Empty calories on the web
April 28th 2020
On a day when Trump was suggesting people try treating themselves with bleach and disinfectants to avoid coronavirus, one self-purported Democratic activist showed up on my web page with a long article about how Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Joe Biden of digital rape, just had her allegations supported by a claim that her mother called in to some talk show in 1997 to discuss it. Now, you can have an honest difference of opinion on the veracity of Reade’s story. And if you believe her, then you can reasonably be expected to not want to support Biden.
But this post took a strange turn. “Voting Biden would just be replacing one rapist with another.” Well, neither Biden nor Trump have actually been convicted of rape. And that’s about all they have in common at this point. In Trump’s case, there are at least a dozen women accusing him of sexual misconduct, his lawyer went to jail for paying off women he sexually predated, and there’s that issue with his association with Jeffrey Epstein, child rapist and pimp. Equating the two just doesn’t work.
I clicked the link on the Reade story, and found myself at World News Daily. Given that WND is one of the trashiest right wing sites on the web, just about at the same level of Breitbart, it seemed a strange place for a Democratic Activist to be getting her information.
OK, so this one was a troll. The only question was whether this was a Republican Troll or a Russian Troll. It’s not a very important question, but it’s one where figuring out the answer can be amusing.
A Republican troll won’t respond to any post that points out that Trump is far worse than Biden. They’ll obsessively post that Biden is mentally impaired (“demented” is the meme this week), overly handsy toward women, and “a rapist” (not just “accused of rape”). But if you point out that the same pertains to Trump, 20 times that of Biden, you won’t get a response.
A Russian troll knows that Trump as a patsy for Putin has outlived his shelf life. But exacerbating the divisions Trump has created in the United States works out fine for Moscow, which wants the US to remain weak and divided. So he’ll cheerfully agree that Trump is just as bad, and suggest voting for some hopeless third party candidate.
But both sets of trolls are going to be resolutely focused on Biden, and specifically on smearing him any way they can. Team Trump, the PAC arm of the Trump election campaign, ran a series of “I’m With Joe” ads, purporting to be from a group supporting Biden. The “supporters” in those ads were luridly tatooed street gang members, scary-looking Black Panther types, and other racist and sexist memes.
It’s dishonest and racist and deeply vile, and it captures the spirit of Trump and his underlings perfectly.
They don’t care how stupid their memes actually are. One I came across this week was feigned outrage over the cancellation of the New York State primary. Fake Sanders supporters howled that “it was his only chance at winning!” One hilarious poster ignored my point, made three times, that in fact Sanders wasn’t running in that primary, having already suspended his campaign. I then asked if they supported Wisconsin making voters risk their health to defeat a fascist running for the state supreme court. The reply was “the guy was running for the federal court” which left me wondering what part of Russia he lived in.
The primary campaign is over, and Biden is the presumptive nominee. Between a “circle the wagons” approach by timid centrist Dems, and the bad luck of having a pandemic strike at just the wrong time which influenced voters to vote safe, Bernie lost, but he lost fairly. He has endorsed Biden, and Biden has graciously accepted. Hopefully Dems will keep the pressure on Biden to adopt more leftist policies and nominate a progressive for VP.
At this time, anyone claiming to be a Dem launching a vicious personal attack on either is almost certainly a troll, there only to disrupt and disorganize. We’re not talking about Biden’s poor stance on health care, or that he favored the death penalty until very recently. Those are very legitimate criticisms, and need to be aired. If Biden can’t attract leftist and progressive voters, he risks losing the most important election since 1860, and with capitalism on the ropes, he can’t afford to be seen as just another centrist corporate stooge. People will abandon him for more revolutionary forms of reform.
But watch the trolls. They are going to do and say anything: the best of them are willing to lie for the cause, the worst are just vicious prostitutes.
And from now until election day, they are going to be carpet bombing social media with their filth.