General Archives

September 11, 2003




As we remember those horrible events of two years ago, it's also appropriate to remember how the rest of the world reacted to 9/11/2001.

We weren't always alone. Or, I suppose, to be perfectly accurate, alone with the British and the Ubeckestanis.

One thing in his favor... Andrew Sullivan never surprizes

Andrew Sullivan doesn't like France. Yesterday he wrote:

The French today do little intellectually but constantly circle the drain of complete ressentiment. They have no other guiding political philosophy but envy and regret. The notion that they would ever engage in a U.S.-led campaign against global terror (when they are close to the tyrants that spawn such terror and dedicated to the immiseration of Israel) is a presposterous fantasy.

I suppose that's why the French were on our side and at our side in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

A persposterous fantasy, indeed.

September 12, 2003


As Al Franken's new book shows, making fun of Ann Coulter is easy. Almost too easy. But since some people take her seriously, it's important that we do.

This is from her most recent column (via Atrios).

In the wake of Dean's success, the entire Democratic Dream Team is beginning to sound like Dr. Demento. On the basis of their recent pronouncements, the position of the Democratic Party seems to be that Saddam Hussein did not hit us on 9-11, but Halliburton did.

I don't know who Dr. Demento is (it sounds like a Styx song), but I don't think the comparison is supposed to be a lauditory one.

I have a feeling, though, that Coulter is partially correct. The Democratic Party, among others, does not believe that Saddam Hussein hit us on 9-11. It was, uh, Osama bin Laden. Does Coulter have any data to the contrary? Or is she, and her editors, trying to accomplish something else?

We're all Americans, you know

Tim Graham today on the Corner: "Rest in peace, Johnny Cash. For many red-staters, this resonates deep."

This resonates deeply for many blue-staters, too.

What kind of a person tries to make such a shallow partisan point out of the death of such a great artist? A person like Tim Graham, I suppose.

September 16, 2003

What's on your resume?

No matter when the California recall is held, it's pretty clear that 1984 Time Man of the Year Peter Ueberroth is going to receive fewer votes than Gary Coleman.

September 17, 2003

Clark = Empty Suit

Jonah Goldberg posts this letter he received:

Take heart, your vexation at finding Wes Clark an incomparable won't last.

The man is an empty suit or I should say uniform complete with four stars. My father and husband were both military officers and I have seen the likes of Wesley Clark many, many times.

Many, many times, eh? I didn't realize that there were that many 4 star generals. And that you see them all the time. Wow. (Aside: In that he achieved that rank must be exceptional, don't you think?)

He is a political officer. That means that his main objective in his career is to be promoted and he will say and do anything to achieve that objective up to and including ruining other officers careers.

Prey tell, whose careers did he ruin? Names, please. If no evidence, why should we believe it?

He was promoted up the line by others of the same ilk. These guys always look good on paper---that means, they went to the right schools (usually the Academies or one of the private military schools), they went to the right wars (known as being in the right place at the right time) and had the right sponsors.

These are supposed to be bad things? That he went to West Point? That he served his country in Vietnam? That his superiors thought he did good jobs?

Even had the right medals.

Uh... that he earned medals like the Silver Star and the Purple Heart are *bad* things?!?

But they are lousy leaders of men and real leaders can spot them a mile away.

So you, whose only qualification seems to be that your father and your husband served in the military, are one of these "real leaders" and General Clark is not?

It is somehow fitting that Bill and Hillary Clinton would sponsor him. I'm sure they see him as one of their people and he is. Vain, shallow, looks good in a uniform and easily manipulated.

Is he really vain and shallow? Where's the evidence other than he was awarded the "right medals."

You will no doubt receive plenty of e-mail from people who have had the occasion to run into or afoul of General Clark. You should also look into his record as Commander during the war in Kosovo. He almost started WWIII but thankfully a British commander wouldn't follow his orders. He didn't do it out of mendacity just good old garden variety stupidity and vanity.

Refusing to execute an order given to you by a superior? You're "thankful" about this? A military person like yourself?

Why does Goldberg repeat this tripe? Oh, yeah, I know... It's 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000 all over again.

September 18, 2003

Can't they just get their stories straight

From the NY Daily News: Hillary may run in '04.

From the Washington Times: Hillary will be Wesley Clark's campaign co-chair.

September 23, 2003

Now it's getting dirty

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry has accused fellow candidate Howard Dean of being a New York Yankees fan.

Even with the low level of our recent political discourse, that's a low blow. Senator Kerry should apologize.

September 26, 2003

Sullivan and Krauthammer

Andrew Sullivan says "Amen" to a recent column on Iraq by Charles Krauthammer.

But Andrew should remember that, when it comes to Iraq, by Krauthammer's own admission, he has a "crediblity problem."

September 29, 2003

Wilson a Clinton Appointee

Atrios wants everybody to get off the recent kick of dismissing Joseph Wilson with the pejoritive: "Clinton appointee." He (she?) points out that Wilson was also appointed to Ambassadorships by President George H.W. Bush and worked in high level jobs as appointed by President Reagan.

Atrios is correct, but it's also important to remember that Ambassador Wilson is a career Foreign Service officer (you can be one too). That means he was commissioned as an officer by the President as outlined in Article II, Section III of the Constitution. (In Wilson's case, he was commissioned in 1976 by President Ford. He wasn't seperated from the State Department until the late 1990s.)

And, to the point, just like officers in the armed forces (*just* like officers in the armed forces), Wilson did not work for a specific administration. He worked for whatever administration was in power at the time -- he worked for the government of the United States. What these people are saying is much like saying: so-and-so Major in the Army or so-and-so Commander in the Navy is a "Clinton appointee" because he got his promotion to Major or Commander when Clinton was President.* Wilson's was a non-partisan job, and attempts to characterize it as one, is just, well, partisanship at its worst.

Continue reading "Wilson a Clinton Appointee" »

October 1, 2003

Those parties sound like fun!

Over at the National Review, we read the two following statements about the Wilson/Novak affair:

From Jonah Goldberg: "Wilson's wife is a desk jockey and much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew that already."

From Clifford D. May: "That wasn't news to me. I had been told that but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner..."

So, at these cocktail parties in Washington, we're supposed to believe, people gossip about "desk jockies." Considering that there are hundreds of thousands of so-called desk jockies in Washington, these parties must be a hoot! If May and Goldberg are to be believed, I'm imagining parties with conversations that go something like this:

May: I heard the other day that Jane Doe over at HUD is now buying her office stationary at Staples.

Goldberg: Doesn't she know that she's not at the NIH? EVERYBODY who is anybody at HUD buys their stationary at Office Depot!

May: When will these desk jockies ever learn?

Goldberg: I don't know, Cliff, I don't know. Did you hear about John Doe over at Commerce? Yeah, he didn't get his GS-8 promotion, so he's thinking of applying for a transfer to Veterans Affairs!

May: Wow! Wait until Rich hears about this!!!!! I've GOT to tell him.

I'm moving to Washington in a month. I was excited about it until I leared from Goldberg and May that this is what the social scene is like.

October 5, 2003

Those who forget history...

... are damned to make an ass of themselves on CNN.

By now, everybody knows that Robert Novak "outed" Valerie Plame's employer Brewster-Jennings and Associates. Brewster-Jennings seems to actually be a CIA front company pretending to be some sort of oil related firm.

If this is true, which I think it is, it reveals that the CIA contains some people with some wit and that Bob Novak is, well, Bob Novak.

Benjamin Brewster and Oliver Jennings were original investors in John Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company way back in the 1870s. Their investments made them rich men (think "Paul Allen rich"). There was even a marriage between the two families and Emma Brewster Jennings was a great socialite, philanthropist, and, among other things, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's step-grandmother (Emma was Hugh Auchincloss's mother).

If I were creating a phony oil firm, I'd name it something like Brewster Jennings, too. I'd be betting that the august Washington press corp would never figure it out. It'd be a pretty safe bet, don't you think?

October 6, 2003

Asian American Success

If you read to the end of this article, you'll see that the National Review wants (future tense, by the way) to see Asians succeed in America.

It's a wonderful sentiment. It just warms my heart.

UPDATE: Link added. Sorry about that.

October 7, 2003

Backlash against?

I don't know if, as Jonah Goldberg claims, two people count as a strong backlash, but maybe these people are still pissed about how the Los Angeles Times covered Troopergate.

October 18, 2003


Why do some people, like Jonah Goldberg, only complain about salaries when people they don't like are getting paid?


I've gotta say goodbye to Jumping to Conclusions. It has been a lot of fun, and I want to thank David for letting me be a part of his blog for the past year and a few months. He didn't have to invite me, he never complained about anything I posted (once he did ask me to change a link, but after he explained why, I agreed) even though I fully realize that there is no way he agreed with one tenth of what I wrote. Thanks, David.

I'm leaving because I'm joining the U.S State Department and, more specifically, the Foreign Service. I'm going to be a diplomat for the United States, and, hopefully, acquit myself with dignity and distinction like past officers such as George Kennan, Lawrence Eagleburger, J. Paul Bremer, Prudence Bushnell, and the thousands of others who have served with honor before me.

In joining the State Department (and I'm sure "Richard" from the comments section is going to LOVE this), I have to swear an oath to publicly promote and defend all United States foreign policy (I've already signed such a form, but I'm going to be swearing it soon enough), so I'm precluded from participating in a blog concerning U.S. foreign policy (actually, there probably isn't a State Department regulation on this, but leaving is something I think I should do).

In leaving, I'm actually going to make two requests, one serious and one partially in jest. The serious one first: last season, FOX produced a television series on young United States Foreign Service officers. It was called The American Embassy, and probably contained as much reality of being a junior FSO as Ally McBeal did in portraying young lawyers. It only lasted four episodes before it was cancelled, but I thought it was quite brilliant. If anybody has these episodes on tape or knows where I can get them on tape, please let me know. I'd really like to have them. The second is: I have an wish list, and following atrios's success, I've gotta recommend that you buy me a going away gift or a congratulations on your new job gift.

I'm off to Arlington, Virginia and, after a few months, to parts over the ocean. No matter where I'm eventually posted, I'm going to be a loyal and constant reader of Jumping to Conclusions. And, as long as David doesn't take my password away, I might, at some point, come back and and give an update of some sort or make some sort of comment which doesn't violate my oath.

Thanks again.

February 5, 2004

Very unique

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Sasha Volokh has been struggling with the question of the moral uniqueness of the Holocaust. Or, rather, he hasn't been struggling; he's "not into" it. Rather, his readers have been struggling to convince him otherwise. See here and here for followups. His basic point can be summed up here...

Alas, I still don't buy the moral uniqueness. To repeat my point from below: the Holocaust is evil because killing six million Jews is six million murders, and committing six million murders is highly, highly evil. Really evil. But not more evil than killing six million other innocents. (As I've mentioned below, the Holocaust also has lots of characteristics that make it especially grisly, especially memorable, especially important as a cautionary tale, especially relevant in a world of ethnic warfare, etc.; but you can be all those things without having extra evil.)
...but you should read all three links (don't worry; they're not too long) so that you understand the context.

Sasha has already rejected several explanations, so I'm not sure he's going to buy this one, either, but let me have a go at the topic: Sasha mostly rejects the idea that motive matters. But the Holocaust is morally unique precisely because there was no motive, because it was so senseless. There have been other mass killings in history -- though few on the scale of the Holocaust -- and some of those were also ethnically motivated. But, to my knowledge -- and I acknowledge here that my knowledge of history is incomplete -- the Holocaust is the only instance of genocide purely for the sake of genocide.

Some cases of mass murder -- the famines in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, for instance -- were the result of attempts to implement and/or maintain economic "reforms." Insane attempts, to be sure, and the deaths were a foreseeable consequence, and the perpetrators didn't mind. But the primary idea wasn't to wipe out all these people; the idea was to make an omelet without caring how many eggs got broken along the way. (Clarification: to an extent, these famines were targetted at specific groups of people, people who presented a problem for the regimes. But that leads to my next point.)

What about the ethnically-based mass murders, where the killings were intentional? Well, most of those cases were actually the result of conflicts over land, resources, etc. Saddam Hussein wasn't gassing Kurds for fun; he was gassing Kurds because there was armed Kurdish opposition to his government and he was trying to suppress it. The Bosnia/Kosovo ethnic cleansings were similar. The westward expansion of the United States, which some have termed "genocide," was a straightforward conflict over land. Indians had it, Americans wanted it, and the only way to get it was to take it by force. I don't mean, of course, that these arguments excuse the killings of innocents, particularly on the huge scales in question. These cases were terrible, horrible, no good, very bad. But in none of those cases was murder its own justification. General Sheridan may have said -- or may not have -- that the only good Indian was a dead Indian, but he didn't act on it. That is, while he may have killed Indians -- while many people did -- nobody was going around New York City ferreting out all those with a hint of Indian blood and slaughtering them; nobody, to my knowledge, was even suggesting it. Saddam Hussein wasn't planning to invade Turkey so that he could wipe out their Kurds.

But the Holocaust? It's different. The Nazi goal wasn't to take territory from Jews. It wasn't to take resources from Jews. It wasn't to destroy armed opposition to the German government. There was no underlying reason for it; the goal was to wipe out Jews. Worse, it was such an important goal for the Nazis that even while fighting a continental war for their regime's survival, resources were diverted away from the war effort to continue the Holocaust.

Is that different than merely killing people you come across? I think it is. I think killing for the pure pleasure of killing can be distinguished -- and can be reasonably said to be morally worse -- than killing to accomplish an end, no matter how evil the latter is. Sasha talks about the Holocaust being "not more evil than killing six million other innocents." I'll stipulate for the sake of argument that if a group decides they're going to kill six million names at random from the phone book, that would be just as bad as killing six million people in order to wipe out a specific ethnic group. But that isn't what happened, and as far as I know, that has never happened. As such, the Holocaust is morally unique among actual historical events.

February 12, 2004

Figure of speech

Andrew Sullivan links to Noam Scheiber in the New Republic describing the Kerry phenomenon, using the now-famous cliche:

Kerry is clearly benefiting from the fact that people think other people are going to vote for him down the road, which is why they're voting for him now; they're not voting for him because he's the candidate they personally want to be president. As Chait points out, this is classic bubble behavior--you buy a stock not because it's intrinsically valuable, but because other people are buying it and the price is going up (and you think both of these things is likely to continue).
But what the heck kind of sense does this analogy make? When you buy a stock that everyone else is buying, it's because you can make money by doing so. The value's going up, and you want to get in on the way up. But what on earth does that have to do with Kerry? A voter doesn't derive any benefit from voting for him just because everyone else is. A voter can't wait until his candidate's delegate total peaks and then sell at a profit.

How is it "bubble behavior"? Democrats are voting for Kerry because they think he is "intrinsically valuable" in this context -- that is, they think he can beat Bush. Yes, they're voting on "electability" rather than his stance on specific issues, and yes, I understand that reporters think this is a shallow approach. (But in the larger picture, they are voting based on his stance on various issues: they prefer his views to those of George Bush.) But that doesn't make it "bubble behavior."

February 20, 2004

Blaming the victim...'s foot?

The dangers of being contrarian, as illustrated by Gregg Easterbrook. Writing about the University of Colorado's football coach getting suspended in the wake of allegations that his former placekicker, Katie Hnida, was raped by a teammate, Easterbrook writes:

But, absurdly, these serious issues are not the ones that led to yesterday's suspension of the Colorado coach, Gary Barnett. He was suspended for saying that Hnida is a terrible player. Hnida is, in fact, a terrible player. In this respect, Barnett was only saying what everybody in college football has been politely avoiding.


But competing against men who are significantly larger and stronger, Hnida simply wasn't much of a player. It's ridiculous that stating this plain fact--not the alleged tolerance of sexual harassment--is what got the Colorado coach into trouble.

The "whoosh" you hear is the sound of Easterbrook missing the point. Of course she isn't a good player. But Barnett wasn't suspended for what he said about her talent. He was suspended for when he talked about her talent. What he actually said was:
It's a guy's sport. (Players) felt like Katie was forced on them. It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful. You know what guys do? They respect your ability. I mean, you could be 90 years old, but if you could go out and play, they would respect you. Well Katie was a girl, and not only was she a girl, she was terrible. OK? And there's no other way to say it,
If he wasn't insinuating that she got raped in part because she wasn't a very good player, then he's one of the most clueless public speakers I've ever heard of.

Oh, and of course there's also the allegation that he warned another rape victim that if she dared to file a police report against one of his players, he'd back the player 100%.

It was these statements, not an inaccurate scouting report, that got Barnett suspended; Easterbrook must have known that. But when you feel the need to say something different just for the sake of saying something different, you end up saying dumb things, sometimes. Easterbrook seems to fall into that trap all too frequently, now that he has a blog. (And thank you, no need to point out that I may be the pot calling the kettle black here. Unlike Easterbrook, I'm not a professional. I'm saying dumb things for fun, not profit.)

March 14, 2004

Democracy is good if my candidate wins

What do you call an election where the public prefers different candidates than you do? Well, if you're the New York Times, you call it "electoral retaliation."

Yes, you read that right. The Times, in yet another rant about Congressional attempts to rein in frivolous litigation, threw a tantrum a few weeks ago about a bill to protect firearm manufacturers, and they gave us this gem:

Proponents, counting on senators' raw fear of electoral retaliation if they dare to stand up on such an obvious issue of public safety, claim to be near the 60 votes needed to defeat any opposition filibuster.
Isn't that a rather unusual way to say that the proposed law would be popular? And yet the Times, which is fond of describing every conservative idea as "out of the mainstream," is suddenly complaining that senators are only supporting a law because most people want them to?

April 6, 2004

Have another good one

Happy Passover

June 5, 2004

Goodbye, and R.I.P.

Ronald Reagan has passed away. I wasn't his biggest fan at the time, though I've since come to appreciate him more, but either way, it's a sad day.

In his memory, a link to his greatest speech: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911-2004

About General

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Jumping To Conclusions in the General category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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