Tulsi Gabbard Thinks We’re Doomed
August 4, 2019 9:06 AM   Subscribe

The New York Times profiles the outsider Democratic candidate somehow admired by the far left and right—and supported by Putin's propaganda machine and his American apologists. She's received the endorsements of Twitter's Jack Dorsey (who maxed out his contributions to her campaign), Ron Paul, Steve Bannon (who set up an interview with her and Trump for a Cabinet position), former Klansman David Duke, and white nationalist Richard Spencer. So what does she really believe?

Gabbard describes herself as the first Hindu Member of Congress. Her religious background is more complicated than that, however. According to New York Magazine, her family were "Devotees of a man named Chris Butler, whom they called Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa. […] Butler taught vegetarianism, sexual conservatism, mind-body dualism, and disinterest in the material world. He taught a virulent homophobia, skepticism of science, and the dangers of public schools. He had been associated with Hare Krishna, and in fact claimed to have been given his Sanskrit name, Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, by the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, but by the time he encountered the Gabbards, he’d started his own group. His teachings revolved around worship of Krishna but differed from those of Hare Krishna, in that he instructed his followers to learn from only a single guru — himself — and did not require them to shave their heads or wear robes. […] As late as 2015, in a video still up on YouTube, Tulsi publicly acknowledged her guru-dev to be Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, Chris Butler." Butler's group does not identify as Hindu, however, and Gabbard does. She has not responded to questions from reporters attempting to resolve this tension or clarify her current relationship to Butler's group. She was previously an anti-gay-marriage activist. She says she supports legal same sex marriage now, but says "her personal views haven’t changed."

Whatever her personal religious beliefs, Gabbard has become popular among some right wing Hindu nationalists, including supporters of Narenda Modi, whose anti-Muslim policies as prime minister of India have caused people to compare him to Donald Trump.

Gabbard herself has been accused of anti Muslim sentiments. The Guardian reports: "Gabbard was among a minority of Democrats who voted for additional restrictions on refugees entering the US from Syria and Iraq. […] Breaking with most Democrats, Gabbard has embraced the use of the phrase 'radical Islam' – a phrase which to many Muslims has evolved into a dog whistle on the right intended to indict the entire Islamic faith. Gabbard has said she is mindful that most Muslims are not extremists, but joined Republicans in criticizing Clinton and Barack Obama for not employing the phrase, stating: 'It’s important that you identify your enemy.'"

Because of these positions, The Hill reported that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon invited Gabbard to meet with Trump after the 2016 election, and sources said that Bannon "'[L]oves Tulsi Gabbard. Loves her,' […] 'Wants to work with her on everything.' 'She would fit perfectly too [inside the administration],' the source added. 'She gets the foreign policy stuff, the Islamic terrorism stuff.'" These positions also led to the previously mentioned endorsements from David Duke and Richard Spencer (whom Gabbard has denounced), as the Trump administration was reportedly considering her for a cabinet position such as UN Ambassador or Secretary of State.

Gabbard's foreign policy positions are generally consistent with Trump's. She has made friendly advances to dictators, and including meeting with and defending Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad. She has said she is "conflicted" about the use of torture. She is running as an anti-war candidate, but she favors military action against terrorists: “In short, when it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk,” she told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.” Regarding the US role in Syria, she tweeted: "Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated. Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did.” She added that it’s “bad enough US has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nursa in Syria” and that “it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists.”

She supports Putin's positions on other issues as well, perhaps explaining her previously mentioned support from Russian media and Putin supporters. Like Putin, she is "skeptical" about Assad's use of chemical weapons (in defiance of the scientific consensus.) Like Putin, she says we should move on from Russian interference. Like Putin, she is interested in cryptocurrencies. Like Putin, she defends Julian Assange.

Perhaps relatedly, Gabbard is one of two 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who would not commit to avoiding the use of hacked materials in her campaign. She has appeared to benefit from manipulation of online polls.

All of this has made Gabbard extremely popular among right wing media and among Trump supporters. Her top online fundraiser is a Las Vegas Shooting conspiracy theorist—who also believes Bill Cosby was framed and that “Pizzagate” is real.

Gabbard has reached the donor threshold required for the next round of presidential debates, and has met the 2% support threshold in one poll. If she meets that threshold in three more polls before August 28th, she will qualify for the debate, putting her ahead of more than half the candidates in the Democratic field.

From earlier this year:
• Politico: Tulsi Gabbard campaign in disarray—Her campaign manager is already set to depart and the congresswoman is under fire back home in Hawaii.
• Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Editorial: Gabbard should focus on her job
• MoJo: Tulsi Gabbard Released a Map Boasting About Her Supporters. It Makes No Sense.

Bonus: Wired's Virginia Heffernan: Prediction for Facebook users: certain lefties are going to see the zone flooded with Tulsi Gabbard comms—and attacks on Kamala Harris—that will look weird and may not be exactly… homegrown.
posted by OnceUponATime (68 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
so many links to read! I've been totally fascinated by watching some of my facebook feed, people who were 100% pro-Bernie, flip around to support Gabbard and somehow perform the most extreme cherry-picking to paint as her as left-leaning. I really don't understand it.
posted by circle_b at 9:22 AM on August 4, 2019 [15 favorites]


Doktor Zed ought to be listed as co-author of this - meant to say so in the post and forgot, sorry.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:31 AM on August 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


Hi, I'm the English Wikipedia user who, for a time in 2012, was the top contributor to the article on Tulsi Gabbard (here is me requesting help getting more info on various topics and claims, such as: was she ever a "Self-employed martial arts instructor"?). I started off researching her as "the first Hindu in Congress, yay!" and definitely learned some things that made me less enthusiastic. And anyone looking into Gabbard might also want to look at the (recently contentious) edit history on that article, such as edits by the user named "tgtfriend" (note that Gabbard previously went by Gabbard Tamayo).
posted by brainwane at 9:37 AM on August 4, 2019 [67 favorites]


flip around to support Gabbard and somehow perform the most extreme cherry-picking to paint as her as left-leaning.

I've seen that too, and it's been really confusing to me. I also can't really get them to tell me why -- my inquiries just sort of seem to slide off the corners of their mind or something.
posted by aramaic at 9:38 AM on August 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


So the creator of Ethereum is Russian, and after huge surges in ETH he's attracted Putin's attention, and Tulsi owns less than 5k in ETH, you know, the second most popular crypto. What was the point in including that in your paragraph trying to further tie them together? Seems to weaken your case somewhat. Likewise, "oh, they have the same ideas about Assange". In general the Russophobic rhetoric really rubs me the wrong way; of course Russia will try to promote its interests, but they're not wizards or even masterminds.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:41 AM on August 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


#KamalaHarrisDestroyed was the only trending tag I saw concerning the recent debates. Even if she fully throws her weight behind the eventual nominee, I predict an online miasma targeted at her supporters.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:55 AM on August 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


For the love of god, please let's not start with the 2020 "here's why the left will be responsible for Trump" arguments already.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:14 AM on August 4, 2019 [52 favorites]


Doktor Zed ought to be listed as co-author of this - meant to say so in the post and forgot, sorry.

No worries—you did the overwhelming bulk of the research and writing on this terrific overview. I'm just happy that the MeFi wiki is turning out to be a good resource for collaborating on focused FPPs now that the megathreads are being decommissioned.

Meantime, here's some more scrutiny of Gabbard's claims and her record:

Politifact: Tulsi Gabbard cites US arms sales to Saudi Arabia in falsely claiming Donald Trump supports al-Qaida

Politifact: Were Tulsi Gabbard’s attacks on Kamala Harris’ record as a California prosecutor on target? (Bottom line, not really, and certainly not enough to "destroy" her record.)

Bellingcat: Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria – A Self-Contradictory Error Filled Mess

HuffPo: Tulsi Gabbard Not Sorry For Meeting With Syria’s Bashar al-Assad "Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) says she “will apologize to no one” for meeting with Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad in 2017."
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:15 AM on August 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


I am friendly with a Boomer era conservative who is a never-Trumper. We’ve discussed the upcoming field a bit. Right after the first debates he said, right on schedule, “I’m hearing that Gabbard is who won the debate last night! I’m very interested in her!” An hour later I sent him an article about how a Russian social media campaign had hyped up her “win” immediately following the debate even though she barely spoke and no liberals were actually into her. It was *ridiculous* how quickly he was parroting those talking points.

It’s going to be dangerous.
posted by olinerd at 10:18 AM on August 4, 2019 [60 favorites]


If the rumours which reemerge every so often about Trump having rapidly deteriorating dementia are true, Putin would need an understudy. That understudy need not be on the Republican side, as long as the GRU can corrupt the Democratic Party or build up a third-party challenger who can, against all odds, win it (a very long shot, but we're far outside normalcy and probably not returning).

The first hint that Trump may not make it to 2020 may be a shift in bot farms' Gabbard strategy, from pushing her as a spoiler to attempting to build up a viable campaign around her, either knocking down her rivals in the Democratic Party and putting compliant agents in positions of control in the Party machine (as happened in the Republicans) or building up an independent campaign with a much higher calibre and level of polish than, say, Perot 1992.
posted by acb at 10:26 AM on August 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


[Couple deleted, AskMe is a much better place for tangential general questions. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:28 AM on August 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've seen that too, and it's been really confusing to me. I also can't really get them to tell me why -- my inquiries just sort of seem to slide off the corners of their mind or something.

So here is my hyperignorant hot take (really, I don't know much about her at ALL and AM NOT ENDORSING THE BELOW VIEW)

A decent number of people are pro-Sanders because of his foreign policy. There is a strong isolationist-leftist overlap because of a meaningful pro-powerless, pro-poor, anti-colonialist ethos that drives many on the left. So to the extent that Gabbard is isolationist, that right there will put a lot of people in her column.

More personally, there aren't a lot of candidates with a decent foreign policy, and a lot of the anti-Gabbard talking points are actually fairly attractive. Obviously, I don't support people based solely on who doesn't like them, and I don't support Gabbard, but "SHE DOESN'T WANT US TO BOMB PEOPLE CAN U BELIEVE IT!!!" is not the disqualifier that a lot of mass media people seem to think it is.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:30 AM on August 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


Politifact: Were Tulsi Gabbard’s attacks on Kamala Harris’ record as a California prosecutor on target? (Bottom line, not really, and certainly not enough to "destroy" her record.)

This article is some nonsense; it was written by someone with zero understanding of what Harris' role was or what she was responsible for or why people don't like her record.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:35 AM on August 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


Really, now, can we stop with the "womp womp" Debbie Downer drive-bys? They are NOT helping and nobody wants to hear them. For fuck's sake. Just stop.

Anyhow, I'm quite horrified to see homophobe and dubious-foreign-policy-haver Tulsi Gabbard get so much attention. In fact, it pisses me off to think that Tulsi, who has nothing to offer and I hope gets primaried out of her Congress seat, be more favorably regarded than Kirsten Gillibrand, who is a liberal, a terrific Senator, but was a meanie-pants to a popular sex pest.

I wonder who is behind the spate of Gabbard stanning and why. Certainly, it seems that men are the ones who love her while most women dislike her: OpenSecrets tells us who is donating to whom - ignoring the fact that women like Trump (ugh, but Republicans gonna Republican) - Democratic women prefer Harris, Gillibrand, O'Rourke and Warren.

I hope Gabbard meets the fate of Ron Paul - flash in the pan, soon forgotten.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:42 AM on August 4, 2019 [35 favorites]


The supporters I've encountered on reddit appear to be very trolly - ardently hyping her but appearing to be completely ignorant of her past in Hawaii (including very basic, 'our candidate of choice 101' things) and stuck to a few shallow talking points constructed to appeal to populists.
posted by Selena777 at 10:46 AM on August 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Gabbard was a key member of an anti-LGBT organization, and worked to defeat marriage equality legislation, barely fifteen years ago.

Now that she’s running for office, she says she’s “evolved” on LGBT issues.

I’m sorry, but one doesn’t gradually “evolve” from being a rabid homophobe into being an ally. It takes a rather more dramatic transformation than that.

So either she hasn’t really changed her mind on those issues and is just covering it up to get elected, or she is now an ally, but still doesn’t appreciate or acknowledge just how toxic and bigoted her earlier positions were.

I suspect it’s the former. But either way, fuck her and the right-wing trolls that are supporting her.
posted by darkstar at 10:46 AM on August 4, 2019 [23 favorites]


"SHE DOESN'T WANT US TO BOMB PEOPLE CAN U BELIEVE IT!!!" is not the disqualifier that a lot of mass media people seem to think it is.

The problem, however, is that she's fine with letting Putin bomb who he likes. From the ArcDigital article in the FPP, Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Anti-War—She’s a nationalist, hiding behind a mask of anti-interventionism
When Russia launched its brutal bombing campaign on September 30, 2015, Gabbard tweeted her support for the bloody offensive, writing: “Bad enough U.S. has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria. But it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists.”

She followed up the next day with a tweet condemning President Obama and praising Putin: “Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated. Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did.”

But Putin wasn’t just bombing terrorists. In fact, Russian forces were actively engaged in war crimes in Syria when Gabbard praised the bombing campaign. Furthermore, most of Russia’s airstrikes targeted opposition groups, including many U.S.-backed fighters. This provided a convenient way for Putin to prop up the Assad regime under the guise of fighting terrorism.
Gabbard's anti-interventionism is in the same mold as Rand Paul's, right down to the pro-Putin spin.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:46 AM on August 4, 2019 [37 favorites]


Sure, I believe it (and don't support her), so thanks for that context. You might be surprised how often her record is not framed as her supporting too much / the wrong bombing, but instead, not supporting enough bombing. The media culture around foreign policy is really sick, frankly, and they do not typically provide good information for anyone who might diverge from a hawkish bomb-them-to-freedom mentality.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:52 AM on August 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


Tulsi is ex-military who had no problems with Assad. I have no idea where this meme of her being anti-interventionism or anti-war popped up or why people keep boosting it. If you want to vote for a homophobic crackpot who shouldn't be near the levers of power but is probably actually anti-war, I know a certain orb goddess who might be of interest.

Also Bernie Sanders, for that matter, is also not a dove but a lot of people like to pretend the War on Afghanistan didn't happen/was somehow less pointless and ridiculous than the Iraq War. The Forgotten War indeed. Allowing Afghanistan gave us Iraq. But I forgot we can go after centrists and liberals for their bullshit but the left is beyond reproach.

I would almost think Williamson and Gabbard only exist to make Sanders more palatable to people who were still salty about 2016 but somehow it seems these two are drawing support away. And that is honestly depressing!
posted by asteria at 12:14 PM on August 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


Weirdly when you drive into my little suburb of a moderately ok size capital Midwest city there is a tulsi little picture banner and three name signs in these three strange houses. The only houses as the rest around is retail or empty... I think maybe the houses are mostly empty? Except I saw a truck so maybe not.

But I’m so confused by why those are the signs I’ve seen. Other campaigns probably realize it’s too early for signs? Ugh, i don’t like seeing them as I knew some but not all of this stuff and that hashtag was so clearly bad actors.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:23 PM on August 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Tulsi is ex-military who had no problems with Assad. I have no idea where this meme of her being anti-interventionism or anti-war popped up or why people keep boosting it.

Probably stuff like this tweet saying she doesn't support regime change wars; or her stated policy to bring everyone back from Afghanistan in her first year in office. Again, I don't support her, but it's not crazy for people to consider her to be relatively isolationist. I mean, when you compare a wet sponge to the kind of people who want to bomb Iran the wet sponge comes out ahead, so is this bar all that high? Maybe not.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:32 PM on August 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Weirdly when you drive into my little suburb of a moderately ok size capital Midwest city there is a tulsi little picture banner and three name signs in these three strange houses. The only houses as the rest around is retail or empty... I think maybe the houses are mostly empty? Except I saw a truck so maybe not.
I'm seeing Tulsi signs all over the place. I think it's not a generic "Midwest city" thing, though, assuming that you're also in Iowa. I think her strategy is to focus on Iowa and make it seem to voters like she has more support than she does. Putting up dubious yard signs seems to be central to her strategy.

I truly don't understand who she thinks her constituency is, though. I think she appeals to low-information Bernie voters who think that any criticism of her record is just lying lies from neoliberal shills. But Bernie voters are going to caucus for Bernie, not for her, even if they are predisposed to have a favorable impression of her. So who does she think her supporters are? It's all a little baffling.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:52 PM on August 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Her constituency is the small sliver of conservative Democrats that just haven’t changed party affiliation, added to those “centrist” Independents who don’t want to overtly align themselves with the white supremacists in the GOP by calling themselves “Republican”, but still want to maintain the conservative status quo.

Which is why she’s polling in the sub-2% range among Democrats, and why her most vocal support is coming from people like Steve Bannon and Russian astroturfing.
posted by darkstar at 1:05 PM on August 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yeah, when I was in Iowa in May, she had billboards everywhere. They had zero impact that I could tell, everyone wanted to talk about Biden or Mayor Pete

The Russian bots on Twitter love the shit out of her, though, she’s got that demographic locked up.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:15 PM on August 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


I found the 2015 YouTube video in which Gabbard reders to her guru-dev, using the Sanskrit name he adopted. It's at about 3:38 in this video.

If a mod wants to add this to the post, linking from the word "video," it might be helpful to people looking to fact check the post.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:40 PM on August 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I've shared this several times, but here in Hawaii our LGBTQ community does not generally believe she's actually evolved.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:47 PM on August 4, 2019 [30 favorites]


Her constituency is the small sliver of conservative Democrats that just haven’t changed party affiliation, added to those “centrist” Independents who don’t want to overtly align themselves with the white supremacists in the GOP by calling themselves “Republican”, but still want to maintain the conservative status quo.

This is ridiculous. The support I've seen for Gabbard (that isn't Russian trolls) is coming from people on the left who have bought into the lie that she is some kind of progressive hero. She started gaining internet attention years ago due to Sanders fans who loved her because she endorsed him early into the 2016 campaign and the "bUt ShE's a PrOgReSsIvE" nonsense began from there. Rewriting history to make it appear like her early supporters are The Centrist Bad Guys does a disservice to progressivism, because you cannot extract rot from a movement unless you identify it.
posted by schroedinger at 1:47 PM on August 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


Those people who loved her because she supported Bernie still have him to support this time around, though. According to this anecdotal link from the debate page, they're pretty republican.
posted by Selena777 at 1:58 PM on August 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I’m happy to concede the point that another source of Gabbard’s support is from some people on the Left who have a fundamental misunderstanding of who she really is, and thus ascribe to her progressive cred that is undeserved.
posted by darkstar at 1:59 PM on August 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


LOLLERSKATESROFLMAO. Richard Painter - best known as "George W. Bush's ethics lawyer," "a Republican," and "all of a sudden decided to be a Democrat to primary actual Democrat Tina Smith in MN in 2018, and got obliterated" loves him some Tulsi Gabbard.

I'm still unclear on whether Painter is currently a Democrat, or just turned his coat to see if he could win a Senate seat, and is back in the R camp - but with friends like these, etc. It's not exactly a ringing endorsement for Gabbard.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:38 PM on August 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


I can promise you all now that Gabbard will win absolutely 0 delegates in Iowa. I seldom promise things and so far in advance, but here. Enjoy my one promise. The billboards are hilarious though.

And yes, I’m in Des Moines.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 3:32 PM on August 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


I wanted to come back and write a little more about the corrosivity of Russophobic conspiratorial thinking. Almost all of the stuff in this post would stand alone without "the Russian connection", and indeed, most of the "connection" is really just that Tulsi's views and Russia's align on certain topics. Tulsi wants the USA to check out of Great Game bullshit which means fewer pressures on Russian ambition, so of course they're keen. It's fair to say that unchecked Russian ambition is a bad thing, but is it worse than America being an incompetent and destructive counterbalance? That's a topic which Dems can fairly debate, but that debate is poisoned from the start if you're assuming that the anti-interventionist position is secretly just a Russian catspaw.

More broadly, I think Russophobic rhetoric is reflective of a kind of political/psychological pathology that really damages discourse in the Dems. For a lot of people with a sort of woke-Whig perspective on history, you know, the march of progress yadda yadda, Nov 2016 was a devastating repudiation of their belief system. Latching onto RUSSIA DID IT lets you keep the belief system intact: it's not that history doesn't arc towards greater progress etc, it's that it would have, but for the dastardly Russians. The Podesta email hack was real, for sure, but blaming that for the 2016 loss is absurd; further, 2/3rds of Democrats apparently believe that Russia directly tampered with the 2016 vote tallies! That's probably a greater % than of Republicans who believe/d that Obama was born in Kenya, and it's just as much discourse-deleterious "fake news". Russia is an authoritarian backwater with an outsize intelligence apparatus, they're not the Hidden Hand or the Supreme Reptile Council, and their influence on the American electoral process is...about what you'd expect based on that. Definitely call out Russian bots / fake news items when you see them, but imputing for e.g. Tulsi's spike in Google searches after the debates to Russian interference with zero proof really does the discourse a disservice.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:17 PM on August 4, 2019 [25 favorites]


Russophobic conspiratorial thinking.

So taking aside the fact that it's not a conspiracy, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the suffix -phobia being attached to a reasonable concern of foreign interference in our elections from Russia, when you consider how deeply homophobic Russia is to it's own queer citizens. "Russophobia" does not exist, and even if it did, it is NOTHING like the Homophobia that takes lives everyday.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:47 PM on August 4, 2019 [14 favorites]


"Russophobia" isn't a construction from analogy with "homophobia"; you're right, that would be weird. It's a pretty common way of talking about people's attitudes towards countries. John Stuart Mill used it in 1836 or something, see also "Sinophobia" etc. I use it precisely to make the point that people's concerns about Russian election interference are outsize compared to the actual reality of such, as evidenced by, for one, the YouGov poll.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:52 PM on August 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


I was very careful to word things in terms of "Putin" rather than "Russia" for this post. The massive protests this past week have shown that much of Russia does not like Putin any better than American liberals do.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:54 PM on August 4, 2019 [24 favorites]


The distance between "were in a position to delete or change voter data" (which we know to be true) and "directly tampered with the 2016 vote tallies" (which we don't know to be false) does not a conspiracy or phobia make. There are 50 state election systems, protected by information security practices of varying effectiveness. How many successful intrusions do you think there have been that weren't detected? Maybe Putin's smart enough not to make any changes until they've penetrated enough systems to guarantee a change of outcome, and maybe they were happy enough with the results from their other operations that they didn't want to risk getting caught. But it's not wacky to believe that an adversary with means, motive, and opportunity to advance their interests did so -- certainly not comparable to birtherism, anyway.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:20 PM on August 4, 2019 [18 favorites]


I think it’s true that certain progressives treat Russia as a bogeyman who are responsible for the existence of the Trump Administration itself. While their actions were significant, I don’t think their influence was larger than the fact that the US has a strong contingent of white supremacists.

However, the Russian government as led by Putin has undeniably engaged in many activities aimed at changing the outcome of US the elections. Including both direct interactions with campaigns, as well as influence operations on social media and offline. The same government hacked into US election systems, even if there is no evidence of vote tallies changing.

Both of these things can be true. There are certain people who do absolutely treat Russia as a bogeyman, and probably exaggerate their effect. But that by no means diminishes the fact that the current Russian government has in the past, and continues to, conduct operations aimed at deciding which people are elected to government in the US, and what actions they take once elected.

And I think that, for those of us who are US voters, we should absolutely take that into account when we consider the candidates up for consideration.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 7:28 PM on August 4, 2019 [23 favorites]


How many successful intrusions do you think there have been that weren't detected?

This logic lets you talk yourself in to anything.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:33 PM on August 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


And the inverse lets you talk yourself out of anything. So what?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:39 PM on August 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


What's the inverse of "sure there's no evidence of this thing I made up but that doesn't mean it didn't happen"?
posted by Space Coyote at 8:21 PM on August 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


By a weird coincidence, we just saw Gabbard speak at the Festival of the Chariots this afternoon. I didn't know much about her, but I figured she had to be a granola-munching far-lefty to be taking the time to speak to a bunch of hippie folks at a Venice Beach Krishna festival. Then I come home and find out her politics are suspect and Steve Bannon keeps her picture under his pillow! 2019 is a very confusing place.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:26 PM on August 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


Gabbard's foreign policy positions are generally consistent with Trump's. She has made friendly advances to dictators, and including meeting with and defending Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad.

The Syrian army's founding cadre of officers was trained by Johan Von Leers, a fugitive nazi.
The Syrian intelligence services were trained by Alois Bruner, fugitive nazi.

Tulsi Gabbard is toxic.
posted by ocschwar at 8:38 PM on August 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


The support I've seen for Gabbard (that isn't Russian trolls) is coming from people on the left who have bought into the lie that she is some kind of progressive hero.

The most striking support I've seen for Gabbard comes from people who might be described as economically populist, isolationist and socially conservative (at least). Some of this group could meaningfully be called "conservative Democrats" (as in "Trump Democrats") - it's just somewhat the opposite of what most people mean when they say "conservative Democrats" these days. She also gets some number of full-on, very online far-right nationalists, a slightly culty contingent who probably still qualify as lefties ideologically, and whatever Michael Tracey is.
posted by atoxyl at 8:38 PM on August 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


Wow, this was illuminating... I had no idea. I did enjoy her pinning Harris on her very real bad record but sheesh.
posted by latkes at 8:41 PM on August 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I get that we shouldn't point to every bad actor and say "Putin is puppeting them!" but a Russian refugee friend has been sounding the alarm about Gabbard for a couple of years now, and she has to date not been very wrong about her reads on Russian influence on American [social] media - the vast majority have been borne out in released reports about observed interference and influence, so.... I'm kinda inclined to believe that there is in fact a "there" here.
posted by olinerd at 7:18 AM on August 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


> What's the inverse of "sure there's no evidence of this thing I made up but that doesn't mean it didn't happen"?

I didn't make up anything, and would greatly appreciate it if you'd drop the high school debate team nonsense and engage with the entirety of my comments rather than cherry-picking one line out of context for a cheap dunk.

In my response to nicolas léonard sadi carnot, I am not saying an intrusion to change the vote occurred. What I am doing is countering their statement that a belief that a vote-changing intrusion occurred is a conspiracy theory comparable to believing Obama was born in Kenya.

The Mueller report and Volume 1 of the Senate Intel Committee's Russian Active Measures report detail a lengthy list of confirmed Russian activity designed to advance Putin's interests during the 2016 election. These include confirmed intrusions into state election systems. From my vantage point as an information security professional, I am acutely aware of the fact that even well-funded organizations with above average information security practices often don't find out about intrusions that have happened until months or years later.

Given what we know about the extremely poor security of these systems, and given that there are 50 targets of varying degrees of sophistication, it does not take a giant leap of logic to get from the things we know the Russians have done to a scenario where they change outcomes in one or more states. Comparing it to birtherism -- a conspiracy theory built on top of no evidence whatsoever -- is pure sophistry. Vladimir Putin has earned every bit of skepticism he's received for his attempts to tamper with our democratic process. Trying to turn that into a generalized contempt of Russian people with the "Russophobia" label is gross.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:31 AM on August 5, 2019 [26 favorites]


Weirdly when you drive into my little suburb of a moderately ok size capital Midwest city there is a tulsi little picture banner and three name signs in these three strange houses.

Ah, you mean on Merle Hay Road, just across the street to the south from the strip mall with a Panera? :)

There were several people next to those signs during my morning commute last week, cheerfully waving at traffic and holding more Tulsi 2020 signs. I'm unsure whether they're the actual homeowners (or, as you implied, if there are even actually people currently living there) but I wouldn't be completely surprised. There's an area of what I'd call "old Johnston," including some people who are angry that a growing suburb pushed out their horse stables and raised their property taxes, who are somewhat politically unpredictable. There are fewer hold-outs these days, but that's one of the areas where they still exist and there's a mish-mash of political sentiment.

I saw the same "three houses in a row with Tulsi signs" pattern on MLK Parkway just south of Hickman and was mildly confused. The placement makes sense -- high traffic road, enough coverage to ensure someone will notice one of the signs due to distribution. But I have no idea if it's several neighbors organically picking up on the Gabbard campaign's message, or some strategic placement along a traffic pattern that has nothing to do with the residents' politics.
posted by mikeh at 9:03 AM on August 5, 2019


Now that I've thought on it, there's no way the suburban signs aren't a strategic placement. That's just down the road from an interstate exit that many law enforcement officers take in order to head up the road to a National Guard facility that does training. Going out to lunch along that stretch during the work week means encountering police officers from departments around the state, and sometimes some from neighboring states.

Those signs are directly targeting National Guard members and police officers who might be interested in Gabbard as a candidate.

(Worth noting that there will be *tons* of signs for all candidates down the road and around the corner in the coming months as the state public television studio gets bombarded on days when they host candidate forums or interviews)
posted by mikeh at 9:40 AM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that is the exact spot. There is also a HUGE billboard heading south on Merle Hay just after Douglas/the mall. That has been there since... April? May? June at the latest. Hello, neighbor!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:54 AM on August 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Gabbard proves that while there might not be quite as many easily manipulated suckers on the left as there are on the right, we've got plenty on the left. She has only the barest and most minimal of denial for her far right wing positions, yet far too many leftists seem eager to be deceived.

Maybe it's just because it gives them rhetorical cover for hating the women with a chance of winning?
posted by sotonohito at 10:25 AM on August 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


I don't think we have to go too far down the road of assigning motives to any particular group's support of a candidate. Her record speaks for itself, and I take Gabbard supporters at their word that they think she's the best candidate based on her positions on the issues they care about, not simply to deflect accusations of sexism. She certainly distinguishes herself from most other candidates in an A/B comparison of issue positions more strongly than, say, Warren distinguishes herself from Sanders, or Gillibrand distinguishes herself from Booker.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:01 AM on August 5, 2019


Alternatively, people make mistakes and/or disagree with each other? Or what tonycpsu says.

I generally welcome criticism of candidates and think that the "circular firing squad" stuff is way, way overblown. What I do feel is really divisive and unproductive is the sort of assumption that people who support someone you don't support are doing it because they suck. This is not necessarily the case, and it has a sort of toxic, conversation-ending effect that arguing about policies doesn't. Just my 2c.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:08 AM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Weirdly when you drive into my little suburb of a moderately ok size capital Midwest city there is a tulsi little picture banner and three name signs in these three strange houses.

Aah yes, the old gambit of drawing up your lesser candidate in a state the Democrats have no chance of winning, then arguing that If You Nominated Them You Could Win This State. See also Bernie winning Oklahoma -- and the utter lack of difference between 2012 and 2016 vote share for Democrats in Oklahoma.

Given I keep seeing "Tulsa" instead of "Tulsi" and given Oklahoma City's long-standing rivalry with Tulsa, though, it's a curious state to do that in.
posted by dw at 11:13 AM on August 5, 2019


Aah yes, the old gambit of drawing up your lesser candidate in a state the Democrats have no chance of winning, then arguing that If You Nominated Them You Could Win This State.
I mean, Obama won in Iowa in both 2008 and 2012, so it seems like a stretch to call us a state where Democrats have no chance of winning. Also, we are kind of important for the presidential-candidate-nominating process, which is the reason that Tulsi seems to be focusing on getting lots of signs up here.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:10 PM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yes, Iowa is a purple state mostly though it did swing conservative.. but I'm pretty sure it's swinging back. And also, dw, you seem to be missing we are the first stop on the Democratic primary tour with our caucus. That's why the candidates are here.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:29 PM on August 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Surprisingly, few candidates are pulling the "skip Iowa's early caucus, campaign in states with the first round of primaries" move this year, even with a crowded field. I'm assuming with the state fair beginning next week, I won't be able to walk out my front door without tripping over a Delaney or Gabbard.
posted by mikeh at 1:37 PM on August 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I promise that regardless of how much attention she's getting in certain circles, very few people even know who the fuck Gabbard is, and furthermore that there's approximately zero chance she gets elected.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:47 PM on August 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


So|)uke denies that he endorsed her (on his website, which I won't link to and feel dirty for even mentioning) and Tulsi Gabbard denounced him and rejected his endorsement, if that was one.

I dislike anything that gives that asshat attention, and while I don't particularly like Tulsi either, thought that it was worth mentioning because it seems like more an attempt to troll for media attention than actually provide support.

I absolutely believe people can evolve on LGBTQ+ issues, just like some people can leave white supremacy behind, (and others merely claim to, and then dog whistle), and public political support ain't nothing, but that whole personal views thing is weird at the very least.
posted by gryftir at 6:42 PM on August 5, 2019


Duke's tweet endorsing Gabbard for secretary of state still up, so that's not a very convincing denial.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:02 PM on August 5, 2019


Ben Jacobs, Jewish Insider: "Neo Nazis boast ‘We got Tulsi in the debates’"
A neo-Nazi website took credit for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s (D-HI) qualification for the first two Democratic primary debates. The Daily Stormer, a notorious white supremacist and antisemitic website, proclaimed in April “we did it” — after the Hawaii congresswoman reached the 65,000 donor threshold needed to participate in the first two debates.

Andrew Anglin, the website’s founder, wrote in April, “We got Tulsi in the debates.” He added: “I kind of didn’t really want to do the whole big push on this site and have her linked to us if she was going to make it without us (both because I don’t want the media attention and I doubt she wants to be considered a nazi candidate), but as it was clear she wasn’t going to make it without us, I figured it didn’t matter.”
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:14 PM on August 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


"Not a Nazi, but #1 with Nazis."
posted by tonycpsu at 7:27 PM on August 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


So, I did not actually know that Duke had endorsed Gabbard for president, earlier this year. The links in the post are about when he endorsed her for secretary of state, at the time of her interview in 2016. Clicking on gryftir's link I learned this...
Duke also changed his Twitter page banner to a picture of Gabbard, endorsing Gabbard for president. The text reads, “Tulsi Gabbard for President. Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First!”
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:50 AM on August 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Almost all of the stuff in this post would stand alone without "the Russian connection", and indeed, most of the "connection" is really just that Tulsi's views and Russia's align on certain topics

Not true. There is strong evidence of official Russian state support behind the social media networks promoting Tulsi. Looked what happened when open source journalists dug into her Assad claims with a detailed analysis.

"Despite these repeated errors, Postol’s work has proven popular with those who wish to attack claims of chemical weapon use in Syria, with Postol appearing on Russian government funded media such as Russia Today and Sputnik, and being cited widely by pro-Assad media and conspiracy websites. Despite this Gabbard chose Postol to be her main source of information for her “Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria"

Tulsi Gabbard's Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria - A Self-Contradictory Error Filled Mess (Bellingcat report)

After Bellingcat published this report, official Russian Embassy Twitter feeds joined in attacking Bellingcat.

Embassy of Russia Twitter

Russia takes side of Democratic 2020 candidate in row with British Investigator over war crimes

"Since Gabbard announced her intention to run on Jan. 11, there have been at least 20 Gabbard stories on three major Moscow-based English-language websites affiliated with or supportive of the Russian government: RT, the Russian-owned TV outlet; Sputnik News, a radio outlet; and Russia Insider, a blog that experts say closely follows the Kremlin line."

Russia's Propaganda Machine Discovers 2020 Democratic Candidate Tulsi Gabbard

Russian state television is devoting hours of airtime to covering and amplifying her campaign, promoting the view that there is a "rigged system" against. her candidacy

(RT) Media Meddle in Democratic Debate

Not all social media amplification is Russian, however. The #KamelaHarrisDestroyed campaign appears to have originated from the right wing Trump supporter network.

Conspirador Norteño on Twitter

The KamelaHarrisDestroyed Twitter controversy, explained

I suppose we are seeing a convergence between two leading social media propaganda users (Trump supporters and Russian networks) behind their shared cause. I would posit that is to divide opposition to Trump and open the path to re-election.

Here's Sean Hannity trying to knock down the claims of a Russian information operation

Hannity blog

Something you saw quite a lot of - Fox News, Trump Networks, and Russian information ops (as detailed in the Mueller Report) coming together. Tulsi Gabbard joined Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, and Roger Stone in claiming that indictment or impeachment of Trump in the wake of Mueller would have caused a crisis potentially leading to a "civil war".

Asha Rangappa on Twitter
posted by C.A.S. at 1:50 AM on August 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


Not true. There is strong evidence of official Russian state support behind the social media networks promoting Tulsi. Looked what happened when open source journalists dug into her Assad claims with a detailed analysis.

The official Russian Embassy in South Africa Twitter account posted in support of her pro-Assad view just yesterday, for some reason. Maybe they forgot to log out of one of their other accounts.
posted by PenDevil at 2:40 AM on August 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


Crazy, reality show political prediction:

Nikki Haley and Tulsi Gabbard, the Unity Ticket, “Bring America Back Together”.
posted by kmartino at 3:56 AM on August 6, 2019


CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: “Tulsi Gabbard is running a Facebook ad w/Kamala Harris saying "I am proud of that work" where she's talking about criminal justice reform at the debate – but it's edited to make it sound like she said she's proud of putting people in jail for smoking pot.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:00 AM on August 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


Yeah, one thing to keep in mind is that while we on the liberal and left side are jumpy about accusations of Russian meddling or allegiance thanks to McCarthyism and the whole ugly right wing history of red baiting, the fact is that these days there is credible evidence that Russia is interfering in US affairs and especially in US internal politics both to sew chaos in general and also to support the American right which at the moment has several interests in common with the Russian government.

Russia's government is unabashedly white supremacist, homophobic, opposed to women's rights, and in favor of theocratic politics. So is the American Republican Party. there's a reason why we see Republicans wearing t-shirts that say "I'd Rather be a Russian than a Democrat".

My point is that we shouldn't be instantly dismissive of claims that the Kremlin is supporting X or Y candidate. Their objectives are chaos and distrust, supporting one of the more right wing Democrats in the race would accomplish those objectives. We're in Cold War 2.0 right now, and unlike in the first Cold War where claims that one American Party was supporting Russia were spurious, it really does seem as if there's cooperation between a major American Party and the Kremlin for this iteration of the Cold War.
posted by sotonohito at 6:48 AM on August 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


This thread seems a little dead, but I came across something interesting just yesterday: Kaiali'i Kahele is running against Tulsi Gabbard in 2020 (for HI-02 congressional dist.).
Good luck, right? But he is the current leader of the Hawaiʻi State Senate, his family has deep roots in Hawaiʻi politics, and he's an 18-year military veteran. Those 3 things together ring some alarm bells for me (because fuck political dynasties!), but he seems to be genuinely well-liked and his stated positions very progressive. For instance, if you've felt sickened by Tulsi's positions on LGBTQ+ rights, please enjoy this refreshing breeze from Kaiali'i:
"Equality is engrained in the Native Hawaiian culture. Our LGBTQ+ ancestors were fully embraced as an integral part of our communities and same-sex relationships were not only recognized but were part of the very fabric of Native Hawaiian society." (it continues in a similar vein).
If you've had enough of Tulsi, there's at least one good candidate. Send a donation.
posted by ButteryMales at 11:13 AM on August 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


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