Here's Gov. Palin during the debate with Sen. Biden:
"Now you [Biden] said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."Well, you heard it here first, folks: I have uncovered incontrovertible evidence that Sarah Palin has received hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax revenue and converted them to her own personal use!! Where the hell else does she think her salary comes from?
It may be foolish, or unwise, or even unreasonable to suggest that people pay higher taxes; sometimes it surely is all of those. But it is really irresponsible, outrageous, and insulting to say that it's unpatriotic. I dislike paying my taxes as much as anyone, and I dislike the general propensity of the Democrats to spend more and to tax more. But paying taxes (along with voting) is one of the most patriotic things I do. I don't pay my taxes because I'd go to jail if I didn't; I pay my taxes because that is the price we pay to live in the society in which we live, and it's insulting to suggest that somehow I'm being snookered into acting unpatriotically. If the government has things on which it has to spend money, it is sheer Knucklehead Conservatism to say "we need to spend the money — for a war against our enemies, for example, or to pay the medical costs of our retirees — but we won't ask people to pay any taxes to fund it." And it's thoroughly irresponsible of a candidate for high office to suggest that paying taxes is unpatriotic. If McCain and Palin are elected — increasingly unlikely, but just suppose — let's just stop paying our taxes, OK? It would be the patriotic thing to do.
Whoa, folks ... this firestorm of comments is a little more than I bargained for. A couple of responses to the many, many points raised in the comments:
1. If you think I'm such a fool, YOU CAN STOP READING MY POSTS. That's the good thing about the VC - there's lots of other stuff for you to read and argue about.
2. The most interesting comments were those (from the more reasonable ones) suggesting that I mistook "unpatriotic" for "not patriotic." That's a pretty interesting point. To begin with, I would've thought they were, in fact, synonyms. Undressed is the same as not dressed. Unbearable is the same as not bearable. Unkind is the same as not kind. Unintelligent. Unfair. Unreasonable. At least, in most contexts, and most usages.
3. Having said that, I can see the counter-argument that many of you are making here; Palin's not saying "Biden is being unpatriotic", she's saying "Biden is wrong to suggest that paying taxes is patriotic." It's what we lawyers call a "fine" distinction - not irrelevant, I grant you, but, in my opinion, not central to what she was trying to communicate. Look at what she said:
"Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."
So let me get this straight. It's patriotic to say "lessen the tax burden," but it's not patriotic (oops!! I almost said "unpatriotic") to say "raise taxes to pay for the things you're buying." That's what she's saying, folks. Her words, not mine. Now, many of you seem to think that makes perfect sense, and shows that Gov. Palin understands many things that have eluded morons like me. You're perfectly entitled to your opinion. But I still don't get it. It still looks outrageous, over-simplified, and irresponsible, to me. And if that makes you want to call me names, see Point Number 1, above.
4. I know that Gov. Palin knows that her salary is funded by taxes. That was meant as irony. If you didn't catch that, I should've made it clearer.
Update 2. A few of you have tried the interesting strategy of actually reading what I wrote and thinking about it. Here's courtwatcher:
Try replacing "patriotic" with any of the words David suggests. In these cases, the context and usage make clear that in those cases, "unX" = "not X":
In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not reasonable. Reasonable is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not intelligent. Intelligent is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. etc.
In all these cases, it's clear from the context and usage that "not X" means the same as the compound word "unX" would mean. (Go ahead and explain why this is wrong - all 300+ of you. :-) )
I can see situations in which "unX" would not mean "not X," and commenters have correctly identified some of them. But this isn't one of them, and certainly it isn't obviously one of them. This part of David's post is completely reasonable even if some here disagree with it. To say it's obviously "wrong" or a failure of logic is just incorrect. It's stunning to see how unwilling people are to even imagine that someone might have a different view.
I couldn't (and, I guess, I didn't) say it better myself.
Now, once again — you might disagree with my assessment that Palin's statement was outrageous, or that it is irresponsible for a candidate for public office to make it. That's entirely fair game, and I'm even (though many of you will not believe it) open to persuasion on that. But to all of you who called me some pretty nasty names for making such a foolish logical mistake, maybe you're the ones who need to take a deep breath and look at the text on the page and think about it. Apologies can be sent to me at David.Post@temple.edu :)