A Time to Purge: Meltdown at DemocraticUnderground

obama bush When last we checked in at DemocraticUnderground, where I posted as BurtWorm for seven years before getting the boot in December 2010  without a single warning, the Administrators had revamped the site and imposed a new set of rules emphasizing the “Democratic” part of the name and seeming to toss the “Underground” part, as it were, under the ground. If you’ve never heard of DU, it’s self-described as the largest “progressive” forum on the Internet, larger even than Dailykos (allegedly). Its politics, however, have been nearly dead centrist since (at least) the 2008 election, when Barack Obama made being a Democrat  “respectable” again.

I was curious how our friends over there have been handling the president’s embellishment of the Bush national security policies. I’m especially curious about how the Administrators are coping. These have got to be trying times for a forum with rules meant to stifle talk that disparages Democratic elected officials. Luckily, the administrators can always count on at least a handful of shameless partisans to carry team Obama’s water even during the worst of times. Take a fellow named UrbScotty, for instance. Now, where most people might be feeling an uncomfortable sense of deja vu around the NSA/FISA/PRISM news of the past couple of days, UrbScotty has some sanguine advice for his fellow DUers: Stop Freaking Out About the NSA:

Chill. You can quarrel with this program, but it isn’t Orwellian. It’s limited, and it’s controlled by checks and balances.

… But the program is also restrained in several ways. Here’s a list.
1. It isn’t wiretapping. The order authorizes the transfer of “telephony metadata” such as the date and length of each call and which phone numbers were involved. It doesn’t include the content of calls—which is more tightly protected by the Fourth Amendment—or the identity of the callers. The targeted data are mathematical, not verbal. They’re the kind of information you’d request if you were mapping possible extensions of a terrorist or criminal network. …


Great read. At first I was very disappointed, but now I realize that it wasn’t nearly the invasion of privacy that it was made out to be.

Besides, hardly anybody knows more about the Constitution than the Constitutional-law-professor-turned-President. He takes his obligation to our country and our Const itution seriously.

Fortunately for sanity’s sake, most of those responding are reacting to this treacle as normal human beings. Someone named blkmusicmachine asks incredulously, “This is snark, right?!” Others are wondering if they want to be standing with such defenders of the president as Ari Fleischer, Lindsey Graham and Alan Dershowitz.

On the other side of the DU divide (which always looks much wider when news like this breaks), usregimechange (with over 18,000 posts and the light-bulb avatar I posted under as BurtWorm, coincidentally) announced, “I just left the Democratic party over NSA spying“:

I will support no party that supports the evisceration of the 4th Amendment. I won’t volunteer, I won’t contribute, until the rank and file of the party opposes and ends this practice, don’t bother calling me.

Predictably, this bold statement was met with plenty of “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” type of dismissals. So many DUers one had amiably shared the forum with over the years show their true hearts at these moments. It’s often not pretty.  But today there’s plenty of evidence that the anger toward Obama is shared widely among the rank and filers. I particularly liked this response from a poster named YoMama to a critic of the original post:

Sorry, but I won’t support this policy. It was wrong when the Bush administration was going this way, and it’s wrong now. As far as I’m concerned, it’s always going to be wrong. We are violating policies and understandings that arose out of the concern over the J Edgar Hoover FBI excesses and the like. If that was wrong, this is wrong. With each administration, the screw tightens again. It’s unnecessary. We are letting the political culture morph us into a totally different society. When you give the government this power, it will be misused sooner or later. Generally sooner. And with each step over the line, the line moves. I personally thought that Obama’s election was going to push back against this. I was wrong. I’m not going to accept it.

If remarkably consistent past experience is any guide, the future at DU is predictable. As the controversy heats up, chief administrator Skinner will make a lengthy post on the subject, noting how disturbed he is, like many of his fellow DUers, over what looks like possible Fourth Amendment violations by the NSA. However, he will urge caution in making grand, sweeping claims against the Obama administration until all the facts are out. He will ask Duers to try to cool their jets and, like him, wait and see. The post will receive hundreds of “recommendations.” If the controversy goes away, there will be a quiet, cold-bloodedly efficient purge of posters like YoMama and usregimechange (if they haven’t already been purged). Skinner and his minions will give the guilty no time to prepare for their trials or to say goodbye to friends. They’ll just be disappeared, as I was.

If the controversy does not go away,  another lengthy Skinner post will appear announcing a new forum for discussion of national security and banning all such posts from the general forum. From there, it will be easier to identify the troublemakers who need to be disappeared in a hurry without arousing the anxiety of the plebes.

I can hardly wait now to see if my prediction comes true! If you’re a recently purged member of DU, please stop by and share your story.

20 thoughts on “A Time to Purge: Meltdown at DemocraticUnderground

  1. I’m getting multiple posts hidden for calling out the authoritarian right-wingers that pretend to be progressive on that site.

    Without giving away my username, I’ll just give a hint. I’ve been the one giving Klingon-style discommendations in the form of meme pics to many of those participating in the McCarthyist witchhunt of Edward Snowden.

    That sort of character assassination pisses me off to extremes.

    • I just joined DU a few weeks ago, and I’m going to be leaving soon, too. (Really annoying that there is no simple way to delete an account as on most other sites.) I just find the atmosphere so mean-spirited and nasty. I’m surrounded by conservative whackjobs in real life, and wanted to find a safe haven where I didn’t have to defend every word I said on a subject. DU is not that haven. The jury system does not work because jurors give their friends a pass on comments that are obviously in violation of the TOS, and no one ever seems to step in to rein in the constant verbal abuse of other members. It’s impossible to have an adult discussion in such an atmosphere.

  2. Burtworm doesn’t want to hear this, but this type of behavior from the Obama administration was predicted on conservative pol sites and blogs as taking place when he was elected.

    • Jim,

      Please share more about that. I don’t doubt you expected Obama to spy like a Stalinist. But did conservatives really believe Obama would be more apt to aggress than John McCain, who never met a middle eastern conflict he didn’t want to get the US involved in? Were conservatives happy when Obama showed he didn’t have the stuff to keep his promises on Guantanamo? Did conservatives secretly have the same queasy feeling about the Bush administration with respect to FISA and the Patriot Act that I and other libertarian leftists feel about the Obama administration? Is that why you felt the way you did about Obama, because you suspected he’d be Bush redux? (I kind of doubt that.)

      • Look Bert, we could talk about things for 1,000,000 words and get nowhere. I’ve been reading your posts since 2004 at DU and you’re still saying the same things. But at this point, you’ve got too much invested in your ideology to change, so I don’t expect it of you. There’s certainly been ample evidence to change your mind about the things you believe, but you look the other way. Here’s the one thing I can answer: Fifty years from now the political left will still be just as frustrated and confused as they have been the last fifty and writing essentially the same articles. And all because they refuse to look in the mirror, point the finger at themselves, and say “Liberal ideology is worthless and stupid.”

        • I appreciate the following, but you clearly haven’t been reading me very closely if you think I’m “saying the same things.” I’m no longer more than a nominal Democrat, most importantly. I don’t know what you mean by :”ample evidence” to change my mind about “the things I believe” without specifics. It seems naive to me if you think I have bought wholesale some stereotyped, monolithic left-wing ideology. Even more naive if you believe this strawman invention of yours has been “disproven” by alleged events and a stereotypical right-wing one you and your conservative cave buddies have bought wholesale has been “proven” by them. The world, I hope you know. is a lot more subtle, interesting and difficult to nail down than your simplistic characterization of it

          I don’t mean you any ill will. I’d really rather know what you actually think so we can discuss it intelligently. I’m over the stereotyped crap DU and its right-wing mirror sites endlessly chew and spew.

  3. The DU is centrist?? LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The DU is a clear cut Liberal site bent on establishing a leftwing police state. They only disagree on how best to establish this type of state. The fact that U call it a centrist site – and that U appear to hate centralist – indicates that U must be so far left that even Stalin appears as a rightwing politician to you.

  4. Jay’s comment illustrates exactly the problem those of us who consider ourselves leftist or progressives face in dealing with Americans. Decades of media repetition have made people automatically equate liberalism with the left, despite the fact that it was a centrist philosophy from FDR onward and since the 1970s has become an increasingly center-right one.

    Unfortunately Jim is probably right in that historical and ideological ignorance are the norm and actual leftist solutions are unlikely to gain much traction there. Despite the fact that it’s right-wing policies of both parties that are destroying the middle class, it’s likely that when and if a revolution erupts, it will be a right-wing one…

  5. It’s 2016, and the Hillary swarm has been running the DU for nearly a year. This is tolerated by management because at least one owner is working for Hillary, too. Amazingly enough, 6 out of 7 members of DU are supporting Bernie, and getting “tombstoned” for it on a regular basis through the kangaroo court jury system and the guerrilla tactics of the Swarm, who co-ordinate their operations at a totally hidden website, members only!

    I am hoping that Retribution, in the form of a completely non-viable DU that shuts down due to lack of income from the pissed-off membership, comes within the year. There is no good reason for DU to exist any longer. It has abandoned its original purpose to shill for the most corrupt candidate since Richard Nixon.

  6. I signed up a few weeks ago and think I had racked up about 26 posts when I was unceremoniously booted without explanation. I emailed several times and asked for a chance to defend myself, but have never received a response. I don’t know what I did to offend the mighty administrators, but I certainly never insulted anyone or called for violence against anyone. Who needs a place like that?

    • Did you say anything that could in any way be considered critical of Hillary or Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama? Did you say anything that could be construed as positive about Jill Stein or Ralph Nader?

  7. Just got booted 2day. I posted a reasonable post about a recent article on Bernie Sanders current popularity. In it i complained about the Demo’s centralism, moderism, and incrementalism and the refusal of the Demo’s leadership to embrace and fight for progressive policies. Account deleted without notice or reason less than 20 mins later.

    Rather than being an open free speech forum for discussion of democratic values, they seem to be a centrist Hillary luv fest with no room for dissenting voices.

    • On the other side, I have a problem with the divisive and toxic identity politics taking over the party’s grassroots. I like Bernie but even he dares not criticize it. It’s completely verboten to mention the hateful, discriminatory, anti-white, anti-male sentiment overtaking the left and evident on places like twitter and tumblr. When it comes to the point that mainstream democratic politicians start spewing racist buzzwords like “white privilege” I will not be able to vote democratic anymore. I’ll be forced to vote libertarian, which is a shame because I think government DOES have a role in making a safety net, providing healthcare etc.

  8. I signed up there and lasted about twelve seconds, responding to the Russian witch hunting nonsense in a most prickly way. I mean, it was either that, or join the cheerleaders blushing all over the possibility of a conflict with a nuclear-armed superpower. Democrats and Republicans are both very strange creatures.

  9. It’s getting worse. Even having FDR as an avatar seems to get you booted.No appeal, no response from admins, not very “democratic”.

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