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Taming the West with Six-Guns & Fists

Dennis Miller   |   September 22, 2016    3:08 PM ET

After decades of collecting vintage western paperbacks, (published 1939-1960) I decided to downsize and part with the approximately 3,000 novels I'd acquired.

Getting rid of a collection is tough. So I decided to scan the covers. In the time-consuming process of handling each book, scanning it, and making color corrections, I picked up a strong pattern.
Westerns were a large part of pop culture in the 1940's-1960's. The primary reader was the white male, most likely a veteran of World War II or even World War I. He had lived through the Depression and was now in the Cold War era in which Communists were the enemy.


The reader was probably in a 9-5 union or office job or working the land. He might have suffered some degree of PTSD through it wasn't recognized at the time and the stoic male did not admit to suffering any mental problems whether he was a veteran or not.

Here's what I found about the vintage paperback depiction of the Old West:

Out of 3,000 covers, maybe five include black men. (Paperbacks about the Civil War, of course, included more black men).

Of the 3,000 books, women grace the covers of maybe 50. They are fairly equally divided into passive women, those being threatened, and strong women with guns.

The few Hispanics are either villains or poor ranch workers. There are no Asians.

Almost all Native Americans are villains -- primitive, hostile and violent -except the women. They're beautiful and sexy.

The vast majority of the covers depict strong, white males, mostly in some alpha state of confrontation or fighting. Nearly all have guns and most of these are six-shooters.


While the covers depict a moment of confrontation or violence from the book, the novels themselves were written by men who knew the west and created fairly accurate descriptions of the region and daily life, mainly from the 1870's through the 1890s.

The artists themselves were primarily New York City or New England residents, most of whom had never been west of Pennsylvania.

But no matter. What is important is the myth, distilled and popularized by Easterner Owen Wister with The Virginian and Zane Grey, beginning with Riders of the Purple Sage. The myth features a hero with a moral code who stands up to evil, greedy men, East Coast bureaucracy and big business.

The heroes are not formally educated. Their education is life experience - the fittest surviving by living off the land, animal instincts, hard fists, quick triggers and accurate aim. (The subhead for one novel: "Iron fists and hot lead made him the Boss of the Panamint.")


The reality of opening the west to white culture was a complex, messy affair including the genocide of Native Americans, shooting buffalo to near extinction and using Mexican and Chinese as what might as well be called slave labor.

All this was an effort to" tame the land." The irony is that savage behavior was the norm while moving white civilization into the "Wild West."

In the myth the messiness is cleaned up and simplified. The white male hero goes forth into this vast wilderness to combat evil, almost always single-handed, relying on his moral code, courage, and his six-shooter.


While the Western genre is out of favor now, the myth is as strong as ever. White males of European descent must have their guns to preserve the American Way of Life. Their "enemies" are black men, non-Christians and LGBT folks. (Even Communists seem to have fallen off the 'enemies list" since Trump began praising Putin.)

The readers of these vintage westerns have passed on. But the myth of the self-reliant, strong, white American male relying on his fists and guns has roared forth again over the past few years. It will probably be with us for a time even after white males become the minority in the near future.

A myth is hard to alter, especially when it helped create and maintain an entire culture.

Note: In a collector's desperate attempt to preserve and share, I've created a couple of Pinterest boards titled "Six Guns and Guts: Cowboys Lawmen & Mavericks," and "Great Vintage Western Art." They continue to grow as I continue to scan.

Mike Weisser   |   September 12, 2016    5:52 PM ET

Back in 2008 Obama had his ‘guns and religion’ moment, which briefly appeared to undo his presidential campaign. Now, Hillary has created her moment too with the comment about ‘deplorables.’  And while you might think that an entire national campaign never really rises or falls on a few words, just ask George Bush, the first George Bush, whether or not he’s still asking people to read his lips.

On the other hand, go back to a Reuters poll in June, and maybe the deplorability needle gauging the attitudes of Trump supporters is set just about right. Because in that poll, half the folks who described themselves as supporting Trump said that Blacks were more ‘violent’ than Whites, and also said that Blacks were more ‘criminal’ than Whites. And there is no question that Trump has been echoing and encouraging those attitudes every chance he gets, and in that respect he’s getting plenty of help from the NRA.

This whole notion of walking around with a gun in your pocket to protect yourself and others against the criminal ‘element’ has been a watchword of NRA gun propaganda since the 1980s, when the gun industry discovered that White America was no longer going out hunting but was afraid of crime.  Gallup has been asking this question since 1965: ‘Is there any area near where you live – that is, within a mile – where you would be afraid to walk alone at night?’ The affirmative response hit its high-water mark in 1982 with 48 percent saying ‘yes.’  And it was in the 1980s that the NRA unleashed ads which, for the first time, explicitly promoted gun ownership as a response to crime, and they have been running with this notion ever since. And who exactly are all these criminals committing mayhem in the streets? If you need help figuring out the answer to that question, you need a functioning brain, never mind another gun.

There really are people out there who believe they can protect themselves and others by walking around armed even if they have little, practical training or experience in using a self-defense gun. Never mind civilians, by the way, even with some degree of training, most cops can’t protect themselves or anyone else with their gun.  A study by the Police Policy Council found that when a New York City police officer encountered an armed suspect, the average ‘hit probability’ was 15 percent! A study by the RAND Corporation set the number at 18 percent. Now we’re not talking about internet scam-artists like the United States Concealed Carry Association or a former town constable named Massad Ayoob who earns a nice living going around the country as a reincarnation of Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense. We’re talking about the RAND Corporation, OK? But why trust them when you have such noted researchers as Dana Loesch and Ted Nugent telling you that you’ll always be safe as long as you carry a gun?

The Supreme Court may have gotten it right back in 2008 when it said that the 2nd Amendment gave Americans a Constitutional protection to keep a loaded handgun in their home.  But that’s all the Court said.  It didn’t say there was any Constitutional protection for citizen-protectors who believe it is their duty to walk around armed in their neighborhood streets. Sorry, even though George Zimmerman was found innocent of second-degree murder, he wasn’t exercising any Constitutional ‘right’ when he gunned down Trayvon Martin in 2012.

My issue is not whether guns do or don’t make you safe.  And it certainly isn’t whether or not anyone should own a gun.  The issue is the fact that a gun is a very lethal product in even the most capable hands, and to pretend otherwise has become a not-so-disguised way to promote and exploit racism and fear. And God only knows that we have been getting a big dose of both from a certain New York City landlord in the current presidential campaign.

Why Anthony Weiner Can't Stop Showing His Penis

Renee Fisher   |   September 6, 2016    5:35 AM ET


The current news about Anthony Weiner presents a unique problem to Life in the Boomer Lane. Having used all of her best humor in her previous two posts about him, she isn't sure where to run with this latest inability Weiner has, to keep his penis in his pants. Weiner brings new meaning to the phrase, "Zip it shut."

Weiner, destined for a life of mockery because of his last name, has, in this latest episode of poor choices, crossed the line in two ways. The first is that his wife, Huma Abedin, is the vice chairwoman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 run for the presidency. Abedin has never in her long, distinguished career of service to Hillary, been engaged in an election as important as this one.

The second poor choice was that, among all of the sexually explicit photos he sent, was one of his underwear-clad crotch, as his four-year-old son Jordan was shown sleeping next to him in bed.

It's tough to say what drives this man. Or rather, it's tough to say that, with so much at stake in his life, he allows his dick to do the driving for him. He's lost his political career. He's lost his marriage. He's lost his reputation. The only gain he's had is to be a wealth of material for late night TV hosts and undeservedly unknown bloggers.

The Weiner episode does allow LBL a temporary respite from the daily terror of anticipating the latest news headlines. And the thought of why Weiner would continue to knowingly ruin his life is as great a mystery to her as to why she ate so much Rocky Road Haagen Dazs last night. Of course, she knows the answer to both: addiction. She is grateful that hers extends only to ice cream, chocolate and nachos. She feels pretty sure that these will not ruin her marriage or her career. Although, she also suspects that if Now Husband knew that she occasionally eats ice cream in the car (directly from the little carton, with no spoon), he might give second thought to his marital commitment.

Dovetailing with the news about Weiner was a piece about students at the University of Texas, using dildos to protest guns on campus. Their "Cocks Not Glocks" protest against Texas's "campus carry" law was held on the first day of classes. The new law permits licensed gun owners aged 21 and older to carry concealed handguns in most places on public university campuses, including dorms and classrooms.

According to The Guardian, "Demonstrators gathered to brandish sex toys in the air or strap them to their backpacks. Or other places. 'We have crazy laws here but this is by far the craziest, that you can't bring a dildo on to campus legally but you can bring your gun. We're just trying to fight absurdity with absurdity,' said Rosie Zander, a 20-year-old history student."

Throughout history, as we well know, the sight of a penis (or a huge bulge in one's Haines) has meant many things to many people. Weiner and the U of Texas students have each made choices about how to use the penis to best advantage. In this case, LBL would like Weiner to keep his permanently hidden, while she encourages the U of Texas students to keep flaunting theirs.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Guns in Donald Trump's America

  |   August 30, 2016    4:36 PM ET

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Mike Weisser   |   August 29, 2016    6:01 PM ET

To her immense credit Hillary has raised the issue of race in a direct and immediate way. The Republicans, after all, have been playing the race card ever since Saint Reagan joked about the ‘welfare queen’ during the 1980 campaign, and it’s time that someone finally came out and called it what it is.  And let’s not screw around and pretend that Trump, with his wretched disdain for minorities, is somehow outside the mainstream of Republican beliefs. The red team has never (as in never) tried to make itself attractive to the minority vote.  In fact, if it were up to the GOP, minorities wouldn’t be able to vote at all.  Or am I wrong and did that recent North Carolina voting rights decision throw out a law pushed through the state legislature by Democrats from the Tar Heel state?

When it comes to defining political issues in racial terms, of course, Trump has also dipped quite easily into the playbook authored by the NRA.  Because if you think for one second that Gun-nut Nation’s push for concealed-carry laws is something other than a direct appeal to racial animosities and prejudices, think again.  Why should everyone be walking around with a gun?  To protect us from crime. And who are all those people committing all those crimes?  The same people who, according to Mister Trump, are going to show up on election day, vote as many times as they can, and guarantee that the result will be ‘rigged.’  

Trump’s biggest problem, and it’s been a problem for the entire Republican Party, is that they are slowly but steadily losing the party’s base.  Because it was the same Republican Party, by the way, that blocked immigration from Europe after 1924.  And it never occurred to those dopes and racists back then that what they were really setting in motion was a situation that would eventually lead to a basic change in the ethnicity of new Americans, due largely to the immigration reform law signed by Saint Reagan in 1986.  Because this law allowed American farmers to employ non-citizens as ‘temporary’ farm workers, most of whom after the harvest season decided to stick around.  Remember all those ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals’ from Mexico that Trump discovered when he first announced his candidacy?

So what we ended up with is a presidential candidate who, until he realized last week that his racist jeremiad wasn’t working, told every Ku Klux Klan rally – oops! – I mean campaign rally, that he was going to throw ‘them all the hell out.’ And, by the way, if any of those criminals and rapists are left over after the mass deportations, we can always depend on all those law-abiding, 2nd-Amendment-loving NRA members to protect us with their guns.

There’s a reason why the NRA decided to break with its own tradition of endorsing the Republican candidate in October and instead decided back in April to go with Trump. Because the NRA has been playing the same fear-mongering racial card to its own members since it began promoting gun ownership as a response to crime. And this new advertising strategy served two purposes: it helped the gun industry make a product transition from sporting and hunting to self-defense, and it gave Republican politicians a leg up in races for various Congressional seats.

When Dana Loesch makes a video for the NRA saying she needs a gun to protect her and her family against ‘street thugs,’ does anyone have any trouble figuring out the skin color of those so-called thugs?  Loesch and her NRA sponsors pander to many Americans who mistakingly believe that crime is on the rise.  And they also believe that a gun will make them safe, even if they don’t own a gun.

Calling Trump a racist takes guts but is also an easy one to see.  The real challenge for Hillary is to give Americans who are afraid of crime or terrorism ways to assuage their fears without going out and buying a gun.

Here's How You Can Help Stop Unregulated Gun Sales On Facebook

Robert Greenwald   |   August 23, 2016    5:55 PM ET

You know that Margaret Mead quote that half your friends have below their email signature line: The one about how a small group of thoughtful committed citizens are the only way to change the world? It has become a bit of a cliché but when it comes to keeping gun sales off of Facebook, it's not only theoretically but actually true. You can do it. And if you don't do it, no one will.

It matters. It truly does. Just ask Kate Ranta. Kate, whose story is featured in our latest full-length feature Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA, was severely wounded when her estranged husband barged into her home and shot her in front of her pre-school age son. Police had taken away his first arsenal in response to Ranta's domestic violence restraining order but, as we know all too well, there are still innumerable ways for dangerous people to get guns if they want them.

That's why Brave New Films has put together a detailed "how to" video and web tutorial to help crowd source Facebook's gun ban enforcement.

We walk you step-by-step through how to find people trying to sell guns on Facebook and how to report them to get the sale halted. It is not difficult but there are a few tricks of the trade that are worth learning -- like where they gun sellers have migrated to since they are shut out of open commerce and what code words to use in the search function to track them down.

We should shut down all private sales, period. Law enforcement should have the tools they need to know who has deadly weapons at any given time. Congress should take the lead. But so far, they are still too in the thrall of the gun company's and their sales and marketing team, the NRA, to take even baby steps toward keeping us safe. I, for one, am not holding my breath.

Until that changes, it's up to all of us. We hope this helps.

Gun Violence Prevention Campaign Gets Into High Gear With Concert Across America

Mike Weisser   |   August 23, 2016    8:39 AM ET

Want to see a really hip and cool website? Take a look at the Concert Across America website which is promoting a remarkable event on September 25th. This event is becoming so big, and the website is so beautiful and chock-full of energy, ideas, things to buy and things to do that I don't know where to start. So let's start with why this event, or I should say, this phantasmagoria of events is being held at all.

Actually what this really is all about is a #ConcertAcrossAmerica to #EndGunviolence. You see, even an old guy like me is starting to write with hashtags rather than just plain, old (boring) words. Behind these tags is a remarkable, collaborative effort combining the energies and commitments of more than 100 organizations who have already organized more than 75 concerts in 40 states, with more on the way. And not only can you get to a live event by driving a couple of hours in one direction or another, if you even have to go that far, but through the miracle of social media you'll be able to attend multiple events. In that regard, I should also put a link (it's right here) to the concert's Facebook page, which also contains news about all the different events.

I was going to stick around my home state, Massachusetts, and go to concerts here and there, but I'm tempted to go down to da city because the concert at the Beacon Theater, which happens to be a few blocks away from where I used to live, is going to be an unbelievable event. I mean, when was the last time that the one, the only, the magnificent Jackson Browne shared a stage with Marc Walkin' in Memphis Cohn and, and, Roseanne Cash??? I mean, this really can't be done.

I'm going to make a prediction. My sister Barbara and my mother actually went to Woodstock for the real deal in 1969. They went up there because my father, who managed a big dairy in New Jersey, used to buy raw milk from Max Yasgur, on whose farm the concert was held. So a couple of days before the great event Max called my father to tell him not to send up a truck to get that week's milk supply because, as Max put it, "they're running all over the place." And he wasn't talking about his cows. He was talking about the 400,000 who showed up and camped out all over his land.

Anyway, back to my prediction. If I had a nickel for everyone who, over the years, claimed to have been at Woodstock, I wouldn't have to keep working for a living. Truly, the concert was a national, cultural event. And my prediction is that we may be looking at the same kind of situation on September 25th because everyone will either have been at one of the performances or will want everyone else to believe that they went to one of the events.

Take a quick look at the logos of the supporting organizations. It's a who's who of faith-based groups. anti-violence groups, environmental groups, student groups, education groups - an enormous outpouring of interest, energy and concern. And don't forget to buy a t-shirt and contribute to the campaign. I just bought a shirt and added some more dough. You should do it too.

In addition to the music already planned, many more are taking shape, and at least 150 faith-based organizations are also planning to hold musical and devotional events. This gets us to around 300 venues where people will gather on September 25th to use music as a medium to express their determination to stop the killings, the injuries and the violence caused by guns.

Know who's really going to take back America? The Gun Violence Prevention movement is going to take back America and the campaign gets into high gear on September 25th. Remember, if you don't go to one of these concerts, you'll have to tell everyone that you did.

Goats, Guns and Georgia

Charlie Allenson   |   August 16, 2016    5:53 PM ET

Georgia is an interesting state. It's known for its peaches, its pecans and recently for its perverts. Now it's not a stretch that some of you might be thinking I'm referring to Mr. Freddie Wadsworth of Paulding County, Georgia. Freddie, in case you missed the story was spotted by some of his neighbors having sex with a goat. Outdoors. On his own property. Seriously, Freddie, get a room.

But on the list of those committing perverted behavior, Mr. Wadsworth doesn't even come close to Jermaine Collins. Jermaine decided to take a stroll down a street in Forrest Park, Georgia.

He was fashionably outfitted in a ballistic vest and assault rifle. And apparently he had a very itchy trigger finger. He scratched that itch by firing his assault rifle hitting several people including a 3-year old.

I think I hear the clamor from the NRA, Open Carry Texas and others who worship at the altar of the Second Amendment. They're not decrying that a child was shot but my use of the term "assault rifle." Well, kids, you can split all the semantic hairs you want but when a high velocity round enters the body of a 3-year old child, whether it was fired full auto or semi, the devastation to human flesh is pretty much the same. The bones are shattered and turned to internal shrapnel. The organs, muscles and other soft tissue get turned to jelly, meatloaf, a dog's breakfast, or whatever noxious food analogy you want to use. Just ask Dr. Jeremy Cannon. He's a trauma surgeon. He's also a crack military shooter and served in the Sandbox -- Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also on the list is Dennis Marx. He staged a one-man, full-on invasion of the Cumming, Georgia Courthouse. Marx naturally was armed with an assault rifle. He shot a deputy.

Then there's David Preston Cook of Walton County, Georgia. He apparently thought it would be a good idea to take his assault rifle and fire 40-50 rounds at cops who came for him after getting a 911 call.

But the real perverts in Georgia are the legislators who willingly allow these weapons of war to freely roam the highways, byways, and yes, even the airports of Georgia.

Despite the NRA's verbal gymnastics to call these mass murder machines "modern sport rifles" they are anything but. These assault weapons, as most sane people recognize, are designed to do one thing and one thing only: kill as many humans as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. And as a side line make money for the politicians to keep those weapons coming. So that leads us to Georgia pervert number 1: House Speaker David Ralston, who said that no assault weapons will be banned on his watch. Along side him are Jan Jones, Speaker Pro Tempore and John Burns, Majority Leader.

Also please note that Georgia state legislators rank 6th out of all of our 50 states for receiving the highest amount of NRA backed money. That kind of money and those morally weak enough to take it to block any gun-sense legislation are perversions of a very high order.

And that makes David Watson, his followers and their fellow hallucinatory politicians in other states, not only perverts but also phantom triggermen for every single person on the receiving end of an assault rifle bullet. And that's just Georgia peachy. Especially for the victims.

Ian Reifowitz   |   August 16, 2016    8:41 AM ET

When it comes to ginning up paranoid anger on the right, there is a difference between Rush Limbaugh and the average yahoo on the internet. Rush is much better at it.

A few days back I wrote about the outrage going around the intertubes regarding the first person to win a gold medal in Rio, American sharpshooter Virginia Thrasher. One website—which wasn’t going to let the truth get in the way—complained that the mainstream media ignored the fact that her victory came in the women’s 10 meter air rifle competition because, apparently, the mainstream media hates guns. Another lamented some tweets that reacted to Ms. Thrasher’s win by snarkily mentioning gun violence in the U.S. Then Rush Limbaugh took aim. He raised the temperature—and lowered the discourse—to a whole new level.

He starts by asking, innocently enough: “Did you see where Hillary Clinton praised a fencer on the US Olympic team for being the first to wear a hijab?” His website for the segment includes the image that appears below:


Rush includes only a part of Clinton’s text, the words. His image also shows Ms. Muhammad in a tight shot, unsmiling, in which only her (covered) head appears. Ms. Thrasher, on the other hand, is smiling and waving, and we see not only the gold medal but her red, white and blue uniform. Limbaugh’s image depicts Ms. Thrasher clearly as an American, while lacking any outward sign of Ms. Muhammad’s status as a U.S. Olympian. Granted, not every listener also goes to Rush’s website, but the juxtaposition is obvious nonetheless. Now, would you like to see the actual image of Hillary’s tweet?



It certainly didn’t hurt the contrast Limbaugh was trying to draw that Ms. Thrasher is white and blond. That’s not to criticize her, or anyone else who happens to share those characteristics. In fact I want to make clear that I’m just as proud of her victory as that of any other American at the Rio Games. That she won the first gold medal for our country is absolutely worthy of the public praise and recognition she got. She deserved every bit of it. But we know what Rush Limbaugh is. While he might have delivered the same diatribe if an American of color had won the medal Ms. Thrasher did, let’s not pretend that her picture didn’t make Rush’s job of inflaming his audience against “them” that much easier. That’s on him, not her.

Now let’s look at what Rush said next:

Hillary Clinton praised a fencer on the US Olympic team for being the first to wear a hijab.  She tweeted a photo of her with this comment:  “In Rio, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first American Muslim athlete to compete while wearing a hijab.”

[snip] So that’s what Hillary’s tweeting, that’s the most memorable thing that’s happened. Of all the things that have happened at the Olympics, that’s what Hillary wants to tweet out? 

Unfortunately, just an hour or so after Hillary’s tweet Ms. Muhammad lost her first match and was eliminated. [NOTE: Rush got this simple fact wrong. She actually won her first match, before losing in the second round.]  So she’s the first American Muslim athlete to compete while wearing a hijab who lost at her competition.  Why celebrate a woman wearing something that’s been forced on her by a religion?  A religion run by men.  Is that impolitic to say?  It is accurate, but, you know, I may be skirting on the edge there with that comment.  I will admit this. 

But what in the world?  Maybe “celebrate” is the wrong word, but why call attention, why honor, why talk about what a great thing it is, a woman is wearing something that’s forced on her by her religion?  She may actively agree to do it, don’t misunderstand, but it’s a religion run by men that subjugates and subordinates women.  You know, the contradictions in American liberalism and socialism are just overwhelming. 

I mean, American socialism features American feminism, and yet look at how it bows down to other religions which really mistreat and disrespect women.  Does that not register with anybody else?  Or is it something you’re not supposed to say? 

Note also this.  Hillary Clinton did not tweet congratulations to the first gold medal winner at the Olympics, the first American gold medal winner….It happened to be an American woman who won the gold for means shooting...the first gold medal of the games.  An American won it.  Did Hillary send any kind of a recognition tweet?  Nope.  Didn’t even probably occur to her. 

[snip] [Ms. Muhammad] lost her first match as a fencer.  Hillary Clinton tweeted out how honored she was, this first American athlete to wear a hijab.  So traditionally American, Hillary wanted to acknowledge it ― while ignoring the first Olympic gold medal winner: A woman marksman who blew everybody’s lights out with a rifle.  Well, the target.  She didn’t hit anybody. 

There’s so much to unpack here. We’ve got Rush attacking sexism in Islam, which of course is real and serious, but also much more differentiated than a 15-second rant would allow—just as is true regarding the level of gender equality found in many forms of Christianity.

We’ve also got him slamming Hillary specifically and feminists as a whole (whom he lumps in with socialists, somehow) for their supposed unwillingness to stand by their own principles when it comes to Islam. Conservatives here and abroad love to spew this sort of tripe, which Laurie Penny rightly characterized as “white patriarchy trying to make excuses for itself: ‘If you think we’re bad, just look at these guys.’”

The focus here is Limbaugh’s use of identity politics, defined broadly as political arguments and/or activity built around membership in a particular racial, cultural, religious, etc., group. Identity politics has real value, and is a necessary part of how we as a society combat historic, systemic inequalities. However, it can also, at times, blind supporters of a political figure to his or her flaws (something extreme partisanship can do as well), and has the potential to prioritize the politics of representation and recognition over the common good in ways that have a negative impact both on the group being represented and the broader society.

Separate from its positives and negatives, identity politics is too often incorrectly identified as being solely as a phenomenon practiced in the U.S. by people of color, LBGT folks, and members of religious minorities. In reality, identity politics is just about as old—and as white—as the Republic itself.

The first “third party” in American history was formed in direct opposition to a specific group. And no, I’m not even talking about the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party. Twenty years before they crawled out of the muck we had the Anti-Masonic Party of the late 1820s and 1830s. Identity politics is also part of how white ethnic groups gained power in cities big and small. And, of course, the most powerful form of identity politics this country has ever seen is the one most likely to be ignored—or denied—by those who benefit from it: white supremacy. And that seems an appropriate point to return to Mr. Limbaugh.

The form of identity politics Rush practices in the relatively brief segment described above is simple, but powerful: Hillary thinks it’s so great, so “traditionally American” for a U.S. Olympian to wear a hijab that, to her, it’s “the most memorable thing” about the Olympics to that point. In Rush’s presentation, Hillary is so in thrall to Islam that she will betray the feminist principles she claims to hold so deeply.

Additionally, this charge implies that Hillary will also betray the country she claims to love so deeply, that she will prioritize Muslim interests over American ones—a claim that bears directly on her fitness as commander-in-chief at a time when ISIS and other jihadist groups are committing or inspiring acts of terrorism on our shores and all over the globe.

Rush is telling his audience that Hillary Clinton cares more about the hijab-wearing Muslim who lost than the Americans who won—and, in particular, more than the white, blond young woman who showed she knows her way around a rifle. That’s how whacked out Hillary is, Rush is saying. But he assures the good people listening that they—conservatives who know real Americans shoot guns and do not wear hijabs, despite what President Obama said recently—know better.

When your candidate can’t win on issues, or qualifications, or character, this is the kind of swill you traffic in. You use identity politics to divide a nation.


ReThink Review: Hell Or High Water -- A Texas Crime Thriller is 2016's Big Score

  |   August 12, 2016    3:14 AM ET

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Open to Debate

  |   August 11, 2016    3:39 PM ET

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Igor Bobic   |   August 10, 2016    4:12 PM ET

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump maintains he was not suggesting that gun advocates take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency. In a Tuesday interview hours after he made a comment referencing the Second Amendment, he said it could have “no other interpretation” other than that he was urging gun advocates to organize against Clinton’s potential Supreme Court nominees.

But that’s not how one man, who was seated behind Trump at his rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, took it. The white-bearded man in a red shirt appeared to immediately sense that the remark was out of bounds, mouthing the word “Wow.” 

On Wednesday, CNN managed to find and interview the man, Darrell Vickers of Oak Island, who told the network that he was “taken aghast” upon hearing the remark. He said he immediately turned to his seat mate and said, “I can’t believe he said it. The media will have a field day with this one.” 

But Vickers, who is voting for Trump in November, sounded more concerned about how the remark would be construed by the media, rather than what it said about the temperament and rhetoric of the GOP nominee.

“Trump has got a very unique personality, and he makes jokes off the cuff,” he told CNN. “One of the things, if we’d had the chance to talk to him, I would have taken him to the shed. Down here in the South, we don’t curse in front of women, we don't drink liquor in front of the preacher and we don’t make jokes like that in public.”

He added: “We would have taken Mr. Trump to the shed and said, ‘Don’t say things like that because people will misconstrue it.’ But it was clear to my mind, and to the people around me, that he was trying to make a joke, and, unfortunately, people like some of the media, for instance like [The] Huffington Post, will take that and screw that up and distort it. It was not meant to be that way.”

If Trump was merely making a joke, the U.S. Secret Service wasn’t amused. A USSS official told CNN Wednesday that the agency had “more than one conversation” on the topic with the Trump campaign.

Correction: Vickers told CNN "we don't drink liquor in front of the preacher," not "curse in front of the preacher," as initially reported.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

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Igor Bobic   |   August 10, 2016    9:54 AM ET

WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has yet again decided to give Donald Trump a pass, telling reporters the GOP nominee was merely joking when he suggested that gun advocates take matters into their own hands to stop Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices who favor gun control.

“I’ve been a little busy today,” Ryan said after easily winning his primary Tuesday evening. “I heard about this Second Amendment quote. It sounds like just a joke gone bad. I hope he clears it up very quickly. You should never joke about something like that.”

Addressing supporters at a campaign event in Wilmington, North Carolina, earlier in the day, Trump urged voters to elect him or else Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment as president. Clinton supports additional gun control measures, but does not support abolishing the Second Amendment outright.

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

After furious outcry from Clinton’s campaign and even some Republicans, Trump denied that he implied violence against the Democratic nominee, telling Fox News “there can be no other interpretation” of his remarks other than him urging gun advocates to organize in opposition to Clinton’s potential Supreme Court nominees.

For Ryan and other GOP leaders, however, the political calculation is clear: Stick with Trump or else risk alienating his supporters and potentially losing the House along with the Senate. Though he has voiced his disagreement with Trump after each successive outrage ― the proposed Muslim ban, the attacks against a Gold Star family, the attacks against a judge of Hispanic descent, the anti-Semitic Twitter post and the praise for the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ― the speaker has refused to renounce the real estate mogul outright.

The endorsement of Trump makes this kind of optimistic message from Ryan completely disingenuous:

And so it’s very clear that there is going to be noise and news of the day that can clearly distract government. It can distract Congress. It can distract the people of this country.

But to me, what gets me up in the morning—what gets me excited—are ideas, good ideas, ideas that work, ideas that improve people’s lives, ideas that get our country to reach its potential. That is why we stand here and fight for ideas, and we know if we stick to it—if we keep pushing and pounding good ideas—we will cut through all of the noise.

The GOP’s white knight, who preaches civility in politics and a “Better Way” of governing, has hitched his car to the Trump train and will remain there even if it careens off a cliff (or simply endorses raising taxes).

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.