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McCain Campaign Uses Spider/Diff Against Obama 1171

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-we're-getting-somewhere dept.
Vote McCain in 2008! writes "McCain's campaign is doing everything it can to erase Obama's online advantage, this time they ambushed Obama by detecting edits to his website when he updated some of his policy positions. This isn't the first time the Republicans have shown up the Democrats with their web savvy — you may remember the previous reports about the Republican Web 2.0 Consultants and their online campaigning game. This just proves that old Republicans can learn new tricks." Assuming the spider adheres to robots.txt, this is clever and well done.
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McCain Campaign Uses Spider/Diff Against Obama

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  • New Meme (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle (975789) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:36AM (#24211421) Journal
    Okay, you can mod me OT if you want, but as the submitter chose to call himself Vote McCain in 2008! I'm taking license here. Apologies to those who still find it OT...
    I hear one definition of insanity is repeating the same action while expecting a different result each time. How many times have we thrown our votes away on the major party candidates only to get the same old status quo, regardless of the promises made? It's high time we the people just say no to the corrupt two party system. It's time we got off our lazy asses and learn about the alternatives available outside the corporate-approved "choice" spoon-fed to us by Big Media. Oh sure, probably we'll get either McCain or Obama this time, but if enough people vote outside the box it will encourage others to do the same. Maybe we can even take back our government at some point. But it'll never happen by voting for one of the two "approved" candidates. We need a new meme -- don't throw your vote away. Don't waste your vote on the Republicrats!
    /soapbox rant
    • by slifox (605302) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:40AM (#24211479)

      I personally favor the Fingerlicans...
       
      ...although, the Tastycrats do make a good point about that titanium tax...

      • by gilroy (155262) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:45AM (#24211553) Homepage Journal

        Sadly, everyone's gonna end up voting for the Brain Slug Party... again.

    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:49AM (#24211619) Journal

      It's high time we the people just say no to the corrupt two party system. It's time we got off our lazy asses and learn about the alternatives available outside the corporate-approved "choice" spoon-fed to us by Big Media. Oh sure, probably we'll get either McCain or Obama this time, but if enough people vote outside the box it will encourage others to do the same.

      Just three weeks ago I would have argued with you about this. Then Obama flip-flopped on FISA and voted for a bill containing telecom immunity. In so doing he lost my vote and my support. The only thing I would dispute is that the third parties really offer a better alternative. Consider:

      Bob Barr: Witch-burning [religioustolerance.org] religious lunatic that led the impeachment of Bill Clinton and somehow gets to masquerade as a libertarian. Could they really do no better than this guy?
      Ralph Nader: Left-wing crazy that thinks we should nationalize the energy industries (even I don't lean this far to the left) and expand the nanny state.
      McKinney: Don't know a lot about her yet but the initial reading is not very promising [wikipedia.org]. Seems to have a huge chip on her shoulder and is probably at least as far to the left as Nader is.

      I won't be voting for Obama or McCain but I don't see how I can support any of these crazies either. I'll sign their petitions for ballot access if asked but I fear that my vote for POTUS may wind up being blank this year :( I'd love the chance to meet Bob Barr and ask him directly if he's changed his tune on wiccans/neo-pagans -- a satisfactory answer might get him my vote. The others don't stand a chance though.

      • by kalirion (728907) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:09AM (#24211953)

        Then Obama flip-flopped on FISA and voted for a bill containing telecom immunity.

        You know, I still don't get the huge deal with the telecom immunity. Yes the telecoms should be punished, at least as a preventative measure so that in the future companies think twice before following illegal government orders. And yet, the truly guilty party are the government officials who made those orders. Why are we so intend to lynch their stooges when the masterminds are getting away scot-free? Are we just settling because we know they're above the law? Isn't there a bit of a double standard here?

        Just try thinking of it from the company's point of view. The government orders them to hand over records. The government obviously shows a disdain for the constitution and considers anyone who stands in their way to be terrorist accomplices. What's going to happen to you when you say 'No'?

      • by Ritorix (668826) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:26AM (#24212245)

        When you vote for president, you get far more than a president.

        Behind the POTUS candidate comes a legion of people who will set the policy and tone of the nation for years to come. Supreme Court justices, Cabinet members, hundreds of others at every level of government.

        Dont forget what happened at NASA, the EPA, the Justice Department, DHS, etc. All hit the headlines the last few years with major scandals brought on by POTUS-appointed bureaucrats.

        Point being, presidential elections arent about single issues or a single candidate, but a change in national leadership for all issues at all levels. Sometimes you have to hold your nose and vote for the party most closely aligned with the future you desire. Any party will bring in some crazies, its unavoidable.

        • by Shakrai (717556) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:48AM (#24212695) Journal

          I agree with all of what you are saying and I've railed against single-issue voters in the past. I can't bring myself to get over this FISA vote though. Beyond telecom immunity this bill guts the FISA court and gives the Executive carte blanche to wiretap without warrants or judicial oversight. Do you talk to anyone overseas on the telephone? Your calls could be monitored at any time without a warrant thanks to this bill. You as an American citizen have effectively had your right against unreasonable search and seizure taken away from you just because you want to communicate with someone outside of our borders.

          Obama swore an oath to defend the Constitution when elected to the Senate. He has now violated that oath. Why should I believe he will take the Presidential Oath seriously? Call me a sentimentalist but I believe that such oaths should be taken seriously. They remind all of us (from the person serving on a jury or testifying as a witness all the way up to the POTUS) that we are a nation of laws and that no one person is above those laws.

          Ironically enough Obama's own statement [barackobama.com] on this issue explains my concerns far more eloquently then I can: "It grants retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that may have violated the law by cooperating with the Bush Administration's program of warrantless wiretapping. This potentially weakens the deterrent effect of the law and removes an important tool for the American people to demand accountability for past abuses."

          Indeed. Who knew that giving retroactive immunity for past violations of the law would weaken the deterrent effect of the law? His own statement provides ample justification for opposing this law -- yet he supported it anyway? WTF?

      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:49AM (#24212697)

        WTF? Cynthia McKinney is running for President too? Damn, between her and Bob Barr us Georgians sure blew our "nutjob running for President" quota out of the water!

    • Re:New Meme (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ihlosi (895663) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:56AM (#24211747)
      I hear one definition of insanity is repeating the same action while expecting a different result each time.

      I knew it: Quantum physics and statistics are insanity.

    • Re:New Meme (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Strangely Familiar (1071648) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:58AM (#24211789) Homepage
      Unfortunately, while you're busy forming a great new party, the party most sympathetic to your new party's ideals is getting drained and beaten. You cut off your nose despite your face. No, the time for reform is in the primary election season. If you want to make a difference, get active during the primaries. Because of relatively low voter participation, your vote will count 10x. Your efforts (contributions, editorials, canvassing) count even more. Pick a Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich then, and support him early. That will make a real difference. Otherwise, make sure you're enjoying yourself chasing the windmills, because otherwise the exercise will be pointless.
    • Re:New Meme (Score:5, Informative)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:19AM (#24212125) Journal

      Am I the only person who clicked on the link (hyperlink behind "Vote McCain in 2008". It takes you to McCain food services. It was a joke, folks.

    • Re:New Meme (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JoshJ (1009085) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @10:06AM (#24213081) Journal
      Furthermore, the article is ridiculously biased.
      At the end, the author closes with the line "If anything, the changes simply reflect that Obama is just another politician"- one of the most popular right-wing attacks on Obama.
      Take a look at the picture, again: http://blog.wired.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2008/07/15/mccain_obama_versionaista.jpg [wired.com]
      That's not some sort of scrub or replacing a sentence that made him look bad or backing down from a strong position. It's an outright replacement of an older quote with a newer one. If anything, it makes Obama's Iraq policy even clearer.
      At the bottom, it also shows there are two links that have been added as well.
      If there is some sort of "just another politician" type of coverup of an older policy going on at Obama's site, it's certainly not in the picture given in the article; and this makes me think that this is just whining: "He updated his page instead of leaving it static from January to November? HOW DARE HE?!"
    • Re:New Meme (Score:5, Insightful)

      by susano_otter (123650) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @10:55AM (#24214103) Homepage

      Ah, the typical whining of someone who thinks their extremist minority opinion should have the same chance at ruling his fellow citizens as the more centrist, moderate majority opinion... which chance it would have, if he actually went to the trouble of convincing a majority of his fellow citizens to support it, instead of demanding that they accept it even though they don't support it.

      Take the Greens, for example: If the Greens were able to convince a majority of the electorates in even as few as six or seven states, they'd be well on their way to achieving the Presidency.

      As it is, the Greens have yet to convince the majority of the electorate in even one state. So why should they get any play at all on the national stage? Wake me up when one of your other parties has a strong faction in their state legislature, a Congressman or two, and maybe a Senator. Then we'll talk.

    • Re:New Meme (Score:5, Informative)

      by billy8988 (1049032) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @11:11AM (#24214409)
      In India http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_India/ [wikipedia.org], we have a multi-party system where there are literally 10s of parties that have representation in the parliament. But people are sick and tired of these small parties being corrupt and opportunistic in their voting and destabilizing elected governments. I think that is the case in Israel and to some extent in Italy. Grass is always greener on the other side...I guess.
  • The Goods (Score:5, Informative)

    by slifox (605302) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:36AM (#24211431)

    Here are the goods from TFA:

    The Friday, July 11 version of the page says:
    "at great cost our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006."

    The Monday, July 14 version spidered by Versionista says:
    "Our troops have heroically helped reduce civilian casualties in Iraq to early 2006 levels. This is a testament to our military's hard work, improved counterinsurgency tactics, and enormous sacrifice by our troops and military families."

  • by ErikZ (55491) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:40AM (#24211481)

    This just proves that old Republicans can learn new tricks.

    Are you kidding? The Republicans have been embarrassingly behind the times when it comes to IT stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole spider/diff issue came from some college Intern with initiative, working on his own.

    Normally I'd say something positive to balance my post out, but this election is look god-awful for both parties. I just don't give a damn.

    • by slifox (605302) * on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:45AM (#24211549)

      "The Republicans" didn't do a damn thing that I'd call special or a new trick--they simply used an existing tool (and no, its not diff or any other command-line tool):

      Versionista monitors Web sites that you specify for edits. Our Web-based service records every change, clearly highlighting added or deleted words and sentences.

  • New Tricks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:41AM (#24211489)
    Perhaps old Republicans should learn that Czechoslovakia hasn't existed since the early 1990s before we deem them worthy of learning new tricks?
  • by ckuttruff (1315571) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:41AM (#24211495)
    McCain Camp:
    So through the course of our research we've found that you've modified some of the sections on your policy positions...

    *coughs (and that you have twenty times the traffic we do)
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:41AM (#24211499) Homepage Journal

    robots.txt is idiotic in this context, except to steer spiders away from forms that shouldn't be submitted or triggering infinite loops. Suppose you find something like:

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /campaignfinancesecrets/

    Don't you think that's going to be the first place to look? Again, robots.txt is to avoiding causing site meltdowns or stupid behavior. It's not to hide information.

  • Mmmhmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PhoenixFlare (319467) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:47AM (#24211587) Journal

    No doubt Mr. "Vote McCain in 2008!" is looking to score some points [johnmccain.com] with this one.

    I'm not saying everything posted here has to be neutral by any means, but geez, this is pretty transparent.

  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:48AM (#24211607) Journal

    Why is changing what you have to say a bad thing? If you have a different set of facts or a change in thought, why is it bad to change your opinions?

    And are the edits that the Obama campaign making really significant? I had a look at the differences highlighted in the linked Wired article, and they didn't really look like a significant change in substance.

    So fucking what? Are we really this stupid in our politics that it's now a game of crying "flip-flopper" when you just say more or less the same thing, maybe with a different emphasis?

    • by Ihlosi (895663) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:49AM (#24211627)
      Why is changing what you have to say a bad thing? If you have a different set of facts or a change in thought, why is it bad to change your opinions?

      Hello, where have you been the last 7 years ? Changing what you say makes you a flip-flopper. Real men stay the course.

    • by Manchot (847225) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:13AM (#24212027)
      So fucking what? Are we really this stupid in our politics that it's now a game of crying "flip-flopper" when you just say more or less the same thing, maybe with a different emphasis?

      New words scare people. Just a couple weeks ago, Obama said in a press conference that he'd be willing to "refine" his Iraq policy during his visit there, and a combination of the media and the McCain campaign jumped all over him for "flip-flopping" on Iraq. They were pretending that he had said that he was going to change his stance on the war, and so he had to give a second press conference later that day to emphasize that he had said nothing of the sort.

      The media is trying to have a repeat of 2004 by painting the Democrat as a flip-flopper, when he has only waffled, as all politicians do. Even Obama's worst flip-flop, on the FISA legislation, wasn't a complete reversal: though he voted the final bill, he still voted to strip the immunity provision. He said that he thought the bill had more good than bad in it, and while we might disagree, that's just a matter of priority, not of position.

      Meanwhile, McCain directly contradicts himself time and time again, and he has so far gotten off scot-free. We don't have a liberal media or a conservative media, we have a sensationalist media that caters to the lowest common denominator by trying to place the candidates into a pre-defined mold that has existed for the better part of three decades.
  • by languagehacker (1317999) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:50AM (#24211649) Homepage
    ...that someone spending almost all their time going across the country talking to people about different issues actually changed his mind about where he stands on certain topics. As Republicans, this is foreign to us, and upsetting to think about.
  • by wytcld (179112) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:51AM (#24211657) Homepage

    The article concludes:

    If anything, the changes simply reflect that Obama is just another politician.

    This is like comparing two drafts of James Joyce's Ulysses, noting that changes were made, and concluding, "If anything, the changes simply reflect that Joyce is just another writer." Keeping in mind that as it happens Obama is also a talented, best-selling author, we should be surprised that he prepares more than on draft, or releases more than one edition of his work?

    In other news, the detection of edits in the latest kernel release prompted a clever Wired hack to print, "If nothing, the changes simply reflect that Torvalds is just another coder."

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @08:58AM (#24211785)

    Yes, Obama is editing his web site and fine-tuning his message. BFD. That's what web sites are for. I don't see anything greatly inconsistent in what Obama is doing.

    What is really going on is that McCain has a lousy record: he has been flip-flopping on positions and has a lot of history that he needs to hide from. This is a huge problem for the Republican party establishment, who probably would have preferred any candidate other than McCain.

    So, what does McCain do? He tries to go on the offensive so that he can say "well, it's OK if I flip-flop because the other guy edits his web site, too".

    Don't let McCain get away with this bullshit. McCain is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of both conservative Republicans and moderates in terms of his actual positions and record.

  • robots.txt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sunking2 (521698) on Wednesday July 16, 2008 @09:34AM (#24212411)
    I'm sorry, but if politicians can call me when I'm on the do not call list, then why should spiders adhere to the robots.txt file.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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