Mr Blank 3One disturbing aspect of modern politics is the advent of paid political trolls. Anyone who has been online for any length of time learned to spot them long ago. The sad truth of our currently sideways culture is that conservative political action committees and special interest groups are literally paying people to troll social media and disseminate Right-Wing talking points.

One of the most annoying aspects of this trend is that the recent Russian installment of Donald Trump as General Secretary of the U.S. Colonies is that these paid Right-Wing trolls, emboldened by their orange-skinned spiritual leader, have adopted a policy of harassment, going after anyone who dares post anything about the head Cheeto which is less than glowing.

I ran into one of those trolls today, who apparently took exception to something I posted in November.

I’d noticed that this tweet had been shared about a dozen times. I guess it was inevitable the paid trolls would get hold of it. One guy chimed in, demanding proof of Russian hacking. I won’t bore you with the full exchange. Long story short, I told him to check with the CIA, who’d just made a report on it. I’ve bumped into plenty of Right-Wingers through the years. There’s usually a terse exchange, then they insult you and storm off feeling superior. This guy, however, wouldn’t go away, and kept hammering away at me. Which, honestly, seemed like a variation on the usual pattern. He was insulting and seemed to be intentionally provoking me, to which I responded in what I thought was a measure of control.

I finally reached a point where I was wondering what this guy’s problem was, so I checked out his profile, and he’d posted the following about me.

Mr Blank

Do whut?

Notice he left out all the provocative things he had said, and tried to make what I said to be worse than it actually was. He also pretended I had blocked him. Thin skin, anyone?

A few un-pleasantries were exchanged. He wasn’t getting the responses he apparently wanted, so he suggested I was afraid to say anything else. I told him I was about to go to work and didn’t have time to bother with a troll, and told him we were hiring if he ever needed a job. He told me he was “a professional” and to enjoy my “McJob”. I told him that I was employed by a sheriff’s office, and that as for him, being a paid troll did not make him a professional.

Oddly enough, mention of a sheriff’s office suddenly stopped his roll. There was nothing but crickets after that. I DID ban him after that, though. Life is too short for professional trolls. They’re never as entertaining or as thought-provoking as they like to believe they are. It’s always better when they wander off, kind of like a skunk leaving the area where you’re trying to have a picnic with your family. You don’t wish ’em any harm, but you’re sure glad to see them go.

Mr Blank 2Of course, I realized he was a troll. For one thing, he’d only created his account a few months ago. Oddly enough, he had lots of friends who posted lots of tweets, but whose accounts were all only a few months old. Ah! I got it. The dissemination of misinformation and redirection. Sure, why not? It was pretty clear this guy was one of those who were paid to do this. Only that could explain his commitment. He trolled me successfully, got just enough of what he wanted from me to paint “liberals” with a broad brush. I’m sure he’ll be submitting a screenshot to his handlers for compensation, and think his was a job well done.

Notice that he’s adopted something of an Anonymous look, his Twitter username is gooble-de-goop, and he includes a hashtag for the insane Right-Wing delusion called “Pizzagate“, in which the Right is spreading the laughable lie that Bill and Hillary Clinton are, or were, involved in a human trafficking ring operating out of pizzerias in the Washington, D.C. area.

Yeah. These people are out there. And they’re getting paid. Previously it was a safe assumption that these guys were being paid by PACs funded by the likes of the Koch brothers and Karl Rove. But given recent revelations about Russian hackers and the meddling of the Russian government in the 2016 U.S. election, you have to wonder if people like Mr. Bank are getting their checks directly from Moscow. Anyone who is that keen on stifling dissent has certainly taken a page from the old Soviet playbook.