that distorted message is then amplified by people who (consciously or sub-consciously) want to believe it and so don’t bother to verify what actually happened.

    He throws babies out of rallies, he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, he’s an anti-Semite, he wants to use nuclear weapons, the majority of his supporters are violent and/or racist, he thinks Mexicans are rapists and on and on. All of these are things that people readily believe about Trump and yet they are demonstrably false, but at the same time based (sometimes quite tenuously) on real events and comments that have been twisted just enough to make them appear credible and/or believable.

    And as these things are repeated across the Internet and as people start to believe them, it becomes possible to twist things further and further without people noticing, to the point where it’s easy for people to believe Trump is a monster who calls for the assassination of political opponents and judges, even though he said no such thing and the full context of his actual comments make it clear that this was not his meaning.

    This is where democracy dies, because the media is not doing their job, and you can’t have a stable democracy without a well-informed populace. There is the belief that Trump must be stopped whatever the cost, and any criticism of Hillary is seen as support of Trump and any defense of Trump regardless of how valid is seen as ‘enabling a monster’ and so truth be damned because the means justifies the end.

    Well I’m sorry, but that’s just not something I can support. It used to be Fox News and crackpot media sites pushing this sort of nonsense about ‘liberals’ and I used to laugh at them and their diatribes against the ‘liberal media’, but it’s like we’re living in some alternate reality where left and right switched places and now institutions like the NYTimes are now just as bad as Fox News.

    Have a read of this article from the NYTimes themselves, here’s a quote:

    One reader from California who asked not to be named believes Times reporters and editors are trying to sway public opinion toward their own beliefs. “I never thought I’d see the day when I, as a liberal, would start getting so frustrated with the one-sided reporting that I would start hopping over to the Fox News webpage to read an article and get the rest of the story that the NYT refused to publish,” she says.

    It’s like some sort of sick joke.

    I don’t want a Trump presidency, I don’t want a Hillary presidency – neither is a palatable option and yet we’re going to end up with one of them. The best I can hope for is that we don’t destroy vital institutions and checks and balances in the process, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get that either.

    your argument that Trump was only trying to “get out the vote” of Second Amendment voters doesn’t hold water.

    It absolutely does hold water and is 100% consistent with everything Trump has done so far in this campaign. A generic call, as you suggest, for ‘everyone to vote’ is actually not very effective because it doesn’t speak to anyone personally. Instead Trump goes for dog whistles – things that will speak specifically to a specific segment of the population. In the speech we are talking about here, he had his 2nd amendment dog-whistle, his rigged system dog-whistle, his illegal immigrants are taking your jobs dog-whistle, his law-enforcement dog-whistle, his Hillary is a corrupt war hawk dog-whistle, and more, each one specifically designed and targeted to make voting for Trump (or against Hillary) something that someone will personally care about.

    That’s how you get people to vote because just calling on ‘everyone to vote’ doesn’t inspire enough passion. If you have a single issue or a set of issues you really care about then that’s what’s going to get you out of your house and down to a polling station. You only have to look at the audience size at Trump’s rallies and also the amount of people he got out to vote in the primaries to see that this strategy works.

    In fact, it’s so effective that Hillary now uses the same tactic based on the ‘Trump is a dangerous madman who must be stopped’ dog-whistle. That’s something that will get many people out of their house on election day – fear of Trump, but it’s a fear largely stoked by a media colluding with the DNC and Hillary’s campaign. Judging by comments here and elsewhere on the Internet it’s going to be very successful because it’s a fear that no-one is willing to try and dispel because no-one wants to be seen as ‘enabling a monster’.

  105. Please, Trumpler. PLEASE call for your opponent’s murder. Make my day. PLEASE openly call for the murder of a woman who has been under Secret Service protection for years. All you will do is get yourself arrested. And really, Trumpler, you being arrested and thrown in jail for a couple of years for making terroristic threats would be the perfect way to end your sick joke of a campaign, and would be much better for America than your continued exhortations of your followers asking them to rebel against the government for you if you lose. .

    I don’t think that Clinton is in serious danger from rabid gun nuts–she’s got Secret Service bodyguards watching her around the clock and she’s smart enough not to go driving through unsecured tight alleys in open-topped cars or anything similarly risky. But Der Trumpenführer still said things which probably qualify as a threat, which the Secret Service is legally empowered to act on if they deem Trump’s threats to be serious. I don’t find Trumpler’s “joke” funny in the slightest, but I do find it amusing how he continues to piss every last bit of goodwill he might have earned away.

  106. @ Mixed Nut
    “the government actively co-opting a willing media as a propaganda unit to spread misinformation and distort the truth”
    This is not true. For one thing, the DNC is not government, it is part of a political party. If you have any proof whatever that what you say you see is happening, please present it. Negative reporting on Trump may either be malicious (like decades of smears of Hillary) or a case of the media saying “the shoe fits”.
    The length of your posts seems to indicate that they present sincerely held beliefs, but I’ve been living through this hideous campaign just as much as you have, and I’ll believe Trump’s actual words rather than you.

  107. I’m no defender of Trump but hoo boy that liberal media, huh? Anyone else want some red meat to go with their dog whistles?

  108. @Mixed Nut – spare us your handwringing about the media and not reporting what Trump says.

    Presumably you saw the survey asking whether Obama was born in the USA? This is from a NBC story on August 10 2016:

    “While more than eight in 10 Democrats agreed with the claim, far more Republicans disagreed with the statement (41 percent) than agreed with it (27 percent). An additional 31 percent of Republicans expressed some doubts about whether Obama is a native U.S. citizen (i.e. indicating that they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement). Only slightly more than one in four Republican voters agreed that the president was born in the United States.”

    I’m not entirely sure why the fact that Obama is “claimed” to be born in the USA, but there you go. The bullshit that the Republicans shovelled (and Trump had one of the bigger shovels) is still out there.

    And also, you said:

    “He throws babies out of rallies, he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, he’s an anti-Semite, he wants to use nuclear weapons, the majority of his supporters are violent and/or racist, he thinks Mexicans are rapists and on and on. All of these are things that people readily believe about Trump and yet they are demonstrably false,”

    While I’ll give you the baby thing, and probably the anti-semite thing, he did say that 11 million illegal immigrants were rapists and murders, he did say that he’d welcome Russian hackers, the majority of his supporters are racist, he did think we should use nuclear weapons. He’s clearly temperamentally unfit to be president – his attack on a Federal judge shows how petulant and emotional his thinking is.

    At least Trump has busted the media out of the “both sides do it” fallacy that they have been stuck in for decades – this time, one candidate really is a narcissistic unstable whack job..

    And as for placing stories, that’s how it works, for companies and politicians – the “journalists” now have hours upon hours of time to fill, or infinite amount of the internet to fill up, and no budget, so grab the first thing that comes pre-packaged their way, whether it’s from a political party or a company news release. There’s no objectivity or judgement left, it’s not going to change, and if Trump wasn’t so disorganized, he’d be exploiting it too.

  109. @Floored– The concern is what happens when he calls for her murder (as, really, he did, see his second amendment solution comments) and nothing happens to him (as, incidentally, he is claiming– he has completely denied reports that SS talked to him or his team).

    That increases the safe space for people contemplating violence against women and increases the probability she actually will be murdered. And has a chilling effect on all other women. I would far rather have Trump drop out of the race than continue to normalize his beliefs through November. He is making the world more dangerous for women, racial minorities, immigrants, Muslims, etc. Really, anyone who isn’t a “Christian” white guy with a gun.

  110. I cannot see it as a joke, but similarly I don’t see where “assassination” comes from. I’ve know quite a few serious gun-nuts over the years, and I’ve never heard or seen anyone anywhere suggest the 2nd Amendment supports assassination as a remedy. Maybe Trump is even more dumb than I suspect, but there’s another kind of less pointed violence he was probably referring to and he’s been setting it up for weeks.
    Basically he’s been calling the system rigged. First, Clinton & the DNC marginalizing my candidate Sanders with all of the super-delegates. Swaying states to her side by making him look like the loser and that’s she’s almost to the number of delegates she needs to win. Despite this, he did pretty well. Similarly, her allies in the current administration convinced the FBI that somehow there is an intent requirement for gross negligence, and the beat back what was clearly a Federal felony and undermined our national security.
    But now Trump is arguing there is “a long train of abuses and usurpations”. He’s tapping into the unhappiness of his followers, those of Sanders, and everyone else fed up with business-as-usual Washington – including calling Clinton a 3rd Obama term.
    So, history gives us the remedy: it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. I think it’s a tough sell that we’ve exhausted all other avenues. It does seem he’s making that point (how do you stop her, what options are left), but without pointing out that this country used to believe it’s a duty to protect rights.
    That so many people agree with Clinton and think it’s unfortunate that we have the 2nd Amendment is a fairly sad statement. I do believe the 2nd is second for a reason – and it’s not that the founders of valued target practice and hunting more than their protections from unreasonable searches & seizures or requirements on due process.
    I also considered that maybe Trump was less inciting violence and just pointing out the obvious: what groups are protecting your rights? Journalists used to expose stuff, but they seem to fawn over Clinton. I’ve seen a few stories about how Obama has sued more journalists than any previous administration trying to get them to reveal sources of leaks. The handling of Snowden has been fairly poor.
    So, the people I would have expected to fight to protect the 1st Amendment have laid down on the job. Who is really speaking up for 4th or 5th Amendment rights? Black Lives Matters is making some noise, but I think they’re largely marginalized because they went to violence too soon. No, only the 2nd Amendment people really seem organized and also try to be subtler with their threat of violence. They’re actually more likely to work through the available means of redress. Some of it is intimidation, but mostly they’re mobilized politically.
    Again, there is a duty to protect our rights. It is scary to some of us that so many people seem complicit in just abandoning rights because they don’t comprehend that they should have them or that they might be useful. The 2nd protects the others, and we hope we shouldn’t ever need it, but I do believe it’s why it is attacked first.
    To be clear, there is no right of assassination. This idea mostly seems to come from those with a gross lack of understanding of what rights the 2nd Amendment protects. The 2nd is not for assassinations, nor is it the hunting and fishing amendment. It also shall not be infringed, but plenty of people think we must infringe on it because of gang problems.
    Clinton is one of the worst about clouding the discussion. Her rhetoric makes is much more difficult to find common ground and work toward a solution. She claims gun “violence” claims 33,000 lives per year. The vast majority of these are suicides. The use of guns for murder are often related gang violence, or in the mind of the public by terrorists. We know terrorist (and suicides) will find means to carry out their plans. There are plenty of examples involving explosives, knives, or vehicles. To these people guns are just another tool, and if they were magically unavailable they’d still find a way to carry out their plans. Removing guns is just a distraction and therefore more a waste of resources.
    The remaining “violence” is mostly gang violence. Again, the root of the problem is not the guns. The guns are still just tools. Clinton and like-minded individuals mention the “gun problem” facing the country because they have no clue how to solve the “gang problem”. Like a failed doctor, she’s so distracted by one of the symptoms she’s leaving disease untreated. She cannot fathom why it’s not getting better – or why Chicago has some of the toughest gun-control laws and also the worst gang violence using guns.
    This should be obvious to everyone. Unfortunately, large swaths of our country seem to not be afraid of the danger Clinton represents. She not only doesn’t understand the problem and has no plan to address the gang violence, but she’s determined on removing our rights by removing the 2nd Amendment – the one placed there specifically to protect the others.

  111. @nicoleandmaggie: I fully understand that he’s a scumbag who pretty openly called for his opponent’s murder, with just the flimsiest “will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” shield for his bullshit. I fully understand that as an atheist socialist, I am at severe risk in a Trump America, and that my best friends are in legitimate danger of being lynched in a Trumperial Fascist States of America or whatever he’ll change the country’s name to. I fully understand that he’s making it more and more acceptable for outright fascism in politics, which is BAD. But…he’s losing. He’s losing badly. It is quite likely that he will lose in a landslide and destroy the Republican Party as a political force. His base (scared old angry white people with guns) is literally dying out, he’s alienated pretty much every other demographic, and he may cost his party control of the House despite the incredibly gerrymandered districts, that is how badly he is performing.

    Ultimately, I believe that either Trump will step too far and be arrested, or will lose on Election Day in a catastrophic landslide, at which point he will throw a tantrum on live TV in sheer furious disbelief, completely unable to cope with losing and not getting his way. If some of his little racist minions decide to take up arms, let them; the US military versus a bunch of rednecks with guns is a conflict balanced so far in favor of the military that it makes the invasion of Grenada look like the battle of the Somme.

    As terrified as I am of Trumpler, I am somewhat optimistic about this election, because I am now quite confident that his fascist bullshit is going to be systematically discredited as the rank idiocy that it is.

  112. All those saying that Hillary Clinton wants to get rid of the Second Amendment, first, please cite even one source where she is quoted to that effect. Second, *even if she wanted to* she couldn’t, even as President. To revoke a constitutional amendment would require a new amendment passing both the House and the Senate, which would then need to be ratified by two thirds of the state legislatures. In case you haven’t noticed, there are Republican majorities in both House and Senate and Republicans control more than enough state legislatures to prevent passage of such an amendment. Probably even many Democrats would vote against such an amendment.

  113. You know, if I was an ardent Second-Amendment-single-issue voter, I’d be pretty damn offended at Trump’s characterization of me and my peers as potential assassins. I might get pretty vocal about that instead of whining about the media or Hillary or whatever. I might even re-think my support of a candidate who apparently thinks I’m as potentially nuts as he is.

  114. Amy, I keep seeing this too. And it’s always unsourced, as are most of the word-salad “accusations” made against Mrs. Clinton. Also, I find it terribly interesting that a “Sanders supporter” would wish to derail a discussion about Donald Trump, whom Bernie Sanders himself has referred to as an active danger to the interests and future of America, and try to refocus the discussion onto Mrs. Clinton with a lot of unsourced rhetoric, blatant falsehoods, and innuendo. Why, it’s almost as if someone is trying to put up a smokescreen on behalf of Mr. Trump.

  115. “Knock the crap out of them. I will pay the legal fees”.

    “Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do I’ll defend you in court.”

    “In the good old days, this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough. We’ve become very weak.”

    “The guards are being very gentle with him. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that.”

    “You know what they used to do to guys like that in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

    A Trump protester sucker punched Rakeem Jones and then threatened to kill him. Trump defended his actions saying “he obviously loves this country”.

    When Trump supporters brutally beat a homeless Latino man, Trump defended the action saying his supporters were “passionate” and “loved this country”.

    Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with assault for manhandling a reporter. Trump defended his actions.

    Anyone who thinks Trump was kidding about killing Hillary is a stooge.

    He advocates for waterboarding and more. He advocates for killing the families, even children, of terrorists. He advocates mass, unlawful deportations. Religious intolerance. Trump is nothing but an appeal to violence. Of course he would love to see Hillary shot. He’s too much of a coward to ever do it himself. The shitstain dodged the draft during the Vietnam war, but he certainly hopes someone will do his dirty work for him. He’s losing the election. And now he’s lashing out. He’s too much a narcissist to see that he’d make a shitty president, so he thinks he’s the best and the only reason he’s losing is everyone else’s fault. When people do violence in his name, he always puts in some kind of defense in their name. If some nutjob actually managed to kill Hillary, Trump would briefly attempt to replicate what he perceives to be the human emotion called grief, fail at it, then shrug and say “he probably loved his country very much” and then campaign at her funeral.

    Trump is a cruel, heartless, selfish, sack of verbal diarrhea. Of course he meant it. He’s also an absolute fucking coward, and he’s hoping someone else will do his dirty work for him.

    The biggest problem with this nonsense is everyone is looking at this like the dress meme. It’s either white&gold, OR its black&blue. Did Trump mean it OR was it a joke? It’s not either/or. It was BOTH. He said it because it was funny to him, but he also said it because he meant it.

  116. @Floored, I mostly agree with you except that for all of his “fascist bullshit” to be truly “systematically discredited as the rank idiocy that it is” Trump NEEDS to lose in a HUGE landslide, like you said – and that’s the part I’m not yet optimistic about, because of a combination of general political apathy, overall distaste for Clinton, and just enough people thinking that its in the bag so they might as well stay home. Honestly it might be for the best that Trump keeps being Trump right up until election day because it will keep people angry enough at him and scared of his presidency enough to overcome the political apathy and actually turn out to vote.

    @Scott, that’s some impressive rhetoric except that your whole rant seems to be based on 2 assumptions. 1) Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the 2nd amendment, and 2) we need to keep our guns in order to keep the option to “throw off such a Government”. As for #1 – no reasonable politician (or general citizen) has suggested completely scrapping the 2nd amendment and they would never be able to even if they wanted to, most people just want common sense regulation, which is a whole different thing. And for #2 – while this justification may be historically accurate, it is also the one that tends to scare people the most, which isn’t surprising since you are basically implying that you are open to civil war as a solution to our government’s problems. We have had a pretty good 150yr run of not resorting to that solution and I think most of the country would like to keep it that way. Besides, as Floored pointed out, that conflict would be hilariously one-sided unless we suddenly stop militarizing our police and dumping trillions into the defense funds. (Sidenote, I find it hugely ironic that there is such a strong correlation between the “we must keep our guns to protect us from the evil government” group and the “we must spend billions on military to protect our country from the evil terrorists” group. No matter how many guns the private citizens own you are not going to win against our military at its current strength. So lets try to find a different solution to our disagreements, yea?)

  117. As a fairly non-serious person myself in everyday life, I sort, get where trump is going and like me, things just pop up in his brain. Tho I like to think of my brain as a sparkly fountain, his is a swamp of narcissism, inherited privilege and bigotry. His business acumen as an heir of Fred Sr is about as brilliant as your brother-in-law’s day trading out of his parents’ rec room. The ability to spark bon mots is a lovely trait that occasionally livens things up in my office. Analyzed, they’re simply specifically contextual and wouldn’t be funny 5 minutes later. DJT has the same kinda trait, but unlike me, there’s no 3 second delay. And a special note to billy: it’s a free country (mostly) and it’s the campaigns’ failures to keep the father of the Orlando shooter and the disgraced Mark Foley out of the candidates camera shot that is the problem.

  118. Hey Amy, just look at the only quote on her website on the topic:
    “I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets.” Guess what our military uses as weapons of war? Pistols, revolvers, shotguns, bolt-action rifles, semi-automatic rifles, full-automatic rifles, etc. They use a greater variety than is allowed to civilians. Despite a right that shall not be infringed, Clinton sees “no place on our streets” for the items specifically protected — how is that not getting rid of the 2nd Amendment? What arms can be kept & beared that cannot be used by the military for war?
    Again, it’s not a joke — that entire discussion is a distraction by people who lack comprehension. But Clinton could not be any more clear that there’s no place for Constitutional rights in her view.

  119. No, what I’m doing is asking people to look at facts and not to let personal biases allow them to accept and promote things that are misleading and/or not true.


    The entire scenario he concocted is a post-election scenario. Vote’s over, HRC wins, appoints judges (which likely means the scenario includes a Dem majority in the Senate, to the extent Trump even thought about that). THEN “2nd Amendment People” do… something. Wink.

    But oh, that dastardly Media, distorting what poor innocent Donald said. Tut-tut.

    It is scary to some of us that so many people seem complicit in just abandoning rights because they don’t comprehend that they should have them or that they might be useful. The 2nd protects the others, and we hope we shouldn’t ever need it, but I do believe it’s why it is attacked first.

    We’ve had one significant* armed rebellion in this country’s history. It did not involve protecting the rights of all. It was about protecting the right of certain people to own other people. So I have to say, the idea that “2nd Amendment People” are all about protecting and defending the rights of others rings just a tad hollow to me.

    The 2nd was not “attacked first” – the erosion of, say, the 4th Amendment doesn’t correlate (one way or the other) with judicial interpretation of the 2nd.

    The idea that the 2nd protects the freedom of all – gun owner or not – is IMO a fallacy. I’ve seen a fair amount of gundamentalist fanaticizing online, and a large, large % of it is about how, after everything falls apart (as it must, because Liberals ruin everything, QED), everyone else will have to come begging to them for protection from Bad Guyz (and/or outright salivation about being able to shoot certain Others).

    * – Yes, Shay’s Rebellion happened. It was: 1) a catalyst for the creation of the Constitution (with it’s stronger Federal Government); 2) and yet, it was a localized thing in MA, far smaller than the insurrection that triggered the Civil War; and 3) put down fairly easily, via the use of state militia (which arguably is exactly what the Founders meant by saying that “a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State”).

  120. Mixed Nut – whether or not you think it was a joke, or think it was an exhortation for second amendment “people” to vote as a bloc, aren’t you the tiniest bit worried that Mr. Trump seems not to be concerned about stringing together a coherent sentence regarding a subject (political assassination) that should not be encouraged? Exactly how do you anticipate that his version of word salad will be correctly understood by allies and adversaries, particularly if they do not have the cultural and linguistic background possessed by most Americans (who, I would note, seem not to be able to agree on the exact meaning of what he said)?

  121. ScottH:

    “We know terrorist (and suicides) will find means to carry out their plans. ”

    But that’s not true.

    From a 2008 Harvard study: “In the United States, suicides outnumber homicides almost two to one. Perhaps the real tragedy behind suicide deaths—about 30,000 a year, one for every 45 attempts—is that so many could be prevented. Research shows that whether attempters live or die depends in large part on the ready availability of highly lethal means, especially firearms.”

    Similar with terrorists: In England, with much tighter gun controls, you have terrorist stabbings, yes – but no mass shootings. Increase the barriers, and it lowers the rates.

    I also second the thought that Donald Drumpf is the only one saying Hillary “wants to remove the 2nd amendment.” Her wanting (sadly politically impossible) limitations on the incredibly easy access folks have to deadly weapons is not the same thing as getting rid of the Second Amendment, and his saying it is really just shifting the Overton window.

  122. hi Cam, I agree.. I do think Clinton wants to remove the 2nd Amendment which puts us all in greater danger whether you realize it or not. I also agree that it would be terrible to resort to the protections that Amendment offers. I do think it should be there, and it is a threat of violence and should not be taken off the table. I think we’re a very, very long way from a situation that would require that response. But to just give up that right because we don’t currently see the utility of it seems exceedingly short sighted.
    I’ve heard the military argument too. What makes you think the military will blindly follow orders to hold down citizens? What makes you think lightly armed civilians are totally helpless? Maybe you missed one sniper vs Dallas PD? Do you think the Taliban has been fighting us for 15 years with stealth bombers launched from their caves? or that Somali pirates are hiding submarines under their rubber dingies? Do you plan on ignoring, suspending, or repealing Posse Comitatus?

  123. Presumably you saw the survey asking whether Obama was born in the USA?

    I am against inaccurate and misleading reporting regardless of who does it. The topic of this post was Trump, hence me sticking to statements about him. I agree with your criticism of bullshit peddled by Republicans. That doesn’t make the bullshit peddled by Democrats palatable.

    I hold an equally dim view of those who think Obama is a Kenyan born Muslim as I do of those who think Trump would be the next Hitler.

    he did say that 11 million illegal immigrants were rapists and murders

    No he didn’t. This article (published in Salon and written by a Sander’s supporting professor of history who also happens to be a Puerto Rican immigrant) goes in to more detail. It’s well worth the read and is well researched.

    he did say that he’d welcome Russian hackers

    Again, he did not. He said that if if the Russians had access to Hillary’s deleted emails (due their own hacking) they should give them to the FBI (nothing wrong here as there is a treaty between Russia and the US, signed by Bill Clinton, regarding mutual cooperation on criminal investigations). The emails he was referring to are from years ago when Hillary was still Secretary of State, and running an unsecured private email server. It was not welcoming any new hacking and the statements were made in the general news context of the DNC trying to distract from their emails leaks by blaming it on Russian hacking. The comment was basically Trump saying that if the Russians have been going around hacking emails, maybe they’ve got Hillary’s deleted emails also.

    Note also that the DNC leaks showed that in the event of Hillary’s emails being leaked, their strategy was going to be to blame it on Russian hacking and trying to interfere with a US election. Well, it turns out it a different set of emails were leaked, but guess what news stories started making the rounds once the leaks were revealed. Yeah. Exactly. The funny thing is, before the leak everyone was saying Trump was dangerous and was going to start a war with Russia, and then after the leaks it was Trump is best buddies with Russia/is Putin’s puppet etc etc. Sigh. Truth is always the first casualty of war.

    the majority of his supporters are racist

    Citation? I think you severely misunderstood the majority of Trump supporters if you think this is who they are, or that this is the reason they support Trump. I will agree that some of his supporters are racist. I expect the same is true of Clinton supporters also.

    he did think we should use nuclear weapons.

    First of all, many of the stories regarding this are from ‘an unnamed source who had spoken with Trump’, and others are a mischaracterization of comments he has made. One of the key uses of nuclear weapons is that of a deterrent. That is only possible if your enemies believe you will use them. It would be irresponsible for a president, or presidential candidate to say he or she would not consider using nuclear weapons. Likewise it would be irresponsible to stay they would only use them in response to others using them first. If he’s speaking truthfully and responsibly, Trump really has no option but to say he would consider using nuclear weapons, and the same goes for any other candidate.

    his attack on a Federal judge shows how petulant and emotional his thinking is.

    This was not one of the points of contentions I raised, and I don’t disagree that he can be petulant and emotional. If only that was enough to disqualify someone from running for president, and by all accounts it would disclude Hillary Clinton from running also.

    I don’t support Trump, and I feel dirty having to defend him, but a lot of things being written about him are just wrong and based on a deliberate campaign of misinformation, and that’s not something I can support (and I wouldn’t support it against others either).

  124. Scott,

    So I take it you have a problem with the restrictions in place for fully automatic weapons since the 1930s? After all, that’s infringement of the right to keep and bear arms, is it not?

    How about C4? RPGs? Where is your line?

    The best defense we have against tyranny is not a bunch of people with guns. It is that we, as a group, reject strongman (or woman) rulers, keep to the concepts of rule of law, peaceful elections and transfer of power, civilian control of the military & police forces, judicial review of legislation – the concepts that have gotten us this far. Once we get to “well, maybe something should be done by people with guns” we’re on the road to military coups and suchlike. Small-d democrats don’t do well in such environments, no matter how well armed they are.

  125. One last course adjustment and some small linkspam:

    “I believe in the Second Amendment. People have a right to bear arms.” Hillary Clinton, 2008. Source:

    “We are smart enough, compassionate enough to balance legitimate Second Amendment rights concerns with preventive measures and control measures, so whatever motivated this murderer … we will not see more needless, senseless deaths.” –Hillary Clinton, 2015. Source:

    “We can protect our Second Amendment rights AND take commonsense steps to prevent gun violence. It’s just a question of whether we choose to.” HIllary Clinton, 2016. Source:

    So that proves the untruth of THAT particular derailment, at least. Now maybe we can go back to discussing why Donald Trump and Roger Stone think bloodshed is so damned funny.

  126. aren’t you the tiniest bit worried that Mr. Trump seems not to be concerned about stringing together a coherent sentence regarding a subject (political assassination) that should not be encouraged?

    Based on reading the full transcript of his speech, I reject the assertion that the subject he was talking about was political assassination. It is therefore not surprising that he seems not to be concerned by it.

    Please stay on topic. Thanks.

    John, I didn’t see this until after posting my above comment. I will try to keep any further comments related to the issue at hand.

  127. Hi Sean, I agree, guns are easy for suicide. That doesn’t mean that guns are the cause of suicide. There is a terrible mental health and support situation in our country, that does not get better by banning guns. It is just another distraction and doesn’t move toward a solution. To me, it’s like Clinton is the bad candidate in the movie The American President — all she wants to do is tell you who or what to blame for your problems. Trump is even worse. Neither wants to solve the problems, just assign blame. I just cannot believe people are rallying to Clinton because she looks marginally better than Trump. She says stuff just as unbelievable, including her jokes — “like with a cloth?” That was security of the whole nation, not assassination — which we carry out by drone and not 2nd Amendment supporter anyway.

  128. I too apologize, John. I’ll stick to Trump’s nudge-nudge wink-wink commentary regarding 2nd Amendment Solutions from now on.

  129. (Slightly off thread direction). I studied pre-Civil War humor long ago and remember how it reminded me, eerily, of pre-Nazi humor. A typical joke in a Punch-like magazine went something like this: two gentlemen in a club talk about beggars they had seen on the street that winter morning: one comments on how sad it was that one had no shoes, to which the other replies, “Ha! But the one I saw had no feet!” … and we readers are supposed chuckle at the wit.

    I remember thinking, how sick; and ditto for pre-Nazi humors, and of much modern Conservative humors (including here with Trump). It’s like tasting bad fruit from a rotting tree.

    John: good essay! Write a book on it.

  130. Mixed Nut: “Based on reading the full transcript of his speech, I reject the assertion that the subject he was talking about was political assassination. It is therefore not surprising that he seems not to be concerned by it.”

    Okay, next question: aren’t you bothered that Mr. Trump is so clueless as not to realize that an exhortation to action by “second amendment people” could be interpreted as a call to political assassination, either of Ms. Clinton or judges she might appoint? Look, I would contend that either he knew what he was saying, or he didn’t – either way, that argues for either a moral and ethical sloppiness, or intellectual sloppiness, if not sociopathic or evil intent. As a presidential candidate, he should be held to a higher standard of clarity, particularly given his past statements about roughing people up. If he’s happy to have us believe that he’s ok with people misinterpreting his statements, then we should feel free to judge him on that.

  131. @ Mysteron and ScottH
    And one more: when accepting the nomination, Hillary said:
    “I’m not here to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not here to take away your guns. I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place. We should be working with responsible gun owners to pass commonsense reforms and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and all others who would do us harm.”

    Seems pretty clear to me. You can not only read the text but watch the video (

    And it’s also pretty clear that both Trump and Stone are willing to talk very casually about other people being violent on their behalf. I think it was Michael Hayden who said, it’s not so much what a politician (sic) says in a speech but what some unstable person hears.
    As our host says, “Trump made the joke because he knows, better than almost anyone, that there is no such thing as “just a joke.” He knows it, and the fact he knows it, and made the joke anyway, should scare the shit out of you.” It does.

  132. Guns: not root cause: accelerant. The gasoline didn’t *start* the fire. It made it burn a whole lot brighter, though. [And one can, in fact, attack a problem from multiple angles: improving mental health care is a worthy topic as well]

    Much like Trumpolini. He didn’t create from scratch the deep racial resentment of his supporters – it already existed (and similar levels are found amongst backers of the other GOP contenders, and lower but still significant levels amongst Democrats: He didn’t create the desire amongst many voters for Big Daddy to fix everything (authoritarian followers have always existed and will always exist). He is, however, fanning the flames. Unlike a gun, while he may be a Tool, he’s got agency.

  133. For anyone who doesn’t think that Trump’s “joke” was a call to arms, google “vote from the rooftops” and look at the images. Look at the t-shirts and bumper stickers you can buy.

  134. Hey Rob, no problem for me. I don’t particularly care for AR weapon systems either. I think the first Clinton Assault Weapon Ban was completely stupid because they didn’t even under the weapons. They banned cosmetic features which were somehow scary. Or they banned specific models, like the manufacturers wouldn’t change the name. Again, all show, no solution. The Clintons never have a solution. It be further off topic to go into solutions, but I do think there’s a reasonable middle ground which is not ban and is not anything goes.

    To Mysteron, I don’t believe she means that. I know, I’m cherry-picking when she says something I think it true and when she says something I think is false. I’m inclined to believe that she lies more than she tells the truth. When she says “People have the right bear arms” all I hear is that it must be a vast right-wing conspiracy. I hear her say all of these women accusing her husband have some kind of other motive. Any time she says something like that, to me, it’s a lie. The only thing I think she believes is that she is better than everyone else, that rules do not apply to her, and someone else is to blame either for her situation or to whatever group she’s talking to. Nothing ever seems to be her responsibility, whether it’s spontaneous protest or the results of her secretiveness. She shows no desire to take any commonsense steps to solve any problems.
    If she really were a leader, she could call for disarming the police. After all, there’s no place for weapons of war on our streets. The police are out there every day with those weapons. They’re easy to find, we know what weapons they have, and they’re part of the executive branch. She could call for the secret service protecting her and her husband to be disarmed too. She simply will not lead. She doesn’t believe that guns are bad, she believes they’re bad for the little people. Those rules don’t apply to her.

  135. Scott, if you know you are cherry picking then you know your argument is disingenuous, at best. As such it is no longer worth considering, nor are the impressive number of strawmen you just raised. Now, if you’re done derailing, the subject at hand is one Mr. D. Trump, and Our Esteemed Host has already warned us once about digressions.

    Sorry John, I will forbear any further responses on this. Promise.

  136. Tired of people claiming Clinton wants to remove 2nd amendment with walls of text. Tired of “Let’s get the word out the election is rigged” to get certain people to be on Trump’s side even if Hillary wins the election. Campaigning for President is not supposed to be preparing the ground for armed rebellion if your side loses.

    Nice hitting of talking points there, but if you could come up with solution ideas, I think Clinton’s more likely to listen to you than Trump.

  137. @ScottH: of course you’re not hearing “Second Amendment people” call for assassination, any more than you will hear neo-Confederates call their political position ‘treason’. John Wilkes Booth thought of himself as a noble fighter against tyranny, not an assassin. So do people who hold the fantasy that they’ll have an armed rebellion if SCOTUS comes down with a decision they don’t like. Ask the Bundy family how well that turned out.

    As for concerns about Hillary and the Second Amendment, speaking as someone in favor of that amendment, I am sick to death of the organized ‘gun rights’ movement chasing phantoms – [LiberalCandidate] Is Going To Take Your Guns!!!!!! – and giving minimal, if any, attention to the de facto absence of Second Amendment rights for rather large swaths of the population. You know, the ones to whom code phrases like ‘law-abiding homeowner’ aren’t generally directed. But hey, Hillary makes a much better target for Two Minutes’ Hate, and the NRA isn’t going to churn donations by advocating that Black Lives Matter hold a peaceful open-carry demonstration. If you just don’t like Hillary because she doesn’t like your guns enough, that’s your call. But you’re not likely to convince anyone that a truly principled pro-Second Amendment position on Hillary can be developed based on ‘well I cherry-pick cuz I don’t like her and she’s gonna take white people’s guns away’.

    @Mixed Nuts: dude, stop digging. The problem isn’t that the media is lying about what Trump says; the problem is that Trump says outrageous things, designed to show his base how he “tells it like it is” and “isn’t PC” and “says what everyone else is already thinking”, and then the media reports on it. Which makes him look bad to everyone who isn’t on board with calls to beat up protesters or expel Muslims from the US. Sad!

  138. aren’t you bothered that Mr. Trump is so clueless as not to realize that an exhortation to action by “second amendment people” could be interpreted as a call to political assassination, either of Ms. Clinton or judges she might appoint?

    I’m more concerned about people jumping to the conclusion that his comments were about a call to assassinate his opponent and/or Supreme Court justices. It says more about them than it does Trump. I’m also more concerned about a media that will twist words to present a specific narrative.

    The reason I’m not concerned about his calls to ‘second amendment people’ are because strong supporters of the 2nd amendment are statistically less likely to commit gun violence (yes I know there are exceptions). They are however well known for being single issue voters.

    If he’s happy to have us believe that he’s ok with people misinterpreting his statements, then we should feel free to judge him on that.

    He’s not happy with people misinterpreting his statements, and in fact often goes on twitter to express that dissatisfaction and make clarifications. See for example this:

    Media desperate to distract from Clinton’s anti-2A stance. I said pro-2A citizens must organize and get out vote to save our Constitution!

    And this.

    Reuters just announced that Secret Service never spoke to me or my campaign. Made up story by @CNN is a hoax. Totally dishonest.

    People dismiss that however as Trump creating ‘plausible deniability’. At the same time, they will readily accept statements from other candidates who try clarify misunderstandings (see above discussion about Hillary’s stance and clarifications on her support of the 2nd Amendment).

    People believe what they want to believe.

  139. The thing is, Mixed Nut, Trumpler has a record of being a lying asshole. Notice that he was a pro-gun-control Democrat until he felt he could get more attention by going Republican. Notice that he was a major Clinton donor for over a decade until he decided to run for President to massage his giant ego.

    Literally everything that Donald Trump says is either bullshit, ego massaging, or both.

  140. @ Mixed Nut

    “Trump has a lot of problems, but that doesn’t make it right to willingly distort the things he says and does in order to make him look worse.”

    God forbid Donald Trump doesn’t really need any help with looking worse than he does with what he says. Trump says what ever he wants and means what he says regardless.

    Here’s something spooky. William F. Buckley Jr. warned us about Donald Trump 16 years ago in an essay he wrote in the March/April 2000 issue of Cigar Aficionado:

    “What about the aspirant who has a private vision to offer to the public and has the means, personal or contrived, to finance a campaign? In some cases, the vision isn’t merely a program to be adopted. It is a program that includes the visionary’s serving as President. Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.”

    Read more at:

  141. Hi GE, my first solution is to recommend that people stop believing the false choice between these two particular candidates. The NY Times reported that just 9% of the population resulted in the selection of Trump and 9% for Clinton. Yet somehow third party candidates need to poll above 15% to get in the presidential debates (as run by the Republican & Democrat party together, in full agreement).
    As mentioned, I think Trump hinted at a historically accurate remedy for a perceived problem with Clinton. That solution is not appropriate and he does need to be beaten down with it. However, I do believe Clinton is a threat to our rights because I’m observing what she does and not what she says (except it seems she slips sometimes says something more truthful).Unfortunately, the problem here is that Trumps solution to Clinton, while terrible, is actually coming up with a solution. It’s the Clinton side which has offered no alternative solution to those of us who believe she will undermine our rights. If you believe the polls, then she is the most unbelievable candidate yet the only thing her supporters have offered is to believe her.

  142. My interpretation (not that anyone asked)? Probably the speech as prepared said something like “If Hillary is elected and gets to choose judges for the Supreme Court, there will be nothing you can do about it.” Being a somewhat less-than-disciplined speaker, I suspect that the line “Well, the Second Amendment people might have an option” was an on-the-spot ad-lib, to get the crowd to voice approval and thus buoy his own spirits (although I doubt that there was a conscious calculation on his part at that moment).

    Red meat to the base, and I suspect that he doesn’t believe that the comment would lead to actual gunplay and bloodshed … but there’s a certain amount of evidence to the contrary. Ask Ehud Barak. Ask Jo Cox. Ask Gabrielle Giffords. (Of course, only the latter is in a position to take questions on the topic. Which I submit as further evidence of the point.)

    And remember Our Gracious Host’s comments on the failure mode of clever?

    “The effectiveness of clever on other people is highly contingent on outside factors, over which you have no control and of which you may not have any knowledge; i.e., just because you intended to be clever doesn’t mean you will be perceived as clever, for all sorts of reasons.”

    The parallel seems rather clear: just because you intended something as a joke, that doesn’t mean that nobody will take it seriously.

    And the Tao of Uncle Ben also applies: words have power, words by a potential President of the United States have incredible power, and with that power comes an incredible responsibility.

    There’s a reason a lot of people got the tar scared out of them when Reagan joked about bombing Russia into a mike he didn’t realize was live and recording.

  143. Mixed Nut
    “I’m more concerned about people jumping to the conclusion that his comments were about a call to assassinate his opponent and/or Supreme Court justices. It says more about them than it does Trump.”
    A large number of people interpreted Trump’s words as meaning exactly that, including our host, most of the commenters above and me, and cited the facts that lead them to that conclusion. You have every right to draw a different conclusion if you choose, but that doesn’t prove that those who differ from you, including those in the media, do so for some nefarious reason. The argument that “Everybody who draws a conclusion different from mine is being dishonest” requires support other than your opinion if it is to convince people holding different views.
    For example, I’d be less likely to think Trump’s campaign is racist if (a) it hadn’t borrowed terms and graphics from white supremacist groups/sites 7 times and (b) Trump had disavowed the support of David Duke and those like him. But it did and he hasn’t.

  144. God forbid Donald Trump doesn’t really need any help with looking worse than he does with what he says

    From the Democrat’s point of view, he did need help looking bad. The polling used to be quite tight. That changed dramatically in the last two weeks.

    William F. Buckley Jr. warned us about Donald Trump 16 years ago in an essay

    Trump has been hinting at potential runs for president for over 20 years, using much the same rhetoric (America is being ripped off by trading partners etc etc).

  145. ScotH: “Despite a right that shall not be infringed”

    Horseshit. You either are selectively applying that rule only when it suits you, or you dont understand what words actually mean.

    Machine guns are infringed. About a hundred thousand are privately owned in america. But to purchase one, you have to be fingerprinted, pass a background check, register the weapon, and pay a 200$ tax. If you insist on an absolute interpretati9n of “shall not be infringed”, then anyone should be able to buy a machine gun with anonymous cash and zero paperwork. If you actually want that, you are a total idiot. If you do NOT want that, then you’re a hypocrite whining about “shall not be infringed” but only when it suits you.

    So which are you?

    Second ammendmenters are the biggest bunch of liars and cowards there are because they whine about “shall not be infringed” but they wont own up to what that would actually mean if implemented without examption, cause what it would mean is Billy Ray could walk into a store and buy a fully operational tank with zero paperwork were it not for the “infringement” of the national firearms act of 1934 that regulates weapons over 50 caliber.

    Anyone who utters “shall not be infringed” should be required to state directly and publicly that they want machine guns to be sellable to anyone for anonymous cash, so that everyone else knows just how fucking insane they are.

    Shall not be infringed is the argument of fools.

  146. Hey mythago, I completely agree. I’m not a member of the NRA, I think they’ve changed too much since I was a kid and competitive shooter. I agree BLM should do open carry, no problem at all. I already said the police could be disarmed too, weapons are just one tool and they have plenty of others. They’ve been far too militarized (again, seems to be just a way to get around the Posse Comitatus Act) and we live in a defacto police state already. For example, the Patriot Act that Clinton voted for. One provision being that transfers of money over US$10,000 are reported as suspicious. This required the evasion of the follow to criminalize transfer under the limit to avoid “structuring” (multiple small transfers in place of one large one). In effect, it doesn’t matter if the limit is $10k, $100k, or $20, all transactions are monitored now. All transactions could be either suspicious above that limit, or suspicious below that limit. It erodes our rights and people seem happy about it. Clinton gets a pass. It makes no sense to me.

  147. I wonder if Donald Trump has ever joked about the ongoing derailment of discussion threads with piling on of strawman arguments and unrelated topics?

  148. Another brief thought:

    If one routinely acts like a petulant, selfish, cruel, vicious a-hole, that has a tendency to erode the amount of leeway one will be granted with regard to the interpretation of one’s words and deeds.

    This may explain why in the United States Senate, many spoke well of Hillary Clinton’s work ethic and commitment to the difficult job of government, while Ted Cruz apparently couldn’t get a fellow Senator to pour a glass of water on his head if his hair was on fire.

    I’ll leave it to others to work out how Donald Trump became the nominee when Ted Cruz failed.

  149. Hey Greg,
    I think limitations and restrictions are fine. I think bans infringe. I believe that shouldn’t be able to be protected if you yell “fire” in a crowded theater (when there isn’t actually a fire). You’ve provided a nice summary of the process, even though I thought the tax stamp was $300 to transfer automatic weapons. So, checks and balances and processes are all part of the solution. Clinton position as provided on her website on this topic says she believes weapons of war have “no place”. That’s a ban. A ban is not allowed. A ban infringes on the ability to keep and bear arms. Again, the false choice between everything must be allowed or we must ban is the insane argument. There aren’t just two choices. Much like Hillary Clinton’s lies, they be 99.9% of what she says, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t sometimes tell the truth. Like when she says she’s running for president. I do believe that.

  150. A large number of people interpreted Trump’s words as meaning exactly that, including our host

    How many people were reacting to media articles about what Trump said that already placed the idea in their mind that he was talking about assassination, and how many people were interpreting that meaning based off Trump’s original comments in context? I have great respect for our host, but even John’s reply above highlighting Paul Ryan calling Trump’s comments a joke, was Paul Ryan commenting on the issue without knowing the details of what Trump had actually said.

    It’s confirmation bias feeding confirmation bias.

  151. Mixed nut:

    “From the Democrat’s point of view, he did need help looking bad. The polling used to be quite tight. That changed dramatically in the last two weeks.”

    The only help Mr. Trump needed to look bad was a functioning recording device and his own words.

  152. Somehow all the arguments about this version of Hillary Clinton (that diverges significantly from the version of Hillary Clinton that many people, including myself, have encountered in our universe, I might add) miss the point that a lot of reasonable people can and are interpreting Trump’s “Second Amendment” comment as condoning the use of bullets by “Second Amendment people” to achieve policy ends if ballots don’t accomplish the task to the satisfaction of said “Second Amendment people”.

  153. I’ll leave it to others to work out how Donald Trump became the nominee when Ted Cruz failed.

    Well, look at your answer for Hillary and then look at the people who have known and worked personally with Trump over the last few decades. You will find many who say good things about his work ethic and the kind of person he is (yes there are also detractors, just like Hillary has/had in the Senate).

    Another brief thought, most petulant, selfish, cruel, vicious a-holes don’t tend to raise well-adjusted kids – especially if they’re also billionaires.

  154. a lot of reasonable people can and are interpreting Trump’s “Second Amendment” comment as condoning the use of bullets by “Second Amendment people” to achieve policy ends if ballots don’t accomplish the task

    Ironically, many of the people interpreting it this way are not ‘Second Amendment people’. And if you look at how prominent ‘Second Amendment people’ are interpreting it, they interpret it that Trump was calling for people to vote.

  155. The bloodbath comment was in relation to a different matter. I don’t condone or support that view, but it has nothing to do with my comment above, which was about how 2nd Amendment people interpreted Trump’s speech. In response to Trump’s speech, Roger Stone said, and I quote:

    Instead, we’re going to nitpick Trump and unfairly interpret his words. So the media claims that he advocated gun violence against his opponent when he said gun owners can affect the election, meaning their voting power. It’s a smear. It’s a mainstream media smear.

  156. Of course they “interpret” it as a call to vote. Because the alternative is admitting that their candidate is a tiny-dicked man-baby with a dead fox on his head who just called for the murder of his political opponent. Which would result in serious legal problems for the entire GOP.

  157. Sorry. Nut. It won’t wash. This is about patterns of behavior. One cannot call for a bloodbath in the streets following an election loss and then turn heel to face and say someone else’s comment about post election appointments was misinterpreted. This is what is known in the real world as hypocrisy, a word you may or may not choose to look up in the dictionary.

    Time and again in this discussion a pattern of behavior with Trump and a majority of his supporters has been established, mostly through direct quotes and observable behavior either reported by numerous eyewitnesses or captured on video, and your only refutation of them is to quote Trump himself, or one of his surrogates, calling them lies and media smears.

    Yes. How dare that horrible media report direct quotes and air videotapes. It’s truly shameful. (You may or may not detect the curdling of my lips into a sneer, there.)

    Continue trying to gaslight the thread all you wish, but I have seen these apologetics before and am unimpressed with them. This “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes” nonsense is a trademark of a specific type of disreputable individual, and I will leave it to others to make up their minds about what that entails, and what it implies.

  158. Hey Mysteron, so what are your thoughts on applying that standard about patterns of behavior to Clinton? There are more than 20 years of facts including the ones I’ve mentioned in conversation. Just take two of them: the vast right wing conspiracy claim and her personal email server. I would content that she has lied, demonstrated poor reasoning & understanding, sought to blame others to protect herself, and generally did not seem to comprehend a situation that wasn’t that unique (other spouses cheat, and there are billions of servers in the world). What does that pattern tell you?

  159. Another brief thought, most petulant, selfish, cruel, vicious a-holes don’t tend to raise well-adjusted kids

    Important reminder: when attempting to paint oneself as An Impartial Advocate of The Truth, who does not favor – nay, even dislikes the candidate one is defending, to the point of finding it painful and unpleasant to defend them – take care to resist temptation, and refrain from adding how maybe that candidate really is a decent person at heart. It’s called “tipping your hand.”

    This is particularly so when “but he’s a good dad” has been bruited about by other, openly-enthusiastic supporters of that candidate.

  160. Yes. How dare that horrible media report direct quotes and air videotapes.

    The problem is not that they report direct quotes, it’s that they cherry pick direct quotes and present them out of context (likewise with airing soundbites), to craft a specific narrative.

    It’s exactly the same thing that right-wing and crackpot sites do with Obama, Democrats and ‘liberals’, and I used to think my side was above that. This election proved me wrong.

  161. Scott, I am going to direct you to the top of the thread where Our Esteemed Host has pointed out what the topic of discussion is. I am also going to direct you to, since you seem incapable of using Google on your own to find it. Possibly because you are having trouble getting the preconceived notions out of your eyes. Maybe some time spent there will keep you from derailing with strawmen and arguing from dishonest premises here.

    Bye now.

  162. Say, Nut? That “I am a lifelong Democrat who is very disappointed in ‘my side’ right now” trick is a very, very old Artifact Of Concern Trolling +1, used mainly in conjunction with refusing ever to vote Democrat ever, ever, ever again because someone said or did some nasty thing. That, combined with your media bias strawman and inability to comprehend the subject of context and how it works in re such things as exhorting one’s political followers to quote, “knock the crap out of” protesters, unquote, tells me you are likely not a serious person worth taking seriously. That you treat Roger Stone as a serious person worth taking seriously is yet another clue.

    Bye now.

  163. @mythago, I can dislike a candidate while still admiring certain things he has done. The two are not incompatible with each other. My comment was also in response to one saying you can know the measure of Hillary’s character by the fact that people who know her well, respect and admire her. I was trying to point out that people who apply that yardstick to Hillary would have a different opinion of Trump if they applied the same yardstick on him.

    Regarding my political allegiances, personally, I supported Sanders. Unfortunately neither of the current mainstream candidates have enough crossover with my views to garner my support.

  164. My issue with Trump is the same issue I have with any other public figure who needs apologists to explain what s/he really meant. I’m seeing a not-terribly surprising amount (i.e. metric shitloads) of that on behalf of Mr Trump, when one of his main appeals to his fans is that he says what he means. Well, if he says what he means, and means what he says, then it’s entirely unnecessary for anyone to explain it for the rest of us, right?

    One of the reasons that I support Secretary Clinton in this race is that she is clear and comprehensible. When she speaks, she speaks in whole sentences, with a subject, verb, direct object, and appropriate adjectives and adverbs. No one in the media or on the Web needs to explain her intent. One can disagree with her, or not believe her, but there is no mistaking the actual words that come out of her mouth. I like that in a person, whether it’s a politician, a coworker, a friend, family member, or the chick working the counter at my favorite ice cream parlor.

  165. @Mixed Nut — Why are you being an apologist for Mr. Trump? You keep saying he didn’t say that or didn’t really mean it that way. You’re saying it was reported wrong or spun.

    Earlier in the campaign, I was willing to suspend my disbelief and give Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt. But I had to hear what he himself said, on TV or via online video. This meant I could hear his tone of voice and see his body language, his facial expressions, as he spoke.

    Each time I’d watch and listen, my reaction was, at first, “Huh, well, so, you’re not telling me anything.” And then he’d say something else, and I’d hear these things and think, “What? Did he just say what I thought he said?” Thanks to that Rewind button, I can replay a whole speech or segment. And yes, he really did say those things. And it got worse; much worse, in a hurry.

    I’ve heard him speaking. I’ve seen his face and body as he speaks. I’ve listened to the words and the body language.

    You’re saying he didn’t really mean that, he was misquoted, misinterpreted, misunderstood, it was spun by a biased media. Oh, he really meant this other thing here, that other thing there.

    No, I heard him and saw him, and he really did say those things and mean them that way. I did not misunderstand what he said, by voice or body. And he has said quite a lot of things. And it keeps getting worse.

    How can you claim that’s not how someone should interpret what he actually said and how he said it?

    Also, when someone says that many, many things on that many subjects, and continually says such insupportable things, isn’t there a point at which a reasonable, sensible person must look at the total of all that and say that person really does mean all that, he really is that ignorant, prejudiced, phobiac, unstable, perhaps even that unhinged?

    When it’s his own words and actions, repeatedly, on such a great many things, and when I hear and see that for myself, from video of hia speeches, I’m sorry, but I cannot buy the argument that, oh, he didn’t really mean it that, it’s being misunderstood, or oh, it’s being spun by biased media.

    There can be media spin in favor of a candidate as well as against a candidate. However, the video itself shows it without spin, what he said himself.

    I don’t need someone else to tell me I didn’t hear and see that right. I know what he said and what he meant by it. He may string things together nearly incoherently at times, but I can still know what he meant by what he actually said.

    It is fine to be concerned about fairness in reporting what someone said and did. It is fine to want election coverage to be fair so that voters can determine for themselves which candidate they believe is the best choice. Bravo! That’s as it should be, yes.

    If there is a genuine issue where one candidate or other is not getting fair, unbiased coverage, if it’s being spun wrong, then all right, that’s one thing.

    But when viewers can hear and see the candidate’s words and actions for themselves, they can know what they think about what the candidate said.

    You haven’t proven to me that’s what’s happening. All you’ve shown me is that you’re being an apologist for someone who has said and done things which are unacceptable in anyone seeking the office of the president, much less holding that office. It isn’t just a few statements. It isn’t just that one or two are too extreme. It’s that there are so many of them that are so extreme that it’s truly not defensible.

    When you keep getting that kind of thing and you say, “What? Did he really just say that? Did I really hear and see that right?” and you watch more than once, and you find, yes, that’s really what he said and did, you weren’t just misunderstanding or distracted, and when that adds up more and more, and when the things he says get more and more nutty or downright dangerous, truly unconscionable in someone running for office? Then it’s way past time to say enough’s enough and call it like it is.

    Please don’t be an apologist for someone like that. At best, he’s an ignorant bully. At worst, he could be a monster. I don’t think that’s much of an exaggeration anymore.

    We saw in the prior century what happens when someone like that gains power over one of the most technologically advanced and militarily capable countries in the world. The ideology of that man and his fervent followers led to atrocities on a global scale.

    Is it too much exaggeration, hyperbole, to compare Trump to Hitler? Much of what he’s doing is all too similar. It’s not quite the same, but it’s disturbingly close.

    Please don’t tell me this isn’t just the latest in a string of calls supporting violence, from Trump. He wasn’t talking about voter blocs or the 2nd Amendment’s finer points. He wasn’t discussing what sorts of judges he’d choose for Supreme Court Justices. No. He was giving a very thinly veiled call for someone, or a group, to plot an assassination of a newly-elected President and perhaps the Justices she appoints. (One other bit about that in a second.) Despite his rambling around it, that’s what he said. His actual words, veiled as they were, have been quoted in the comments repeatedly, and the video of him saying it is available from multiple sources online. He didn’t have to say it directly for people to know what he was saying. He did it that way so he could try to get away with it, try to deny it. “Oh, it was just a joke, such a kidder, he doesn’t really mean that, of course!”

    Is it alarmist screaming to say, you know, that sounds like the makings of a violent fascist dictator? When he openly admires dictators and violence? We should not vote into office someone who says and does those kinds of things so often. I don’t think it’s too alarmist to say he’s too unstable or downright unhinged. There is a point when you have to tell it like it is.

    That other point I deferred: It’s a very strange thing that his whole premise hinges on his opponent getting elected to the presidency. He’s saying, if she gets elected, then she’ll appoint judges to the Supreme Court, and someone could do something about that, to solve that little problem for him. But that’s based on his opponent winning the election. You know, the last time I checked, a candidate for President (or any public office) is supposed to show confidence that he or she will win the election, that voters will be so impresses with his or her ideas and perhaps moral character, that they will elect him or her, and not the opposition. Sure, a thinking person might have inner doubts, but a candidate is supposed to be so right, so convinced of his or her rightness, fitness for office, to lead people and put workable plans into action, that the candidate does not ever openly speculate that he or she will lose and the opponent will win. The candidate does then get to wish someone would take care of that for him or her. Because the idea is, the people have spoken to elect a candidate fairly into office, and the others who didn’t win are thereby expected either to sit down and shut up, or else (better) to continue to work for improving things for the country as best they can, and potentially to work toward running in a future election, in which they then have another chance to prove themselves. They do not, and should not, and must not, openly wish for some violent solution to the election of their opponents. The idea is that we are all in this together, as Americans, regardless of party or ideology. We’re supposed to be able to look past all those little things and work together for a common goal, actually to improve things for our people, our country, and if possible, across the globe, for allies, and even for our opposition, because that is what human rights are about. Why is it that so many have forgotten this, both among the public and office-seekers and office-holders? Once you’re elected into office, you’re danged well supposed to work together to solve the problems you were elected to solve. But you do not get to wish openly that someone, some group, would use a gun (or other means) to take out — the duly elected President, or duly appointed Supreme Court Justices, or members of Congress or the Senate, or…or anyone else. If you’re going to sit in the Big Chair in the Oval Office and be the President, you are supposed to seek every possible way to avoid violence, in order to solve any problems, and use of armed force is supposed to be used only if all other options have failed and there’s a clear and imminent threat to the public if action is not carried out. (I realize that last is an opinion and off-topic, so I’ll withdraw that point, thanks.) The idea is, a candidate for office is not supposed to wish for violence against his opposing candidate, and certainly not against any sitting President, Justices, etc., whether the opposition is elected or it’s some current or future duly elected office-holders. Because those people got elected by public vote by the citizens. That’s how it works. Change of the system of government is allowed and set forth in the Constitution in an orderly process. The idea is that the citizenry and the elected (and appointed) officials they vote into office can and should make adjustments to improve our system as time goes on, so that our country can adapt to changes and meet our people’s needs. The idea in that is to vastly limit any circumstances where anarchy or civil war or public insurrection would attempt a revolt. The idea is to make that unnecessary, by putting in a process for lawful change, and for people to work together to come up with a consensus on the best solutions, and keep trying things until the problem is solved.

    Please don’t act as an apologist for someone who would espouse doing away with that. You are making it look like you are willfully ignoring what the man himself has said and done, and when there’s so much he’s said and done, it becomes impossible to support that. Willfully ignoring it, excusing it away, just does not work. Rethink your stand on this. Do what’s right.

    Note: In most cases, I think it’s just fine to have differences of opinion. I can have strong opinions one way and someone else can have equally strong opinions the other way, and sometimes I’m wrong and sometimes the other person is right and sometimes that person is wrong. However, Trump’s words and actions are such that I think this is one of those clear cases where people ought to stand up, speak up, and say that’s quite enough, thanks, we won’t put up with that kind of crap. We can vote with our ballots or vote with our feet. We can vote with what we say and do. But there are times when it’s important to speak our minds on what’s right. Trump is such a case. He doesn’t belong in any public position, government, certainly not.

    Mixed Nut, I am personally sorry if you disagree with me and think I’m wrong. I don’t want this to be an attack on you personally. What I want is for you to rethink your position and change your mind and do differently, to persuade you to find a better position on this. You don’t have to agree with me. You probably won’t, given you’re holding your position so far. But please, rethink whether you are truly understanding what Trump has said and done, and rethink whether that’s fair. Fair reporting, unbiased media and fair elections? Bravo, good, yes. But I don’t think those are the issues. If a man says and does a thing, or those kinds of things, repeatedly, that’s how that man really is. That’s what I’m asking you to rethink. His own words and actions as shown in real coverage. Not what others have said. Not media spin. Not fairly run elections and coverage of them. Those are other issues that can (and should) be discussed on their own, separarely from Trump’s actual words. Please.

    (Yes, I keep writing long posts. The issue’s important to me. I wish I could be more concise and get everything across.)

  166. That you treat Roger Stone as a serious person worth taking seriously is yet another clue.

    You were the person who brought Roger Stone up as someone who interpreted Trump’s recent speech as a call to arms. All I did was refute that. It was in no way an endorsement of his other comments (and I said as much in my other post).

    Anyway, yes, as I mentioned, I’m a Sanders supporter who is dissappointed with my side right now. Perhaps that’s why I take the media bias too personally. It’s not a strawman.

  167. Well, all of this is a lot to unpack. That was the first thing that popped into my head. The second thing was the grogginess I seem to be laboring under despite having had my daily dose of extra-strength coffee.

    @bluecatship: Your comparison to the days leading up to the sudden demise of the Weimar Republic is disturbingly apt, and one that I thought of at once when I first read this post. It is, however, early days yet to be predicting a modern-day event comparable to the Holocaust to which considerable literature and scholarly study has been devoted. (I had a relative [my grandfather, may he rest in peace] whose family did not survive the camps, though he himself escaped by dint of on-the-fly planning and sheer iron will.) What is happening now is not yet comparable to events from that time, but yes, we should remain vigilant for the present, and into the future.

    @Richard Norton: Excellent point re the so-called humor.

    @Mysteron: You are one of my new favorite commenters. Keep commenting.

  168. No, I brought Roger Stone up as a means by which to illustrate that this was neither the first nor the last time Trump and/or his surrogates have indulged themselves in this shoveling of great chunks of red meat into the maw of the Trumpenproletariat. The difference between me and you is that I don’t fall for the mealy-mouthed apologetics associated with it.

    I voted for Sanders in my state’s primary. I thought and think him to be an honorable man.

    I find his support and endorsement of Hillary Clinton to be instructive, and one of many deciding factors in how I will vote this November.

  169. Anyway, yes, as I mentioned, I’m a Sanders supporter who…

    Assuming this is true, you apparently don’t listen to Bernie much anymore.

  170. Mixed Nut, I am personally sorry if you disagree with me and think I’m wrong. I don’t want this to be an attack on you personally

    Don’t worry, I won’t take it as such, and I’m perfectly happy for people to have different opinions than I do without holding it against them. I do think you’re wrong about Trump though. I don’t support him, and won’t be voting for him, but I don’t think he’d be anywhere near the level of fascist dictator that people seem to fear. If you look at his life and career, he’s actually been quite progressive, and in many ways is more liberal than Clinton.

  171. Assuming this is true, you apparently don’t listen to Bernie much anymore.

    My allegiance is not to the person. I liked Bernie for his policies. The fact that he asks people to support Clinton isn’t going to do much to sway me if Clinton isn’t going to support the same things.

    (sorry John for the off-topic)

  172. If you look at his life and career, he’s actually been quite progressive, and in many ways is more liberal than Clinton.

    You are either one of the most naïve people I’ve encountered in some time, or just pretending to be a “Bernie supporter” because you know if you admit you’re doing all this shilling for Trump because you actually prefer Trump, nobody will bother with you anymore.

    Either way, it’s not a good look.

    Bernie got the Dem platform (both formal and informal) altered, pulling it leftward. The Demon Clinton went along with it, and is actually running an unapologetically progressive campaign. Bernie will be the chair of the Senate finance committee if the Dems take the Senate, by the way.

    See, here’s the thing: I voted for Bernie in the primary too. Like the majority of such voters, I don’t mistake Donald Trump, GOP Presidential candidate, as “actually quite progressive.”

  173. Damn. Not “finance committee” – the Budget Committee (and it’s a maybe) and/or the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

    But of course that only happens if the Dems, including the Demon Clinton, win.

  174. My only thinky bit is that it IS possible for “2nd amendment people” to block Clinton’s appointments without murdering either the nominee or the nominator, and that is by wielding their influence in the Senate. Trump could have turned this into a win by expanding on the importance of the GOP retaining the Senate or ongoing citizen participation in government, but that would require him to think of something besides himself and his own race, and he has neither the wits nor the wit for that.

    Fortunately, as Sarah Milov brilliantly tweeted: “Maybe 19th amendment people can do something about Trump …”

  175. Wrapping up now. Feel free to mallet if it’s too much.

    Like the majority of such voters, I don’t mistake Donald Trump, GOP Presidential candidate, as “actually quite progressive.”

    I don’t think of Donald Trump, GOP Presidential candidate 2016 is ‘quite progressive’. I was talking about his life and career prior to seriously campaigning to run for president (for reference I count the whole birther thing as a lead up this presidential campaign, so from before that).

    I have no illusion about who he is today, and no illusion about who Hillary is, and won’t be voting for either.

  176. *sigh* Yeah, the trump apologetics is getting a bit thick here, and the rhetorical devices used are not working the way some people think they should.

  177. @Mixed Nut, I have to chime in with @bluecatship on this. It’s not “media bias” when I can watch the man repeatedly call for violence from his followers at rallies. I have SEEN HIM DO IT with MY OWN EYES. My dislike of Trump was directly generated by the man himself through repeated instances, not by any slanted picture painted by a biased media.

    My worry at this point is that, as we approach the election, and the fact of his loss becomes an inescapable conclusion, what kind of violence will he incite? He could have blood running in the streets before this is over, and I doubt if he cares at all.

  178. People, calm down already. It’s an election year. Politicians say what they need to say to get elected. They all say what their supporters want to hear. Much of this has no bearing on reality, and nobody deals directly with reality anyhow; we all deal with our perceptions of reality. The Republican Presidential Candidate is having hella fun campaigning, I suspect he wouldn’t enjoy the actual job near as much.

  179. Correction to my prior post, because I inadvertently erased a word:

    The candidate does not then get to wish someone would take care of that for him or her.

    The word, not should be inserted there. I would hope that would be clear from the surrounding text and from context, but just so everyone’s clear, I meant that a candidate does not get to wish for violence against someone.

  180. @M.A.: are you seriously arguing that what politicians say in campaigning has zero bearing on how they will act once elected – particularly when they will run for re-election in that office? That sounds an awful lot like a variation on “it’s just a joke”. Which our host has amply demonstrated is horseshit.

  181. @mythago, Of course, that particular substance does have a lot to do with politics . . .

  182. KiwiSteve, August 10, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    At the first debate (if it ever takes place) Hillary could begin with “May I start with a joke? Ladies and Gentlemen [points to DT] – Donald Trump”.
    And as Reagan used “There you go again” as a device perhaps Hillary could continually ask Donald “Was that another joke?” regardless of what he’d just said.

    Now *that* is hilarious.

  183. @Jaenice_Palmer and @Kevin_Hicks — Thank you. I would really hope that we are not near any sort of repeat in the US of what happened in pre-war Germany. What worries me, and prompted the comparison, is that Trump has gained a range of fervent supporters, some of whom will keep those ideas festering. But I can also hope they will see that the majority of Americans simply won’t let that kind of bigotry and hate get by. My own city has people from all over, native-born citizens and immigrants and foreign trade. My city has upwards of 1/8 blacks, 1/8 Hispanics, an Asian and Pacific population that I suspect is higher than the census figures, and others. You’ll find people of nearly all walks of life here, religions, etc. People mostly get along. But yes, there are problems and prejudices. There have been incidents of hate crimes in my state, too many times. But there are also plenty of people who would rather get along with their friends and neighbors and relatives. So it should be tougher to find traction for hate-mongering. Except that prejudice still occurs. So…it’s just one of many things we as a nation still have to work on solving.

    Interesting side bit: My parents told a story of when the (Christian) church they went to when they met and married was building or expanding. Nearby was a (Jewish) synagogue. The Jewish congregation invited the Christian congregation to eat with them several times during construction. My parents both said this was a really interesting chance to discuss, to compare views, and get to know each other. It’s a huge thing for cooperation, and for the spirit of the times. (That was around the late ’50’s, early ’60’s. Everyone was sensitive to what had happened here in the US and in Europe and the Pacific during WW2.) My parents always felt it was important to underline to me, growing up, that people could cooperate and learn from each other, even if they disagreed, or that they could also find common ground. Heheh, and yes, both Christians and Jews (and Muslims) have a great fondness for sharing casseroles, etc., ater worship. :D

    Possibly, if those folks who’d rather hate others, would have to eat together, live together, and see that the people they hate are real people…oh, nuts, I just wish the situation would get better.

    This is the 21st century. How is it that our planet has so much neediness and so much unhappiness, and so much intolerance, that people would still rather spark fights or wars, than get along and make solutions? How is it that there can be so much need here in my own city and country, and in so many other places? … Bah, I was born in the mid-60’s, grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. There was an attitude that we had plenty, that we could solve things. Where did that go? I want that back. (Grumble, grumble.)

    OK, back on-topic.

  184. @blueshipcat … except many of them do already live with women

    I think the meals together thing works when you’re talking about your average McCain or Romney supporter, but not so much an average Trump supporter. On average people are sympathetic to individual stories even if they’re intolerant to entire groups.

    But this Trump thing really is something different. Including encouraging attacks on individuals. Hillary Clinton being the most visual, but certainly not the only individual threatened at a Trump rally. Heck, secret service has had to escort out more than one woman for her own safety (from reporters to Ted Cruz’s wife!).

  185. @Mythago: not “zero” bearing, no. But once in office, they have to pick and choose between things they said they’d do, in light of what turns out to be actually feasible.

  186. “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    So many gun-rights advocates focus on the part after the comma.

    Remember that it wasn’t until 2008 that the Supreme Court drilled down and found a right of individuals to bear arms for self defense of their own homes.

    Until then the first part, the part before the comma, was the defining part. Back in the days of yore, the USA had no standing army. No professional military. The Founders were deeply suspicious of a standing army. There’s another Amendment in the Bill of Rights about military being quartered in private homes, remember? It seems so quaint today, but back then it was a real point of grievance because of how the British deployed their army in the colonies.

    In 1788, the militia WAS the military. Everybody who was going to be called up for militia duty had to have his own weapon. Also back then, there were no automatic weapons, no Gatling guns, no bazookas, no shoulder-fired missiles. Rifles were it. Military weapons and hunting weapons were identical.

    And it just puzzles me to no end, this idea that the 2nd Amendment is supposed to protect the citizens’ right to shoot the government. Where in the world did that come from? It’s a fantasy! To the Founders, the militia mentioned here was supposed to defend the free State, the USA, against its enemies. Outside enemies. Foreign powers. The former colonial overlords, the British probably. (War of 1812, anyone?) Not pit the people against the government.

    We have a militia to this day. It’s called the National Guard.

    I get so frustrated with people who try to interpret the 2nd Amendement in this context-free manner. There’s history and legal precedent here that mean everything.

  187. “Don’t make me come through with the Mallet.”

    Nothing ambiguous about that statement. Mallets have been around longer than repeating firearms and deserve protection under the Second Amendment!

  188. [Deleted because I don’t like people telling me exactly how to spend my time. I will, in fact, spend it as I please — JS]

  189. @bluecatship: I do see your point re tolerance, the practice of, or the lack of it. A friend of mine, Catholic to the core, has often said, “We all bleed the same color.” That is to say, she is a pre-1968 liberal of long standing, has been for years. The political party has little or nothing to do with it.

    New conclusion: This person, if he has a sense of humor, has a terrible sense of humor, and can’t be counted on even to goof the punchline, mostly because there is no punchline to what he is saying, except perhaps the violence ricocheting around the room whenever he happens to be in it. It would be interesting as a point of comparison if someone from the opposing party joked about assassinating him; I can’t help but wonder how he would take it then. I can just hear Joe Biden now: “That’s it! I’m getting out my Beretta, and we’re shooting Trump! Heh, heh…I kid, I kid.” Would-be VP Kaine could get in on the act, perhaps…but then it would dog-pile and we’d have ourselves a hot, stinking, ugly mess. (Wonderful things, ellipses: Not many of our esteemed leaders think of using them nowadays. Right, apologies, that was off-topic.)

    As for pre-war Germany–gevalt! Don’t get me started. I could go on about it all day, which, as our good host often takes care to remind us, is not the purpose of this forum. The purpose of this forum, stipulated in original post, is to discuss the latest instance of appalling behavior from this overgrown infant, said infant having already defended it as “a joke”. (BULL!)

    Re man’s inhumanity to man: It’s there. It happens. None of us are pretending it doesn’t. I see it every day just walking down the street. The sad part? It’s all too easy to grow numbed and hardened to the suffering of the poor souls who get the butt end of bigotry and intolerance every hour of every day. I would hope that one day we have enough collective guts, enough compassion, to do something about it.

  190. While Trump may have had some reasonable positions at one point, the sheer volume of accompanying irrational and downright scary ones would still make me flee as fast and as far from him as possible. I will not go for the diamond in the dungheap if I am required to take the dung as well.

  191. The national guard is not the citizens, and can be ordered to do bad things to them. Or sent overseas like the regular army, removing it and its weapons from play in the States. There have actually been polls in the military, of the soldiers, gauging whether or not they would be willing to kill U.S. Citizens. Which is a pretty strong hint that someone wanted to know if they could count on the military in enforcing their will on the people, against the will of the people.

    The fact that the Founders did not envision a large standing army, means that having a large standing army rather than a widespread grassroots militia, is a warping of their design. If you listen to what many of them wrote, they were mostly NOT people who would advocate for a large concentration of power in government hands.

  192. I came across the suggestion that Trump could be prosecuted for his comments and I thought, “Oh please, PLEASE, throw him in jail so we can get a better candidate!”

  193. People, calm down already. It’s an election year. Politicians say what they need to say to get elected. They all say what their supporters want to hear. Much of this has no bearing on reality, and nobody deals directly with reality anyhow; we all deal with our perceptions of reality. The Republican Presidential Candidate is having hella fun campaigning, I suspect he wouldn’t enjoy the actual job near as much.

    Tell that to Yitzhak Rabin.

  194. Well, if you really go back to basics of what they were in favor of when starting the US, we’d have to get rid of the standing army, reduce government interference in local affairs, allow slavery, and only give the vote to people who owned real estate. I’m fairly sure that ANY of the founding fathers would really be wondering what went wrong that a presidential candidate can say as many ridiculous “jokes” as trump, and not get laughed out of the election. trump has come up with many jokes, and I’ve yet to hear one that actually made me laugh.

    What are some of the actually funny jokes he’s made while campaigning? Clearly the media has chosen the ones that aren’t funny, so what has he said that’s funny?

  195. @charcamolson: I came across the suggestion that Trump could be prosecuted for his comments and I thought, “Oh please, PLEASE, throw him in jail so we can get a better candidate!”

    That’s not going to happen any more than the FBI was going to recommend that Hillary Clinton be indicted for mishandling classified information.

  196. Trump defenders in this thread (and elsewhere) keep talking about how Trump is being misquoted, little phrases snippet out of context, and so on. OK. Here’s Trump in the middle of 2015:

    Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.

    Those of us who’ve been paying attention know that this is how Trump talks all the time – it is a particularly striking example, but exceptional only in the way a B+ in a freshman survey course might be, not in the way a Pulitzer- or Nobel- or Hugo-winning work might be. It is because we’ve been paying attention that we know that he does in fact routinely stuff exactly as quoted in the case of “Second Amendment people”. Defending him as even minimally coherent and organized, let alone anything better, relies on an audience who hasn’t ever listened to him talk for a while. The record shows that we are right to react as we did, working on the simplest of Bayesian priors.

  197. It took me a shockingly long time to realize that the only safe answer to the question, “Are you easily offended” was “Yes, yes I am.” Until I learned that one simple trick, I was subjected to an endless barrage of sexist and racist jokes, and because I had claimed not to be easily offended, I was now complicit in these jokes. Many of which weren’t funny.

    As it turns out, I’m actually not easily offended. Which is not the same thing as thinking that racism and sexism are funny. I do, for instance, play Cards Against Humanity. But context, context is fucking king when it comes to humor. The campaign trail, that’s a context where humor is really, really difficult. But I believe that Trump’s jokes are not like the jokes in CAH, where the context makes it clear that the thing being mocked is the vileness of the sentiments expressed. Instead, I think almost everything he says could be prefaced with a smarmy “I can tell you’re the kind of girl who isn’t easily offended,” the thing that then allows the person to tell a very off-color joke and make you complicit in your own discomfort.

  198. @Bruce Baugh: That quote makes me miss Molly Ivins so very much. In that same column where she suggested that Pat Buchanan’s speech probably sounded better in the original German (which is the line everyone remembered) she also commented on George H. W. Bush’s verbal dyslexia. From memory, she said “as he struggled from one syntactical Waterloo to the next, ever in the verbless mode, in search of the long-lost predicate, or even the subject — wait! wait! I think I see it!” Ah, she would have been so very funny about Trump. And her jokes would have been funny.

  199. Char: Ummm… Since when are people in the National Guard, etc not citizens of the US??? As someone who was active duty USAF and comes from a family with a long history of military service, we all voted, paid taxes, and did everything else non-military citizens do. I think (I hope) you misspoke there…

  200. @ScottH: reporting transfers of $10,000 or more was neither invented by the Patriot Act nor thought up by any Clinton. You are, IIRC, thinking of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and the Money Laundering Act of 1986. As for reporting larger or smaller amounts, that, too, is not new; the limit is simply the amount which mandates reporting. I worked as a bank teller in the late 1980s and clearly recall learning that we had to report $10,000 transfers but were encouraged to report any transfers we thought ‘shady’, especially things like transfers of $9,999 or many small transfers at once.

  201. @charcamolson…

    Yes, moving from the kind of citizen militia the Founders envisioned to the necessary modern defense forces we have today is a big change.

    Surely you are not suggesting that the USA should not have a professional army today because the Founders didn’t think one was necessary in 1788, or that the Constitution does not allow for any changes to itself or the possibility that an actual professional paid armed forces could be formed?

    I have no information about the survey you mention, but I find it very hard to believe that in the USA I know and love, government officials would seriously be polling the armed forces to estimate their willingness to kill their fellow citizens. I find that entirely implausible. Call me crazy and naive, but that’s my worldview.

  202. “Second Amendment Solutions” has been a right-wing deniable threat for at least eight years. Everyone knows exactly what that means; Republicans pretend they don’t, but they’re lying. And stochastic terrorism is a thing, as Gabby GIffords has reason to know.

    “Maybe the Second Amendment people” is a version of that. We know what he’s talking about, and it’s not voting.

    Bringing up Clinton’s remark about Kennedy and Obama’s use of the “bring a gun to a knife fight” expression is a standard Trumpist technique. Everyone on the right that I’ve seen comment on this has used those same two incidents. Almost like they’re getting their lines from a common source. Huh.

    If Trump was just babbling, as he is wont to do, he’s unsuited to the Presidency by reason of incoherence. A national leader can’t just blurt out whatever comes to his head. If he meant to imply what I think he meant to imply, then he’s unsuited by reason of…oh, do I really need to spell it out?

  203. [Cthulhu’s comments deleted because holy shit did this one veer wildly off topic. Rather than posting “deleted for responding to deleted post” over and over again, direct replies are also being deleted. I’m kinda disappointed in y’all – JS]

  204. Xopher, I’d say that Trumpler is incoherent, incompetent, and evil at the same time. He’s also a narcissistic prick who’s so obsessed with compensating for his tiny hands and tinier penis that he’s more than willing to wax eloquent about how convenient it would be for someone to murder his opponent.

    I think that disqualifies him from running a country that has a gigantic store of nuclear weapons, yes. I wouldn’t trust Trumpler to run a shoe store, let alone a nuclear superpower.

    I hope you have a contingency plan in case he wins, by the way. It’s going to suck being an atheist socialist, but it’s definitely going to suck even more to be gay in the Trump Empire of America, so I seriously hope that you have options in Canada or the EU. I suggest Finland–I’m gonna head there myself it Trump wins. Fjords, beautiful wildlife, and the most legendarily badass people in the world. :)

    @Cthulhu: I’m sorry, I don’t understand what your allcaps rant meant. What is the purpose of your rant about unicorns and rainbow glitter followed by your mildly racist comment about “little brown people in Africa”, which I am somewhat confident but not fully certain is a twisted reference to US incompetence regularly killing civilians in Pakistan?

  205. 1. Again, Trump’s joke is the sort of joke many Republican politicians, leaders and media people make all the time. Most of Trump’s policies are in the Republican party platform. The Republican party has been engineering itself over to the right for the last fifty years with gusto. So to pretend that this is just Trump (who didn’t start off right-wing,) shooting off his mouth and not a regular pattern of behavior in their party lets the Republicans wash their hands of any responsibility while gleefully hoping somebody takes Trump up on the idea of shooting Clinton or other officials. But this isn’t crossing a new line, because Republican politicians regularly cross it, get chastised for it in the press and then it gets ignored. Gabby Giffords has been threatened by her colleagues both before and after her shooting.

    2. The actual Second Amendment people are not the gun-obsessed or the prepper seccessionists. They’re the domestic arms dealers. Not only can Americans own lots of guns under current interpretations of state and federal laws, but they can privately sell them — online, on a park bench, in a gun show parking lot, for cash, to anybody with no background checks or other retail regulations. They can do back-door sales for gun stores and even get away with international sales. So thousands of them regularly sell hundreds, thousands of guns, including semi-automatics, as “private sales.” And the Obama years have been very, very good to them with the white nationalists. It’s an industry in the millions, if not billions, and probably does also involve organized crime groups.

    And so they have routinely put pressure on state legislatures and made gun control the third rail for vulnerable Republican politicians for the last thirty years, not because they give a crap about the Second Amendment or want to overthrow the U.S. government some time, but because proposed gun control legislation regularly tries to regulate and tighten the private sale loopholes. The “coming to take our guns” bit is smoke screen hoopla that pretends to be about ideology and is actually about money. It’s really “they’re coming to take our sneaky private gun sales.”

    So Trump’s “joke” about the Second Amendment wasn’t just a dog whistle to the ammosexuals in the crowd. It was a declaration to the domestic gun sellers that he’s on board with keeping their “private” honey pot industry on-going with as little regulation as possible. Never mind that it’s actually Congress and state legislature that does the gun regs, not so much the courts. (So if your foreign friends ask why the U.S. is so resistant to gun control despite declining crime and gun ownership, now you know what to tell them.)

    3. Trump is an international businessman and a crook. He does business in China, Russia, etc. He swindles people openly. He has syndicates, legal, semi-legal and illegal, arms dealers, etc. meeting at his hotels, and gets into real estate beds with some of them. And he’s been illegally begging some of them for campaign funds, shopping influence. And they also want as little gun control in the U.S. as possible, both for sales into the U.S. but even more exporting out from the U.S. A supposedly gun-happy U.S. and a government and defense contractors willing to sell off surplus works for them. So again, Trump’s little joke was to please his crowd and confirm he’s “one of us.” But it’s also a dog whistle to international interests, as well as domestic gun dealers, that he’s on-board with facilitating gun and arms sales and the Republican party’s long-time commitment to that.

    It is a joke. It’s also a declaration of policy intent and business interests. And if, as seems likely, Trump loses the Presidential election, he’s still going to keep all those lovely domestic and international contacts he’s made showing he’s friendly to the gun trade. So why shouldn’t he joke about someone killing his opponent Clinton over guns when it’s A) standard Republican practice in elections and widely condoned by them; B) reassuring to influential domestic gun sale interests; and C) reassuring to influential and moneyed international arms sales interests? It makes perfect business sense to make a joke like that.

    So I don’t think it was as un-calculated as folk like to presume. I think it was quite planned. Trump isn’t running for president; he’s running for Mob boss (which is why many of his followers pretend he’s Robert DeNiro playing a role.) He didn’t expect to be the nominee and he makes out whether he wins or not. It doesn’t matter how many crooks, gun bullies or white nationalists are running parts of his campaign. As long as he gets respect from some factions, as long as the media has to deal with him, and as long as he can expand his influence and PR, it’s all good.

    But the blowback was, I think, a bit more than they were expecting. So now Trump is back to nonsensical claims that Obama created ISIL by withdrawing some of the troops from Iraq as per the agreement engineered by Bush, even though ISIL existed well before then and was concentrating on Syria. (I’m not sure that Trump cares about Syria and Iraq being different countries with multiple tribes and cultures.) It’s a good distraction.

  206. Spocko had a quote that is quite relevant per OGH’s wishes;

    “My favorite response to this dodge came from Ted Rall at EschaCon 08 in Philadelphia. “If an actual joke had happened, laughter would ensue.””

  207. @Jaenice_Palmer — :) Pretty much my thinking also. (Though I had not considered the Dems giving Trump a taste of his own medicine on “jokes” to see how he liked being “joked” with.) I’m pretty sure he’d go apoplectic if someone tried the same style of joke, like the imaginary Biden line, there.

    @nicoleandmaggie — I will confess, it took me a minute to read your reply about “many of them already are with women” before I realized you meant, many abusive / bigoted men already eat with and live with (and abuse) women. I should have made the connection between what I’d said and your reply quicker than that. Possibly the reason I didn’t is that I didn’t grow up with that kind of abuse, either toward me or between my parents. (My dad *liked* having a wife and best friend who could think for herself and say so.) — And on the rest of your response to me, yeah, I was going on a starry-eyed dreamer comment moment there, which you probably noticed. You’re all too right in your response to me. Also, I’ve appreciated several of your other comments. :)

  208. Kat Goodwin

    He’s certainly running for mob boss but in no way was his ‘joke’ anything other than off-the-cuff. Policy statement? Not a chance. He cannot think that far ahead. What Trump brings to the table is a big bucket of money, a sociopath’s inability to empathize and a turbocharged ego. He is otherwise very much a creature of the moment; a fruit fly with a wallet. It will be his fellow sociopaths, those who prefer working behind the scenes, who develop and implement the plans to include encouraging the arms industry.

    BTW, lolled at ‘ammosexuals.’ First time I’ve seen it and oh how suitable.

  209. ScottH: “That’s a ban. A ban is not allowed. A ban infringes on the ability to keep and bear arms.”

    The supreme court has upheld bans, so the idea that a ban is unconstitutional is not grounded reality.

    “the false choice between everything must be allowed or we must ban is the insane argument.”

    “shall not be infringed” to second ammendment types means “no regulation”. They’re the ones opposing universal background checks, the most rudimentary regulation possible. Go to a NRA meeting and tell them “shall not be infringed” allows for universal background checks. When you get them to agree with that statement, let me know.

    And I am perfectly fine with ALL firearms being treated as a class three weapon, all require fingerprints, background check, registration, and a tax stamp. When you convince the NRA to support that, let me know.

    “Hillary Clinton’s lies, they be 99.9% of what she says”

    That, too, is horseshit. I dont like Hillary because of some of her positions, but she is much more honest than Trump by far.

  210. A few years ago now, a Second Amendment Person brought two shotguns to my church. He’d been listening to hate radio talking about how liberals are traitors and are ruining America and he wanted to kill him some liberals and he figured the Unitarian Church was a good place to find some.

    Stochastic terrorism is a real thing. Trump’s “joke” is the sort of thing that is going to get someone killed somewhere–somebody just going about their business, listening to the kids sing songs from _Annie_ or standing in line to talk to their local representative. And it will all be deniable, just like the people who set our Second Amendment Person off could deny that they had anything like that in mind and walk away saying we’d really brought it on ourselves after all.

    So no, I have no patience for the idea that it was just a joke or Trump actually meant voting. No he didn’t. You know it, I know it, the guy behind him at the rally whose jaw dropped as he said it knows it. This wasn’t the failure mode of clever–or it was, but only in the sense that Trump hoped only Second Amendment People would notice, and oops a whole bunch of other people noticed also.

    And just in general, we don’t need to be responding to the absolute worst thing out there today to have a right and a reason to respond. Yes, somewhere there are people who don’t have clean drinking water, and somewhere else there are girls who have been taken prisoner by Boko Haram and somewhere yet else a radioactive military installation is slowly melting out of a glacier, but it’s okay to talk about stochastic terrorism and jokes that move the Overton Window and appalling behavior by people completely temperamentally unsuited to jobs they are campaigning for also.

  211. @ Ambivalent In Tokyo: I’ve been sitting on that one for months. I’ve had enough of armchair SJWs on Tumblr who haven’t done any actual activism in their lives telling me that I should go kill myself for trying to raise awareness about the extremely low reporting rates of male rape. I have had enough of small-minded Internet bullies telling me that as a white male, I am unworthy of saying that I admired a black athlete for his courage, skill, and willingness to stand up for his beliefs. I have had enough of the social justice movement disintegrating into internecine ideological-purity strife and my-ideology-is-more-pure-than-yours dick-measuring contests like the Bolsheviks did, when we should be out campaigning for actual change.

    I helped out a Palestinian activist group at school, attended rallies for both Sanders and Clinton, voted, spent three weekends when I really should’ve been studying for Orgo printing out anti-Trump messages, urged students across my campus to vote–I may not have done much, but I /have/ done some actual work to further the causes that I believe in. I pasted posters calling for the revolution of the proletariat and advocating a platform of higher minimum wages, increased government-insured equality of all races, creeds, religions, genders, and sexualities, in every damn building on campus. I had to enlist two friends to get it all done.

    I am fucking sick and tired of being insulted and told that I suck for being a straight white male–a status that I did not, in fact, choose to have–by a bunch of armchair jerks on the internet who spend their days complaining about how oppressed they are rather than doing something about it. I have a serious, often debilitating case of a neurological disorder called Tourette’s Syndrome. Do I bitch about it? Only when my arms are trying to dislocate themselves. I don’t spend my whole damn life complaining about how “neurotypical” people have no right to even try to understand me. I take the time out of my day to explain to curious passers-by who ask if I need the nurse. I take the time to thank people who helped me out when I accidentally concussed myself when I was flopping like a beached fish on the floor of the dining hall.

    I don’t spend my life judging all people without really bad cases of Tourette’s with the same brush.

    Anyway. Rant over. I’m getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow, and the damn things hurt, I need to take my meds and get to sleep within about an hour.

  212. Floored…sometime we have to have a long conversation about racism, why it’s bigoted and stupid, but not actually racist, to say that white people have no right to honor Ali, the nature of privilege (which isn’t your fault and isn’t saying you’re a bad person or worthless or anything like that, and perhaps about intersectionality.

    But today is not that day, and this is not that thread. We’re wayyy OT now, let a troll start a fight with us, and are currently sticking our asses out for the Mallet.

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