Archive for September 7th, 2008

In which I pick on John McCain for Sloppy Web Content

September 7, 2008

In a rare and inexplicable moment of responsible citizenship I decided to look a little into what Barack Obama and John McCain had to say about an actual issue or two. Specifically—and I’m at as much of a loss to explain this as you are—I looked at what they, or rather their websites, had to say about reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the magic of Cap-n-Trade. What I learned is that Obama’s standards for web content (and design, and aesthetics) are rather higher than McCain’s.1

Specifically, McCain’s position statements are full of awkward phrasing and funny capitalization. Here are a couple of sample paragraphs:

To Support The Cap And Trade System, John McCain Will Promote The Innovation, Development And Deployment Of Advanced Technologies. John McCain will reform federal government research funding and infrastructure to support the cap and trade emissions reduction goals and emphasize the commercialization of low-carbon technologies. Under John McCain’s plan:

Emissions Permits Will Eventually Be Auctioned To Support The Development Of Advanced Technologies. A portion of the process of these auctions will be used to support a diversified portfolio of research and commercialization challenges, ranging from carbon capture and sequestration, to nuclear power, to battery development. Funds will also be used to provide financial backing for a Green Innovation Financing and Transfer (GIFT) to facilitate commercialization.

OK, I suppose I’m just being snarky, but that really looks like they copy-pasted from a press release (like this one), removed some formatting, and didn’t bother to check the results. On top of that, there’s a typo (maybe a “Cupertino?”): “process” for “proceeds.” I also think that the constant use of “John McCain” sounds stilted (Obama’s equivalent page refers simply to “Obama”). Maybe “stilted and awkward” is on purpose, to reinforce his public speaking style?

Obama also has longer and better-written descriptions of pretty much all the issues. But rather than talk too much about substance, I’ll mention that not only is Obama’s website uniformly more attractive than McCain’s, even the very URLs are more humanely designed than McCain’s. Mouse over this and this (links to the two emissions-reduction pages) to see what I mean.

By the way, the two of them say pretty much the same thing about cap and trade. Obama makes it clearer that he wants permits auctioned off; McCain says only “Emissions Permits Will Eventually Be Auctioned To Support The Development Of Advanced Technologies.” They seem to have different priorities for what to do with the auction receipts, but that’s hard to tell. Since whatever either might actually try to do would really be done in Congress, I see no effective difference between what they say. The real distinction is that, unlike McCain, Obama probably actually knows what his position is.


1. It is probably unwise of me to criticize anyone for sloppiness. “Let one who is without sin cast the first stone” and all.

In which Godwin’s Law Should Probably Be Invoked

September 7, 2008

Brian Leiter (h.t.: David Bernstein at Volokh), railing against Republicans, quotes a “colleague” thus:

I heard some of the ‘Republicans’ on the radio last night and it was horrific.  Only twice have I heard anything so blood-curdling:  First, on viewing Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens while an undergraduate.  And second, on listening to a radio broadcast of an old tape of a Jim Jones sermon in ‘Jonestown’ Guyana.  These people – Romney, Huckleberry, Giuliani, Palin – are so unbelievably depraved it doesn’t even feel remotely like America any longer.  Even Bush and Cheney seem almost quaintly familiar by comparison.

While I approve of the sentiment—I’m all for anti-Republican rants, and the general tone of the speeches I heard was…pretty bad—the comparison to Triumph of the Will was not only hyperbolic but insulting—to Albert Speer and Leni Riefenstahl. Sure, they were evil, but they were prodigiously talented, of an altogether different order than the pathetic amateur AV Club running the Republican Convention. Fortunately for them, the election is unlikely to be decided on the basis of aesthetic brilliance.

Not Triumph of the WillTriumph of the Will        

Not only do the Republicans not have a Speer or a Riefenstahl, I’m not sure they even have a Goebbels, now that Rove is on the outs as Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Rudy, maybe?

Rudy GiulianiJoseph Goebbels