You Don't Know Jack

Anonymous blog posting lets us all judge by the merits of arguments, instead of the merits of the person making them. None of us can refer to authority & we can explore ideas w/o the baggage or support of our outside connections.

I am not a very important guy. I am not even locally famous. But I have an interesting job that is becoming more interesting. My real world job is attracting some minor media attention and since I am an articulate guy my employer is asking/allowing me to say some things in public. Some of what I say may overlap with things I blog about with you.

Blogging on Watchblog is not part of my work. Blogging is what I do for fun. My employer does not forbid blogging with the caveat that I speak only for myself. I cannot borrow authority from my employer and I do not want to. I want you all to judge my arguments only by their merits. That is why I prefer to remain just plain Jack.

Why am I telling you all this? With rudimentary internet skills and a little bit of luck I am sure you could find my outside identity. I do not object to this, except to warn you that you will be disappointed to find that I am less interesting than I may have implied by writing this post. I do object if anybody attributes my opinions to my employer or my employer's opinions to me and that is something I want to preempt.

The Watchblog community is important to me. Although I know you all only by screen names, I feel that some of you are friends even though it seems most people disagree with me much of the time. We share ideas and you have taught me a lot. I do not want to give it up. On the other hand, I do not want someone to be shocked - shocked - to find some of Jack's ideas elsewhere or that the "real" Jack (if you take the time to find me) does not always agree with blog Jack.

Like George Costanza, I do not want my worlds to collide. "If real world Jack walks through that door, he will kill blog Jack! A Jack divided against itself, cannot stand!"

So my request to you all is to just to continue as we have. Let's just bicker & argue about the merits of our respective opinions.

Posted by Jack at August 30, 2007 10:16 PM
Comment #231147

Jack: From what I read of this it seems that someone or some people are trying to harrass you via the internet and Watchblog in particular. I would hope that if this is the case you would report these people to David R Remer and we immediately ban them. I do not have the time too read every post that comes on Watchblog but you are one of the fellow writers that I try to read each time.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at August 30, 2007 11:36 PM
Comment #231149


Not that at all. It is just that I will be doing a new sort of job and I want to be sure that everybody knows that I know the boundries. Maybe I am making too much of it.

Posted by: Jack at August 30, 2007 11:40 PM
Comment #231153

Jack, I have seen your arguments pre-judged by the Red header above the column. I have even caught myself a time or two, prejudging your article before even reading it, based on the title.

I was taught to call that behavior pre-judiced.

You raise a valuable and important point for all bloggers. Labels can, and often do, taint a person’s arguments for many listeners. But the real loss is to the listeners who pre-judge, and fail to walk away with the legitimate information, premises, and, or, conclusions the writer or speaker has made.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 30, 2007 11:47 PM
Comment #231164


If your input and entertaining articles have brought some attention to you, then good for you! I find your commentary to be both informative and backed up by some pretty sound judgement. We don’t agree on some issues, as is the case with most on this blog, but you’re a great asset to the red column. Good luck in your new and future endeavors!

P.S. (Even if you are not, as you say, that interesting, in real life, you are famous to Watchblog!)


Posted by: JD at August 31, 2007 12:34 AM
Comment #231180

Being from the planet Zorg, I understand all too well about worlds colliding. Ah, but I digress into literal meanings.

Sen. Craig’s worlds recently collided, as did Bill Clinton’s a few years back. I hope that’s not what your referring to.

Our great leader of Zorg once said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” (He spoke in funny, archaic meter).

Just don’t become a talking head on TV, Jack, Then we will lose all respect for you:)

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at August 31, 2007 2:00 AM
Comment #231190


I can only guess about what you are specfically concerned about, but if you are about to gain a position of prominence and worry about people using your posts against you, maybe you should go ahead and take your picture off your bio.

That might not stop the most industrious, of course, but it would make it more difficult.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 31, 2007 7:46 AM
Comment #231194


If I understand you right you are concerned that someone may contact your employer or alert their attention to your posts and opinions, which could be construed as representative of your company’s philosophy. If I were you, I would remove the specifics from your bio and your picture. Even better would be to start posting under a pseudonym, not your real name. People do sometimes get fired for what they post. It seems unAmerican, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. I’d be shocked if it happened in our community, but if you are worried, then legally I think it’s better if you can show you are truly posting anonymously. I would hate for you to tone down your opinions out of fear of some kind of retribution.

Posted by: Max at August 31, 2007 9:41 AM
Comment #231217

Personally I have come to regard you as an often wrong friend. If I was too look you up it would be so we could get together,have a few beers and skip rocks across the pond. Of course if you are taking the Whitehouse press secretary job all bets are off.
I am not sure what your concerns are but find it unfortunate you need to have them. Best wishes on your endeavor. Regards Bill

Posted by: BillS at August 31, 2007 3:27 PM
Comment #231223


Good luck in whatever you do except, as Bill mentions, if it means replacing Tony Snow or becoming a Foxy News protege.

Hey, where did all the “conservative/Republicans” on Watchblog go. Is there a boycott I’m not aware of?

Posted by: chris2x at August 31, 2007 4:01 PM
Comment #231234

Thanks for all the support guys.

Maybe I overreact. I am not worried about losing my job. I am not under any threat and I am not getting a job at the Whitehouse or Fox News.

Actually, it was a recent post here on Watchblog on who should be the spokesman that got me thinking. I do not have a current problem, but I just wanted to avoid any appearance problem.

I do not believe anything will come of this. I am just covering the bases in case it ever comes up.

I am feeling a little silly just now, but it is better to be above board.

BTW - I understand that I could never run for office. I am not worried that people would use my former posts against me. My problem would be that I would not be able to keep my mouth shut in the future. I really do believe in higher energy prices, for example. That makes you unelectable.

Posted by: Jack at August 31, 2007 4:57 PM
Comment #231277


My problem would be that I would not be able to keep my mouth shut in the future. I really do believe in higher energy prices, for example. That makes you unelectable.

That sure is a glass half empty statement. Do you believe that you are the only person that think’s this? Do you not believe in the ability of your position to be supported or explained? I agree, though think the number is tricky to come to without serious economic damage. Neither party has the guts to sell this idea, but that’s half of what is wrong with politics currently.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at August 31, 2007 11:05 PM
Comment #231302

Unless you are a convicted felon you can run for office.You should.Virginians often do well at times of wrenching decision.

Posted by: Bills at September 1, 2007 12:55 AM
Comment #231317

BTW, Jack. I loved your title. It has so many different possible meanings and interpretations. Very clever.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2007 5:26 AM
Comment #231321

If participants in this forum are being harrassed that sort of action is deplorable, of course. One note of caution though to ALL participants, if you can’t take it, make sure you DON’T dish it out. One should not complain about getting personal attacks when the same individual is engaing in similar behavior.

With respect to ideas and discussions, I think knowing a little something about participants (especially if they post the information voluntarily) helps to establish some credibility and/or frame of reference of the participant. For example, a discussion of the Iraq War and the issues pro and con surrounding it has a much different flavor for me if ideas are being contributed by someone I know is a veteran of an American war or a soldier serving in Iraq (especially combat soldiers). Knowing facts of this nature can serve not only to temper my arguments (on occassion) but also quickens me to consider a frame of reference different from my own and how that difference shapes the discussion of ideas.

I don’t think the “down sides” of blogs such as this one are so much the consequence of lack of ananimity as they are lack of willingness to take responsiblity for what you say and how you say it, the lack of maturity (irrepsective of physical age), and most importantly (from my frame of reference) the disparity, or variety if you will, in intellectual prowess.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at September 1, 2007 9:25 AM
Comment #231342

Kim-Sue, great points. I hope one day WB’s growing audience will support paying its writers, and their identities would not be compromised by outside employers, having become employed by WB itself. I am however impressed by WB’s volunteer writers already, compared to every other political debate site I have participated in.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2007 12:51 PM
Comment #231355

Let me be clear again. Nobody is harassing me nor is my job is not threatened. I am not complaining about anybody criticizing me on this blog. I rather enjoy that give and take.

I am just making clear - in case it ever comes up - that my opinions are just my own. Some of what I do in my job overlaps with some of the things I blog about. It would be unfair both to the blog and my job if the two got mixed.


We all write from our own perspective. You can kind of figure some of them out. I am sometimes surprised at the breadth of experiences on this blog. We have guys that work with their hands, professors, contractors, lawyers, farmers, students, soldiers and diplomats. But I think all of us should judge only by what we read here. Experience and education should show through in the arguments made.

I like to go to Gold’s Gym. If somebody tells me he is strong, I ask him to pick up the weights. It doesn’t really matter if he studied weight training or if he spends many hours at the gym every day or just a couple of minutes once a week. Either he can lift the weights or not. The same goes for intellectual lifting.

I have learned that there are some things you just cannot explain to someone w/o a particular experience. This is unfortunate, but we have to tolerate that and try to make analogies they can understand. It really does not help to say, “Well, I have…”

Posted by: Jack at September 1, 2007 1:45 PM
Comment #231363

I generally agree with Kim-Sue and Jack. With some arcane issues, though, knowing someone’s credentials can be important. I have a lay interest in astrophysics, which means I follow science news and read science magazines written for non-specialists. I don’t have the training to perform the calculations used to estimate the amount of dark matter or the strength of dark energy in the universe. Therefore, I must rely upon authority; I give more credence to the arguments used by credentialed experts than I do to Joe Schmo.

On Watchblog, though, we generally argue politics, which, when we’re not playing political gotcha games, means values. Authority here doesn’t mean much; it’s what said and how it’s said.

Posted by: Gerrold at September 1, 2007 2:16 PM
Comment #231401

I apparently don’t know Jack except on watchblog either but he is tempting me for the first time to inquire further. Could this be some clever guerrilla marketing by Jack?

Posted by: chris2x at September 1, 2007 5:35 PM
Comment #231423

Lets hope that your concerns of mischief or harm don’t move you to end blogging. If such happens to too many who are willing to write about things they deem important to our country/society/politics, well, Isiah 59:14 says it best…
So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.

Posted by: Jr at September 1, 2007 9:57 PM
Comment #231488


You’re entitled to your point of view as I am to mine. I don’t recall, however, mentioning anything about one’s education and it’s relationship to the “down sides” of WB and the like.

Also, you will notice from my previous response that my interest in knowing someone elses experiences, “credentials,” or what have you primarily serves MY PERSONAL GROWTH and UNDERSTANDING. I already have a firm hand of acceptance on the fact that EVERYONE is entitled to their opinions. However, if I can broaden my understanding, further enhance my personal growth (from an intellectual or social standpoint for example) by understanding what influences the thoughts and ideas of other—then personal information, if volunteered, is welcomed by me.

With respect to the discussion of ideas, it is in the aformentioned aspects that you and I differ greatly. I am not looking to bring someone around to my way of thinking UNLESS they have done the “work” for themselves. That is a way to foster individual responsibility!

George W. Bush is certainly the most dangerous as well as the worst “president” in American history. The subject of this “man” is an exception for me when it comes to vehemantly trying to influence others. This country can ill afford another of his kind in the highest government office our country has. The best way I know to prevent the re-emergence of his kind is to educate and to inform and hope and pray such efforts translate during elections.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at September 2, 2007 10:10 AM
Comment #231490

This just in:

The “mud slinging” that can sometimes go on here, is that not merely a reflection of what happens in political wrangling today?

Depending on one’s interest in participating in blogs such as this one, personal attacks seem part-and-parcel to a political forum of any kind these days.

Anyway, the WATCHBLOG “police,” as I can attest personally (LOL), keep things from boiling over in this forum. There are set rules and consequences for disregarding them.

Threats, harrassment, etc. are different matters entirely and certainly should not be tolerated.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at September 2, 2007 10:24 AM
Comment #231568

I have to say that “I do know Jack”.

We had a great conversation over lunch a while back, and I was amazed at just how many things we agreed on.
In my time here at watchblog I have found Jack to be the same guy I had that conversation with.

I would recommend that we all make an effort, whenever possible, to meet those here that are in our geographic areas.

Jack, good luck with this venture.

Posted by: Rocky at September 2, 2007 9:13 PM
Comment #231615

Thanks, Rocky

Most of us are good people when we get to know each other. I do often wonder re our Watchblog community. It is nicer here than on many other blogs.

Posted by: Jack at September 3, 2007 10:31 AM
Comment #231633


I think it’s because most political blogs are so insular. I can’t stand them, even the ones that take a slant I tend to agree with. The tone is that “everyone knows” “X” is “X,” and the shrillest rhetoric is used to affirm this belief. If anyone dares to dissent, he or she gets gang tackled and dismissed in the vilest terms.

It’s the opposite of what good conversation is about.

Because of the format on Watchblog, no commentator or poster can count on a rousing chorus of “Here! Here!” The more savvy posters, at least those who don’t strive for the cheap pleasure of thrusting a stick into an ants’ nest, realize that to persuade they must engage their opponents respectfully. They realize that they must examine and provide support for the assumptions that on other blogs are simply taken as axiomatic. They understand the value of finding common ground, and they also understand that political opponents can be correct, or at least their views can be understood. It is a primitive impulse to cast one’s political opponents as villians or idiots.

Now, let’s be honest. Some article writers, for whatever reason, can’t get beyond this primitive impulse. No need to name names, but we all know who they are. I sometimes feel sorry for them because they either don’t get it or don’t care. Most, however, understand that the shrillness common to insular blogs is counterproductive on Watchblog.

Posted by: Gerrold at September 3, 2007 1:34 PM
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