potpouri

First an interesting take on what the call for more troops may actually mean.

I think that calling for “more troops” is a way to criticize while not sounding weak, and that it thus has an appeal that overcomes its uncertain factual foundation. [Glenn Reynolds Instapundit 11ja05 ]

Then the tactic of using a part of the truth to tell a lie.

Long before the internet was invented, John Ehrlichman, Richard Nixon’s advisor, coined the memorable phrase “modified limited hangout” to describe the strategy of telling some of the truth, in the hope that tossing a few bones to the baying dogs (as the powerful always perceive their critics) would suffice to divert attention from the bigger underlying crimes. But the press corps of the day, mostly hostile to Nixon, would have none of it, and slowly, slowly, Watergate unraveled in the press, and in Capitol hearing rooms and federal courtrooms.

Today, there is no chance to plead guilty to a lesser charge and escape further accountability. CBS News has not yet learned the nature of the era in which it operates. [Thomas Lifson. The American Thinker. CBS tries to cop a plea. 11Jan05]

Then about self delusion.

If you lie to yourself about where you are and what you’re doing while sailing a small boat from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you are in a world of trouble. If you lie to yourself while setting protection on a rock face a thousand feet above the ground, you’re going to die. [Armed Liberal. Risk, Reality, and Bullshit 11Ja05]

Then on honesty in debate and the consequences if otherwise.

Slated to lead Senate Democrats in the 109th Congress, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada epitomizes Democratic Party descent from debate to deceit in criticizing conservative Supreme Court justices and distorting court rulings.

That vertical plunge in intellectual honesty thwarts constructive exchanges over the Constitution and Supreme Court appointments. Mr. Reid and colleagues should either do their judicial homework or remain silent. Nothing is as dangerous as ignorance or propaganda in action.

In sum, the Democrats’ characterization of the Supreme Court since President Richard Nixon as a bulwark of fringe or right-wing conservatism is counterfactual in the extreme.

Enlightened debate pivots on matters of degree and on balance among competing values and objectives. But that prized goal as regards the Supreme Court is frustrated by egregious and shameless Democrat skewing of the facts and the law. [Bruce Fein Debasing judicial debate – The Washington Times: Commentary – 11Ja05]

Then a bit about the foundational systems that provide societal order.

This leads back again to how we can view Hammurabi’s code. It is indeed an achievement in its own right. However, it also serves as the best extant summary of the collected wisdom of numerous centuries of Mesopotamian (chiefly Sumerian) experience with the practical issues involved in the rule of law. Hammurabi’s code presently provides the only method of illuminating the details of a number of very complex and surprisingly “modern” legal ideas which were well-known to the Sumerians; these concepts will be considered in Part VII. [Guest blogger: Mesopotamia Redeemed, Part 6 Arthur ]

and more on foundations

In the last fifty years practice has provided ample confirmation that the ideas of the Scottish enlightenment really are the best foundation for a prosperous and peaceful state of affairs. Now theory is catching up and the left doesn’t like it.

N.B. By the way, if you think this subject is anything close to as important as I do, here is a MUST book for you: The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages, Author: Tom Bethell. [ American by Choice at It’s not just the rule of law that matters, but the rule of what law]

And about why choosing school curricula may be difficult.

Every aspect of the public school curriculum, not just science education, is inherently political. Decisions over what and how to teach are made by elected and appointed government officials. Because there is only one official state organ of education, everyone wants it to conform to their own views.

That is impossible.

In a pluralistic society, there are countless different and incompatible worldviews. Our effort to serve that diverse audience through a monolithic school system has not only failed to forge common ground; it has bred animosity and discord. [Andrew J. Coulson Ending the Evolutionary War  [Mackinac Center for Public Policy] 6ja05]

an open letter to Dr. Krugman about methods of argument and their consequences.

Type C arguments are about the consequences of policies. Type M arguments are about the alleged motives of individuals who advocate policies.

I am not going to try to guess your motives for relying on type M arguments. However, I can tell you some of the consequences. One consequence is to lower the level of political discourse in general. You have a lot of influence with those who sympathize with your views. When they see you adopt type M arguments, they do the same. … Another consequence is to lower the prestige and impact of economists. We are trained to make type C arguments. [Arnold Kling (to Paul Krugman)TCS: Tech Central Station – An Open Letter to Paul Krugman 11ja05]

and a maxim about preparedness

What was it the Romans said? “If you seek peace, prepare for war.” It’s truer than they know. It’s because Australia’s prepared for war that it can do all the feelgood humanitarian stuff – such as landing 10 army engineers in Banda Aceh to attach a mobile filtration system to the decrepit mains pipes and thereby not merely restore the water supply but improve it. [[Mark Steyn. The
Australian: Mark Steyn: Coalition of the giving [January 10, 2005]

Accountability and making changes

If the UN keeps failing, the answer is not to ignore its faults, but to reform or replace it. There is growing interest in some American quarters in the idea of a new international association, open only to countries that elect their leaders democratically. At a minimum, Americans expect transparency, accountability, and some greater approach to even-handedness in the Middle East. But the real challenge to all of us, in all the democracies, is this: to be guided by realities, not fantasies – and especially not such uniquely unconvincing fantasies as the allegedly unique moral authority of the United Nations. [David Frum. Telegraph Opinion | This disaster exposes the myth of the UN’s moral authority 9ja05]

Now the question: what is the glue that holds this potpouri together?

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