Interlude—The way we actually function: Thousands of years of propaganda proclaim that we are the rational animal.
Good lord! Have you ever tried to watch The Way We Actually Function? Let’s consider four recent attempts to discuss proposed gun legislation.
One of these moments concerns the facts. One of these moments concerns the logic. Also involved is the basic way cable “news” channels function.
Propaganda to the side, The Way We Are is depressingly dumb. To start our review of the mess about guns, let’s consider a factual claim—a claim which was made just last night:
MSNBC guest on the facts:
For our money, All In with Chris Hayes is getting better each night. It would be a wonderful thing if Hayes could produce two intelligent discussions each weekday night.
That said, MSNBC has a bit of a bad habit. The Channel likes to include the hip “new wave” of conservative hacks as part of its panel discussions.
In theory, this could be productive. In practice, it typically isn't.
Last night, Kevin Williamson of National Review joined the Hayes panel for a discussion of gun proposals. Quite authoritatively, Williamson said the following about the deal agreed to by Manchin and Toomey:
WILLIAMSON (4/10/13): I’m going to guess that you’ve never bought a gun on-line? [Hayes agrees he has not.] But if you ever bought a gun from an on-line gun store, the way it normally happens is, it ships to a federally licensed firearms dealer, you get your background check there...Williamson really seemed to know what he was talking about. Neither Hayes nor any other panelist questioned or contradicted his statement.
I don’t think that this [proposal] really makes much difference at all. I mean, just given what the current practices are on those things, I’ve never heard of anyone selling a gun on-line through an on-line gun store and shipping it directly to someone’s house without a background check. It always goes to a firearms dealer. So this seems to be a total non-issue.
Granted, Williamson’s language was narrowly sculpted (note the repeated use of the phrase “through an on-line gun store”). But watching this program, we got the idea that you actually can’t buy guns on-line without a background check.
Ten hours later, in today’s New York Times, we read about a high-profile case where someone bought a gun on-line without a background check—a background check he couldn’t have passed. He then used the gun to kill his wife and two other women she worked with.
Again, this was a high-profile case. Last night, we pretty much got conned concerning this fact. Why does The One True Channel keep using this type of guest?
Kathleen Parker on the logic:
People watching last night’s All In got conned a bit on the facts. Yesterday, readers of the Washington Post got thoroughly conned on the logic.
Kathleen Parker started her column in the way shown below. Only among a very dumb people could such untrammeled nonsense be so cheerfully published by a major newspaper:
PARKER (4/10/13): The biggest obstacle to the Obama administration’s push for tighter gun control may be its own best argument: Newtown.It’s amazing that Parker wrote that. It’s a disgrace that the Washington Post put that crap in print.
This is because nothing proposed in the gun-control debates would have prevented the mass killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and everybody knows it. At best, tighter gun laws will make us feel better.
Parker is right! As best anyone can tell, nothing that has been proposed would have prevented the Sandy Hook killings. Since Parker was pimping an NRA line, let’s look at the way they chose to state it, just yesterday:
“The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedy in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson.”
The NRA said that yesterday. The statement seems to be technically accurate. As far as we know, no background check would have prevented those killings. But uh-oh! You’ll note that the NRA didn’t mention Virginia Tech, which very well might have been stopped by a competent background check.
It’s stunning to see The Way We Are when it comes to the simplest logic. In the case of gun legislation, no current proposal could stop all possible future killings.
That said, the logic of these proposals has been widely explained in recent months. That logic is bone simple. No one says that they can eliminate all future massacres. Proponents of legislations are hoping to eliminate some future massacres, or to reduce the amount of the carnage.
That logic is bone simple. It has been explained again and again. It’s stunning that the Washington Post would still be printing garbage-can logical flim-flam like Parker’s. But this is very much part of The Way We Are.
Hannity clowns concerning procedure:
The facts and the logic are constantly bungled, given The Way We Are. Last night, we also marveled at a bit of clowning concerning Senate procedure.
Sean Hannity had scored an interview with Senator Ted Cruz! In his teases, Hannity said Cruz would reveal whether he plans to filibuster the new Manchin-Toomey proposal.
To his credit, Sean even used the word “filibuster!” After pimping the NRA's fractured logic, this is the way the cable clown introduced his august guest:
HANNITY (4/10/13): Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey say that their proposal, which will be included as an amendment to Senator Harry Reid's sweeping gun legislation, is a no-brainer. But not everyone agrees.Cruz was going to tell us whether he plans to filibuster the so-called deal! Expectantly, we leaned forward.
Earlier today, the NRA released a statement that reads in part, quote, "The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson. We need a serious and meaningful solution that addresses crime in cities like Chicago, addresses mental health deficiencies while at the same time protecting the rights of those of us who are not a danger to anyone."
After previously threatening to block any legislation that would take away your right to keep and bear arms, my next guest is to here to tell us whether he plans to filibuster the so-called bipartisan deal. Joining me now is Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Senator, welcome back. How are you?
But how odd! When he posed his first question to Cruz, Hannity didn’t ask about the possibility of filibuster. In fact, he never asked Cruz about this possibility at any point in the interview—and Cruz never said a word about any such topic.
(To watch the interview that wasn't, just click this.)
Hannity introduced Cruz in the manner shown, after teasing the segment that way. Given the pitiful Way We Are, were we the only viewers who noticed that the tease and the introduction were then completely ignored?
Who gets to hear about howlers:
Propaganda to the side, The Way We Are is extremely dumb. In truth, we the people in our current incarnation are the obvious stuff of high comedy.
Even our leading national pols may not know what they’re talking about! Last week, you got to learn about one stunning howler—if you were watching Fox.
The howler was committed by Rep. Dianne DeGette, a leader on the gun issue in the House. DeGette didn’t seem to know that ammunition magazines can be reloaded and reused after they have been emptied.
Incredibly, this account of DeGette’s howler from The Five seems to be accurate and fair:
GUTFELD (4/7/13): There was a lead sponsor in the House on gun legislation. Her name is Diane DeGette, I think that's it. She has been in the forefront of gun control for a while here, but she doesn't seem to know how guns work.DeGette’s spokesperson made a second gaffe when she explained this first howler. For a news report in the Denver Post, go ahead—just click here.
This is a clip when asked how a ban on magazines holding more than 15 rounds would be effect in reducing gun violence.
DEGETTE (videotape): This is ammunition, they are bullets. So the people who have those now, they are going to shoot them. So if you ban them, in the future the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won't be any more available.
GUTFELD: See? This is the real problem with the gun control debate, is that a lot of people doing the debating have no clue. They don't know anybody with guns.
BOLLING: Can I point out something? Diane DeGette obviously doesn't get it, because does she have— For her to have an opinion and push legislation forward about high capacity magazines and not realize that once you shoot those bullets out of that magazine, you can reload them and they are— No, they will not go away going forward, Ms. DeGette. They will be there and you can still reload them.
Last week, you learned about this if you watched Fox. Given the way tribal cable works, you didn’t see this matter discussed on The One True Liberal Channel.
These are just a few recent snapshots concerning The Way We Actually Function. Tomorrow, another troubling topic:
The Things We Know.
In fairness: In fairness, we liberals often adopt Parker's logic when we discuss the proposal to put more security guards in schools. It didn’t help at Columbine, our own cable hacks often say.