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November 02, 2006

Allah: Ace Goes "Nutroots"

He claims I called him "crazy," and then says I'm in "nutroots territory" in my refusal to give any gloss to Kerry's words besides, you know, the words themselves.

Except I didn't call him "crazy." I merely quoted him disputing my interpretation, and then asked "Are We the Only Ones Who Aren't Crazy?"

See? I didn't call him crazy at all.

There's a point to that.

It's a lot easier to insult someone by negative implication than by direct statement.

Of course I did call Allah "crazy" -- by negative implication. I didn't call him crazy directly, but I excluded him from the group of the non-crazy.

Do I think Kerry intended to call the troops stupid and uneducated? No-- because to actually say that would be political suicide. But he did say it, by negative implication, and people express such forbidden thoughts all the time that way.

Take two sisters. You say, "Man, that taller sister is hot!" You've delivered a compliment -- to one sister. And what of the other? By negative implication, you've called her plain, or at least not-hot, or at least not hot enough to warrant comment. It's an insult -- accidentally delivered. You probably didn't mean to piss all over her -- you meant to say something positive about the other sister -- but the negative implication is unavoidable.

And yes-- you meant it. The other sister is NOT hot, and that's your opinion. You just wouldn't have said so affirmatively, because you didn't mean to insult her directly. But that's what you did, and yes, that does in fact reveal your opinion of her, whether it was your intent or not.

People get into trouble with this on race all the time. Here's one: "Asians and Jews are minorities who succeed because they place a strong emphasis on education." A compliment to Asians and Jews, yes (albeit, a stereotypical one and perhaps one they're tired of hearing, and yet, still something positive). The negative implication, of course, is that other minorities don't succeed as much due to a lack of this particular emphasis on education.

Now, if someone objects and says, "Are you saying blacks don't emphasize education?," you'll likely say, "Oh, of course not! I didn't mean to say anything of the sort!"

But, in fact, you did. It is an unavoidable consequnece of the comparison -- if these two minority groups are to be praised for a particular emphasis on education, it means, by unavoidable implication, that other minorities must not emphasize education so much. Otherwise, you'd have included them too.

Just like if you meant both sisters were hot, you would have said, "Boy, both of those sisters are hot!"

So did Kerry intend to affirmatively call the troops dumb and uneucated? He'd have never have said so in the positive, affirmative manner. But it's relatively easy to express one's true but hidden beliefs -- one sister is rather plain; blacks simply don't put enough emphasis on education, perhaps for fear of "acting white" or whateve reason -- by expressing what's intended to be a positive statement about something else.

Kids -- study hard and get smart and you won't get stuck in Iraq.

It's not facially a denigration of the troops -- troops aren't mentioned at all -- but it is, without question, a negative statement about the scholarliness and intelligence of our troops. Kids, if you don't study hard and get smart, you'll become soldiers.

I think it's far, far easier to express something you believe -- something negative about a group -- through this sort of insult-by-implication than you might through positive declaration. Which is why I find it relatively easy to believe Kerry did speak the words that were, in effect, political suicide -- because like the guy who praises the academic dedication of Asians and Jews, he didn't think about the negative embedded, inextricably, in his positive statement.

Allah goes on to say the "context" of the remark is the best guide for what was intended. Au contraire, mon frere. The best indicator of what the remark was intended to mean remains the actual words of the remark; "context" runs an very, very distant second.

I've got the actual words on my side. Allah's the one going for an interpretation not actually facially apparent from the text. I'm closer to the actual factual record; Allah's the one moving away from it to get into speculative territory.

I may or may not be right -- but I don't need to postulate six or seven mistakenly-omitted words for my interpretation. Allah does.

Perhaps he didn't get what I meant about "context." It is simply not the case where we have Democratic speeches which do not criticize Bush as a "control" group of speeches, so that we can say, "Well, these speeches that don't mention Bush at all -- they're more likely to contain insults directed at Bush but mistakenly directed at someone else. " All Democrat speeches slam Bush, particularly those delivered by his wounded nemesis John Kerry.

So what is the probative value in the fact the speech does, yes, contain the de riguer slams against Bush? If slams against Bush are present in speeches which do not contain any arguable insults about the troops, and are likewise present in all speeches which do contain arguable insults about the troops, I'm at a loss at how the presence of something present in every speech provides some guide to the interpretation of a remark in a speech.

Allah is thinking, in his mind -- though I don't think he realizes this -- that the absence of a negative reference to Bush makes a remark whose meaning is in dispute more likely to actually be about some target other than Bush, and the presence of such a negative reference to make such a remark less likely to be about a target other than Bush.

Kerry did insult Bush in his speech; therefore, it's in the second group (speeches containing insults about Bush) and ergo his remark was probably intended as an insult about Bush.

But there are no Democratic speeches of the first sort. Allah's subconsciously-postulated control group -- speeches lacking any insults about Bush -- are simply nonexistant. It's not a control group at all. It's a hypothetical group of speeches which simply don't exist.

This is like saying the presence of air at a crime scene proves something about whether the homicide was intentional or accidental. Air's present at every crime scene; ergo, the presence of air is useless for the purposes of distinguishing between intent and accident.

In If/Then format:

IF (speech contains insults about Bush)
... THEN (disputed comment most likely meant exclusively about Bush)
... ELSE (disputed comment most liikely NOT meant about Bush, but against other target)

Trouble is, in real life, there are no speeches that fail to satisfy the "IF" clause; the "ELSE" clause is entirely hypothetical. There are no Democratic speeches not containing slams on Bush. By this logic, any and all controversial remarks can be said to be intended about Bush, in some way (if you add the right words, etc.), as there simply are no other sorts of Democratic speeches.

Lastly, he doesn't seem to get my main point that a joke utlimately meant to denigrate Bush can also -- intentionally -- denigrate someone else.

Kerry's defense is that he meant this joke exclusively about Bush -- that the reference to those who weren't smart and weren't educated was intended to be directed at Bush himself, and no one else in the world.

Well, his words plainly contradict that-- his words were an attack on our soldiers, by negative implication.

But it's not "nutroots" to note that in the process of critiquing Bush -- "you don't want to be in the military, due to Bush's horrible unilateral war of choice in Iraq" -- he also, by negative implication, insulted the troops, and intentionally so, by warning those who don't "make themselves smart" and "get educated" will wind up in Bush's illegal war.

That's precisely what I think he meant. The attack here on Bush is both inevitable and politically acceptable (at least to me; I expect political rivals to attack each other, even when one of them is Commander in Chief). That part of the insult -- "Bush has gotten us into a horrible war in Iraq" -- isn't the problem.

The problem is his suggestion that this fate can be avoided if you get smart and get educated. With the negative implication that those who are stuck in Iraq are not smart and not educated.

Did he mean to say that? As in, had he been realling thinking about it carefully, really planning out his words so that they contained nothing politically damaging, would he have said that, flat-out, in an affirmative manner?

No. The same way you didn't mean to call one sister ugly by calling the other one hot.

But it is what you said -- by implication. And it does reveal precisely your opinions about both sisters, whether you meant to reveal so much or not.

And people who are not crazy understand this.

(But, by the way, I certainly did not mean to imply that people who don't understand this are crazy! Furthest thing from my mind, you know.)

And Speaking of "Context"... It seems strange to place so much emphasis on the always-present cracks about Bush as tending to prove the claim that Kerry meant to say "Study hard, get smart, or else you'll get us involved in a unilateral war in Iraq, just like Bush did," when he missed a good seven or eight key words that would have made this claimed intent more plausible.

Especially when there's other context clues about what was meant.

Like the context that the left nutroots Kerry is so ferociously courting makes these exact same statements every day.

Like the context that blogs Kerry's blog links to make similar statements every week.

Like the context that high-ranking figures in Kerry's party, especially Charlie Rangel, make similar statements every month.

Like the context that Kerry himself made similar statements 34 years ago, and has never disowned them (in fact, he's reaffirmed he was telling the truth and was proud of doing so), and the context that Kerry's contempt for his fellow soldiers is well demonstrated by the fact that, having just left the theater of battle, with his fellow soldiers still being fired upon and shelled, he claimed they were guilty of the most vicious and heinous war crimes.

That speaks volumes. He didn't say "This is an inadvisable and unwinnable war, and our good and brave men deserve better than to die for such a futile and wrongheaded policy." Well, he did say that. But he didn't leave it at that.

He called his fellow soliders moral monsters, mass murderers, rapists, and genocidal maniacs.

Plainly, he did not consider them to be the "best and brightest" of America.

There's some more "context" that also ought to be reviewed.

Locked In By The Boss: It was Michelle Malkin, I think, who first said that Jennifer Loven's report, claiming that Kerry's swipe at the troops followed cracks on Bush, was inaccurate, and she was seeking to add credence to Kerry's claim by suggesting they'd followed quickly upon each other, when in fact they hadn't.

What the tape seems to show is that that contention of Michelle's was wrong.

And I think that Allah is following her logic -- if there was distance between the jokes and the anti-military swipe, it tends to show it was intended as an anti-military swipe, and if, by implication, there was little distance between the two remarks, it tends to show it was NOT intended as an anti-military swipe.

But I personally never really invested much probative value in Michelle's contention (though I did mention it, briefly). Michelle made an argument -- and her argument is disproven, in its particulars.

But that's just one argument, hardly the only argument.

In legal terms, Michelle's particular evidence has been refuted. But there's a lot of evidence here, and criminals don't walk free just because one claim made by one prosecutor turns out to be wrong.

Depends on how critical that offer of evidence was. I don't consider it especially critical, and never really did. Helpful -- sure. Critical? Necessary? No. Merely helpful.

Her helpful claim has been disproved. But there's a lot more "help" to be found here. Starting, of course, with Kerry's own very clear, and entirely undisputed, actual choice of words.

Michelle Malkin was wrong about the timing. But I never really thought timing was a critical consideration, so I'm really not terribly bothered that her particular claim turned out to be wrong.

Red on Red: Yeah, let's keep down the attacks on people who disagree. Except for LauraW, who's a stupid whore-bag.

I continue to be perplexed by the naivete of those willing to buy Kerry's explanation -- and add in all sorts of words to his statement to get it to say what he claimed to have meant to say. I'm reminded of Clinton's statement, under oath, that he was never "alone" with Monica Lewinsky -- later explaining that while he was, in fact, actually alone with her (for example, when she was performing analingus on him, something generally not done in the middle of a staff meeting, unless it's a really good staff meeting) he really meant that he wasn't "alone in the entire White House" with her, or that, while he was alone, he didn't "feel" like he was alone.

Add a few words and any statement can be made to say the opposite. Hey, add "not" to any statement and you reverse its meaning entirely.

But naivete is not a character flaw, nor a sign that someone is secretly a liberal like Andrew Sullivan, nor that someone is off the team and to be denounced.

John Derbyshire -- sure, because he's generally a prick. Ramesh Ponuru -- no, he's a good guy, just a bit naive.

Allah? Naive, all too willing to credit Kerry's rather implausible explanation, but hardly a splitter. He hasn't joined the People's Judean Front or anything.

So-- less heat, more light.

Except about LauraW.

I think I might go all PoliPundit on her nitwit ass.

One More Thing... I'll go Allah one better. I will postulate that not only did Kerry begin his speech with anti-Bush jabs, he actually continued making anti-Bush jabs throughtout the speech!

I'll bet -- ten bucks -- that every third sentence contained a disparaging reference to Bush, or the Administration, or Republicans generally.

Again -- so what? All of his speeches do that. How is that relevant to what was meant as to any particular remark?

If a condition is to serve as probative as to any other material fact, we sort of need examples of when the condition is not satisfied. A condition which is common to all situations doesn't prove anything about a particular situation.

You've got two suspects in a murder. You determine the murderer was left-handed. Therefore, you exclaim, it must have been Suspect One! He's left handed!

Well, makes sense. But not if Suspect Two is also left handed. In that case, we have a condition common to both which therefore is useless in distinguishing between the two suspects.

Allah's unstated assumption -- "If there are insults about Bush in the speech, any particular remark should also be taken as an insult about Bush" -- is just like that.

All of Kerry's speeches contain such insults. All of the suspects are left-handed.

Finding that the murderer is left-handed, then, does nothing to get you closer to the truth.

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posted by Ace at 04:05 PM

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