Understanding Senator Kyl’s “Logic”

senator john kylSenator Kyl, please help me understand your now virally infamous “clarification”—more precisely: “claim”—that you had “not intended (your earlier statement about Planned Parenthood’s business mix) to be a factual statement”. How did you intend everyday people who are out here woozily wondering how to grasp your intention in “putting it that way” to go about—well… grasping your intention in putting it that way?

I mean… Did you intend people to receive your “not intended as a factual statement” as a claim of sincerity with regard to your initial fact claim about PP’s business mix? Perhaps you were intending something along the line of the following: I hereby claim that I sincerely did not intend my initial claim about PP’s business mix to actually be a factual statement? If so, Your Majesty (apparently in your own mind), that sounds dangerously close to Fancy Washington English for prevarication, and more commonly known outside the Beltway as LYING.

To reduce confusion and, of course, provided that you continue to find it expedient to continue to make claims that are “not intended as […] factual”, I suggest that you adopt David Stockman’s “magic asterisk” to help distinguish statements that are “not intended as […] factual” from statements that you might for whatever reason intend to be factual.

Of course, you will need to write (clear) instructions to guide your staff on assigning magic asterisks. I recommend that you instruct them to assign magic asterisks to those statements that you anticipate needing to characterize as “not intend as […] factual”, even though such a protocol would lead to using many more asterisks than would be used were you to asterisk the “intended as factual” category. That would appear to follow the common commoner’s practice of rendering statements intended as factual, as statements intended as factual. I have no idea how to advise you on how to go about appending magic asterisks when you need to speak them, however.

robert letcherUh, two other practical matters… You may need to invest in a second filing system, to separate your asterisked statements and your not asterisked statements—wink, wink… your own special kind of double entry book-keeping. I would also advise you that you are likely to encounter statements, portions of which draw from you’re your asterisked and your non-asterisked statements; I have no idea how you might handle such situations.

One final comment… It has been brought to my attention that—and I emphasize that this is not intended as a factual statement—in recent days, a very large number of professional logicians have jumped out of high windows, leaving behind enigmatic notes that ask in so many words, “What about self-reference, Senator Kyl?” I take that question to have something to do with the problem of figuring out whether you intended your “not intended as a factual statement” to apply to itself.

Bob Letcher

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