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The Web as Political Weapon 146

Posted by Zonk
from the crafty-netizens dept.
cultrhetor writes "John Harris of the Washington Post has noticed that the three largest recent political controversies have stemmed from work done by digital inhabitants. In the article, New Media a Weapon in the New World of Politics, he notes the connections between the recent scandals involving Mark Foley, George Allen, and Bill Clinton were representative of the new, web-driven age of American politics." From the article: "Each originally percolated in the world of new media — Web sites and news outlets that did not exist a generation ago — before charging into the traditional world of newspapers and television networks. In each case, the accusations quickly pivoted into a debate about the motivations and alleged biases of the accusers. Cumulatively, the stories highlight a new brand of politics in which nearly any revelation in the news becomes a weapon or shield in the daily partisan wars, and the aim of candidates and their operatives is not so much to win an argument as to brand opponents as fundamentally unfit."
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The Web as Political Weapon

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Friday October 06, 2006 @04:57PM (#16341703) Homepage Journal
    This is the problem with most folks in Washington DC. I read this article this morning and thought "well, yeah....". For those of us that have been using the Internet since (or in close proximity to) it's DARPA days, the fact that the Internet is being used for political purposes is not surprising or new for that matter.

    What is new I believe is that we now have a critical mass or a critical number of participants present on the Internet. I hate to say it, because I loathe the term, but what John Harris (author of the Washington Post article) has discovered is "Internet 2.0", or the evolution and delivery of many of the promises that the Internet originally offered. And, like any tool, those that have been around for a while knew that the Internet can and will be used as both tools for good and as a weapon for selfish, self-aggrandizing acts, subversion and propaganda.

    It was only a matter of time...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sgt_doom (655561)
      I sort of disagree with you. What is new is that the Web is about the only place most Americans, and others in certain countries, are able to get any actual news. We certainly can't get much factual (fact-checked) news from the Wash. Post, NY Times et al.
      • by s20451 (410424) on Friday October 06, 2006 @05:14PM (#16341897) Journal
        What is new is that the Web is about the only place most Americans, and others in certain countries, are able to get any actual news. We certainly can't get much factual (fact-checked) news from the Wash. Post, NY Times et al.

        I find this comment funny in the context of the article. Look at any politically-oriented blog. They all spend half their time bitching about shitty, biased reporting in the "MSM", and the other half of their time breathlessly quoting whatever paper they just trashed, because that paper happened to write an article which flatters their prejudices.

        • by sgt_doom (655561)
          Granted. Point taken. But if one peruses several hundred blogs per day, one will be adequately versed in the news and world events...
          • Sorry to criticize that other site, but the thing is that when it started out, I really used to love it, and abandoned Slashdot for it wholeheartedly. But now I've had to feel back here, because every second article on Digg is just some user-submitted attack on Bush. Hey, I'm critical of Bush too, but does this topic have to be featured in every second or third story submission there? Can they find a broader range of topics, please? It's getting really stagnant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by i kan reed (749298)
          Blogs aren't the real power here. The real capacity is comments like the one you just made. People, in most cases anyone, can call someone out on a point, and asside from things like moderation systems, there's nothing ot keep people from reading them comment themselves.

          Letters to the editor won't appear until the next day, but what I'm saying right now, will crop up in a couple of seconds(once slashcode's done with it)
          • by sgt_doom (655561)
            And to build upon your comment - while there is such a thing as web-scrubbing - few leters to the editor ever make it into print. Personally, as I've pointed out numerous errors to the editors of my hometown newspapers - and questioned why the refused to fact-check - they absolutely refuse to print any of my letters to the editor.....
          • by Nurseman (161297)
            Blogs aren't the real power here.



            one word. Drudge. Love him hate him. He began this. Drudge put blogs on the map.

        • by dan828 (753380)
          Yes, but it also enables people to watch the news cycle and major outlet coverage an see things that we never saw before. Watch any big news event, and you see that within hours all of the major news organizations morph into one single point of view, one standard story that they then all cover in the same fashion. Or notice how coverage from place to place differs based on the bias of the outlet and the tastes of its audience. Read a story in Al-Jazeera and then in the Jerusalem Post for some of the more
        • by smchris (464899)
          the other half of their time breathlessly quoting whatever paper they just trashed, because that paper happened to write an article which flatters their prejudices.

          I think you are repeating a popularly fatuous nihilism.

          I praise sources like the British Guardian or Independent, for instance, when George Bush talks about a bioweapons site in Iraq and a paper runs an article with photos like, "Here we are on site at the CHICKEN FARM the U.S. recently called a bioweapens facility." I do demand facts from prima
      • I sort of disagree with you. What is new is that the Web is about the only place most Americans, and others in certain countries, are able to get any actual news. We certainly can't get much factual (fact-checked) news from the Wash. Post, NY Times et al.

        So where exactly on the web *do* they find factual (fact checked) news? Not from bloggers - who mostly quote each other and the sources you decry. When they aren't doing that - they are producing 'news' that fits their own slant.

        • by sgt_doom (655561)
          First you read the sites below, then do your own research to verify them - if you so choose:

          www.commondreams.org, www.truthout.org, www.liarsandcrooks.com, www.worldnews.com, www.americaneconomicalert.org, and you'll have to google the rest as I've got to go now....

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday October 06, 2006 @05:44PM (#16342271) Homepage Journal
        This Harris guy from the Washington Post is a well-known wanker. He and another tool named Halperin have just written a book (it came out this week) with the 5-alarm EXTRA! EXTRA! bit of news that the Internet is now having a big effect in American politics.

        Harris and Halperin have been running around the big news shows saying that Drudge is "The New Walter Cronkite". Give me an effin' break. Drudge is the guy who's been saying that the real criminals in this Foley scandal are those demonic teenagers who "baited" Foley into asking them to measure their hogs and send him pictures. Excuse me, but no amount of "baiting" is going to get me to ask somebody to send me a picture of their apparatus. Most people I know aren't going to be "baited" into becoming sexual predators.

        So Harris and Halperin are saying that "Gee, the news media really is so liberal that the only answer is to make sure that every single story is as "fair" and "balanced" as possible. To them, this means that if you have Republicans taking millions of dollars from Jack Abramoff in order to change their votes on the floor of Congress, you also have to point out that Democrats took $184.35 from Abramoff's next door neighbor and pretend that their equal.

        Really, there comes a time when a government is so out of hand that the last thing you want is a news media that's trying its best not to offend anyone, while at the same time you've got douchebags like Hannity and Limbaugh telling people that "Liberals Must Die".

        Fact is, Harris and Halperin, as top representatives of a media structure that has failed to make a peep while an insane Administration is sending young Americans off to die in order to make the President and VP feel like they've got big dicks OUGHT to go down the tubes. They OUGHT to be ashamed of themselves, but not for being liberal, but for being stenographers in a period of American History when we sorely needed some voices of outrage.

        Oh, and "Sgt Doom"... if you think you're getting more "factual" news from Fox than you do from the New York times, you've really got to lay off huffing cleaning fluid. It's messing with you, dude.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by sgt_doom (655561)
          PopeRatzo, I think you've got me mixed up with someone else -- I've never watched Fox News in my life - nor would I ever, ever recommend that total crapola network. I said I received more factual news from reading blogs and web sites than I ever do reading any American newspapers or American TV news. (And I am in full agreement with your outstanding post.)

          Cases in point: (1) On an Italian site many months ago we first learned that Accenture had been contracted to bring in rigged voting machines for the Ita

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Hannity and Limbaugh telling people that "Liberals Must Die".

          Have you ever listened to Hannity or Limbaugh? Can you cite a single reference of either saying "Liberals Must Die?" You do realize that the little quotation marks mean it's an exact quote and not you just paraphrasing, right?

          I have an idea... how about you stop just regurgitating what other people have told you to think, listen to a variety of news outlets yourself (hint: The Daily Show, DU and Randi Rhodes isn't a variety of news) and use
    • by wizbit (122290) on Friday October 06, 2006 @05:07PM (#16341819)
      The Allen gaffe and to a lesser extent the Foley scandal were representative of our web-enabled, always-Google-cached, everything-logged and archived [archive.org] lives. I think anyone who wants to run for office has to seriously consider everything they've ever said online as potential political ammunition for the opposition. Of course, politicians have spinsters and communications staffs working hard to mitigate any potentially embarassing material out there. But in an age where all it takes is a group of bloggers with some patience, free time, and Google to unravel, for example, a major media outlet's story about a certain president's National Guard service, you know the internet has truly arrived as a deadly effective political weapon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mordors9 (665662)
        Sorta, kinda... The average guy out on the street has no clue what some political dweeb says on his blog unless the mainstream media starts reporting on it. If it looks like it could be big story the media may jump on it, to avoid being left in the dust by the rest of the herd. One really dangerous thing I see occurring is the mainstream media uses the fact it was published on the net as an excuse to do no fact checking at all as long as the net article or blog takes the position that the reporting media wa
        • Mod parent up! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday October 06, 2006 @05:36PM (#16342147)
          From TFA:
          Many of the first generation of new media platforms, including Limbaugh's show and Drudge's Web site, first flourished because of a conviction among conservatives that old media were unfair.

          Limbaugh runs a radio show. A RADIO show. People might want to look up "Tokyo Rose" from 60 years ago.

          The "change" isn't to a "new media".

          The real change is that the existing media (newspapers, TV and radio) have abandoned most of the investigative reporting.

          Now they just sit back and report on the "story" that website X is getting a lot of hits from a posting about a video clip about some politician you've never heard of.

          The "old media" is "reporting" on what the current buzz is. That's all.
          • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Durandal64 (658649) on Friday October 06, 2006 @06:24PM (#16342743)
            The problem with investigate reporting in politics is that it might (gasp!) lead to a conclusion! The mainstream media hates offering conclusions. Just listen to the fucking slogans. "We report, you decide." "Fair and Balanced." "We're Spineless Pussies." (Okay I made that last one up.) The press' notion of "objectivity" is simply parroting whatever government officials tell them, maybe showing a response from the opposition party and not doing a god damn thing to find out whether or not the official statement was full of shit (which it usually is). Because the minute the news starts coming down on one side, they're apparently no longer unbiased.

            People seem to have forgotten that that it is perfectly possible to arrive at a conclusion favoring one side of an argument without any bias at all. Bias is not something you deduce by saying, "Whichever side this person supports is the side he's biased toward." Bias is affects the way you look at evidence and evaluate.

            But no, everyone except Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Keith Olbermann seems to have forgotten that there do not exist two equally-valid, logical sides to every argument, both sides of an argument do not always deserve equal consideration and in short, sometimes one side is just right, and the other is just wrong.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jejones (115979)
        Of course, politicians have spinsters...working hard...

        As an aging male nerd, I feel discriminated against; I guess a career in politics is out for me.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I think anyone who wants to run for office has to seriously consider everything they've ever said online as potential political ammunition for the opposition.

        What, that's new? Look at Ahnold dealing with misogynist comments he said decades ago, or Kinky Friedman being pummeled by racist punchlines from jokes he dropped from his repetoire years ago.

        Everyone has skeletons in the closet, the politicians that succed are the ones who do the best job of hiding them, or distracting everyone ("I didn't inhale/hav
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by 0xABADC0DA (867955)
        The 'rather documents' are a good lesson on how the 'blogosphere' can fail miserably. Anybody familiar with Rove's past realizes that the content of the document was almost certainly entirely correct with only the format being fake. Even if CBS had done the due diligence in verifying this document that agreed with all their eye witness accounts and determined it was a fraud, they would have had to question everything else with the same information. That's just human nature to transfer the fraud from docu
        • So you are saying that a document that was presented as a smoking gun to prove what the democrats wanted to be true definitely was true - even though the document was fraudulent - because we already knew the information that the fraudulent document proved true was true. Even though we had no proof.

          Whatever.

          The fact is that Dan Rather stepped on his dick by presenting a fraudulent document as true and NOBODY gets away with that shit anymore, left or right. If somebody makes a claim that is false, so

          • by Moofie (22272)
            "Neither side can make unsubstantiated claims with impunity"

            Unless they have Karl Rove working for them.
            • Unless they have Karl Rove working for them.

              Moofie: Who the hell is Karl Rove? And what I mean by this is what is his history?

              To every republican or conservative I know he is just like, you know, this guy. To democrats and liberals, he is Satan incarnate (well, if they believed in Satan that is), who is a masterful tactician and master manipulator. Every time they mention him it is with fear and loathing.

              If he is that good, and the dems want to take over the country, maybe they should offer hi

              • by Moofie (22272)
                Yeah, you ask John McCain if he's "just this guy".

                Karl Rove is the master of the whisper campaign. I think he is responsible for the tenor of modern American politics, which is a Bad Thing. He is indeed successful. I just wish success tracked more closely to integrity than to stooping to anything.
      • It's not that the Internet has become a deadly effective political weapon. It's that the Internet lets anyone who has enough time, skill, and motivation to find out the truth.

        Note well: By "tbe truth" I don't mean "the truth about someone's character", but rather "the truth about an event" or some such. That is, if someone said or did something, ever, in any context, there's probably someone who can find out about it on the net.

        So what's really going on is that the Internet has turned the truth about peo
      • by sgt_doom (655561)
        Well said, Citizen wizbit, and especially appropriate when one considers Operation Mockingbird [wikipedia.org] and what passes for news [fair.org] lately....
    • Television and radio are also being used for political purposes. Fox News is a good example of right-wing manipulation of television. It shouldn't be alarming or surprising that the Internet is being used for political purposes. It should be alarming that politicians are discrediting and projecting their oppponents as unfit, rather than debating an issue. The republican's blasting of John Kerry's military record is an example of this (which is horrible considering Bush's horrible military record).

      What sho
    • by brkello (642429)
      And, like any tool, those that have been around for a while knew that the Internet can and will be used as both tools for good and as a weapon for selfish, self-aggrandizing acts, subversion and propaganda.

      Fortunately, in the case of Foley, we have stopped a very sick person from preying on children. It sickens me that the Republicans are somehow trying to blame Democrats and web sites about this. This isn't a partisan issue. The man is really messed up and took advantage of his position of power. Any
  • The Web as Political Weapon

    The old media complaint about this?
    "Hey, No fair! That's our job!"
  • Former congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) ended his political career over sexually charged e-mails to former House pages. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) stumbled over his puzzling use of the word "macaca" and his clumsy response to revelations about his Jewish ancestry. Former president Bill Clinton had a televised temper fit when an interviewer challenged his terrorism record.

    Two of those three "examples" happened on television. During regular news programming.

    How is this "new media"?

    • by wizbit (122290)
      The Webb campaign worked hard to get the Allen tape - which was eventually picked up by local and national media outlets - out to bloggers and smaller media webs. The fact that the buzz on such a story is able to start at the grassroots and eventually affect national media coverage is tremendous, and not something that was seen as recently as a decade ago. "Regular news programming" probably would've taken a pass on SR Sidarth's tape had it not been viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube prior to land
      • The fact that the buzz on such a story is able to start at the grassroots and eventually affect national media coverage is tremendous, and not something that was seen as recently as a decade ago.

        Sure it would have. We used to see that all the time in newspapers and on television and the radio. A local group does some digging and finds something and it becomes a nation-wide sensation.

        "Regular news programming" probably would've taken a pass on SR Sidarth's tape had it not been viewed tens of thousands of tim

        • by wizbit (122290)
          We still have "investigative reporting" (e.g. Bob Woodward et al). My point is most average joes would not normally have the kind of clout with the press that a Woodward-type has, but scandals like the guard memos and such have elevated bloggers to the point where the major cable outlets regularly devote segments to "the blogosphere." My favorite crossover is when the beat reporters get into the blog game - even getting their blogs promoted by the major media outlets (as is the case with my local paper's we
          • We still have "investigative reporting" (e.g. Bob Woodward et al).

            Woodward was part of the Watergate coverage. That was over 30 years ago. The closest we have now is The Daily Show.

            My point is most average joes would not normally have the kind of clout with the press that a Woodward-type has, but scandals like the guard memos and such have elevated bloggers to the point where the major cable outlets regularly devote segments to "the blogosphere."

            And my point is that the "bloggers" have not ascended, but tha

            • by Moofie (22272)
              "Popularity vs insight. And popularity is winning."

              And you get insight from, where? TV news? Come on.
            • by sgt_doom (655561)
              And my point is that the "bloggers" have not ascended, but that what now passes for "investigative reporting" has declined to the point where it isn't any better than those "bloggers".

              Not necessarily...Sirota and Palast both have blog sites, as does various former intel guys (www.waynemadsenreport.com and www.noquarter.typepad.com, plus others....)

    • by vertinox (846076)
      Two of those three "examples" happened on television. During regular news programming.

      Because if it wasn't for the web, these videos would have been swept under the rug rather quickley and we wouldn't have been able to posts links on blogs to youtube.

      Remember, most kids these days get their news from the Dailyshow or not at all.
  • Clinton scandal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4ter (717700) on Friday October 06, 2006 @05:10PM (#16341857) Homepage
    Sorry, I fail to see how Clinton's reaction to that Fox question constitutes a scandal. There was a REAL Clinton scandal once, but trying to shoehorn this in as anything more than a brief display of anger is pretty ridiculous.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Plutonite (999141)
      I think they're referring to the way he pwned that Fox anchor. If I headed the Fox network, it would sure as hell be a scandal in my books.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ndansmith (582590)
      Sorry, I fail to see how Clinton's reaction to that Fox question constitutes a scandal. There was a REAL Clinton scandal once, but trying to shoehorn this in as anything more than a brief display of anger is pretty ridiculous.


      However, it was Matt Drudge who frist broke the Monica Lewinsky affair. So Clinton has had a scandal which was majorly affected by the internet. I wonder if the article was really referring to this. But I agree that recent Clinton interview was no "scandal."

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Agreed. Clinton's show of courage and genuine straight-talking against the lies and misdirection propagated by the likes of Fox News (and far too much of the media) energized the Democratic base (and independents who don't like the daily Republican shredding of the Constitution) as much as the revelation the Republican leadership is taking responsibility for allowing Foley continued access to teenaged pages the same way Bush has taken responsibility for the failure in Iraq (i.e., by not taking responsibil
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Every weekend /. seems to get deeper into the political articles that are geared for creating more heat than light. It's becoming an end in itself and looks bad.
  • As long as it's easier to buy votes with volume than reason, debates of this nature will continue. When shouting loudest stops winning elections, the dialog will become more civil and the debates will be about issues rather than about men.

    Competency tests for voters and candidates would be a good start. Of course, SCOTUS decided that was illegal in the early '70s, so I suppose we'll just shout ourselves hoarse.

  • ...the term "failure" and click "I'm feeling lucky". Funny as hell, but gotta admit another symptom of the web as political warfare tool.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday October 06, 2006 @05:48PM (#16342337)

    he notes the connections between the recent scandals involving Mark Foley, George Allen, and Bill Clinton were representative of the new, web-driven age of American politics."

    What scandal? Oh, you mean this? "Former president Bill Clinton had a televised temper fit when an interviewer challenged his terrorism record."

    "Temper fit" is a "scandal"? The interviewer provoked it by repeating the Bush administration rhetoric that he was "weak" on terrorism. Given that Bush brushed aside reports with titles like "Al-Qaeda to attack US targets in the coming months" and Rice was REPEATEDLY warned about the threat Al-Qaeda represented and yet did nothing...yeah, I think Clinton has a right to be pretty pissed at mindless rhetoric.

    He raised his voice, came out of his chair a bit, and controlled the conversation long enough to cover the facts: a)yeah, he missed Bin Laden and he regrets it but b)he did more than Bush ever did.

    Bush and his staff ignored patently obvious and repetitive evidence of an impending terrorist attack, declared Bin Laden his number one target and then a year later, suddenly told everyone it really wasn't actually all THAT important to get Bin Laden. Who, I might remind everyone, is still alive five years after "that fateful day".

    Bush has had a trillion dollars, two military campaigns, a dozen or more grossly unconsitutional laws/acts and five years to fix things, and the only thing he's done is paint a giant target on the US by acting like a treaty-ripping baffoon on the stage of world politics and invading sovereign nations where there is a substantial number of people who belong to a religion which spawns aggressive, violent groups at the drop of a hat. Just you watch- he's about to do it again in a few months when North Korea goes "nuclear", and we'll be lucky if it doesn't destabilize the whole region by dragging China, Japan, and of course South Korea...then Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia...and all their corresponding allies (Britain, France, Australia, etc)- into World War 3.

    • by grcumb (781340) on Friday October 06, 2006 @06:17PM (#16342649) Homepage Journal
      What scandal? Oh, you mean this? "Former president Bill Clinton had a televised temper fit when an interviewer challenged his terrorism record."

      Yep, it's that balance thing again. You see, if someone points out that all the recent scandals pertain to Republicans, someone's bound to come out complaining about 'bashing' and how the Dems seem to get a free ride from the 'Liberal' media.

      No need to consider the real reasons why all the scandals these days are Republican scandals. I mean, no one really wants to admit that when one party takes advantage of the other's incompetence and timidity and runs roughshod over it in the elections, that party tends to pretty much do as it likes in office. And it gets away with bloody murder unless the opposition and the media finally grow a pair and start asking questions, which they don't. Years pass and the incumbents have started taking their privileged place at the trough for granted, which make them lazy and careless. This carelessness leads to some really stupid scandals, which finally tip the balance and let the other party take its place at the trough and complete the cycle.

      Nobody wants to talk about that, because if the citizens of a nation were to come to believe this, they'd probably have to revolt. And nobody wants that, the citizens included.

    • Clinton also ignored the impending threast as well. He was too busy getting it on with an intern to care.
  • and the aim of candidates and their operatives is not so much to win an argument as to brand opponents as fundamentally unfit."


    How is This diffrent then before? It always been easier to Say "look they are scary", then to present your own Ideas.
    Its a fundimental problem with the current 2 party system. With more candidates it becomes harder to do this, you don't look Nearly as good if you are tring to bash 5 diffrent people as if you are tring to bash 1.
    • by ClamIAm (926466)
      If America suddenly had lots of viable political parties or disbanded all parties and then we had 5 candidates in every race, it would not eliminate mudslinging. It would simply require more calculated attacks from the campaigns and parties. Right now, the two major parties generally just target someone in the other.
  • The web has turned into the biggest gossip spreading rumor mill in history... Oprah would be proud.
  • From TFA:

    Rove said he has benefited on occasion from the new-media echo chamber. When he gave a speech last year saying liberals want to give terrorists understanding and therapy, he delighted when Democrats howled in protest. This guaranteed that the story would stay alive for days. "I was sort of amused by it because it struck me, well, they're just simply repeating my argument, which was good," he said.

    So it seems one difference in this new media is the ability to quickly gauge the reaction of the public

  • by admiralh (21771) on Friday October 06, 2006 @06:20PM (#16342689) Homepage
    We see yet again another example of the so-called "non-biased" media equating a pedophile (Foley) and a racist (Allen), both Republicans, with a former president upset about being misrepresented in a movie purporting to be based on real events, when it was based on what the right-wing wanted you to believe were the real events.

    In this case, the Clinton scandal was really the Clinton-haters lying (yet again). But that's beside the point.

    What this is is the typical example of balance

    1. Show a major Republican gaffe
    2. Show a minor Democratic gaffe
    3. Claim that both parties are guilty, so neither has the moral high ground.
    4. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      4. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
      Only if you use a loofah to scrub my back.

      (If you don't get the joke, search google for loofah)
    • Be careful with your terminology there. Foley may be a major sexual harasser, and may have used his position and age to make unwanted sexual advances against under-age (and that's questionable) people, but his victims were, so far, all over 16. It seems improbable we're looking at advances against under 12s (or whatever cut-off is reasonable in terms of defining people as children as opposed to young adults.)

      I agree his actions aren't comparable with Clinton's, but that's because Clinton, for all his fau

  • Yes, before the web, I couldn't post a link ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAUxkJP4k20 [youtube.com] ) where the Republicans call a local canidate a Commie.

    Damn the web is great!
  • "Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule and both commonly succeed, and are right."
    --H.L. Mencken
  • It's almost as if the Internet is a part of real life!

    Even Washington is beginning to at least see, if not accept that fact.

  • I think we're witnessing, for lack of a better term, the democratization of the news. Under the old model the editor (and by extension the publisher) is able to control what gets printed or broadcast. If there's a bias on the editors' part it's easy to spin the facts. Little stories sometimes lead to larger ones, but only if the people who make the story assignments agree to print or show them.

    The web also removes regional biases by giving us access to news and opinions from other parts of the country an
  • "...the aim of candidates and their operatives is not so much to win an argument as to brand opponents as fundamentally unfit."

    Congratulations! You're all winners!
  • What I'm interested in at the moment is the ways in which the same old propaganda machine(s) are trying to control the new internet media.

    For example, with slashdot, it looks to me like there's a bunch postings originating from what I think of as "the rover boys": hired-gun Republican sock-puppets that come out of the woodwork when a subject like election fraud is under discussion.

    (I think these are usually distinguishable from real human beings that happen to be conservative, though this is obvio

    • by Artifakt (700173)
      Like it says at the bottom of a big page of information when I click on your name: "Subscribers can view entire comment history for all users"
      It doesn't appear all that hard to manually look for users with inactive histories. A good chunk of Friend and Foe listings for low numbered users are likely to be for other low numbered users, making it easy to look for whole blocks of possible inactives.
      With ID and Nym generally linked, it's pretty easy to tell who else is a low numbered user,
      • by doom (14564)
        Artifakt (700173) wrote:

        Like it says at the bottom of a big page of information when I click on your name: "Subscribers can view entire comment history for all users"

        It doesn't appear all that hard to manually look for users with inactive histories.

        Good point. But then, you're talking about looking at comment histories, and there are many people who read slashdot but don't bother to post. There's no "last login was" message in the user info page.

        A good chunk of Friend and Foe listings for

    • I am one of your "rover boys" with a low 5 digit account. Odd that I'm implied to be an arm of Karl Rove and that he's the lone political operator in the US. You do realize that the left has their own Roves like James Carville, right?.

      What exactly has me worked up lately, causing me to troll slashdot? I come to slashdot primarily for techology and other nerdly stuff primarily. I expect a little politics to be thrown into some things because they overlap and it is acceptable in moderation. However, ever s
  • Water is wet, and Republicans are evil.

    Do we really need to state the obvious? In politics, people use whatever tools are at their disposal. Technology has always been one of those tools, whether it be the harvesting machine, the motor car, the television, or space craft.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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