Hack the Presidency
March 15, 2019 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Beto O’Rourke’s secret membership in America’s oldest hacking group. O'Rourke officially announced his candidacy, yesterday. Today, in an excerpt from an upcoming book, author Joseph Menn has revealed that O'Rourke, as a teenager, was part of the Cult of the Dead Cow. More background from the author on Twitter. "His CDC writing from nearly three decades ago, under the handle 'Psychedelic Warlord,' remains online."
posted by Sequence (137 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
what the ever living
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:07 AM on March 15 [33 favorites]


I try to vote on policy, not personality - but this just endears him to me even more. America is ready for its first punk-rocking, 0-day-warez-trading, dress-wearing sk8er boi President.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:08 AM on March 15 [48 favorites]


Pretty sure my online writing from 25 years ago would disqualify me from holding any position higher than cowcatcher.
posted by praemunire at 10:08 AM on March 15 [49 favorites]


Oh man, that is a name I haven't seen in a long long time
posted by KirTakat at 10:09 AM on March 15 [22 favorites]


If this indicates he is a closet Hawkwind fan, he has just gone up in my estimation...
posted by aeshnid at 10:13 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


Someone needs to dust off a few "Free Kevin" signs for his next rally.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:13 AM on March 15 [22 favorites]


Yikes. I'm with you, Potato.

As with Harris, I wish he was truly further left on... a lot of things... but damn if the personality isn't attractive as hell. Sigh.
posted by rokusan at 10:13 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


I honestly thought the Reuters web site had been hacked when I saw this story.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:13 AM on March 15 [15 favorites]


You had me at President Psychedelic Warlord
posted by Damienmce at 10:15 AM on March 15 [45 favorites]


I never thought that in the year 2019 one of my big regrets would be not taking all the internet stuff I liked when I was 14 seriously enough.

like if I could tell teenaged me one thing, that one thing might be “ignore your schoolwork and devote your life to your favorite bits of online drama.”
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:15 AM on March 15 [24 favorites]


This must be why his campaign manifesto is 101_ways_to_mess_with_wal_mart.txt
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:15 AM on March 15 [38 favorites]


Not running for president, but more affirmation that using a fake name on rec.arts.erotica was the right choice.
posted by Gorgik at 10:15 AM on March 15 [58 favorites]


nah I think people should always post under their real names, maybe supplemented with a descriptive epithet making clear precisely who they are.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:20 AM on March 15 [59 favorites]


Look, don't get your hopes up. At best you're going to get Vice-President Psychedelic Warlord.
posted by phooky at 10:22 AM on March 15 [16 favorites]


Seriously, RNTP. I have my own assortment of mildy-embarrassing things online from the 80's and 90's, but I'd be happy to have them published in the NYT if I could please have my old floppy disks back, full of Beagle Bros hacks and painfully-detailed ASCII efforts.
posted by rokusan at 10:23 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Pssh, I remember him. I killed him in LoRD.
posted by biogeo at 10:24 AM on March 15 [10 favorites]


This is like so much what in the actual fuck for me. I mean I really don't know how I feel about Beto as a politician because I've already got too many weird gender attraction vapors and dysphoria about him and this just confuses that attraction even more.

The whole running for president thing is just more of him plying his hacker wiles on me I guess.
posted by nikaspark at 10:24 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Is Psychedelic Warlord a cabinet-level post? If not, it should be.
posted by allegedly at 10:24 AM on March 15 [13 favorites]


Having gone by Psychedelic Warlord on the internet is, I think, basically the most relatable thing any presidential candidate has ever done, for me. I still don't know that this means much in terms of who I'm going to wind up supporting in the primaries, but this feels like the world just turned on its head, that people who were like me as teens are now even possibly going to be president. Okay, I didn't join any hacker collectives, but I did plenty of piracy and I once broke into an academic server in China just to see if I could? Because it was the internet, and why wouldn't I! But it never seemed like there was a real connection between the worlds I existed in and actual national-level US politics.

Next you're going to tell me that we're not only someday going to have a woman president, but someday we'll have a president who is a woman who had an AO3 account.
posted by Sequence at 10:26 AM on March 15 [56 favorites]


"VP Psychedelic Warlord has vowed to personally visit the astral plane and establish diplomatic relations with the DMT machine elves"
posted by Damienmce at 10:27 AM on March 15 [50 favorites]


Now this is the sort of news I can get behind today. If this season's writers can just keep this stuff coming it would be appreciated.

Sitting here wishfully hoping at some stage Beto gets to look Trump square in the eye (maybe say at an inauguration) and ask him "how does it feel that a nerd is about to rm -rf you and your legacy...clickty bye". Trump won't have a clue but that...that is the moment the curtain comes down....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:28 AM on March 15 [15 favorites]


We've already had a president who has an AO3 account, but I'm not saying who
posted by phooky at 10:29 AM on March 15 [16 favorites]


Really, this is about as dramatic as if we found out he wrote some bad poetry for a zine. Get back to me when we find his name in the crack screen for Lode Runner. I need a candidate that understands both nuclear deterrance and Spiradisc copy protection.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:30 AM on March 15 [14 favorites]


I stand corrected. The poetry is good.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:33 AM on March 15 [24 favorites]


To quote a friend, "While I abhor identity politics, he's one of us."
posted by slogger at 10:34 AM on March 15 [19 favorites]


I have like one *million* feelings about this. Kind of sad that he wasn't actually crafting 0day shellcode or hacking the planet. Really want to know what his feelings are about Chelsea Manning now.

Also this seems like as good a place as any to post this: . Maybe he was part of the cDc, but can he really skate?
posted by dis_integration at 10:35 AM on March 15 [11 favorites]


I still don't know that this means much in terms of who I'm going to wind up supporting in the primaries, but this feels like the world just turned on its head, that people who were like me as teens are now even possibly going to be president.
Says every Silicon Valley asshole who has spent his entire political life railing against identity politics.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:35 AM on March 15 [16 favorites]




We've already had a president who has an AO3 account, but I'm not saying who

This is something people get wrong all the time. Gerald Ford, who spent the last year of his life writing the famed fanfic My Immortal, actually had a fanfiction.net account.
posted by suckerpunch at 10:38 AM on March 15 [44 favorites]


Kibo for VP.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:42 AM on March 15 [21 favorites]


They'll have to change the address from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to 1337 Pennsylvania Ave.
posted by exogenous at 10:46 AM on March 15 [45 favorites]


for reals though I wish it were still possible to summon kibo to a thread by saying his name, because uh maybe he should run for office?
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:47 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Says every Silicon Valley asshole who has spent his entire political life railing against identity politics.

I mean, using my quote for that seems to imply that you think I'm somehow in that group, and yeah, I'm... not? On so many levels, here.
posted by Sequence at 10:59 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]


Well, if hackers are going to try to steal the election anyway, you might as well have another hacker on top of your ticket to counter that.

Psychedelic Warlord v. Guccifer 2.0! FIGHT!
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:02 AM on March 15 [12 favorites]


"Heavy use of long-distance modem calls could add up to hundreds of dollars a month."

GOD. We got left with one of those bills from a housemate who was apparently running a BBS from our house when I was a sophomore in college.

All of this is like blink blink blink I guess I'm old enough that the follies of people in my youth are the follies of actual candidates for major office??????
posted by epersonae at 11:04 AM on March 15 [11 favorites]


Finally, someone to restore dignity to the Back Orifice.
posted by dr_dank at 11:05 AM on March 15 [15 favorites]


I wanted Beto to win the Senate seat, above and beyond wanting Cruz to lose it.

I've been cold on his Presidential aspirations, and indeed this is probably the first thing I've heard about him that warms me. I haven't thought about cDc in a dog's age.
posted by gauche at 11:14 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Some of those text files are, uh, not aging well. Sounds like he was radicalized by the Dead Milkmen. (and what is the deal with him sharing dentist visits?!?)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:15 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


__________ __________ _____________________    __________ ______________________________    
\______   \\______   \\_   _____/\____    /    \______   \\_   _____/\__    ___/\_____  \   
 |     ___/ |       _/ |    __)_   /     /      |    |  _/ |    __)_   |    |    /   |   \  
 |    |     |    |   \ |        \ /     /_      |    |   \ |        \  |    |   /    |    \ 
 |____|     |____|_  //_______  //_______ \     |______  //_______  /  |____|   \_______  / 
                   \/         \/         \/            \/         \/                    \/  
    
posted by gwint at 11:16 AM on March 15 [49 favorites]


They'll have to change the address from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to 1337 Pennsylvania Ave.
Or 2600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:18 AM on March 15 [42 favorites]


0-day-warez-trading

Pedant here, but warez kiddies != script kiddiez != hackers (ask me how I know -- I think the statue of limitations has expired ;) -- though really, I never did that much, and I confused my parents as to why I took photos of public phones I saw while overseas ;) )

Kibo for VP.

That's MetaFilter's Own Kibo ;)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:21 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


RobotVoodooPower: and what is the deal with him sharing dentist visits?!?

Have you met the internet? That's what it's for, over-sharing! :)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:23 AM on March 15


I have come unstuck in time.
posted by Laetiporus at 11:23 AM on March 15 [25 favorites]


So most of those text files are from ages 15-18. Lord knows I'd be mortified by any writing that turned up of mine from that same age (and historical period!) '''''luckily''''' I didn't have internet access then, except I guess my freshman year of college (aka 1992), so all of my Teen Hot Takes are in a box full of spiral notebooks.

(which I still have, and keep debating whether to keep or destroy)

I guess this is the first national election where we decide how to deal with teenage oversharing on the internet, huh? I honestly didn't think it would come this early.
posted by epersonae at 11:26 AM on March 15 [19 favorites]


Is anyone else who grew up online kind of worried? I mean, we know what we did... are the generations before us going to be okay with it from a presidential candidate if they don't understand the cultural context? What's the online subcultural equivalent to "I didn't inhale?"
posted by Selena777 at 11:26 AM on March 15 [6 favorites]


i honestly thought the Democratic primary was going to be tedious and depressing.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:27 AM on March 15 [8 favorites]


If the miniseries The Langoliers taught me anything, it's that something can have moments of absurd fun, but still be tedious and depressing overall.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:31 AM on March 15 [14 favorites]


If candidates stepping up to podiums to defend their teenage liking of Dead Milkmen lyrics becomes part of the 2020 campaign, then time itself has no meaning and might as well stop and I'm going back to bed.
posted by delfin at 11:33 AM on March 15 [20 favorites]


What's the online subcultural equivalent to "I didn't inhale?"

I expect someone in the 2028 election to declare: "I did not post on 4chan, for the lulz or any other reason." and "I was never involved in swatting other gamers"
posted by dis_integration at 11:36 AM on March 15 [12 favorites]


Beto Vs The Barrio “The rock-star Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a candidate for president, once supported the bulldozing of a low-income neighborhood in his hometown of El Paso—a project spearheaded by his father-in-law.”
posted by The Whelk at 11:42 AM on March 15 [13 favorites]


should I ever run for office and should muckraking journalists discover my metafilter comments, my response will be:

“I am Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon and I stand by everything I’ve written under that name.”

While I’m saying this, I will absolutely be picturing myself as Robert Downey at the end of the first Iron Man movie throwing out his prepared notes and saying “I am Iron Man.”

And then, after a brief pause, I’ll say:

“Except Inherent Vice. That one was overrated.”
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:44 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]


My political career can only be helped by leaning into an unironic love of Steve Rogers.
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 AM on March 15 [18 favorites]


I've recently come across a box of old notebooks from high school and college, and the only thing keeping me from throwing out the entire box in one fell swoop is my fear that someone in the family will see a big box of notebooks in the trash and think, Oh ho, what's all this then?, so I've been secretly tossing a few out per week, right before I wheel the recycling bin to the curb.
posted by Etrigan at 11:50 AM on March 15 [21 favorites]


are the generations before us going to be okay with it from a presidential candidate if they don't understand the cultural context?

This is where my mind keeps going. Here on MetaFilter, most of us understand that cDc was kind of a goofy, mildly delinquent teenage computer-nerd thing – basically the equivalent of scrawling anarchy symbols on your Trapper Keeper. It was basically a bunch of nerds play-acting as Shadowrun characters.

But the media will just report: Hacking! International software-piracy rings! Trading instructions for making drugs and bombs! I mean, the word cult is right there in the name!

And the sort of Boomers who want an excuse to hate a librul politician from a younger generation will swallow it eagerly.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:53 AM on March 15 [18 favorites]


Psychedelic Warlord > psycho demented warlord
posted by rodlymight at 11:55 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of people on the internet who are about to go through the cDc archives, and read "The Flesh Man"* for the first time.

It may not have the same effect it did on today's more jaded internet audience, but as a femme-of-center tween back then, I learned a lot about my place in the computer world from it.

*NOT BY BETO. I checked just in case.
posted by Laetiporus at 11:56 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: basically a bunch of nerds play-acting as Shadowrun characters.
posted by hanov3r at 11:56 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]


> This is where my mind keeps going. Here on MetaFilter, most of us understand that cDc was kind of a goofy, mildly delinquent teenage computer-nerd thing – basically the equivalent of scrawling anarchy symbols on your Trapper Keeper. It was basically a bunch of nerds play-acting as Shadowrun characters.

Maybe there’s more of us now than there are of them. Or maybe when people find out about us, they’ll be intrigued rather than horrified. Maybe the old pre-internet people who will never get us are dying off. Maybe it will be to our benefit if we stop running away from our inner Psychedelic Warlords and instead learn to be proud of the weird shit we got up to when we were kids.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:07 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]


Maybe he was part of the cDc, but can he really skate?

From the comments: Beto pushes mongo. If true, there's your scandal. We can't allow a mongo pusher near the levers of power.
posted by photoslob at 12:09 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Quick let's register be.to so we can distribute votes by torrentz
posted by chavenet at 12:10 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


I'll make a bold update to gwint's ASCii art, in case CDC comes out in support of Beto:
             _   _                                                      _   _
            ((___))                                                    ((___))
            [ x x ]                 cDc communications                 [ x x ]
             \   /                      supports...                     \   /
             (` ')                                                      (` ')
              (U)                                                        (U)
__________ ______________________________        ____     __________ __________ _____________________   
\______   \\_   _____/\__    ___/\_____  \      / _  |    \______   \\______   \\_   _____/\____    /   
 |    |  _/ |    __)_   |    |    /   |   \    / /_| |     |     ___/ |       _/ |    __)_   /     /    
 |    |   \ |        \  |    |   /    |    \  /____  |     |    |     |    |   \ |        \ /     /_    
 |______  //_______  /  |____|   \_______  /       |_|     |____|     |____|_  //_______  //_______ \   
        \/         \/                    \/                                  \/         \/         \/
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on March 15 [14 favorites]


My political career can only be helped by leaning into an unironic love of Steve Rogers.

There's a lot of things that could be helped by an unironic lean into Steve Rogers.

Honestly, yes, I think the Young People of Today are far more likely to correctly assess the actual import of this kind of thing than either aging boomers or the younger offbrand nerds who make up today's political pundit class.
posted by praemunire at 12:37 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Really, this is about as dramatic as if we found out he wrote some bad poetry for a zine.

So 2008. Obama as Poet (two poems he published when he was 19).

"While President Obama's poetry displays some signs of talent, by choosing politics over poetry he made, like the other poetry-writing presidents before him, the right career choice. As Bloom notes: 'If I had been shown these poems by one of my undergraduates and asked, Shall I go on with it?, I would have rubbed my forehead and said, On the whole, my dear, probably not. Your future is not as a person of letters.'"
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:54 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


I hope he publishes his white papers on & the Temple of the Screaming Electron
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:56 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Sounds like he was radicalized by the Dead Milkmen.

ONE OF US.

(I'm actually pretty lukewarm on Beto as a presidential candidate, but it's nice to see him running for office).
posted by aspersioncast at 1:14 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


If candidates stepping up to podiums to defend their teenage liking of Dead Milkmen lyrics becomes part of the 2020 campaign

Q: Mr. O'Rourke, do you have a fuck-off attitude?
A: Yes, and that's something that should be kept.
Q: Do you support our veterans?
A: Yes, because we're all veterans of a fucked-up world.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:40 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


I hope he publishes his white papers on & the Temple of the Screaming Electron

Maybe his whole candidacy is just an effort to get to the bottom of why TOTSE shut down.

I WANT TO BELIEVE… that it was the FBI.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:41 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


"Heavy use of long-distance modem calls could add up to hundreds of dollars a month."

You're doing it wrong. I got a lot of mileage out of a spool of cross connect wire, a butt-set, a pole climbing belt and set of spikes. and a NYT hardhat.
posted by mikelieman at 1:51 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


As long as he doesn't jump up on a table and shout "Anarchy!"
posted by praemunire at 1:54 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Ah, one of my people. This is like finding out one of my D&D group from high school is running for President. Between this and the age (he's only a couple years older than me) it's the first time a major candidate has fallen into that "I can relate to them personally" level.

I mean, I'd still much prefer him as a VP. But its an interesting feeling.

I still wouldn't want to run for office and have all my teenage Usenet / BBS postings / silly handles / etc all over the news...
posted by thefoxgod at 2:00 PM on March 15


"He was a 90s hacker d00d and he likes the Dead Kennedys, so he's got my vote." So goes the feel of this thread. Beto may indeed be "cool" and charismatic, and that focus on personality actually be helpful running against Trump, who is all vacuous personality. But policy is important to me, and Beto's voting history is, for me, a left lefty, disappointingly right-leaning. And his speech announcing his run seemed to be Obama 2.0 hope-and-change cheerleading with little substance. In other words, centrist, stay-the-course Democratic policy that likely won't address the real change needed in terms of health care, education, income inequality, etc. Beto may be "cool" but that's not enough; what does he want to do?
posted by zardoz at 2:26 PM on March 15 [34 favorites]


he definitely does not have my vote (unless he wins the democratic primary, because I will vote for anyone who wins the democratic party primary).

I think it is possible to acknowledge that having been in the cDc makes someone so freaking cool and also have no desire to see that person become president.

like, for example, I think Dave Grohl is cool. because Dave Grohl? he’s an undeniably cool dude. also I don’t think he should be president. I trust him to effectively and diligently fight foo. I do not trust him to effectively and diligently fight the republicans, because that’s just not in his skillset.

There are some people who are cool but who shouldn’t be president, like Beto and like Dave Grohl. There are some people who are not cool who might make good presidents (like most of the major candidates in the democratic primary right now). I trust us to keep “this is a cool person” and “this person should be president” as separate categories in our minds, even when cool people who shouldn’t be president run for president.

(one thing that is confusing is that there are people who are undeniably cool and undeniably should be president, people like AOC)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:34 PM on March 15 [21 favorites]


Yeah, I mean, he probably won't be my primary vote. If he gets the nomination, though, I'll still vote for him against Trump.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:45 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


This'll be an awesome administration! I hope that his cabinet appointees will consist of former MindVox sysops.
posted by Chitownfats at 2:57 PM on March 15


If candidates stepping up to podiums to defend their teenage liking of Dead Milkmen lyrics becomes part of the 2020 campaign

"And so I say to the American people that if the government don't got Mojo Nixon, then the government could use some fixin'!"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:17 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


O'Rourke is not Dave Grohl. Despite Dave's many talents, I am skeptical the he would have pulled 48.3% in an election for Senate, in Texas.

That's O'Rourke's selling point: he can, at least potentially, win a general election, because he has a demonstrated capacity to deliver votes in a red(ish) state. Whether he will win the primary is another matter.

But 2020 is the Democrats' to lose. Back in January, Trump had the questionable distinction of being the least-popular President since 1945 as of his one-year anniversary. He hasn't crept up very far since.

That said, he still has a 50+% rating in 17 states as of the end of Feb. And was over 40% in many key swing states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota... and Texas. Meaning that opposition to Trump is very strong in some states, but not something to be taken for granted everywhere. And the Electoral College is a harsh mistress; it doesn't give one squirt if you win a state by one vote or one million, it's all the same in the end (offer not valid in Maine and Nebraska).

The desire to have a firebrand lefty as a candidate is understandable, but the most dangerous course of action by the Democrats would be to somehow steal defeat from the jaws of victory by running someone who manages to be less palatable to swing-state voters than another four years of Trump. O'Rourke is, at the least, probably not that candidate.

I mean, here are two scenarios: (1) the Democrats pick a boring centrist candidate, who does well in swing states, and wins blue states by default because, well, the alternative is Trump. E.g., a lot of New York and California Democrats—probably all the unreliable/"maybe I'll go" voters—could stay home before there's any serious risk of Trump winning there. Easy D win, everyone goes to bed at 10PM on Election Night.

Or (2), the Democrats pick a firebrand leftist, which is exciting for their base, who turn out and pull that lever really hard when they vote in an election where their state is a foregone conclusion anyway, but manages to alienate moderate voters in swing states who either don't show up, or worse—vote for Trump (again). That's literally the only viable scenario I can envision where Trump ends up getting four more years, and we all end up ending November 3, 2020 by breaking into the Emergency Whiskey and looking up Canada's refugee laws.

Sure, an unexciting moderate Democrat might not generate turnout, particularly youth and minority turnout—but turnout where? Turnout in solid blue states doesn't really matter. "Voter excitement" in solid blue states doesn't really matter, except in terms of fundraising (and downballot races), but that's about it—and whoever is going to challenge Trump is probably not going to have a problem fundraising, by the time they get to the general election.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:18 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


> Or (2), the Democrats pick a firebrand leftist, which is exciting for their base, who turn out and pull that lever really hard when they vote in an election where their state is a foregone conclusion anyway, but manages to alienate moderate voters in swing states who either don't show up, or worse—vote for Trump (again).

Or (3) voters in both red states and blue states make choices based on criteria orthogonal to left-right or firebrand-moderate, and aspects of beto’s record (his support for his dad’s barrio-bulldozing scheme, his naive willingness to pretend that bipartisanship with republicans is possible or good, his tendency to vote for center-right proposals) could turn voters off.

Basically, one of the big lessons of the past three years has been that voters tend to collectively make decisions that differ than the decisions one might expect if you expect voters to vote for whichever candidate most closely expresses their preëxisting political views on a left-right spectrum. Observe, for example, how the chaos demons from 4chan who pushed Trump in 2016 have suddenly swerved from supporting a hard-right millionaire mobster nitwit to supporting Andrew Yang, a center-left millionaire business nitwit.

or (4) he gets elected, there’s a replay of the 2008 financial crisis (this one driven by risky financial instruments derived on student loans, say, or by the global consequences of brexit, or whatever), and we get a replay of Obama’s first months in office — he bails out the banks and passes up the golden opportunity to nationalize them or otherwise seize the commanding heights of the economy, he disillusions everyone on the left for not disciplining big finance, he gets yelled at by everyone on the right for the expense of the bailout, and then 4 or 8 years later some fascist republican shithead gets in after a “both sides are the same!!” campaign.

Anyway. There are more scenarios than we could ever list, and in some of them having O’Rourke as a nominee or president could be a real liability.

but also, regardless of whether one supports Beto O’Rourke (and to make it clear again, I don’t), don’t front like he’s not cool. He is super cool. He’s cool enough to push mongo if he wants to. But he shouldn’t be president.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:51 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


The planet won't survive a milquetoast centrist
posted by The Whelk at 3:55 PM on March 15 [34 favorites]


What was his kuro5hin.org username?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:12 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]


If there's one thing the elections of 2008 and 2016 should have taught us, it's this:
'Electability' is a sham metric and anybody who claims to know what makes a candidate electable or unelectable might as well be selling snake oil.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:12 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


What is unforgivable to me was Beto's political calculation in his senate race. It came down to this:

"This is really close. If I hug a Republican Trumper and knife a progressive Democrat, I just might establish enough redneck bona fides to pull this off."

Sorry, I just don't trust him. Democrats don't need someone running to the right of Biden in the next election.
posted by JackFlash at 4:18 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


This Fox News headline is currently popping up at the very top when you google beto o'rourke in incognito mode:

Young Beto O'Rourke wrote 'murder fantasy' about running over children, was part of famed hacking group

They helpfully reprint the entire thing in the article. So yeah, the response is exactly what you were expecting
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 4:18 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


if I ever get to meet him I won’t tell him I’m not voting for him until after I get him to sign one of my old Church of the SubGenius books. I’ll ask him to sign the cover, just like how Trump signs the covers of bibles.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:25 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


Beto's voting history is, for me, a left lefty, disappointingly right-leaning

Hacker types, with their distrust of authority, would probably lean more don't-tread-on-me small-l-libertarian than new-deal socialist. IIRC, the founder of long-running warez crew Fairlight (they cracked software from the Commodore 64 era to the 00s) turned out to be the head of a Republican Party organisation somewhere in Southern California.
posted by acb at 4:40 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


If you're interested in the idea of a money-free society, and would
like to participate in active conversations on the subject, call:
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Remember, we are the next generation, and will soon rule the world.
posted by joeyh at 4:44 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Vote #666 Demonseed Elite.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:45 PM on March 15


okay fine. really, if I ever got to meet him I would tell him I’m not going to vote for him before I’d ask him to sign the Book of the SubGenius, because it would hurt his feelings if I did it the other way around and I would feel SO GUILTY.

and, well, bless his sweet heart, he’s willing to do nice things for people who don’t share his political views, even when doing those things is a really bad idea.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:48 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Also if he wins, his Secret Service codename is not a choice.



Psychedelic Warlord has left the building.

posted by snuffleupagus at 4:48 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


nah they should name him zero cool
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:49 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


There are some people who are cool but who shouldn’t be president, like Beto

I totally agree, that'd be a waste.

Make him director of the NSA.

would also accept FCC
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:58 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


In all seriousness, I'd feel much more comfortable with the director of a national security apparatus being a boringly scrupulous rule-follower than a punk-rock hacker dude who does things his own way. The failure modes are considerably less catastrophic.
posted by acb at 5:02 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


In all seriousness, Beto isn't still Psychedelic Warlord, and it's making him the head of some agency that'd be a waste, but yes, I agree.


The fourteen year old BBS kid in me will still continue to delight in this, and you can't stop me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:05 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


okay but what if we named him head of the centers for disease control just to confuse everyone?
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:06 PM on March 15 [20 favorites]


He is very viral.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:07 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


Beto does seem to be positioning himself as the Next Generation Joe Biden, which would mean (1) he's really aiming for the VP job and (2) he's come to the conclusion that Biden isn't going to run and will basically belly-flop if ol' Joe does throw his hat in the ring.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:35 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


what if he just really leaned into this? hard.

Communications Director Fisher "The Plague" Stevens
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:44 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


I try to vote on policy, not personality

Really? Then you should definitely check out his voting record against Democrats and with Republicans, cause some of the shine might wear off for you.
posted by smoke at 5:51 PM on March 15


This is tremendous and it makes some of his puzzling positions more obvious in hindsight.

Doesn't change how I feel about him, ultimately - I would have been happy to have him represent Texas, where a lefty libertarian is a massive improvement - but he's not the right person for President.
posted by Merus at 6:02 PM on March 15


I have complicated opinions on this that I'm not entirely sure how to express, but having had generally bad experiences with a lot of people who were involved with underground groups that happened to produce "cool" things and other "fringe" groups - and been involved with a few myself - most of the prominent people in these groups were very exclusionary, and many of them were outright toxic. ESPECIALLY if you were "other," or not the right type of fringe.

I'm not judging him negatively based on the fact that he was associated - but it's not exactly something that somehow elevates him. I'm not sure how to elaborate on this, but I hope I'm not alone in my ill-defined feelings on this.
posted by MysticMCJ at 6:15 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


> makes some of his puzzling positions more obvious in hindsight

Like what? I haven't followed him all that closely.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:38 PM on March 15


acb > IIRC, the founder of long-running warez crew Fairlight (they cracked software from the Commodore 64 era to the 00s) turned out to be the head of a Republican Party organisation somewhere in Southern California.

You are indeed correct. He's been the chairman of San Diego's Republican party since 2007.

https://torrentfreak.com/warez-leader-is-chairman-of-san-diego-republican-party-080502/

http://www.sandiegorepublicans.org/chairman-tony-krvaric.html

I wonder what gems might be hiding in his old cracktro scrolltexts. I seem to recall him saying "KILL A COMMIE FOR MOMMY" a lot.
posted by egypturnash at 7:12 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Ronald Wilson Reagan is an anagram of Insane Anglo Warlord.
posted by autopilot at 7:23 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


I don't really get the attraction to Beto. He's reasonably charming but doesn't seem like he's got too many new ideas that distinguish him from the crowd.
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


he’s super pretty. also in his teens and 20s he did all the stuff that everyone’s collective Cool Older Brother did. Also he came to national attention while running against literally the least cool person in texas so that made him look comparatively even cooler.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:00 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


but also the last time I supported a candidate because they were a super pretty southerner who I thought was “electable” was back in 2008 when I briefly backed John Edwards, so uhh yeah I learned my lesson there.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:02 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


meh. can we get whoever authored Blotto Box and/or Urine Box to run?
posted by dvdgee at 8:08 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


he's hip, he's cool, he's 45

don’t front like he’s not cool. He is super cool.


oh jesus you guys aren't kidding

I'm much too old for an embarrassing old man like him to make me feel this young
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:29 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


In light of the degree to which I'm not fond of him as a politician, something about this breaks my heart a little - I think it's the Hawkwind reference.

(I'd feel a little better about him if he'd get over himself and focus on the Senate again.)
posted by atoxyl at 9:02 PM on March 15




Beto O'Rourke is neither super cool nor super hip nor super pretty. He's ans average white dude in every way. He doesn't prepare speeches, he shoots from the hip. He has hustle, I'll give him that, but he is running a campaign on his personality and people not liking his opponents. He votes down the middle. He did nothing of note as a representative that ever filtered down to me and I read a lot of political news. I have no idea what his three main talking points are. He couldn't beat Ted Inhuman Cruz for a Senate seat during the Blue Wave.

We have FAR better candidates. Warren is better. Stacey Abrams is about 100 times more qualified than this guy. Bernie has a well articulated platform. Kamala Harris has been fighting the good fight for along time. Joe Biden is an oldie but a goodie, people respect him. We don't need another reality star president. This guy is far from having proved himself.
posted by fshgrl at 9:49 PM on March 15 [22 favorites]


Beto 2020: A symbiosis between non-narrative cinema and improvised digital music. Contemplation of the balance between variation and repetition, our search for continuance in the middle of all-encompassing changeability.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:51 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


worst of all, he isn't hot and the pretense that he is has degraded the discourse

people, just because a man isn't smart or interesting doesn't mean he's got rock star good looks. process of elimination doesn't work that way

I think it is all a plot to make rational women resent sanders less by dividing our ire among several men who are all of them much too taken with themselves, and I refuse to fall for it
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:53 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


What was his kuro5hin.org username?

Out of nostalgia, I looked at my password backups. My kuro5shin username was....

mikelieman

Man, I really get in a groove and stick with it.
posted by mikelieman at 9:55 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


also, nothing would quite nail the 'i can get away with shit because my family has cash and power' vibe like running with 'Bitchin Camaro' as a campaign song.

My folks bought me a bitchin' Camaro
With no insurance to match
So if I happen to run you down
Please don't leave a scratch

I ran over some old lady
One night at the county fair
And I didn't get arrested
Because my dad's the mayor

posted by kaibutsu at 10:19 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


So I just saw this come up in my google news feed on a Fox News article (of course) and just lost it and just started cackling as soon as I got to the "Psychedelic Warlord" part, then rushed over here to see if it was in the megathread or not, found this thread...

Holy shit my ribs hurt. I just laughed, cackled and cried so hard my tearducts hurt.

We might be going to hell in a handbasket but at least the commentary from the peanut gallery is fucking hilarious.
posted by loquacious at 10:56 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


You know it's been ten years since I wrote a graphic novel about sex-worker class struggle and I would like someone to TRY to use that against me politically.
posted by The Whelk at 12:13 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


I mean, here are two scenarios: (1) the Democrats pick a boring centrist candidate, who does well in swing states, and wins blue states by default because, well, the alternative is Trump. E.g., a lot of New York and California Democrats—probably all the unreliable/"maybe I'll go" voters—could stay home before there's any serious risk of Trump winning there. Easy D win, everyone goes to bed at 10PM on Election Night.

You just described the 2016 election.

That this fantasy of the centrist candidate is still being discussed as a viable strategy - even here of all places - after losing over and over and over shows how successful the donor class (who actually don't care who wins as long as it's no leftist) has been in shaping political discourse.
posted by patrick54 at 12:44 AM on March 16 [23 favorites]


At the risk of RLT 2016 E, that portrays Hillary as more centrist than the platform she ran on. Everyone just knew that she actually was a centrist because of Bill and Obama and her SoS career etc. etc. Platform was pretty progressive overall, whatever that word even means now.

I agree that the myth of the unifying centrist candidate is largely fantasy. It's equally a fantasy that nuanced leftist policies are just incredibly popular with everyone and that we've all just been waiting for someone to articulate them well. Lots of people like certain leftist policies when they're explained certain ways, but most Americans barely have a civics education and there are an awful lot of people who really are reactionary bigots or simply vote with the rest of their community or truly believe that access to health care means mandatory abortions and the enforcement of Sharia law while the lieburals take their guns.

I think the core of the body politic is probably more along the lines of "most people don't have very articulate positions on political matters, most candidates don't win on actual political positions, and most Americans don't even bother to vote."
posted by aspersioncast at 7:53 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


In brief:

Mass Human Extinction Event / Howling Fantods 2020!
posted by aspersioncast at 7:55 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Or (2), the Democrats pick a firebrand leftist, which is exciting for their base,

of warren, harris, and gillibrand, which one, exactly, are you referring to?

this is about image, not policies, so you definitely don't mean Warren, whose Republican past and sober image allow her to propose all manner of things. Hardcore leftists will never not be suspicious of Harris for her prosecutor past, even if they decide to forgive her and vote for her anyway. Gillibrand is really wonderful but, like Sanders, has some past history of less than progressive votes because of her former constituency, and unlike Sanders, is held to account for them.

they're all good choices and they all have serious amounts of expertise and knowledge and experience. Warren's unfortunate mini-scandal is invisible next to O'Rourke's perpetual grinning boyish doltishness and tone-deafness. so who is the scary leftist firebrand that is our only other option if we don't like this dude whose whole platform is being some guy?
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:59 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


He's clearly talking about Bernie, but presenting two options creates a false dichotomy.
posted by Selena777 at 8:29 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


(If you find yourself saying "not to relitigate the 2016 primaries but"... you are almost certainly relitigating the 2016 primaries.)
posted by kaibutsu at 10:20 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


I’m another “don’t get it” on Beto.

And for everyone claiming he’s “progressive,” based on what actual political accomplishment?
posted by spitbull at 11:14 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Mass Human Extinction Event / Howling Fantods 2020!

Don't blame me, I voted for Giant Meteor and Butt Stuff 2016!
posted by loquacious at 11:21 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


but also the last time I supported a candidate because they were a super pretty southerner who I thought was “electable” was back in 2008 when I briefly backed John Edwards, so uhh yeah I learned my lesson there.

Which is hilarious cause the author of the Beto VF puff piece also wrote one for ..John Edwards.
posted by The Whelk at 11:33 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


It doesn't seem like there's a whole lot to it, once you get over the initial surprise. Which might be Beto in a nutshell, actually.
posted by ckape at 7:16 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Confirms my initial impression: Not likely to win my vote in the primaries, but would not be holding my nose to vote for in November 2020.

I want to hear the good stuff, the cool stuff, the intriguing and fascinating stuff, about all the Democratic candidates, because I want to be able to throw full, enthusiastic support behind whoever wins the primaries.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:16 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]




I kinda get Beto. I was as excited as most Democrats about his 2018 run. I can understand their excitement now, despite not sharing it.

I just don't get how others still get Beto once they start to look at him more closely. I didn't really study his views or voting record in 2018. But looking at them now and it's far from impressive. Empty suit might be too strong of a word, but DINO isn't an unreasonable insult for him. As someone else put it: "He'll support whatever the focus groups tell him to support. Maybe that'll save us in the end."

The one thing that's starting to unnerve me a bit are the Beto fans. Expressing doubts about him, his suitability, his depth, etc. get responses where the people act like I've shot their dog. No hope of any reasonable discussion. As someone who leans towards Warren, I'm starting to understand a little about how a Clinton supporter must have felt in 2008's primary. Or 2016 for that matter.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:31 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


I kinda get Beto. I was as excited as most Democrats about his 2018 run. I can understand their excitement now, despite not sharing it.

I don't understand why y'all are so worried. If he's POTUS, the onus of getting a progressive agenda legislated won't be on him. You either get a solid majority in Congress or you don't. It's not like he would veto progressive legislation.
posted by ocschwar at 11:06 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


This comes out and now it turns out that Myspace "lost" its backups together with who knows what documentation of candidates' 1337 HAC0R $K1LL$. WAKE UP SHEEPLE.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:28 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


If you find yourself saying "not to relitigate the 2016 primaries but"... you are almost certainly relitigating the 2016 primaries

"We review de nolo the 2016 primaries ..."
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:57 AM on March 20


The Politics of Beto and Amy O’Rourke’s Marriage (WaPo Style)
Then, there’s Amy and Beto. They are at once the most modern and most conventional of the families running for president in 2020. They are pioneers of social media, broadcasting much of their lives in real time; affluent, white and traditional — the political equivalent of “The Truman Show.” They captured the hearts and minds of the left in their 2018 run for the Senate, but now, Beto won’t call himself a progressive. Amy, before putting her career on the back burner for her husband, ran a charter school.
posted by box at 7:52 AM on March 20




The more I hear about this guy, the less I like him.
posted by octothorpe at 9:52 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Whatever post-defeat sadness Amy felt, she was able to kick quickly; she’s always been the stable one. Beto, on the other hand, more prone to higher highs and lower lows, was in a “funk.”

That’s how Amy knew him then and even now — impulsive and puckish:

Amy’s moderate temperament had always made political life less appealing to her than it had been to her grandiose husband.


Huh.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:25 PM on March 20


New Hampshire teenagers ask Beto to sign a pledge not to take fossil-fuel money. He declines.
(Hat tip to stalwart megathreader Rust Moranis)
posted by box at 9:10 AM on March 21


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