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The Internet Government Politics

The Strangest Online Political Challenges of 2007 42

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the different-is-good dept.
destinyland writes "Blorgable has a list the year's ten strangest online political moments arguing that 2007 was the year digital identities started encroaching into the culture. While the U.S. Senate was busy fighting cartoon-related digital terrorism with 'The Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act of 2007,' Ann Coulter's web page ended up 'mistakenly' announcing her retirement after someone hacked it! But the unpredictable changes were sometimes deadly serious. Even the mainstream media noticed 'the ghosts of MySpace' — those U.S. soldiers whose web pages ultimately outlived them."
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The Strangest Online Political Challenges of 2007

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  • Bleed-over (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The only thing about focusing on 2007 is that it all carries over to 2008.
    • The Paulistinians online activity.

      Ron Paul, noted legislator, Presidential candidate, anti-semite, and racist, claims that his supporters are mainly made up of people who own cell phones and not landline phones explaining why he doesn't do well in polls, and who express their activity online instead of in-person at the caucus.

      Online flash in the pan.

      The good thing about Ron Paul and his neo-Nazi supporters is that his inevitable independant campaign will draw votes away from the Republican candidate, han

      • by mOdQuArK! (87332)
        It depends on how bad the economy gets during the course of the politicking.

        If things seem to be fairly stable (albeit a bit financially tight), then people will not want to make drastic changes in the status quo, and will feel comfortable voting for someone like Obama or Edwards, who will pull back from the Bush brink and try to put bandaids & use some OTC drugs on the situation, hoping that the system will recover by itself as long as no severe shocks occur to it.

        If things seem to be heading down the
  • by Gertlex (722812) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:29AM (#21919966)
    I personally found the Facebook group that sprung up supporting Stephen Colbert's presidential candidacy to be, mayhaps not strange, but certainly "rad," and a bit outrageous. It gained 1 million group members in under 10 days (and peaked at 1.5 million around the time that Colbert called it quits).
    • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:47AM (#21920050)
      I can't remember if it was Plato or Aristotle who said it, but one of the two said that the people who want to be rulers are more often than not just in it for their own glory, not to advance the civilization, and are generally the last people you'd want in power. He said that the most qualified people should be forced into positions of power, even if they don't want the position. I don't know how qualified Colbert would be (likely better than some political leaders I won't name), or even if its a good idea or not, but I always think of that sentiment whenever the topic of Colbert's campaign comes up.
      • Colbert the actor, perhaps. (I doubt it, as much as I doubt that Charlie Chaplain or Jonathan Swift would have made good presidents). But Colbert the character is exactly the self-aggrandizing blowhard who should never be in charge, and I think that was a central point in Colbert's campaign.
      • by usul294 (1163169)
        You're thinking of Plato's Republic, where he argues that the rulers ought to be trained from a young age to be rulers and that they not have any private ownership and the state provides whatever they need so that they can focus on ruling their nation the best way possible without any competing ambitions.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        can't remember if it was Plato or Aristotle who said it


        Offering a serious philosophical justification for the legitimacy of the joke-candidacy of Stephen Colbert, with a straight face, almost goes beyond irony.

        I can only hope your post was meant as meta-satire - in which case it was genius!
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        I can't remember if it was Plato or Aristotle who said it, but one of the two said that the people who want to be rulers are more often than not just in it for their own glory, not to advance the civilization, and are generally the last people you'd want in power. He said that the most qualified people should be forced into positions of power, even if they don't want the position.

        That may as well be, but I find Douglas Adams' wording on the manner far more entertaining. Part one [clivebanks.co.uk]:

        Zaphod Beeblebrox's full title was President of the Imperial Galactic Government. The term Imperial is kept, though it is now an anachronism. The hereditary Emperor is now nearly dead, and has been for many centuries. This is because in his last dying moments he was- much to his Imperial irritation- locked in a perpetual stasis field.

        All his heirs are now, of course, long dead and the upshot of all this is that without any drastic upheaval political power has simply and effectively moved a rung or two down the ladder, and is now seemed to be vested in an elected governmental Assembly, headed by a President elected by that Assembly. In fact, it vests in no such place - that would be too easy.

        The President's job- and if someone sufficiently vain and stupid is picked he won't realize this- is not to wield power, but to draw attention away from it. Zaphod Beeblebrox, the only man in history to have made Presidential telecasts from the bath, from Eccentrica Gallumbits bedroom, from the maximum-security wing of the Betelgeuse State Prison, or from where ever else he happened to be at the time, was supremely good at this job.

        and part two [clivebanks.co.uk]:

        The major problem... one of the major problems, for there are several... one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it. Or, rather, of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

        To summarize: it is a well-known and much lamented fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

        To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should, on no account, be allowed to do the job.

        To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

        And so this is the situation we find: a succession of Galactic Presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palaver of being in power that they never really notice that they're not.

        And somewhere in the shadows behind them, who? Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to, can be allowed to?

        Followed by, of course, his answer: the man who "tr[ies] not to" rule the Universe, a quite philosophical gentleman himself.

  • My idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:36AM (#21919992)
    I've often considered starting an online political movement known as 'The Apathy Party.' I would advocate a party for the apathetic, by the apathetic, and by that I mean me. Everyone able to vote who didn't would automatically be considered of a member of the Apathetic Party, therefore I'd get their vote. If that's legal, I'd win the election for sure. If its not, well, I suppose maybe it would convince a few people to get out there, read up on the candidates, and vote.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by ricebowl (999467)

      Everyone able to vote who didn't would automatically be considered of a member of the Apathetic Party, therefore I'd get their vote.

      It's a nice idea; and while I don't know where you come from, over here in the UK those who don't vote are considered to be, rather than lazy/disinterested/unimpressed, content with the currently-elected party. So unfortunately if we don't explicitly vote contrary to the current party we're presumed to have voted for it.

      I'm not sure this is entirely fair, but I guess you can

      • That's interesting; I did not know that. If I lived in the UK, I'm not sure I'd like that aspect of the political system much. Here in the States, if you don't vote, I suppose its like you don't exist in the political world, so non-voters don't have any (direct) sway.
      • over here in the UK those who don't vote are considered to be, rather than lazy/disinterested/unimpressed, content with the currently-elected party.
        That doesn't even make sense. If insufficient voter turnout automatically kept the incumbent party in power, then perhaps that would be the case, but not voting doesn't contribute to the success of either party. Those content with the incumbents have to vote to keep them in, the same as people who want them out.
        • Well, shit. I completely overlooked the second sentence of your post. Mod parent down. (Should have previewed the parent post, I guess...)
      • by iminplaya (723125)
        I want to say 'ruling party,' but I'm not sure that's entirely correct...

        It is
      • by PhearoX (1187921)
        That is... That is positively BRILLIANT! I think that might be the one thing we could change here in the US that might actually get people off their asses and into the polls. I can see it now... We'd never have another democrat president! What FairTax, EndOfWelfare, DeportIllegals, MiddleEastGlassParkingLot bliss that would be! No more fear of universal healthcare and me having to pay for some crackhead's overdose treatment... Oh, to dream...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alsee (515537)
      I've often considered starting an online political movement known as 'The Apathy Party.'

      ... considered, but never really cared enough to bother doing it.

      -

    • by Z00L00K (682162)
      "Blessed are the meek [rosary-center.org], for they shall possess the earth" (Mt. 5:4)
    • by iminplaya (723125)
      Nobody for President [nobodyforpresident.org]
  • Fuck you, Boston (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    OK, the subject might not appear to have anything to do with the story, but it does. One of the items on the list was the Boston ATHF "bomb" threat. (Really. I'm not sure what that has to do with the web, but it's one of the ten.)

    Anyway, apparently in response to the bombing, Senator Ted Kennedy (known for, among other things, killing someone while driving drunk) has drafted legislation which would make placing items that are mistaken for bombs a felony, with a 10-25 year sentence.

    So, fuck you Boston, for
    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      I know a state can't leave the Union, but can the rest of the states kick them out? Or at the very least Boston? I know I'd feel safer if the Gay State wasn't part of the Union...

      Hmmm... I thought San Fransisco was known for the homosexuals and that's in California, and by the way Boston is a city, not a state.

      But whatever - the "bomb scare" is sometimes real, but the really evil bombs doesn't look like bombs - they can be just about anything - and definitely not look like the bombs you see in the movie

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by tom's a-cold (253195)

        I know I'd feel safer if the Gay State wasn't part of the Union...

        Why does this remind me of something in The Onion?

        Safer from what? The risk of finding yourself 69-ing a gay Bostonian while you're drunk? Because if that's what it's about, your problem isn't gays, it's closets. Me, I like near SF and am a straight male. Gay men never try hitting on me: I'm probably too old and/or not good-looking enough. Or more likely, if you're not actively looking for something, you're not likely to find it. Gays don

        • by mqduck (232646)

          In Rome, men had sex with men for hundreds of years.
          Yeah, and look how they turned out. ;) Not that I disagree with you or anything.
  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:12AM (#21920420) Homepage
    we will look back into these moments with a whiff of nostalgia while the snowcaps are melting...

    It is actually worth to consider that in western society the internet and it's services has changed the way we live - you are now a second grade citizen if you don't have broadband internet access. The people that have internet access can get access to a lot more information - not only wikipedia but also lunch menus phonebooks and instant communication services that were in it's infancy just five years ago. For example Skype did on a good day maybe kiss the one million mark of online users but now it's rarely below the five million mark and is about to kiss the ten million mark.

    The internet services and identity troubles that have arisen is something that is growing concerns. Of course - identity theft isn't something new but it's easier on a global scale today. However it isn't only about protecting your identity from being exposed - it is also about allowing it to get correctly verified. The ability to verify the identity of a person by cross-checking the data with other systems is an important factor when doing transactions. Of course - sometimes you want to do anonymous transactions - but that isn't a big problem.

    And one item that has been up during the last year is all the bank frauds. Especially the Nordea case which got wide-spread publicity. This was caused by a substandard technique for user verification. And we are going to see more and more cases of intrusions into our bank accounts, which is worrying - but the important thing is that the banks must take responsibility for providing the best possible protective measures without making it overly complex for the users. The threats when doing bank transactions isn't only in the classical hacking but there are also the man in the middle attack and the man in the browser attack. The later is actually circumventing any encryption scheme which means that it doesn't matter how good your encryption is. A verification of the transaction has to be done by different means - and one way that is reasonably safe is by using a token [actividentity.com] (that isn't connected to the computer) with a challenge/response where the challenge data is user friendly (for example the account that money shall be sent to). This will still allow a criminal to read your data but make it a lot harder to actually modify your bank account unless the criminal has access both to the token algorithm and the secret key of the token. The one-time password tokens that are only generating a random number aren't sufficient since they does only verify the fact that you have the token - but that doesn't verify if the data you send along with the transaction isn't being compromised.

    Of course - this means that you will still have to be on the forefront when it comes to protect your identity verification data, and that you actually shall demand of your bank and other online services that they provide you with good protective measures. However it also means that the public services also has to take measures to protect the citizens by having a reasonable setup where risk assessment has been done.

    The more worrying part is that in many cases "security" actually resolves to "citizen monitoring" in a way that brings into mind the actions of Stasi and other similar agencies. This is actually counter-productive and is not doing any good at all for the citizens. It's like fishing for cod with a net sized for sharks - you may occasionally get a catch - but probably not the catch you expected or wanted. Just the publicity around the monitoring has caused the big criminals to think twice before doing anything that might be recorded and tracked. It doesn't mean that there aren't anyone communicating through the net for criminal reasons - just that the methods got a lot more covert. Type an online entry here as a blog comment, make a posting in slashdot - and sometimes encode a message into it through

It appears that PL/I (and its dialects) is, or will be, the most widely used higher level language for systems programming. -- J. Sammet

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