I married a Russian bot

I tend to be loud and angry in my political views, I freely admit. My wife, on the other hand, is more subtle and open to exploring other political perspectives, but she is also deeply concerned about the direction the country is taking. She’s been more active in local political organizing than I am (no one wants me in their campaigns, for some reason), and she’s also been quietly working in online communities. She’s far more interested in, and better at, healing the rifts and dispelling the nastiness, so, for instance, she’s been posting in some of the online fora in a positive way. She’s an advocate for Bernie Sanders, but she only says good things about other candidates and does not engage in trying to tear down Warren or even Biden.

I brought her her breakfast this morning, and she was shocked. She could not believe it. She had just been banned from Democratic Underground. She just ignored my lovely breakfast. I think her feelings were hurt.

I couldn’t believe it either. My breakfast was healthy and delicious, and Mary is a gentle vision of sweetness and light online, kind of the opposite of me. I guess DU is committed to fractiousness, though. Either that or they were unable to believe someone who wasn’t cutthroat and vicious was human.

I should have noticed that she said something strange like “doobryuh ootruh” when I brought her plate in, though. She also seems to be drinking a lot of machine oil lately. Should I worry?


  1. markgisleson says

    DU? Not sure why this should bother her. I’ve never found that site interesting or helpful. Lots of disinformation and BS clogging their threads.

  2. Sean Boyd says

    A simple test to determine whether or not to worry: suggest pizza for dinner tonight. If the answer is a simple yes/no, or perhaps a lecture on cholesterol and high fat foods, you’re okay. If the answer involves secret child sex rings, well, you might wanna worry a bit.

  3. Félix Desrochers-Guérin says

    Хорошо встретились, товарищ. Ваша еженедельная порция борща будет доставлена в ближайшее время.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    “I married a Russian bot”

    There’s a title for those old men’s magazines.

  5. says

    Yep. The same people who can’t understand why people wouldn’t want to vote for a candidate in 2016 who was historically anti-union, pro-1%, pro-war, pro-Wall-Street, pro-banks, pro-War-on-Drugs, and unwilling to even meet with anybody from Black Lives Matter, can’t understand why such a candidate would lose, and have decided that it was because of Russian interference, and that anybody who dissents even slightly from DLC orthodoxy is a Russian Bot.

    Of course, their messaging has been headed in this direction for years — before they decided that anybody who supported Sanders was a Bernie Bro, they tried to do the same thing with “Obama Boys”. (Remember that?) They have a slightly harder task in front of them this time, because although Biden was in a lot of memes his history is even more blatantly anti-everything-the-party-base-stands-for than Clinton’s is, and since he’s a white straight cis male they can’t even accuse people of bigotry when they object to his history of extraordinarily stupid and short-sighted policy — which is why they’ve kept the “Russian Bots” idea going. It’s the ideal excuse for banning anybody who isn’t wildly enthusiastic about a right-of-center candidate who wants to be a Republican but is too old to change party registration.

    Welcome to the DLC-dominated Democratic Party, brought to you by the Clintons, where dissent is not tolerated and you will take what you are given and shut up, or else.

  6. Sean Boyd says

    PZ @3,

    Well, in that case, there are a few tips to make your co-existence better.

    Instead of using her name or nickname, address her as “tovarishch”. It’s old school, but it never hurts.
    Always agree, if the topic rolls around to literature or poetry, that Pushkin is the best Russian writer ever. Full stop.
    Find common ground: even in an American/Russian bot marriage, both parties can agree, for instance, that Steven Seagal as a special envoy to help promote humanitarian and artistic connections between the US and Russia is laughable.
    Develop a taste for 100 proof Stolichnaya. This is really a good idea regardless.
    You’ve got access to one of the most powerful entities on the planet: a bot declared capable by all our best media outlets as capable of skewing an entire US presidential election. Imagine what could be done in your neck of the wood? Make Morris Great Again with Mayor PZ!

  7. rrhain says

    @3 (The Vicar) Who on earth are you talking about? It can’t be Clinton unless you’re calling Elizabeth Warren “pro-Wall Street, pro-banks.” Warren endorsed Clinton’s Wall Street policies. And Clinton met with Black Lives Matter multiple times.

    And you wonder why people look askance and consider using terms such as “Bernie Bros.”

    It’s cute how you think an election that was decided on quite literally a few thousand votes in a handful of cities couldn’t possibly have been affected by an orchestrated campaign by a foreign agent for which we have proof involved quite literally hacking into the computer systems of elections officials in all 50 states.

    Is your hatred the only thing you have left? Clinton beat Trump. She won the second largest number of votes in election history. And on top of that, she beat Sanders by even more than she beat Trump.

  8. says

    Anyone else remember the Great Gay Purge of DU in May 2009? A bunch of people (including me) were permanently banned for having the AUDACITY! of calling out Obama repeatedly saying that marriage was a state matter and refusing to come out in support of same-sex marriage. Granted, those posts also noted that the site’s then owner, Skinner (aka David Allen) had a well documented dislike for uppity gays who refused to keep their place.

    As far as I’m concerned, getting banned from DU is a badge of honor. Wear that tombstone with pride.

  9. hemidactylus says

    Hillary’s loss was overdetermined or multifactorial. Operation Infektion style tactics courtesy of the Kremlin played a role. But just as Jeb lost in GOP primary field there may have been a carry over of Clinton fatigue. If Hillary and Jeb faced off instead I might have stayed home as a jaded cynic eyeroll. Maybe prospective Dem voters just stayed home. And she perhaps took some states for granted while writing off others. I saw very few if any Hillary signs in the Land of Hanging Chads. Her detractors made hay out of the deplorables comment without even acknowledging her expressed empathy for the potentially reachable basket. Talk about unintended bad optics. She was correct on that observation IMO. “But the “other” basket – the other basket – and I know because I look at this crowd I see friends from all over America here: I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas and — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that “other” basket of people are people who feel the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures; and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but — he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket_of_deplorables

    Tight elections are swayed by the slightest things. Arguably, if memory serves, if either Elian Gonzalez stayed in Miami instead of being forcibly (perception of exilios) removed to Cuba or Nader didn’t run Al Gore could have stopped ManBearPig. I’m super cereal.

  10. Jemolk says

    @9 (rrhain) It’s 1000% Clinton. Why Warren endorsed her, I have no idea. Ideologically and policy-wise, Warren and Sanders are much closer than Warren and Clinton. Also, you don’t find yourself so close electorally to Donald freaking Trump that a handful of misinformation bots can sway the election without screwing up elsewhere. FFS, she didn’t even campaign in three states she lost by narrow margins that could have swung the election, and she explicitly took the Democratic base for granted while running to the right, and to top it all off, she chose someone who was even more of a mealy-mouthed “centrist” than her as a running mate. You don’t get to brush all that, alongside legitimate criticisms of her policy record, under the rug just because there was an additional confounding factor.

    Now, should she have won? Yeah, probably. That doesn’t change the fact that her own campaign played a substantial role in her snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  11. rrhain says

    @13 Jemolk: So you’re saying Warren is a shill for Wall Street and Big Banks. Your Clinton Derangement Syndrome is so complete that you’ll ignore the evidence in order to ensure that Clinton remains the bad guy. It’s precious how you talk about how, “policy-wise, Warren and Sanders are much closer than Warren and Clinton.” Since Warren campaigned for Clinton, what does that say? And what, precisely, were Clinton’s policies? This is yet another lie by the CDS folks (both Republicans and Bernie Bros) that somehow Clinton didn’t ever talk about policy despite the fact that that was the primary focus of her campaign. Her web site was chock-a-block full of policy and it’s why Warren campaigned for her.

    I’m quite serious here: What do you think her policies were? There’s a record of them on her website. I want to know what you think they were. No fair looking at her site first. The point is to compare what you think her policy positions were and what she actually put forward as her positions. For example, The Vicar claims she never met with Black Lives Matter. That simply isn’t true. She met with them multiple times. There’s a reason that the people who would go to her rallies and listen to her talk had a different opinion of her than those who only listened to what talking heads said about her.

    Now, of course, there were multiple factors involved in her loss. That she didn’t do much campaigning in Wisconsin and Michigan and such was completely bone-headed. The media’s obsession with Trump (going back to her campaigning on policy: Can you recall when CNN/MSNBC/Fox would spend time showing an empty Clinton podium waiting for her to make a campaign speech and then cover it completely the way they did with Trump?) was certainly part of it, too. Comey’s announcement that they were re-opening the email investigation at the 11th hour. All of this played into it.

    But the fact remains that she WONTHEELECTION. She beat Trump while garnering the second largest vote haul in history. And she beat Sanders by MORETHANSHEBEATTRUMP. The only way this race was “tight” is in the context of the Electoral College. And that’s a real thing and her failure to recognize that and adjust her campaign to account for it is on her.

    But there were plenty of other factors involved that also affected the outcome and to pretend that the Russian interference was trivial is to ignore reality.

  12. rrhain says

    By the way, Sanders and Warren have a 93% voting concordance for the 2017-2018 session.

    Guess what the concordance between Sanders and Clinton was?

    That’s right: 93%.

    So if Sanders and Warren are closer, exactly how does one measure that? Or is this more an example of being a single-issue voter? Or that one prefers the words used to describe the policy of one candidate even though the policy is the same?

  13. Jemolk says

    @14 No you fool, I’m not saying Warren is a shill for Wall Street. I said I have real trouble understanding why Warren endorsed Clinton rather than Sanders given that Sanders’ ideals are only somewhat to the left of Warren’s and Clinton’s ideals are rather significantly to Warren’s right. I’m not passing judgment here, there could be good reasons, but I sure as hell don’t know them. As for the voting concordance — no, that doesn’t actually prove any concordance of views. I’ve voted in ways I disliked to go for the lesser evil, but I hardly am in accord with the people who did so enthusiastically. Case in point — the 2016 presidential race.

    As for Clinton’s policies: mostly decent, but only incremental improvements at a time when we needed seriouis shifts. IIRC, for example, Sanders proposed $15/hour minimum wage, and Clinton counter-proposed $12/hour. Worse, then her campaign turned around and said Sanders was one-upping her. $12 is an improvement, certainly, but not a terribly significant one, particularly by the time it would get implemented, yet she was portraying that as the only way and asking for something more was being “against pragmatism” or some such nonsense. Her policies were sort of acceptable as a compromise position, if boring, except for the bit where her closest friends and advisors had financial incentives to fuck us all over. It was her campaigning that was objectively shite, as demonstrated by the brazenly false framing of the minimum wage question above. I despise her more after the election for her complete and utter screw-ups giving us Trump than I ever did before it. Hell, preceding it, I actually liked her.

  14. rrhain says

    @14: Yes, you fool, you are. If Clinton is a shill for Wall Street, then clearly Warren is, too, because Warren approved of Clinton’s Wall Street plan. When you fall back on, “I don’t know why she would do that,” then that’s a sign that you are letting your personal desire for how the world ought to be get in the way of you seeing the way it really is. You don’t like that Warren did it, but she did. So you have a choice:

    1) Warren and Clinton are both shills.
    2) Neither Warren nor Clinton are shills.

    They go together.

    You keep asserting that “Clinton’s ideals are rather significantly to Warren’s right,” but you keep failing to explain exactly what those “ideals” are. I get the feeling that it is because, as you admit, you “don’t know them.” So time for you to put up or shut up. Precisely what were Clinton’s ideals? She had a huge campaign that focused on policy. It would be trivial to look them up, but you need to explain what it is you think those ideals are before you look them up because that will tell us if you were paying attention to Clinton’s campaign or if you were paying attention to what talking heads were saying.

    Everybody knows Gore said he invented the internet, right?

    Have you considered the possibility that your ignorance for why Warren endorsed Clinton’s Wall Street plan might be reflective of your ignorance of Clinton’s plan and Warren’s justification for supporting it? They both said why. So why do you not understand why? Did you even bother to look it up? Did you do any homework on the subject before you decided to pontificate on the subject?

    And yes, concordance of voting does indicate a concordance of views. It isn’t some sort of magic wand, but surely you aren’t so stupid as to think anybody was suggesting that, are you? Voting records are when push comes to shove. It’s one thing to talk about things you’d like to do (and that’s an important thing), but it’s another to actually vote for it. We see this currently in Congress with regard to various Republicans who keep going on and on about how they hate what Trump is doing…and then vote for all of his agenda. This is the lie about McCain…that he was somehow some “maverick” when his voting record shows him as being a very solid conservative. Yeah, there were a few votes where he bucked the Republican majority, but that doesn’t change his overarching record.

    So let’s see…Clinton supported ethanol production, against the livestock industry, and wanted to end a tax credit involving adding animal fat to petroleum in creating diesel, something people claimed was being exploited by the oil and gas industry. Sanders was on the opposite side. She voted to put a moratorium on earmarks while Sanders supported them. There’s more (the New York Times has a list), and I don’t particularly like many of Clinton’s votes, but you’re going to have to start providing examples rather than just relying on assertion.

    You do bring up the minimum wage, so let’s talk about that: What was Clinton’s reasoning for $12 over $15? Whether or not you think it’s bull, what was the reasoning? Can you give her exact words and not some third-hand description? For example, you claim that Clinton’s stance was a “counter-proposal.” Really? Because from what I can tell, Clinton’s position on a higher minimum wage is about the same time as Sanders but is more complex than Sanders’ straight-up minimum. For example, she was speaking to the Fight for 15 group in June of 2015, but her claim of 12 didn’t come about until July.

    Once again, the question to you is: What is Clinton’s reasoning? Even if you think it’s bull, what is her reasoning? Exact quotes in full context, please, rather than some third-hand account. “Against pragmatism” is not sufficient.

    And who are these “closest friends and advisors” who “had financial incentives to fuck us all over”? What were those incentives? Be specific. Clinton has long been a subject of smear campaigns and outright lies, so this is not some stupid debating technique of me demanding things to derail the conversation. This is the very point of the debate: People have lots of ideas as to what Clinton’s policies were. They are quite often incorrect. Everybody knows that Gore said he invented the internet, right? Everybody knows that Omar minimized the 9/11 attacks, right? Everybody knows that Clinton said that all of Trump’s supporters were a “basket of deplorables,” right?

    None of that is true, but everybody thinks it is. So it’s very important for you to provide specifics, otherwise you’re just parroting talking points you don’t understand.

  15. consciousness razor says

    I said I have real trouble understanding why Warren endorsed Clinton rather than Sanders given that Sanders’ ideals are only somewhat to the left of Warren’s and Clinton’s ideals are rather significantly to Warren’s right. I’m not passing judgment here, there could be good reasons, but I sure as hell don’t know them.

    Google all of this if you like…. I’m finding news on Warren endorsing Clinton June 9, 2016. All of the primaries except for DC were already finished. (DC was June 14.) They had started February 1 in Iowa, and the last group was on June 7 — an important group, because it included the very large number of votes from California. This obviously happened immediately before Warren’s June 9 endorsement.
    So by then, it was a done deal, and she knew it. That’s why, and there’s nothing mysterious or confusing about that.

  16. Jemolk says

    @17 Who were these friends and advisors? You’re kidding, right? Lobbyists. Corporate execs. Henry fucking Kissinger. Who do you think I’m talking about?

    For your first two claims of the post — people can do the same thing from different motives. Having alternatives and not even differing much on rhetoric is reason enough to think McCain was not in any sense a ‘maverick.’ When your only options are far-rightist nonsense and neoliberal nonsense, though, someone genuinely left of center is going to end up stuck voting for the neoliberal nonsense quite a bit. Case in point yet again — me in 2016. None of this is hard. However, with regard to Warren, I do have serious reservations specifically because she is so ready to back off from principled, popular lefty policies — have you seen her distancing herself from Medicare for All recently? I think her heart’s in the right place, but I don’t think she’s willing to really push for change as we need now.

    “You need to state them before you look them up or you weren’t paying attention.” Yeah, whatever. It was two years ago and I don’t have the best memory for specific words used in any case, though I do remember who Clinton was closest to — her donors — and that this would influence her against our interests even if that influence is subconscious. She’s also never been much of a leader on numerous lefty issues — just off the top of my head, she was one of the slowest Dems to support gay marriage, she threw her entire weight as First Lady behind the crime bill’s worst aspects, she voted with the herd on Iraq, and supported trade deals that favor the very rich over the rest, such as the TPP. But in case you fucking missed it the first couple times — Clinton’s policies were at least tolerable. They were fine. Not any better than fine, but they were fine. I wouldn’t be upset to get them. Minor improvements are still improvements. Her campaigning got us Trump, and that is what I can’t forgive.

  17. Jemolk says

    @consciousness razor Good point. Makes sense. And I suppose she was a bit more hesitant to give out endorsements early on than I tend to think is the best idea. Not alienating people, etc. I somewhat disagree, but understand now. I had apparently forgotten that bit over the course of the past two years, and wasn’t exactly all that inclined to do any research whatsoever for someone who was talking about how I needed to be able to recall Clinton’s policies off the top of my head (rather than merely my impressions of them) or it was somehow “cheating.”

  18. consciousness razor says

    wasn’t exactly all that inclined to do any research whatsoever

    Understandable, if ill-advised. I got to thinking about it and couldn’t remember anything about her endorsement, whether it happened, when/where it happened, what she had said, etc. So I wanted to check on that just to clear the cobwebs a bit, but then the dates popped out at me.
    Of course, Sanders also endorsed Clinton and attended the convention that July. It should go without saying that Sanders is ideologically close to himself, as close as anyone could be.