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Wikipedia Politics

Let the Campaign Edit Wars Begin 571

Posted by samzenpus
from the history-goes-to-the-victor dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Megan Garber writes that in high school, Paul Ryan's classmates voted him as his class's 'biggest brown noser,' a juicy tidbit that is a source of delight for his political opponents but considered an irrelevant piece of youthful trivia to his supporters. 'But it's also a tension that will play out, repeatedly, in the most comprehensive narrative we have about Paul Ryan as a person and a politician and a policy-maker: his Wikipedia page,' writes Garber. Late Friday night, just as news of the Ryan choice leaked in the political press — the first substantial edit to that page removed the 'brown noser' mention which had been on the page since June 16. The Wikipedia deletion has given rise to a whole discussion of whether the mention is a partisan attack, whether 'brown noser' is a pejorative, and whether an old high school opinion survey is notable or relevant. As of this writing, 'brown noser' stands as does a maybe-mitigating piece of Ryan-as-high-schooler trivia: that he was also voted prom king. But that equilibrium could change, again, in an instant. 'Today is the glory day for the Paul Ryan Wikipedia page,' writes Garber. 'Yesterday, it saw just 10 [edits]. Today, however — early on a Saturday morning, East Coast time — it's already received hundreds of revisions. And the official news of the Ryan selection, of course, is just over an hour old.' Now Ryan's page is ready to host debates about biographical details and their epistemological relevance. 'Like so many before it, will be a place of debate and dissent and derision. But it will also be a place where people can come together to discuss information and policy and the intersection between the two — a town square for the digital age.'"
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Let the Campaign Edit Wars Begin

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:36AM (#40972301)

    Then I'm pretty sure that what Paul Ryan did in high school can be too.

    But seriously, I'm a lot less concerned with what Paul Ryan did in high school that what he has done since. I'm not sure what Romney was thinking on this one (excite a base that was ALREADY excited, that would have come out to vote against Obama no matter who you chose?). But he just gave the Democrats an incredible gift. Because he didn't just excite the Republican base, he also just excited the Democratic base (and scared the hell out of the independents, and conceded Florida). Many Democrats were disenchanted with Obama and probably wouldn't have come out to vote for him again in the fall. But stacking him up against an insane-right-wing Ayn Rand ideologue who wants to abolish Medicare and Social Security to give tax cuts to the wealthy is a pretty fucking great way to motivate them. I'm not sure if this is some form of political suicide or just incredibly bad advisers, but either way--speaking as a Dem--thanks, buddy.

    • by dtmancom (925636) <gordon2NO@SPAMdtman.com> on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:43AM (#40972345) Homepage
      Obama's place of birth is an actual Constitutional issue. Ryan's cliques in high school are not.
      • by crazyjj (2598719) *

        But Obama's cliques in college are [dailycaller.com], of course.

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:56AM (#40972489)

        Why would it be? That would have been checked before he registered to be a candidate.

        I still don't understand it anyway, since the constitution says natural born and I would assume that covers anyone that was became a citizen by birth. I for instance was born outside the US, but because one my my parents was a US soldier I was a citizen by birth.

        Wiki quotes the Congressional Research Service to say;

        "The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term âoenatural bornâ citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship âoeby birthâ or âoeat birth,â either by being born âoeinâ the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship âoeat birth.â Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an âoealienâ required to go through the legal process of âoenaturalizationâ to become a U.S. citizen.[1]"

        Which seems to agree with my analysis.

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          Whoa, lay off the curly quotes.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:03AM (#40972533)

        Obama's place of birth is an actual Constitutional issue. Ryan's cliques in high school are not.

        It is a Constitutional issue only because he is black. Nobody gave a shit that McCain was born on a military base in Panama or that Romney's father was born in Mexico when he tried to run for President. But Obama had to have been ineligible. It is a double-standard and it is racism. And it is also factually incorrect. So fuck you for bringing it up again.

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          I wouldn't say it's because he's black. His middle name is Hussein. The belief, no matter how unfounded, was that he was somehow trying to subvert the presidency toward muslim principles.

          • by crazyjj (2598719) *

            The bizarre thing is that the nuts think he is a Muslim Atheist Communist. I don't even know where to begin on the problems with that. But I guess it makes sense if you're a dumb-ass fucking redneck with no clue about what any of those words mean.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by DesScorp (410532)

          Obama's place of birth is an actual Constitutional issue. Ryan's cliques in high school are not.

          It is a Constitutional issue only because he is black. Nobody gave a shit that McCain was born on a military base in Panama or that Romney's father was born in Mexico when he tried to run for President. But Obama had to have been ineligible. It is a double-standard and it is racism. And it is also factually incorrect. So fuck you for bringing it up again.

          American military bases are considered sovereign US territory for reasons of birth, just like the Navy's ships and American embassies. Anyone born there is considered to have legally been born on US soil. This isn't new or noteworthy, this is longstanding United States law. Also, a candidate's parent's birthplace has zero consequence in the Constitution. And you'd know that if you'd bothered to take 30 seconds to Google an answer instead of sounding like a fool.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            And if you took 35 seconds to parse the sentence, you'd realize that the GP was talking about George Romney running for President DESPITE being born in Mexico.

            Yes, I know that "he" is a bit of an ambiguous pronoun, that's why I'm giving you an extra 5 seconds to look it over. Heck, you could have Google'd it yourself.

            You really would sound less like a fool if you hadn't gotten so outraged over your own mistaken reading.

        • by Dan667 (564390)
          romney and ryan's tax returns are a far bigger issue. How they manage their finances are something they need to be transparent about and they are not.
      • by bedroll (806612) on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:06AM (#40972565) Journal

        You're right, Obama's place of birth gives us an excellent opportunity to examine areas of Constitutional law that are commonly misunderstood. For example, where he was born means absolutely nothing because the citizenship of his mother is not in question. So, like George Romney - Mitt's father, who was born in Mexico - President Obama is a natural born citizen regardless of where he was born. The rest is racism and xenophobia.

        As for the usefulness of Ryan's brown-noser status: Well it's not particularly important except that Americans like to know the personality of their prospective leaders. When Biden was picked it wasn't particularly important to note that he's a gaff machine, except in the personal context of how others will judge him. Either way, if it is verifiable and people are interested in the information as a part of his profile then it should meet the minimum standards for inclusion in Mr. Ryan's Wikipedia page.

        • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:15AM (#40973363)
          Actually, whether or not someone is a natural-born citizen is more complicated than that. George Romney is an edge case of one sort. His parents were both U.S. citizens, but he was born in a foreign country. A study of the way that "natural born" was used at the time of the writing of the Constitution suggests that such might have in the minds of the Framers of the Constitution disqualified him from serving as President (but the argument is inconclusive). Barack Obama represents another such edge case. Since only one of his parents was a U.S. citizen, if he had been born outside of the U.S. he would not have qualified as "natural-born" as the term was used by the Framers. It is even ambiguous as to whether or not he qualifies as "natural-born" by the understanding of the term that the Framers would have held (it is ambiguous, there are sources which support such an argument, but they are not conclusive). The final example of an edge case for whether someone qualifies as a "natural-born" citizen is Marco Rubio. Rubio was born in the U.S., but his parents were not U.S. citizens at the time. Again, looking at the writings about what "natural-born" meant at the time of the writing of the Constitution suggests that he would not be considered "natural-born" by the definitions of the time, but once again, the writings are not conclusive and it is not clear whether he would have been viewed as a "natural-born" citizen or not.
          All of these cases are why I wish that the case of whether or not Obama was a "natural-born" citizen had gone to the Supreme Court and that the Court had ruled on it. This is one of the rare cases where it would have been useful for the Court to offer an opinion on what defined a "natural-born" citizen that went beyond the narrow parameters necessary to decide the case. Basically, the "birther" issue has brought out the fact that the term "natural-born" does not have a clear legal definition today.
          • by Trepidity (597)

            I agree there's no completely solid binding precedent on the subject, but is there really any doubt how it would come out? The Supreme Court has more than hinted on many occasions that if it ever came up, they would adopt an expansive view, at least as regards those born on U.S. soil. For example, they have cited positively to the New York decision of Lynch vs. Clarke (1844) on several occasions, which concluded:

            Suppose a person should be elected president who was native born, but of alien parents; could th

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            I'm curious what evidence you have regarding what the framers, and them requiring both parents to be U.S. citizens. It wasn't the case 21 years ago when I went through this with my own kid. Was it previously?

            http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_5199.html [state.gov]

        • by drnb (2434720) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:32AM (#40973613)

          As for the usefulness of Ryan's brown-noser status: Well it's not particularly important except that Americans like to know the personality of their prospective leaders.

          All politicians are brown nosers, even Obama. Witness the years of sitting through Rev Wright's sermons even though he severely disagreed, sitting there merely because Wright was the local "king maker" and getting elected to the Illinois legislature without the Rev's support would be impossible.

      • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:23AM (#40973459)

        There's more doubt about McCain being constitutionally a natural born citizen than Obama.

        Obama was born in Hawaii, even ignoring the fact that his birth certificate was shown I find it hard to believe that someone had the amazing foresight to put a fake birth announcement in the paper on the off chance he would want to run for president someday.

        On the other hand, McCain was born in a Panama, at a navy base hospital. What, exactly, McCain's citizenship status would be is a matter of some legal debate, because of various laws in place at the time and enacted later that would effect it.

        My point is, it was never brought up during the campaign because everyone who is honest with themselves knows that there's no conceivable difference between someone born in one place versus someone born someone else. Being born within the borders of the US does not grant you automatic super-patriot powers. As long as you've been a citizen for a hellava long time and have shown loyalty it really shouldn't matter. (Of course, more likely, no one brought it up because attacking the citizenship of a war hero is probably a terrible idea from a PR standpoint).

        Personally, I always thought the natural born requirement was silly. Why don't we just change the requirement to being a US citizen for 35 years and put it in line with the age restrictions. If someone wants to move here at 20 and run for office at 55 I say why the hell shouldn't they be allowed to? If you're willing to believe that someone is willing to plot for 35 years to throw down the US by the ridiculously unlikely plan of being elected president, why do you doubt that someone wouldn't be willing to brainwash their child into doing it instead?

    • by kenp2002 (545495)

      " insane-right-wing Ayn Rand ideologue" and where did that come from? Why exactly is he mentally disturbed?

    • by vlm (69642)

      who wants to abolish Medicare and Social Security

      How did this ever get +4 insightful? This is a perfect example of how the election is now the "D"s to lose. No one would argue Paul Ryan is king of the quislings a 1%er bootlicker to the core. But promoting outright laughable lies about the guy is a subtle way to push votes to the other 1%er supporting party, the "D"s. Negative campaigning has a way of backfiring, in fact I think at least some negative campaigning is strategic astroturfing by the "victim" to get sympathy.

      The most interesting part of the

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Obviously the point was to lose the election. Either that, or you think that Romney is certifiably crazy, which is not really ruled out by the available evidence, but it seems somewhat unlikely.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Indeed There was a journal entry yesterday (not mine) saying "it's official -- Romney wants to lose." He not only gave up Florida, but Ohio as well. Last week I thought it might be a close race, but I'm now seeing an Obama landslide. It should be obvious to everyone by now that the Republicans, and especially the tea hee party, is for helping the 1%ers in every way possible while pissing down the 99%'s backs and telling them it's raining.

      If you're making $300,000 per year and you vote for Obama, you're a fo

    • Until the Tea Party is exorcised from the Republican Party, you're going to have presidential candidates being forced to pick these types of running mates. McCain in his turn had little choice but to find someone who could appeal to "the base".

    • by rilian4 (591569) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:46AM (#40973839) Journal
      Giving people an option to take their money out of Social Security is the right thing to do. Getting rid of socialism in the government can only improve government and the economy. Freedom will win out every time. If one could wave a magic wand and get rid of the incumberance of medical insurance, we'd immediately see a drastic reduction in medical expenses. In a truly free economy w/o insurance to prop it up, the medical industry would have to drastically reduce costs as no one can pay what they charge now.

      The answer is not more insurance, that makes the problem worse. The answer is to get the 800lb government gorilla off of our collective chests and let us be free.
  • by smoore (25406) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:45AM (#40972359) Homepage

    Why hasn't it been reverted to the preannouncment page and locked for editing with the addition of "prospective VP candidate for the Republican party? Seems like the best and only proper solution.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      Well, presumably, you would have to at least add a mention of him getting picked as VP nominee. But this wouldn't otherwise be a bad idea.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

      You're kidding, right?

      I mean, you have a perfectly sane and logical idea there, but it won't work, and here's why:

      ==
      Fact the first: My wee little facebook page has been deluged of late with a megaton of hatred against a guy that I suspect none of my friends (or their friends, etc) have ever heard of until this past Friday. My sister-in-law's fault... let's just say that she's a bit of an 'activist'. So I decided to do a bit of questioning...

      Fact the second: On one of the earliest postings, I asked a simple,

      • by baegucb (18706) on Monday August 13, 2012 @11:10AM (#40973291)

        Well, I live about two miles from Paul Ryan. I've never voted for him or met him. The two major bills he's had passed involved repealing some minor tax on arrows, and renaming the local post office. He does have a lot of support from rich outsiders and local rednecks. Janesville back in 1992 had a KKK rally, and there are people who ride town with Confederate flags fling from their pickup. If you go to www.gazettextra.com there are the usual Tea Party shills, trolls, and astroturfing going on since the failed Walker recall started. Well, maybe since Obama got elected.
        I consider Ryan as a nice guy personally based on his local rep, but a Palin clone who knows grammar.

  • interesting problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:46AM (#40972363)

    I'm tempted to say that these kinds of articles aren't where Wikipedia works best. Articles where the majority of the editors are partisans, rather than scholars or knowledgeable enthusiasts, tend to attract a lot of heat and not as much improvement (I made the mistake once of trying to edit something that was in the Israel-Palestine crossfire).

    On the other hand, it's quite possible that Wikipedia has the least bad coverage. It's Paul Ryan article is contentious, edited by partisans on both sides, and may or may not end up in a great state, but every other summary of Ryan I've been able to find so far is worse. Most are either pure attack pieces, or pure hagiographies.

    • by cashman73 (855518) on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:03AM (#40972535) Journal
      Not sure if I'd agree on that. One of the strengths of Wikipedia is that it allows a large number of editors to add information to the same place quickly. While there's certainly a lot of vandalism, particularly in the first few days of breaking news, things do stabilize and there is a wealth of well-cited information about such topics. Just look at articles about Hurricane Katrina [wikipedia.org], the Virginia Tech Massacre [wikipedia.org], or the recent Colorado shooting [wikipedia.org]. It's also interesting to note that the article about Barack Obama [wikipedia.org] has achieved "featured article" status (supposedly the highest level of quality on Wikipedia), and the articles about Joe Biden [wikipedia.org] and Mitt Romney [wikipedia.org] are both at the "good article" level of quality.
  • Screw Wickipedia (Score:2, Insightful)

    by p51d007 (656414)
    If anyone seriously takes the information on Wickipedia as "fact", if they are a (so called) journalist, they need to be flogged. Most of the things you find on the wicki site are at the mercy of whomever put it there, not backed up with FACTS. But, since we are talking about a conservative, it's fair game to trash. Now, since Obama is "the one", his wicki site is probably watched like a hawk, or locked down. I think all politicians wicki sites should be removed or locked down because trolls love to caus
    • by Trepidity (597)

      You're really trying to give Ward Cunningham an aneurysm with that spelling of "wiki", aren't you.

  • are, of course, pathetic.
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:56AM (#40972471)

    Was Paul Ryan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Young_Ones_%28TV_series%29#Rick) modeled after Rick?

    They're even look-alikes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul3U_J37YCc

    "Hands up, who likes me"

    Hands all down.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Was Paul Ryan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Young_Ones_%28TV_series%29#Rick) modeled after Rick?

      They're even look-alikes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul3U_J37YCc

      "Hands up, who likes me"

      Hands all down.

      that is funny.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:57AM (#40972493) Homepage Journal

    This is a situation where the page should have locked to prevent the edit wars. Granted, no one knew who the VP pick was going to be, but as soon as humanly possible, the page should have been locked down and only selected individuals allowed to edit it for completeness, not remove things which, while not necessarily relevant, give a broader picture of who the person is.

  • Wars? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:59AM (#40972509)

    Romney and Ryan want to increase Defense spending. Why? Do they want us to get us involved in more wars?

    At least Obama has got us out of one unnecessary war started by the previous Republican administration, and is slowly scaling back the other one.

    Tell the Republicans that if they want to lower the deficit they should cut back on the defense budget and stop getting us into wars.\

    And the rich people don't need more tax cuts.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      Romney and Ryan want to increase Defense spending. Why?

      Well, it ain't cheap to bring democracy or Iran by force. Or was it "replace their democracy with a new U.S.-puppet Shah"? I always get two those mixed up.

  • by Revotron (1115029) on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:00AM (#40972515)
    How long until we see PAC ads accusing him of being a big smelly poopy face? Wait, those already started? Hmm.

    Welcome back to kindergarten, folks. I think I'll go hibernate for the next three months so I don't have to witness the ridiculous stupidity of American society when polarized by two equally bad alternatives.
  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@ube r m 0 0 . net> on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:05AM (#40972561) Homepage Journal

    The smart people have already looked at the real platforms of the candidates and know for whom they're voting. That leaves those who are too lazy to do any research; these are the ones swayed by stupid bullshit like how

    Paul Ryan's classmates voted him as his class's 'biggest brown noser'

    as well as attack ads and other campaigning that can be best summed up by "my opponent will destroy this country," even though a rational, objective thinker would realize that neither major candidate will likely do so.

    The rest of us? We're not the targets of this late-stage campaigning so we're completely ignored. I'll be fast forwarding through the political ads like the rest of you and wishing it was already November 7. Hell, I can't even vote (yet) so this really just feels like being forced to watch a bunch of idiots fighting from the sidelines.

    • as well as attack ads and other campaigning that can be best summed up by "my opponent will destroy this country,"

      It is the one thing that both camps can say that is probably true.

    • The real problem is that the 2008 campaign season never ended. Instead of actually getting shit done for the past 4 years (an especially the last 2 years), our lawmakers have spent the entire time campaigning.
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:17AM (#40972669) Homepage Journal

    Since this is the era of the politics of personal destruction, anything is fair game.

    Of course, it's dysfunctional, but we aren't going to change this soon. Our political process is too polarized now.

    And of course, issues really don't matter to the side that sees them as a liability.

  • Just f'ing great. Just as the US is going down the tubes, let's all base our choice on politicians NOT by the policies they espouse [1], but by gossip someone posted just like they were in high school. (clap clap clap)Good job Internet, you brought out the best of humanity for voting.

    [1] As if they won't change 180 deg. when they get into office anyways [politifact.com]

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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