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A global conspiracy of international bankers and other cosmopolitan elites who control the media

[ 250 ] October 13, 2016 |


This all sounds vaguely familiar somehow:

A conspiracy. As we’ve seen in the WikiLeaks hack, Trump said early in his speech, “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.”

After this line, the crowd began chanting “lock her up!”

“So true,” Trump responded. “Honestly, she should be locked up. She should be.”

But back to the conspiracy. The vehicle through which this globalist “plot” is carried out, Trump asserted, is the “corporate media,” the “most powerful weapon deployed by the Clintons.” He then went on this rampage:

The corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They’re a political special interest no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda. And the agenda is not for you, it’s for themselves. And their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy.

For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds. This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8th. Remember that. This election will determine whether we’re a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy but are, in fact, controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system. And our system is rigged. This is reality. You know it. They know it. I know it. And pretty much the whole world knows it.

The establishment and their media enablers wield control over this nation through means that are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie. And then, again, they will do worse than that. They will do whatever’s necessary. The Clintons are criminals, remember that, they’re criminals.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jared Kushner used copious amounts of white-out to remove various references to Zionism from the prepared text.

Josh Marshall:

Is it desperation? The themes and instincts of the anti-Semitic radicals and extremists his campaign stews in? A “global conspiracy” of the political elites, international finance and the media who have “robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put the money in the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”

Whatever Trump is thinking or means, the white nationalists and neo-Nazis he’s activated will hear his speech with glee because he’s channeling text book anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, with all the code words and emotional tenor. I genuinely don’t know how much of this he even understands or cares about. But his rage and anger is in tune with these movements. And he’ll cast about for the most coherent and resonant storyline that captures it. It doesn’t matter what he thinks. It matters what he does.

It’s possible these are simply the tropes and storylines of international Jewish conspiracies repurposed with the Jews removed from the picture. But it hardly matters. The substrate of traditional anti-Semitism is just as toxic as what grows from it. These are the kinds of conspiratorial, revanchist fantasies that spur violence and attacks on the mundane ordinariness of democracy itself.


Donald Trump is a vile human being

[ 80 ] October 13, 2016 |


Calling him a pig would be a grave insult to pigs:

Donald Trump denied a People magazine journalist’s claim that he sexually assaulted her during an interview. His explanation: She’s not attractive enough.

On Wednesday, People magazine journalist Natasha Stoynoff’s alleged that Trump tried to forcibly kiss her while she was on assignment. She wrote that Trump brought her into a room, shut the door, “and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

On Thursday, Trump said it wasn’t true. His proof: Stoynoff’s looks.

“Look at her,” Trump said at a speech on Thursday. “Look at her words. You tell me what you think.”

After this trainwreck has at least temporarily stopped, it’s going to be hard to sort out the extent to which three distinct aspects of Trump’s awfulness affected his electoral performance:

(1) His unapologetic attempt to transform the United States government into a reactionary white ethno-nationalist regime. This is the ideological component of Trumpism, to the extent there is one.

(2) His utterly amateurish and inept campaign.

(3) His despicable personal character.

Much of the GOP, of course, will try to build on (1) as a viable electoral strategy, while jettisoning (2) and (3).

. . . start watching this at the 27:00 mark:

Can’t lefty pundits at least wait until after the election to go all squishy on Paul Ryan?

[ 84 ] October 13, 2016 |

st sebastain

Apparently not. After acknowledging that Ryan’s whole policy intellectual/compassionate conservative/deficit scold schtick is fundamentally dishonest (he also has a habit of telling absurdly transparent lies about his putative feats of strength), Kevin Drum decides that Ryan’s current baby-splitting routine viz. Donald Trump is a profile in political courage:

That said, I confess to sympathizing with him over Donald Trump. He’s taken a lot of crap from liberals over his hypocrisy in refusing to defend Trump but continuing to endorse him. But what can he realistically do? As he made clear months ago, he’s a leader of the Republican Party. He really has no choice but to endorse the party’s presidential candidate.

So why did he make such a point of abandoning Trump on Monday even though—as Lowry points out—he didn’t really say anything new? I think the reason Ryan spoke up is simple: He may not feel that his position allows him to officially unendorse Trump, but he wanted to make it clear that, in practice, he doesn’t endorse Trump. Lowry believes this was not helpful to Ryan, and I think he’s right about that. What’s more, I’m quite sure Ryan is keenly aware of it. Martin Longman thinks it might cost Ryan the speakership.

In other words, at considerable risk to his own career, Ryan felt like he had to make it clear how disgusted he was by Trump. I have nothing but respect for that. He didn’t have to do it. No one would ever have noticed if he hadn’t. But Ryan has enough of a conscience that he couldn’t stay silent. Kudos to him for that.

Personally I don’t think the electron microscope has yet been built that can locate Paul Ryan’s conscience, but in any case you can bet your bottom bitcoin that after Trump gets trampled it’s going to turn out that Paul Ryan never really supported him at all, as he’ll be more than happy to remind a credulous and amnesiac media, in their unending search for Bigfoot reasonable Republican leaders of conscience and integritude.


The good old days

[ 73 ] October 13, 2016 |

This ad is going to run in 30 urban markets through the end of the month.

ETA: This clip is taken from the documentary “13th”, available on Netflix.

Bob Dylan approximately

[ 250 ] October 13, 2016 |


Literary prizes of all types are essentially stupid (literature isn’t a contest). To the extent they have any positive value at all it’s in bringing attention to writers who both deserve and in at least some sense need it or could use it.

Judged by this standard, giving the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan is absurd. It comes off as a publicity stunt on the part of the Nobel committee. ETA: Also as TWBB says it’s literally Peak Boomerism to an almost parodic extent.

As for the merits, I love me some Bob Dylan and have for more than 40 years, but if they’re going to expand the definition of “literature” in this way I can think of a whole lot of English language songwriters (let alone internationally) who are better lyricists, literarily speaking, than Uncle Bob. (I’m not familiar with Dylan’s other written work).

Basically I don’t really care about this, but I imagine people might want to discuss it.

Just how many women and girls have been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump?

[ 179 ] October 13, 2016 |

trump cosby

“About the same number as Bill Cosby” would be a fair guess:

We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat.

Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger—a looming figure—and he was fast, taking me by surprise, and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.

The butler informed us that Melania would be down momentarily, and it was time to resume the interview.

I was still in shock, and remained speechless as we both followed him to an outdoor patio overlooking the grounds. In those few minutes alone with Trump, my self-esteem crashed to zero. How could the actions of one man make me feel so utterly violated? I’d been interviewing A-list celebrities for over 20 years, but what he’d done was a first. Did he think I’d be flattered?

I mean it would be very surprising if Trump hadn’t sexually assaulted a large number of women, and I mean that completely literally.

Another statement that isn’t hyperbolic or sarcastic is that Trump is an emotional six-year-old. He thinks he should get to be president because Bill Clinton got to be president. It’s not fair!

“Voter fraud,” i.e., non-white people voting

[ 47 ] October 12, 2016 |


It’s mordantly amusing to see (some of) the GOP establishment recoil in horror at the rough beast that’s slouching toward an electoral apocalypse on November 8th, given that Trump is merely shouting out arguments that better-bred Republicans have been making in more dulcet tones for years, if not decades.

Chief among these is the “voter fraud” fraud, as explained by Rick Hasen:

Donald Trump may be out of step with the Republican Party’s traditional stance on some issues, like support for international trade, but he’s right in line with Republican hysteria over voter fraud. Indeed, the threat of voter intimidation and violence that Trump is raising by his irresponsible talk of vote rigging and encouragement of his supporters to go to other polling places is only possible because of years of earlier irresponsible talk. . .

But this should be no surprise, because members of the fraudulent fraud squad have pushed this message for years, claiming that voter fraud is rampant, and that it inevitably helps Democrats. As I pointed out in my 2012 book, The Voting Wars, conservative flame thrower Michelle Malkin warned just before the 2010 election that voter fraud was rampant. But when Democrats faced a “thumping” at the polls, Malkin had nothing to say about fraud. And now she’s at it again, claiming non-citizens will steal the election in Colorado and elsewhere.

There’s a whole industry of fraudsters, such as Hans von Spakovsky and Kansas Secretary of State Kobach who whip up voter fraud frenzies to degitimize Democrats, rile up the Republican base, and fundraise. That’s why the Wake County, NC GOP just sent out a letter saying that Democrats will “stop at nothing and registering dead people or falsifying voter information is simply a ‘means to an end’ for them.”

Here’s what we know about voter fraud. One should never say voter fraud is non-existent. In fact, it happens occasionally with absentee ballots and I’ve long said we need more action to stop it. I’ve also said we need to clean up voter registration rolls to stop registration fraud. What is extremely rare and has not affected any election we know of since the 1980s is impersonation fraud, the kind of fraud state voter ID laws are meant to stop. Yet Republican laws that make it harder to register and vote generally don’t go after absentee ballot fraud but are instead targeted almost exclusively to measures making it harder for those likely to vote Democratic to register and vote.

Claims of voter fraud are often exaggerated by orders of magnitude. Consider the claims about non-citizen voting. Matt Drudge recently had a headline stating: “Report: 1,000+ Illegal Voters in Virginia.” And Dan Scavino, Jr. tweeted: “Terrible. We know who the 1,000+ illegal aliens ARE NOT VOTING FOR! A fixed presidential election in the making….will we ever know!?!?” But if you look at the underlying report, they have identified only 31 actual non-citizen voters in Virginia over the last 10 years. No doubt there are some more, as not all the counties have responded yet. But it is not 1,000 plus non-citizens voting in Va. (“In the 8 jurisdictions that provided us with lists of aliens recently removed from their voter rolls, we discovered that 31 non-citizens had cast a total of 186 votes between 2005 and 2015. The most alien votes were cast in 2012 followed by 2008, the year President Obama was elected to his first term.” (emphasis omitted)). Don’t believe all the hype. Non-citizen voting is a real, but pretty small, problem (because the penalties are high and the payoff low).

And there’s no doubt a racial element to all of this. When Trump talks of voter fraud in “certain areas” (code word for voting by minorities, with the fix put in by local labor unions), he’s talking about impersonation fraud.

As so often the case with right-wing hysteria, there’s a large element of projection in all this, since the most important stolen election in American history was stolen in broad daylight by five Republican SCOTUS appointees, via the most preposterous opinion in the history of that institution. ETA: CassandraLeo in comments:

[Claims of voter fraud are] used as an excuse to pass draconian ID laws that are self-admittedly racially motivated and to purge enough people from the voter rolls to swing election results. Ralph Nader deservedly gets blame for the 2000 result alongside our first-past-the-post system and the Supreme Court’s worst decision arguably since Plessy v. Ferguson, but people being purged from the voter rolls was also a major contributing factor in the election results. At least tens of thousands of people were fraudulently and illegally purged from the voter rolls in Florida rolls (for things like having the same names as felons, but not actually being felons themselves), and since they were mostly minorities, one can easily conclude that this swung the election for Bush. It’s speculated that the same thing may have happened in Ohio in 2004, though this isn’t as widely agreed upon.

So, once again, this is Republicans doing something illegal and fraudulent to swing election results, and then claiming that Democrats are attempting to steal elections. They’ve been doing this since at least 2000, and while it didn’t work in 2008 or 2012 for the Presidency, it’s very likely to have affected significant numbers of House, Senate, and state elections. It’s always projection with these folks.

And, as is his wont. Trump can’t even be bothered to keep the whole “the blahs are stealing the election from honest hard-working white folk real Americans” in the subtext, since the Great Orange Teen Beauty Pageant Voyeur (seriously wtf?) doesn’t do subtext.

But again, the only thing that separates Trump from Republican orthodoxy on this matter is his crude delivery.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Trump is going to encourage his followers to reject the legitimacy of the Hillary Clinton presidency. In this regard he is merely reflecting the views of the average Republican voter, who has never accepted the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. In this way, the “voter fraud” nonsense is merely a repetition of the birther nonsense, and features the same underlying psychology. While no doubt some birthers were and are stupid and ignorant enough to literally believe that Obama wasn’t born in America, most such people were and are merely expressing their belief that Obama isn’t a real American in a shall we say somewhat more metaphorical sense.

Similarly, people like Trump (and again in this way he is hardly distinguishable from the whole Republican establishment) who screech constantly about voter fraud are really saying that the people whose votes are keeping them partially out of power are not really Americans, for all too obvious reasons.

A question regarding the 1964 presidential election

[ 95 ] October 11, 2016 |


I don’t know anything about the ins and outs of the 1964 election beyond the fact that Goldwater lost in an enormous landslide, and that the Johnson campaign ran the infamous Daisy ad (one time only IIRC) to drive home Goldwater’s purported taste for nuclear war and/or his mental instability.

So a question or series of related questions for the more knowledgeable: did Goldwater’s campaign cause any sort of tension or rupture among Republican elites? Did any prominent GOP figures refuse to endorse him, or try to pull a Ryan/Ayotte by splitting the baby? Was there anxiety in the GOP at the time that Goldwater’s views on civil rights were going to do long term harm to the party? What sorts of parallels, if any, can be drawn with the current GOP chaos?

Donald Trump is quoting fake “information” directly from a Russian propaganda disinformation campaign

[ 164 ] October 11, 2016 |

Is somebody going to pull the plug on this thing?

The email was amazing—it linked Boogie Man Blumenthal, Podesta and the topic of conservative political fevered dreams, Benghazi. This, it seemed, was the smoking gun finally proving Clinton bore total responsibility for the terrorist attack on the American outpost in Libya in 2012. Sputnik even declared that the email might be the “October surprise” that could undermine Clinton’s campaign.

To understand the full importance of the story—and how much Putin and his Kremlin cronies must have been dancing with delight—I have to quote the top few paragraphs:

In a major revelation from the second batch of WikiLeaks emails from Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta it was learned that Hillary’s top confidante Sidney Blumenthal believed that the investigation into Benghazi was legitimate because it was “preventable” and the result of State Department negligence.

In an email titled “The Truth” from Hillary’s top confidante Sidney Blumenthal, the adviser writing to undisclosed recipients said that “one important point that has been universally acknowledged by nine previous reports about Benghazi: The attack was almost certainly preventable” in what may turn out to be the big October surprise from the WikiLeaks released of emails hacked from the account of Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta.

Then came the money quote: “Clinton was in charge of the State Department, and it failed to protect U.S. personnel at an American consulate in Libya. If the GOP wants to raise that as a talking point against her, it is legitimate,” said Blumenthal, putting to rest the Democratic Party talking point that the investigation into Clinton’s management of the State Department at the time of the attack was nothing more than a partisan witch hunt.

Those words sounded really, really familiar. Really familiar. Like, so familiar they struck me as something I wrote. Because they were something I wrote.

The Russians were quoting two sentences from a 10,000 word piece I wrote for Newsweek, which Blumenthal had emailed to Podesta. There was no mistaking that Blumenthal was citing Newsweek—the magazine’s name and citations for photographs appeared throughout the attached article. The Russians had carefully selected the “of course” paragraph, which mentions there were legitimate points of criticism regarding Clinton and Benghazi, all of which had been acknowledged in nine reports about the terror attack and by the former Secretary of State herself. But that was hardly the point of the story, “Benghazi Biopsy: A Comprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages.” The piece is about the obscene politicization of the assault that killed four Americans, and the article slammed the Republican Benghazi committee which was engaged in a political show trial disguised as a Congressional investigation—the tenth inquiry into the tragedy.

Here is the real summation of my article, which the Russians failed to quote: “The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don’t fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government—one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment—has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party’s leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America’s past are rare. Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army…The consequences, however, are worse than the manipulation of the electoral process. By using Benghazi for political advantage, the Republicans have communicated to global militants that, through even limited attacks involving relatively few casualties, they can potentially influence the direction of American elections.”

Of course, this might be seen as just an opportunity to laugh at the incompetence of the Russian hackers and government press—once they realized their error, Sputnik took the article down. But then things got even more bizarre.

This false story was only reported by the Russian controlled agency (a reference appeared in a Turkish publication, but it was nothing but a link to the Sputnik article). So how did Donald Trump end up advancing the same falsehood put out by Putin’s mouthpiece?

At a rally in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, Trump spoke while holding a document in his hand. He told the assembled crowd that it was an email from Blumenthal, whom he called “sleazy Sidney.”

“This just came out a little while ago,’’ Trump said. “I have to tell you this.” And then he read the words from my article.

“He’s now admitting they could have done something about Benghazi,’’ Trump said, dropping the document to the floor. “This just came out a little while ago.”

The crowd booed and chanted, “Lock her up!”

This is not funny. It is terrifying. The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth. How did this happen? Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin? (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment).

UPDATE: This Kurt Eichenwald story is unfortunately not as clearly written as it could be, but the facts constitute an absolute bombshell. Summing up: Exactly one year ago, Eichenwald published a very long story for Newsweek, detailing how the GOP had turned the Benghazi investigation into a grotesque political witch hunt.

In an email, Sidney Blumenthal forwarded the article to John Podesta, The article includes a quote in which Eichenwald points out something which has never been disputed, i.e.., that the attack was preventable, and that in some sense Clinton could be said to bear responsibility for it, because she was the nation’s chief diplomat at the time the embassy was attacked. Again, these are Eichenwald’s words, not Blumenthal’s, and in any case they constitute a banal observation at a very high level of abstraction, which says nothing about Clinton’s supposed responsibility for the Benghazi attack in any meaningful moral or political way.

Somebody hacked Podesta’s email, and in going through the subsequent document dump Russian propaganda operatives completely misunderstood this particular email, failing to grasp that

(1) Blumenthal was forwarding Eichenwald’s work, not giving his own opinion; and
(2) Eichenwald’s story was a condemnation of the Republicans in re Benghazi, rather than of Hillary Clinton’s handling of the matter.

This misunderstanding led the Russian propaganda “news” outlet Sputnik, which is controlled by Vladimir Putin, to publish a ludicrous story yesterday, which Eichenwald quotes above, and which was quickly taken down off the web when the Russians realized their mistake. But by then Donald Trump was already quoting this story, which hadn’t appeared anywhere except in its Sputnik form before being spiked.

The benign explanation for this is that the Trump campaign gets its “news” from links on white supremacist websites (apparently the story went viral on these sites before it was spiked). Again, that’s the benign explanation. The other explanation is that the story was fed directly to the Trump campaign by Putin’s propaganda apparatus.

A little story about Paul Ryan and the right wing epistemic bubble

[ 134 ] October 10, 2016 |

paul ryan

Since it’s possible we soon won’t have Paul Ryan to kick around any more I wanted to pass along this tiny bit of internet ethnography.

A guy I know who is a mega-poster on a sports message board (I will stipulate in advance that this post is to some degree nut-picking) posted this on Saturday:

Is Paul Ryan running in the Chicago Marathon today? Love seeing politicians who can run a 2:30. It’s impressive.

This guy was not being sarcastic. He really thinks that Paul Ryan has, and perhaps still can, run a 2:30 marathon. And where would he get that idea? Four years ago, when he was being drooled over by much of the national media, Ryan had this exchange with Hugh Hewitt on Hewitt’s radio show:

H. H.: Are you still running?
P. R.: Yeah, I hurt a disc in my back, so I don’t run marathons anymore. I just run ten miles or [less].
H. H.: But you did run marathons at some point?
P. R.: Yeah, but I can’t do it anymore, because my back is just not that great.
H. H.: I’ve just gotta ask, what’s your personal best?
P. R.: Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.
H. H.: Holy smokes. All right, now you go down to Miami University…
P. R.: I was fast when I was younger, yeah.

This exchange was typical of the many media stories at time featuring Paul Ryan, Visionary Young Leader and exemplar of physical and mental fitness.

The problem with this particular story is that it was complete bullshit of the most egregious kind, as Ryan was soon forced to admit, when confronted with the fact that his only marathon performance was a race he ran in at the age of 20, when he recorded a time of 4:01:25.

Now if you’re not somebody who has run road races it may be hard to grasp just what a fantastic (and laughably offensive, to runners anyway) lie this was. To get a sense of the scale, somebody who ran a 2:55 marathon in Chicago on Friday would have finished just outside the 99th percentile of finishers (573rd out of about 42,000 runners), while someone running Ryan’s time, when he was a 20 year old man — the Chicago marathon is run by people of all ages and genders — would barely crack the top 13,000 finishers.

To put it in terms of another sport, it’s as if Ryan had claimed that in high school he had been an all-state basketball player who received scholarship offers from some DII schools, when in fact he was actually a bench warmer who only occasionally got into a few games.

In other words, this couldn’t possibly be a case of faulty memory, since his claimed performance was on an exponentially higher level than his actual performance. Furthermore, people who run road races and especially marathons remember their best times perfectly well.

On one level, who cares, right? I mean lying about your road race times is a venalvenial sin as these things go, I suppose, although as someone who used to run road races I find this kind of outrageous exaggeration about a trivial matter to be especially telling, precisely because it is so trivial in the grander scheme.

But what I find interesting is that my sports message board buddy — a fanatical Clinton hater, of course, as well as a big Paul Ryan fan — has translated this sorry little saga into an incredibly exaggerated achievement on Ryan’s part, and in exactly the opposite direction! A time of 2:30 would have put Ryan in the top 50 of all finishers, out of 42,000, in Chicago, and it would have placed him first — number one — among the nearly 3,000 45-49 year old men who ran the race (Ryan is 46. In other words, it’s likely that there isn’t a single man Ryan’s age anywhere in the United States, or possibly even the world, who could run a 2:30 marathon at present. ETA: Denverite cites some stats on hyper-elite middle-aged marathon runners indicating that the claim above is probably only true if it applies strictly to 46-year-old Americans. We could probably train up a 46-year-old to break 2:30 if we made it a national priority, like the moon landing.)

For some reason, this little vignette makes me suspect that, against all odds and evidence, Ryan may escape his present political predicament and live to lie another day.

See ya

[ 155 ] October 10, 2016 |


Wouldn’t wanna be ya.

The Michael Scott Paper Company throws in the towel.

Helter Skelter

[ 181 ] October 10, 2016 |



Donald the pussy-grabbing caudillo has plans for his main political opponent:

It’s at this juncture that the Republican nominee—already teetering on the edge of decorum—went off the rails. He accused Clinton of starting the “birther” conspiracy; he questioned her friendship with Michelle Obama; he accused Clinton of rigging the Democratic primary to rob Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders of the election; and he slammed her for her emails, all leading to an explosion of contempt and menace.

“If I win,” said Trump, “I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception.” He continued: “[W]e’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you’ve done.” And when Clinton gave her response—“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country”—Trump jumped in with a quip.

“Because you’d be in jail.”

There’s no charitable read here, or at least not one that respects the rules and structure of the English language. Trump’s meaning is plain.

Let us travel back to a simpler, more innocent time in America, when the Manson family was engaging in ritual mass murder in an attempt to start a race war, and Richard Nixon made an off the cuff remark about their ongoing trial. This was considered so beyond the pale that he immediately walked it back:

Defense attorneys for Manson, Leslie Van Houten, and Susan Atkins-who face charges of murder stemming from the mass killings last August of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons-moved for a mistrial yesterday after learning that Nixon had said that Manson was “guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”

Trial Judge Charles N. Holder denied the motion pending an official version of the Nixon remarks, but a defense attorney said the judge was “alarmed” at the report. . .

Nixon made the remarks during an impromptu press briefing at a law enforcement conference in Denver. He criticized the press, saying that it tends to “glorify and to make heroes out of those who engage in criminal activities.”

Referring to the Manson case, Nixon said, “here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”

Nixon said that “as far as the coverage was concerned [Manson] appeared to be rather a glamorous figure.”

In Los Angeles, defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald told reporters, “If we’re going to have the chief executive of this nation categorically or uncategorically speculate on people’s guilt, we ought to abandon this court system. Maybe President Nixon in a news conference ought to determine whether these people are guilty.” . . .

Immediately after Nixon made the remarks in Denver, Ronald V. Ziegler, Presidential press secretary, called reporters together to “clarify” the President’s statement.

Ziegler said that Nixon “failed to use the word ‘alleged'” in his statement. “The phrase he used could lead to some misinterpretation,” Ziegler added.

Asked if the “clarification” was a retraction of the Nixon statement, Ziegler answered, “I believe I’ve done that.”

Attorney General John N. Mitchell, who was present when Nixon made the statement, said later, “I don’t believe the President made the charge or implied one.”

Nixon himself was of course a criminal of the first order, but imagine if he hadn’t been pardoned by Ford, and Jimmy Carter had promised during a presidential debate to put Nixon (not his actual opponent Ford, mind you, but Richard M. Nixon himself) in jail if he, Carter, were elected. You can’t imagine that because at the time a major American political party had not gone insane.

I’ve got blisters on my fingers.

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