Part 4—Overgrown ferrets and otters: How crazy is the American discourse? How crazy is it, in a way which is almost never discussed?
The American discourse is very crazy. In this morning’s New York Times, a guest columnist is forced to say the things which follow.
Rachel Stohl writes about a U.N. treaty which would regulate the international trade in conventional weapons. According to Stohl, the Obama administration is wobbling on the treaty, although it passed the General Assembly by a 154-3 vote.
We will include the column’s headline, which of course is quite sad:
STOHL (4/12/13): Tell the Truth About the Arms Treaty“Tell the Truth About the Arms Treaty?” Given our clownish intellectual culture, we’ll only say this: Fat chance!
So what’s behind the foreboding whispers? Some truly cynical domestic politics, it would appear.
Those opposed to the accord have misrepresented what it does, suggesting that it would somehow infringe on American gun owners’ rights. It would do nothing of the kind.
Still, in Washington, rhetoric can often trump fact. Indeed, its power can be seen in the fact that more than one-third of United States senators—including two Democrats—have co-sponsored a resolution opposing the treaty’s ratification on Second Amendment grounds.
Unless the Obama administration forcefully debunks the myth that the A.T.T. is a secret backdoor passage into domestic gun control—fears fueled by political opportunists who are misrepresenting the facts of the accord—this important global achievement is almost certain to be doomed.
According to Stohl, the facts of this treaty are being misrepresented by powerful forces. That said, the misrepresentation of fact is perhaps the central practice of our society’s clownish intellectual/journalistic culture.
Over the past forty years, powerful groups have been assembled for that very purpose. These groups have generally been on the right. Now, corporate culture is starting to build orgs on the left which are not completely dissimilar.
Have citizens ever been told such a thing? Outside our dueling partisan frameworks, this topic is rarely discussed. Meanwhile, within our mainstream press, the clowning and the incompetence are rather constant.
Consider the instant classic in yesterday’s New York Times.
Gail Collins isn’t a news reporter. But she has long held a position at the top of the national press corps. From this perch, she could offer serious warnings to millions of people concerning The Way We Are.
Instead, she simpers and clowns. Yesterday’s column on gun control measures was a case in point.
At present, gun legislation sits at the center of our national discourse. But as with that U.N. treaty, so too with various gun proposals: We Americans are confused about various facts, as we will note below.
Collins isn’t a news reporter. But yesterday’s column was all about guns, to the extent that it concerned any real topic.
The column was Instant Classic Collins. Here’s how her column broke down:
Collins started with three paragraphs about the way the Gang of Eight is working on immigration reform. These paragraphs were built around joking remarks about the very amusing word “gang.”
West Side Story was mentioned, of course. This joke was required by law.
After this bit of throat-clearing, readers were handed a Standard Collins Passage—the Standard Time-Killing Pointless Paragraph concerning some sort of exotic animal. This was yesterday’s time-killing paragraph 4:
COLLINS (4/11/13): But the point is that there’s movement [toward reform]. It was only days ago that things were so slow that we were forced to devote our serious thinking time to the reports from South America that overgrown white ferrets are being sold to people as toy poodles. This is something I believe we can rally against in a bipartisan manner.Collins loves to do this. In this case, she managed to burn sixty words of her column. In the process, her overgrown ferrets kept her readers amused.
(Collins has long stated theories about the crap you have to type to keep the nation’s dim-witted readers from slumping over and falling asleep right in their gravy-stained chairs.)
Endlessly, Collins clogs her columns with this kind of crap. In paragraph 13, she wasted more time with another standard insertion.
By now, she was talking about proposed gun legislation. And she was clowning again:
COLLINS: “No one really expected that we wouldn’t get to a vote on this. There’s going to be a debate on this. Which is a good thing,” said James Risch of Idaho on CBS. He was actually one of the senators vowing to stop a debate, but he’s apparently sort of evolving.According to Nexis, this was the fifth column in the past three years in which Collins has inserted a pointless paragraph about the fact that Idaho’s governor is named Butch Otter, which she likes to write.
Did I mention that Risch is from Idaho? The governor of Idaho is Butch Otter. He has nothing to do with this discussion. I just like writing “Gov. Butch Otter” as often as possible.
In this fashion, Collins burned away her allotment of words. She even killed time with the hackiest premise of all: Chuck Schumer likes to get his big fat puss on the TV machine!
Collins killed a lot of time with her typical clowning. But at one point, this empty specimen actually wrote about proposed gun legislation. When she did, in paragraphs 9 and 10, the things she wrote were basically incoherent.
In this passage, Collins refers to the deal achieved by Senators Toomey and Manchin. Do you understand what this means?
COLLINS: You may remember Manchin as the guy who seemed, after the Newtown massacre, to be calling for an assault weapons ban, then scurried away. Also, he was the one who ran a campaign ad showing him plugging a bullet through the heart of a piece of climate change legislation. Also, he still won’t say whether he voted for Barack Obama last year. But now we ought to give him a hand—quickly, before he breaks our hearts.That is one of the few places where Collins talked about actual substance. That said, do you have any idea what that pile of words means?
Which might happen any moment. During their press conference, Manchin and Toomey said their bill could be a step toward new rules on carrying concealed weapons, in which a permit from the state with the most lax gun laws trumps the stricter laws in, say, Times Square. If an amendment like that gets stuck on the bill in the Senate, Schumer acknowledged, “the bad it would do would equalize the good.”
According to Collins, Manchin and Toomey said their bill “could be a step toward new rules on carrying concealed weapons.” She seemed to say that these new rules would be extremely bad.
Having said that, do you have any idea how or why the senators’ bill “could be a step toward” such rules? Do Manchin and/or Toomey intend to propose such rules?
Collins doesn’t say.
Is it Manchin who wants such rules? In paragraph 9, Collins says Manchin may break our hearts, not Toomey. Do you have any idea why she put it that way?
Collins never explains these points—and this is as close as she comes to discussing actual substance. Two paragraphs later, she is clowning about Otter’s name. And she ends her column with two unrelated paragraphs about—who else?—Anthony Weiner!
(Weiner once tweeted a photograph of his own “overgrown white ferret!” People, that’s almost as much fun as typing “Butch Otter!”)
For all we know, “Butch Otter” may be Collins’ pet name for her husband’s ferret. But the clownishness of The Way We Are is on display in these dueling columns—in today’s pleading column by Stohl, in the latest batch of clowning from the horrible Collins.
Our intellectual/journalistic culture has been a nightmare for years. On MSNBC, you can see earnest pundits blaming Fox for this state of affairs. Last night, on Fox, you could see Sean and Brent blaming CNN and MSNBC.
Whatever! Here’s one thing you will never see: You’ll never see high-ranking mainstream journalists describing this intellectual disaster outside some partisan context. You will never see mainstream journalists telling the American people that they are constantly being misled, by a wide array of massively overpaid corporate players.
In part, you never hear that because people like Collins are massively overpaid players themselves. But whatever the reason may be for the silence, the squalor of our public discourse isn’t a fit topic for conversation.
Even in today’s plea for clarity, Stohl doesn’t name the people who are misrepresenting that U.N. treaty. In yesterday’s column, the highly-placed Collins simply continued to clown.
The clowning is endless from people like Collins. The silence from everyone else is a given. In all these years of intellectual squalor, have you ever seen anyone else criticize Collins’ horrible work?
Animal lovers, it just isn’t done! Careerists agree not to criticize her. And she won’t criticize them!
In part for that reason, we the people almost never know what we’re talking about, even concerning the day’s central issues. How little do we currently know about our nation's gun laws?
The Things We Know are often wrong. In this weekend’s Sunday Review, two pollsters delivered the very bad news about our current state of knowledge. Their column was completely ignored. The howling ignorance of us the people is now almost wholly assumed.
We the people are badly confused about the nature of prevailing gun laws. Many of us are being misled about that U.N. treaty.
But then, our discourse is built around organized deception. It has been that way for a great many years.
Although the plutocrats gain from the chaos, people like Collins will never address this. This is now part of The Way We Are, and the way we are is quite bad.