Author Archives: Bryan Lovely

Victory in Iraq Day, November 22, 2008

Blogger Zombietime says what most of us have been thinking for some time: the war in Iraq is over. Major combat operations, the Baathist insurgency, the al Qaeda jihad, the Sadrist uprisings, the Sunni holdouts, the sectarian death squads. All beaten.

There is no serious fighting still going on. What is left is a few diehards (like those Japanese soldiers in the jungle who refused to surrender), criminal gangs, and Iranian infiltrators. There will continue to be suicide bombers, a nagging low level of insurgent violence, and an occasional flareup, but as Zombie points out, similar things are happening today in India, Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, and lots of other places we would never consider to be “at war.”

The Bush Administration, the Obama Administration, and the media will never declare a victory for their own separate reasons. That doesn’t mean it’s not true.

It’s time to celebrate another victory for American arms, and the defeat of a large number of very very bad people. Zombie arbitrarily chose November 22 to be Victory in Iraq Day.

Go read the whole thing. Really.

No More Senator Stevens

Contrary to my dad’s assertion that he could get re-elected from a jail cell, Senator Ted Stevens, by a very close margin, has apparently lost the election.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

A lot of Republican pundits have said they wished he had been re-elected so he could resign and allow Governor Palin to appoint a Republican successor, but unlike most states Alaska law calls for a special election within 90 days; a legacy of Alaskans being pissed off at then-Governor Murkowski appointing his daughter Lisa to his vacated Senate seat on his election to the governorship.

Full disclosure: Senator-elect Mark Begich was a friend of several friends of mine back in high school, although we only met once or twice at most. Also, Ted Stevens was my dad’s attorney back the the ’60s before Stevens entered politics. (Thus I am two degrees of separation from pretty much everybody elected to national office since 1972, which degree of separation will continue.)

Programming Note

I’ve switched this blog to the URL, thoughtfully purchased for me by my wife, Jen. Any links or bookmarks to the old URL will redirect to the equivalent link under the new domain name.

Also, do me a favor and click the “Fave This Blog” Technorati button at the bottom of the sidebar. I’m tired of being ranked 4,669,886th. 🙂

If there are any of the other social networking sites that I should be linked to, please suggest something.

Russian Troubles in the Far East

Apparently, the Russian government is losing Siberia to the Chinese, at least de facto.

President Dmitry Medvedev says that if the Russian government does not take immediate steps, Moscow could lose the Russian Far East, a declaration that one Russian news agency called “unprecedented” and at the very least suggests Russia faces far more serious problems there than the Kremlin has acknowledged up to now.

Speaking to a conference on social-economic development in Kamchatka kray, Medvedev said that “if we do not step up the level of activity of our work [in the Russian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything,” with that region becoming a source of raw materials for Asian countries.

The consequences of further inaction, the Russian president said, could come not only quite quickly but “end in an extremely dramatic way” much as the Soviet Union did 17 years ago. And consequently, he called on the Russian government to “take administrative decisions” and not to get tied up with “other problems.

Since Putin and the Sock Puppet apparently dream of restoring the Soviet Russian Empire, maybe they should remember that of old, the Czars secured their eastern frontier before conquering their way south (*cough*Georgia*cough) or throwing their weight around in European wars.

(Hat tip to The Dignified Rant)

About That Palin Backstabbing… [Followup]

An article on MediaBistro says that the Eisenstadt hoaxers merely took credit for being Cameron’s source for the “Africa is a country” rumor on Fox News, and I’m mature enough to admit that my previous post was incorrect.

But that still doesn’t absolve Fox from giving credence to what is clearly intra-Republican backstabbing and vicious rumor-mongering. If Palin was really that stupid, you’d think that “anonymous McCain aides” would come forward and testify openly so as to prevent her from ever running for anything again. The fact that they haven’t done so, and that plenty of other people — friends and enemies — who know her from more than a couple of bad interviews (namely, the voters and politicians of Alaska) say that she’s plenty smart*, suggests to me that this is, as I said, merely a vicious rumor.

Anonymous sourcing is a first-class ticket to the sort of weasel politics we all should righteously despise, but nevertheless supposedly reputable institutions like the NYT or the Washington Post use it all too frequently against their political enemies. Shame on Fox for succumbing to the same racket.

Since I’ve made an issue of this story, I’m going to keep following it in case the identity of the anonymous source turns up.

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Libertarians vs. Corporatism [Updated]

Update: Matt Yglesias has a reponse essay at Cato Unbound linked in the sidebar. Better yet is a response to the response at Will Wilkinson’s blog. Reading the comments is pretty worthwhile, too.

Roderick Long (about whom I know nothing other than that he is “a left-libertarian market anarchist in social theory” as described on his about page) writes in Cato Unbound about how the Big Business Right is all about state protection of corporations as opposed to a free market, and how libertarians who yoke themselves into coalition with right wing statists betray their own principles.

Defenders of the free market are often accused of being apologists for big business and shills for the corporate elite. Is this a fair charge?

No and yes. Emphatically no—because corporate power and the free market are actually antithetical; genuine competition is big business’s worst nightmare. But also, in all too many cases, yes —because although liberty and plutocracy cannot coexist, simultaneous advocacy of both is all too possible.

Followed by a litany of how state power protects big business: favorable tax rates, regulatory barriers to entry by competitors, subsidy of transportation costs, and so forth.

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About That Palin Backstabbing…

Update: followup post here.

I’d assumed that the genesis of the “Sarah Palin thinks Africa is a country not a continent” story/smear was sour-grapes McCain staffers lashing out at anything but their boss for his electoral defeat.

Turns out it’s not even from a real McCain staffer, or actually even a real person at all.

The NYT:

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?

“That’s a really good question,” one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh.

Indeed. Read the whole thing and all that.

What this tells us is that political campaigns in the future need to be much more cognizant of what’s going on in the extended blogosphere. In a properly-run campaign, this story would have been spotted by a real staffer who could have had the campaign manager say “we’ve never heard of this guy — whoever he is, he doesn’t work for us.”

It also tells us that when a story looks too good to be true — when it perfectly confirms our pre-existing bias notions — that maybe we should treat it skeptically until we can verify it independently. Remember, “unnamed sources say” is exactly equivalent to “I heard this juicy rumor.”

This I Believe: God, or Lack Thereof

[Updated to add:

Axiom 0: The physical universe exists objectively and our sense perceptions of it are more or less accurate.]


Axiom 1: There is no god.

As I wrote in a previous post, an axiom is a proposition that is not susceptible of proof or disproof; its truth is assumed to be self-evident. I think it’s pretty darn clear that the universe operates on its own according to natural laws which are inherent in its structure. Occam’s Razor tells us “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity” or “all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” No deity is necessary given the universe we observe. QED.

But, you might say, God is outside the universe, or immanent in all parts of it. Very well, it’s possible to prove all the natural laws of the universe in their own terms, starting from first principles. Please demonstrate how there is an element missing from those laws that can only be explained by the presence of God. Please prove the existence of God or anything “outside” the universe from the standpoint of the physical universe and what can be observed inside it, since the evidence of our senses is the only thing we can collectively be reasonably sure actually exists and is not the product of sheer imagination.

There. No god, gods, deity, collective consciousness, what have you, to my satisfaction. Let’s move on.
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