Branden's blog

Politifact is a bullshit factory

From the I-got-irritated-and-did-some-quick-research department:

Politifact, a purportedly "neutral" fact-checking organization, is a bullshit factory.

Here's why:

Politifact was established in August 2007, according to WIkipedia--Politifact's own "About" page tells absolutely nothing of their history.

They have rated a grand total of four statements by George W. Bush, one in each category of "True", "Mostly True", "Half True", and "False". (The remaining categories are "Mostly False" and "Pants on Fire".

By contrast, they have rated 341 statements by Barack Obama. The breakdown is 81 T, 77 MT, 85 HT, 42 MF, 51 F, and 5 POF.

Predicting the Future of the Republican Party

It's only been two and a half years since Hugh Hewitt wrote Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority, offering his "insider's blueprint" for an electorally-validated one-party state in the United States.

That's right, only thirty months, at most, have passed since Republicans and conservatives were last seen adopting the swagger of President George W. Bush, the man they proudly held forth as second only to Reagan in hard-nosed, brass-knuckled executive virility—and big- and small-D democrats alike fretted at the political and cultural consequences of such hegemony.

With that dream broken for the nonce, if not forever, some Republican partisans are dusting off—or sandblasting the rust from— their intellectual and analytical apparatus and, motivated by the abject desperation and bitterness that only a failed attempt to seize autocratic authority can bring, are making an earnest effort at the unfamiliar task of objective retrospection.

A recent Amazon review of another title had one thoughtful conservative scratching his chin thus:

Had social conservatives and economic conservatives only been bound together by common enemies? After Communism and Clintonism both vanished, the two groups have awakened and realized that neither has much to gain from the marriage anymore.

I will venture that most dispassionate observers of the Republican Party over the last twenty (forty?) years would have responses ranging from a simple "yes" to a forehead-slapping "duh!", but I wish to complement the embarrassment of our hubristic conservative neighbors by offering some prognostications of my own regarding the upcoming Presidential election. To maximize my chagrin quotient, I offer predictions for each of the two likely outcomes.

Why the Libertarian Party is Not Compelling

This started out as a comment, but as my comments are wont to do, it turned into something of a mini-essay.

A newcomer to BlueNC, savvysooner, showed up in my old My Dinner with Munger post with an impassioned, if qualified, defense of the Libertarian Party.

This offered me an opportunity to explain where I think the Libertarian Party is failing to meet the political and philosophical needs of people who, like them, are not content with the two-party system.

My Dinner with Munger

(with apologies to Louis Malle)

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of lunch with Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Michael Munger. Since he openly invited me to that lunch here on BlueNC, and I accepted, I reckon he won't mind if I share some of my thoughts on the experience with my fellow wild-eyed progressives.

Book Review: Atheists, by Bruce E. Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer

I just finished Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America's Nonbelievers, by Bruce Hunsberger and Bob Altemeyer, both Canadian professors of psychology. (Hunsberger is now deceased.) According to the authors, who searched the existing literature, this book reports the findings of one of the first social scientific studies of atheists in history.

Archiving Email and Other Public Records Not So Simple

voyager-record-cover.gifIn a recent BlueNC thread, "Don't Try to Email the State about Email", Franklin Freeman, the public official in charge of electronic mail retention was (justifiably) criticized for lacking appropriate domain knowledge. Specifically, Freeman stated that he "[doesn't] even know how to cut a computer on".

Now, while this response brought ridicule from the denizens of BlueNC, and while it is true that cutting a computer on is a skill that can successfully be taught to a chimpanzee, and that one could find a less unqualified person to handle the North Carolina state government's email retention policy by throwing a rock in the vicinity of a local university, I would urge that we set the bar a bit higher than that.

The reason is because, for public records and other important materials, digital archiving is not as simple or as easy a problem space as it may seem.

The problems are threefold: media longevity, media obsolescence, and data format obsolescence. There is a fourth problem, subtly related to the last, which we might crudely describe as "meta-data obsolescence".

I'll explore each of these challenges in turn.

North Carolina U.S. Attorney Shappert "nullifies" retroactive relaxation of crack sentences

Have we found another member of Dick Cheney's "fourth branch of government", heedless of Congress and the courts?

While he might not word it in quite those terms, law professor Doug Berman of the Sentencing Law and Policy blog detects some un-kosher deprivation of due process in the Western District of North Carolina, the demesne of U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert.

BlueNC Geeks, Represent! - Open Thread

In a recent thread I effused about nuclear physics, partly because I'm interested in the subject and partly to defuse an acrimonious and lengthy Clinton vs. Obama exchange.

I failed in that effort, and proceeded to complain about there not being enough geeks on BlueNC.

Fortunately, that stimulated the egos of some of the geeks who are on BlueNC; they stepped up, on their own behalf and that of others who have been here much longer than I, to show their geek pride. Take this opportunity to join them!

BlueNC geeks, represent!

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