Idle speculation

How much of the anti-Hillary stuff in apparently pro-Obama blog comments, and how much of the anti-Obama stuff in apparently pro-Clinton comments, are in fact troll scat?

Reading some of the anti-Clinton comments on various Democratic blogs makes me wonder: If these people are actually Obama supporters, didn’t they get the “play-nice” memo? Or are those actually “false flag” posts, in fact from practitioners of Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos, or just Republican trolls earning McCain points? (I see that DailyKos is one of today’s designated target sites for the McCainites.)

Today, when anti-Clinton comments are obviously pointless and counterproductive from Obama’s viewpoint, the frequency of troll scat among purported pro-Obama comments is likely to be especially high. But the sheer nastiness of the on-line-comment back-and-forth has been a burden to Democrats, and thereby a boon to Republicans, for months. Several weeks ago, Obama appealed to his supporters to tone it down.

And of course the same is true on the other side. No doubt some of the anti-Obama fury is perfectly genuine and comes from perfectly genuine Hillary supporters. But there’s also no doubt that some of it comes from trolls: reference to “the Democrat party,” which is not uncommon in those posts, is of course a dead giveaway, and we shouldn’t expect all of the false-flag posters to make such obvious mistakes. How many genuine HRC supporters actually think of John McCain, an anti-choice Reagan Republican, as a “moderate”?

If you have the heart (as I usually don’t) to engage in comment warfare, I suggest accusing any purported Obama supporter who gets at all nasty about HRC of being a McCainite flying a false flag. If it’s true, you’ve made an important point; if it’s false, you’ve not only made an important point but also hit the foolish commenter where it hurts.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: