Welcome To Masterpieces Of Bad Analogy Theater…Today’s Featured Performer: Matthew Dowd! [Corrected]

Matthew Dowd is one of an elite group of pundit grifters who pretend to be conservatives or Republicans so progressive propaganda news networks can put them on panels for “balance,” deceiving viewers into believing that their consistent agreement with the Left’s talking points arises from fair and objective analysis. It’s a small but growing group encompassing the cynical members of the Lincoln Project as well as the shamelessly Trump-deranged Jennifer Rubin, the pathetically intellect-challenged ex-RNC chair Michael Steele, and Ana Navarro, who demonstrates her uselessness by not walking off the set of “The View” muttering, “Life’s too short to waste hanging around idiots like Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin.” Dowd is smarter and more credentialed than any of them (faint praise, I know), which makes his act even more unethical than theirs are.

On one of many—with many more to come I’m sure—MSNBC “do something!’ panels on gun control in the aftermath of the most recent Texas shooting, Dowd offered this brilliant analysis:

“Three children died from lawn darts. They banned lawn darts after three children died from lawn darts. Texans will record 4,000 gun deaths or more this year as we move forward in this. And so, yes, it’s frustrating, it’s incredibly disappointing, but we have get to a place where it gets to anger and then anger motivates us to action.”

Anyone who compares laws darts with guns is either a fool or a liar. I’ve listened to Dowd for many years; he’s no fool. He knows damn well that this is a stupid and misleading analogy, but he is trying to convince people whom he knows are gullible and easy to mislead. Lawn darts were toys, a game. They were marketed to parents for their children, and were absurdly dangerous. Toys are never supposed to kill anyone, and three deaths from a lawn game was two too many. Ever hear of someone being killed playing croquet? Badminton?

Guns, in contrast, are tools, and necessary ones. They are meant for self-defense and to ensure that citizens of a democracy do not have to trust and rely upon the government for the protection of their homes, family members, and themselves. No amount of abuse of these tools changes the need for them to be available for the legitimate needs of law abiding citizens. Needless to say, except that those impressed by Dowd’s unconscionable analogy do need it said if not tattooed on their eyelids, there is a provision in the Bill of Rights that guarantees Americans access to guns, but no such mention of a right use lawn darts.

That was some panel: it also featured former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill saying, “I believe very firmly that Jesus would be shocked at what our country is allowing to happen. There is no way that he would embrace everyone walking around with weapons of war.”

The main question this moronic quote raises is whether it is more or less outrageous than Dowd’s analogy. That’s a tough one. McCaskill might even believe what she said. Somebody tell her that Jesus would be shocked at the marvel of modern guns generally, since they hadn’t been invented when he was around, just as he’s be shocked at cars, TVs and abortion on demand, which McCaskill supports. Also let her know that the guns that can be legally purchased in the US are not “weapons of war,” and that “everyone” isn’t walking around with guns of any kind…or lawn darts either.

NOTICE OF CORRECTION: In the initial version of this post, I stupidly, and not for the first time, either, mixed up former Senator McCaskill with an earlier, briefer tenured Democratic Senator from Missouri who only got the job because her husband died. Whatever one thinks of McCaskill, she was elected a a U.S. Senator on her own merits.

I apologize to the ex-Senator, and also Ethics Alarms readers for making this repeat mistake. I am also indebted to reader Jan Chapman for chiding me for it.

25 thoughts on “Welcome To Masterpieces Of Bad Analogy Theater…Today’s Featured Performer: Matthew Dowd! [Corrected]

  1. ““I believe very firmly that Jesus would be shocked at what our country is allowing to happen. There is no way that he would embrace everyone walking around with weapons of war.”

    Nothing shocks Jesus.

    Jesus didn’t tell the converts to Christianity that were in the Roman Army to quit. He told them to be satisfied with their wages.

    Because Jesus didn’t come to change systems of government or the laws of government. Even the government or laws of the Roman Empire. He came to change lives. If individual lives want to band together to petition the government about so-called weapons of war, they can. They don’t get to claim that Jesus embraces their political agenda.

    I should be shocked that she doesn’t understand that. But I’m not.

  2. Well… This sure looks like an interesting compilation of stories.


    To split hairs, “Lawn darts” aren’t really banned, they just can’t be sold as toys. There’s a class of “arms” that indeed are protected by the Second Amendment that are a close analogue to lawn darts called rifle propelled grenades that Soviet enthusiasts exercise grown-up recreation propelling the inert training versions distances quite longer than the average lawn.

    Paythe right taxes and have the right paperwork and you can do the same with an explosive version.

    • Another hair: the metal spiked ones greater than five oz are CPSC banned, but blunt plastic versions abound.

    • To my knowledge, nothing short of nuclear weapons are ‘banned’ for civilians to own in the United States. With enough money and the right permits you can own virtually anything, in spite of what Joe Biden says.

      No Background check, felonies are not a problem federally or in most states:
      Black powder revolvers, including replicas. Black powder rifles, including replicas

      No Background check (not sure about felonies):
      Black powder cannon, including hand-cranked, repeating black powder naval cannon

      Standard Background Check:
      Class II firearms: modern revolvers, bolt-action, lever action, semi-auto rifles with barrels 16″ or longer, shotguns with barrels 18″ or longer, semi-auto handguns

      NFA Tax Stamp with special background check, title, and special storage, handling, and transport requrements: Pay $200 for the tax stamp, get the background check and get a silencer, short barreled rifle (SBR, under 16″ barrel), short barreled shotgun (SBS, under 18″ barrel), or transferable machine gun registered before 1986.

      You can also get a $200 tax stamp for a ‘destructive device’. These include firearms with a bore over 0.50 cal (except shotguns), grenades, mines, rockets, grenade launchers, missiles, etc, A grenade launcher with 5 explosive grenades would need 6, $200 tax stamps. Also included are some ‘political’ entries such as the street sweeper shotgun (but not the related ‘Ladies Home Companion’).

      With a Federal Firearms License (FFL), you can buy, sell, ship, and receive a variety of types of firearms.
      With an FFL and payments of SOT (special occupational tax), you can import, build, and/or buy/sell machine guns, silencers, SBR’s and SBS’s

      The weird one is the ‘Any Other Weapon’. These include smoothbore pistols, pistols with forward grips, pen guns, and some shotgun-pistols. This is a $200 tax stamp initially, but only $5 to transfer (instead of $200).

      An AR-15 with a 16″ barrel is a Class II rifle. An AR-15 with a 14″ barrel and a stock is an SBR ($200 tax stamp). An AR-15 with no stock and a 14″ barrel is a pistol (no tax stamp). An AR-15 with an arm brace an a 14″ barrel was Class II until 2023, but now retroactively requires a $200 tax stamp and if you pay it you get amnesty but if you destroy the arm brace (making it into a pistol) it can be a pistol if the AR was made in the US or it is STILL an SBR is the AR was not made in the US and you still could be liable for a felony with 10 years in prison because it was legal when you owned it, but in 2023 the ATF changed the timeline and made them ALWAYS illegal and you now live in the modified timeline….

      Common sense gun laws.

  3. Hmmm. “elite group of pundit grifters”; “shamelessly Trump-deranged”; “pathetically intellect-challenged”; “idiots”.
    I’m neither doubting nor confirming the characterizations; I don’t follow any of those people, so I have no basis for agreeing or disagreeing.
    But, when an analysis of some political point begins with a series of ‘ad hominem’ drive-bys, I see no point in continuing to the analysis.

    • Not ad hominem. All are accurate assessments of the character they display in doing their “job.” In general, a pundit grifter is one (like Tucker Carlson) who poses as something he or she is not to play a desired role. That’s all four of these. Anyone who reads Rubin’s columns in the Post knows she’s the poster girl for Trump Derangement: she’s essentially reversed all of her previous positions to make sure that she can oppose anything Trump stands for. I’ve written about Michael Steele many times: a man who claims that his favorite book is “War and Peace” and who follows that up with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” has disqualified himself as a pundit. “Intellect-challenged” is kind. The View” is populated by idiots, as literally dozens of posts here have amply demonstrated. I should not have to provide a road map every time I state the obvious.

      And as I have noted here also many times: an insult based on facts is not an ad hominem argument. An ad hominem argument says that the message is wrong because the messenger is flawed. Nothing here does that. I was quite specific why the message was flawed. Meanwhile, my diagnoses of the various people mentioned is backed up by data and documentation.

      You’re off-base.

      • Yeah, you made that clear way back in February, 2015, but my point is that if the lead-in is the description of the people involved rather than the argument being presented, then there is no need for me to proceed to the argument. The answer to the argument has already been made.

        • Sorry, I don’t see that logic at all….and for the same reason ad hominem is a fallacy. An idiot is still capable of making a valid argument. Dowd obviously is, because he isn’t an idiot, which is why his lame analogy is especially unethical. The characterization is a separate piece of information, no more or less accurate than identifying him as bald.

          • I think a more valid objection, and maybe what you meant, is that I am “poisoning the well” by in advance negatively characterizing the speaker whose statement is being assessed. That’s fair…except that Dowd, like everyone else mentioned in the post, is a serial offender, and I think that’s worth pointing out. After rather than before? I wouldn’t disagree.

            • Ethics is not a science. Ethics are not governed by the laws of nature. The study of ethics is all about opinions. As such how can one feel strongly about their opinions and not be opinionated? Regrettably, in our culture, OPINIONATED has negative connotations.

              The Cambridge Dictionary defines OPINIONATED as “An opinionated person is certain about their beliefs and expresses their ideas strongly and often.” It is notable that excluded from the opinionated definition are references to closed-mindedness, irrationality, vengefulness, bigoted, and unyielding.

              There is nothing wrong with Jack’s opinion of Dowd or the words he used. He expressed an opinion and then provided the reasoning behind his opinion. Others are free to enter the debate by doing the same. Complaining about Jack’s or anyone’s choice of words as a reason for not debating a topic strikes me as rather sophistic and cowardly. Kind of not a lot different from condemning someone’s opinions simply because of race, religion, sex or what have you.

              Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be persuaded otherwise if given a reasoned argument.

              • Tom P,

                Actually, Ethics IS a science. It is the study (and thus acquiring knowledge) of the application of principles to situations. One of my ethics books defines ethics specifically as the science of applied morality (though I know Jack doesn’t like this particular definition). In ethics, one can propose applications of various principles to a situation, evaluate how those principles apply or don’t apply to the particulars of the case, and to an extent be tested in the realm of human activity. It may seem maddening to keep proposing variants on some ethical dilemma, like the trolley car dilemma, but these are the means by which ethical principles are tested and evaluated, and a deeper understanding allowed to emerge.

                Ethics also follows on nature, so it is very much concerned with the laws of nature and study of humans in particular. What is ethical for humans depends very much on what we are. We would have a vastly different ethic if we, for example, reproduced by binary division rather than through sexual intercourse. We would have vastly different ethics if we had 7 sexes instead of 2. We would have vastly different ethics if we by nature had two heads, each with their own intellect. We would also have a vastly different ethics if women could only get pregnant by cutting off the heads of their mates in the middle of intercourse. Fundamentally, we start to know what is ethical by what is good for us and what harms us as a species and as individual or smaller subsets of that species.

                That ethics is a science is what, I believe, gives Jack the right to speak of someone as, for example, Trump-deranged. That is because we can examine and study the ethics of situationally altering one’s support or rejection of certain principles. In the case of the Trump-deranged, we really are not speaking of opinion. We’re speaking of people who have voluntarily jettisoned core beliefs either because Trump espoused those beliefs, or those beliefs were in the way of tearing Trump down. It is Trump’s presence in high office that had triggered that meltdown. Perhaps some other figure in high office might have triggered such a meltdown, but it happened to be Trump that caused the radical reorientation of priorities and beliefs. Now, it certainly would be wrong to just use the term Trump-deranged as a pejorative for someone you don’t like or generally disagree with. But that also is an ethical analysis: is it wrong to misattribute a characteristic to someone in order to diminish other’s perception of that person?

                • Ryan
                  I believe what you describe is the scientific study of ethics. I specifically stated that ethics are not governed by the laws of nature. I believe there is a profound distinction between “laws of nature” and “Natural Law”. Ethics universally deal with natural law but not laws of nature. In science, for something to be a law, it must be observable, repeatable, and 100% true under specified conditions.

                  If you combine two elemental hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, you will always get water. Chemically you will never get anything but water. Contrast that fact with: is it universally wrong to kill someone? In society, the answer to that question is it depends. The answer is an opinion, not a fact. The answer is metaphysical.

                  While I concede the “scientific method” can be employed to study ethics, as I stated, ethics are not governed by the laws of the natural world. By the laws of nature, a human with one X and one Y chromosome is a male. This is true regardless of what body parts are added, subtracted, or modified. It is true regardless of what the human’s concept of self may be. Metaphysically, however, in some portions of today’s society, that is not true. While some branches of philosophy are termed social sciences, the principles embraced in those fields do not conform to any physical laws of nature. Calling a cow a chicken will not allow the cow to lay an egg. Regardless, I remain resolute in my opinion that ethics are opinions and are not governed by the laws of nature. Beyond that, the point of my commentary was that dismissing an opinion because it is an opinion without providing an alternative argument is sophistic and cowardly.

    • Ah! The good old days when gang violence in Chicago was mostly contained in the public housing projects. Then they tore them all down! Where have you gone, Cabrini Green?

  4. You can make or own lawn darts without restrictions. You can carry them without a license. If you find a set at a junk shop, you can buy them without a background check. The ATF is not going to kick down your door and shoot your dog if your ex reports your ownership. No one thinks black ones are “military grade ” and more dangerous than yellow ones. Etc., etc….

    Yep, great analogy, Dowd.

  5. Please stop saying that Claire McCaskill got her office because her husband died. You have said this before and I corrected you. She came from a political family, won her seat fair and square and served Missouri well.

  6. It doesn’t matter if the weapons available to civilians are “weapons of war”. The 2nd Amendment was added to the Constitution specifically to guarantee civilians access to weapons of war, so that they could form militias. Up until the adoption of the select-fire M-16, it was typical for Americans to own surplus military rifles of the exact type they had used while in service. Actually, there was a period in the late 19th century when civilians were sporting rapid-fire lever guns while the army made do with single-shot “trapdoor” models (military leaders were afraid soldiers would run through their ammo too quickly). Notably, nobody at the time seems to have seen anything untoward about this.

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