Archive for July, 2008

At least he’s not going on about tattoos again
July 29, 2008

I don’t know what strange alternate dimension Richard Cohen’s been dispatching his columns from recently, but let’s be charitable and assume that he lacks the capability to do a Google from there. That, after all, is the only possible explanation for his latest work.

Look, we’ve been through this song and dance a million times, and I’m not going to do it again. Cohen’s argument would be tired and clich├ęd if it hadn’t already been thoroughly rebutted months ago. Correcting pundits who claim Obama’s more of a waffler than McCain? It’s been done. Shutting those same pundits down when they claim Obama has no legislative accomplishments? Again, it’s been done.

As for Cohen’s argument that we can’t be sure if Obama’s early opposition to the Iraq War was politically motivated or not whereas we can magically peer into McCain’s head and see that he always votes his conscience; and as for the strange, Cohen-esque touch of referencing Gunga Din for some ungodly reason; well, I’ll just let those two stand on their own merits. At least they’re somewhat original.

Raising the Alert from Burnt Umber to Fuschia
July 29, 2008

The Department of Homeland Security is raising the threat level, presumably due to the discovery of some specific or credible new threat information.

The move is based on the nation’s increased vulnerability to a terrorist attack, not on any specific or credible new threat information, spokesman Russ Knocke said.

Okay … maybe not. So why are they raising the alert? Take a look at the lede paragraph, and the list of events that DHS employees need to be increasingly vigilant during:

The Department of Homeland Security is advising employees to be on increased alert beginning next month through next summer because of a series of upcoming high-profile events including the Olympics, both major parties’ nominating conventions, Election Day and the presidential transition.

Huh. Looks like three out of those four events have to do with this election that’s going on right now. Surely, though, the DHS wouldn’t be raising the alert just to try and inspire some Republican-friendly panic. That would be far to cravenly political. Not to mention completely unprecedented.

“To me this is the most novel and interesting of the findings,” said Larry Beutler, director of the National Center on the Psychology of Terrorism in Palo Alto, who reviewed the Columbia team’s research. “There are findings suggesting that the administration’s use of the alert system increased inordinately before the election and each time it did, Bush’s numbers went up about 5 percent.”

Who do you think they are, the Justice Department?

Change we can … eh.
July 28, 2008

Ben Smith and Amie Parnes report that Tim Kaine is a big veepstakes finalist on the Democratic side. To which I say: Seriously? This Tim Kaine?

Democrats respond
Democrats respond

Look, I know that these State of the Union rebuttals are generally pretty scattershot and mediocre, but that was just plain dismal. And sure after Kerry/Edwards there’s a general consensus that we need to make sure that the running mate doesn’t outshine the top of the ticket, but there’s such a thing as going too far in the other direction. And somehow, I don’t think being outshone by anyone is one of Obama’s biggest stumbling blocks.

Personally, I’d much rather see someone with more foreign policy cred. Or, you know, any foreign policy cred. I’m not sure what Kaine does except help out some in Virginia, and maybe give it that extra nudge to go blue. Which, admittedly, would be cool.

All Memes All the Time
July 28, 2008

Yep, another one. I can’t help it, I’ve been tagged. What are you gonna do, right? Good thing I’ve only got to do 19 of these things.

Oh, and I tag Jess, Corey and Golis.
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Top 5 Guilty Pleasures on My iPod
July 27, 2008

Golis tagged me, and now I must comply. Good thing I’m pretty disciplined about keeping my iTunes library nice and clean, so there’s pretty much nothing embarrassing left over from freshman year of high school. Still, some of this stuff kind of makes me cringe.

The actual results are hiding below the fold. Oh, and Dylan, Matt and Mike? Tag, you’re it. Especially Dylan, who’s got more indie cred than the rest of us combined. About time somebody started deducting points from him.

Anyway, on with the list.
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Fun with timetables!
July 27, 2008

For those who don’t think that McCain is in very deep trouble on the topic of Iraq, I would point to this:

McCain’s position on Iraq never made a whole lot of logical sense, but at least it sort of sounded coherent. But by the time we get to his recent interviews at the end of that video, I have absolutely no idea what the hell he’s talking about. He likes Maliki’s timetable but not Obama’s timetable, and thinks all the timetables are great, as long as they’re not based on … uh … the passage of time. It’s like he’s speaking in code, and that’s pretty much the easiest way to lose any kind of argument.

McCain and the Orthogonians
July 27, 2008

I finally started reading Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland a few days ago, and all of the praise others have been heaping on it that seemed hyperbolic at the time is actually totally accurate. It’s gripping in a way that can be rare in history books, and reading it will make you smarter not just about the era in which the book takes place, but about the tactics that many politicians use today – a lot of which, needless to say, were born in that era.

A classic example is what Perlstein refers to as the “Orthogonians” and the “Franklins.” The Franklins were a club at Nixon’s small Quaker college made up of the elite and popular members of the student body, whereas the Orthogonians were the counter-group that Nixon founded; a club for people who resented the privilege of the Franklins.

You can probably see where this is going. The Orthogonians and Franklins aren’t just two clubs at a small college – they’re metaphors for two broad political factions. And Nixon’s greatest political victories came from manipulating Orthogonian resentment of the Franklins on a national level. It’s a tactic that’s still being used today.
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Good to know.
July 26, 2008

So apparently when the McCain campaign said that Obama was arrogant, presumptuous and potentially breaking the law for behaving as if he were already president, what they really meant was, “Good sir, that is a capital idea, and I think I shall emulate it.”

New Digs
July 26, 2008

You may notice that when you type in Veritosity.com now, it redirects you here. That’s because this is to be my new base of operations. It will automatically redirect like that until my domain expires (sometime through the fall), but I recommend that you take that time to update your bookmarks, blogroll links and RSS feeds. This is my new home.

Why the change? A few reasons:

Money: Owning your own domain is kind of expensive, and I’m a college student. I thought that if I could make back a little on advertising, it’d be worth it, but I’ve made something like $7 on ads over the past year. That doesn’t really offset the cost at all.

Ease of use: Having my own domain involves a lot of tinkering that I’m not really qualified to do. So far I’ve been able to get by blundering around on the back end without knowing what I’m doing, but honestly it would be a lot more relaxing to just be able to let that stuff go.

The Veritosity voice: Because I gave Veritosity its own domain, and used that as the title of the site instead of just my own name, and so on, I’ve tried to develop the site’s voice into something very much my own but also distinct from me as an individual. But that’s a double-edged sword, because now I feel like the focus of the site is a little too narrow and limiting. I don’t really want to be trying to be funny with every single post I write, and so I’m doing the move and redesign because I feel like to an extent I’ve outgrown the “Veritosity” label.

Boredom: Honestly, there’s just not a whole lot to do in Middletown over the summer and I needed a project. So I started thinking of ways to freshen up my blogging, and this is something I came up with.

Anyway, welcome to the new site.

But I thought Fudge Haus was a place of joy?
July 26, 2008

If the press really is McCain’s base, then for a poltician, he’s remarkably cavalier about getting snippy with his base. Video below the fold:

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