I've written a couple of diaries that Hillary Clinton's supporters interpreted as more unsympathetic to their candidate than they really were, and some of their comments were harsh, but Ms. Clinton's supporters never tried to shut down discussion by jamming threads with empty comments and even empty titles. DemocraticLuntz is the worst, posting " " only 36 seconds after one of my diaries was posted, no title, no comment, don't bother to read the diary, and not just for me, but also on a very halting diary by yangwenli, where JeffLieber, kismet, RumsfeldResign, Irishkorean, Hannibal, MKS, and MichaelPH also posted empty title lines or typographical doodads over empty comments.
Hannibal likes this trick so much that on the list of his comments, 14 in a row were nothing but meaningless typographical doodads, many of them clogging a reasonably substantial pro-Hillary diary by ManOverBoard.
MadAsHellMaddie and ElitistJohn also joined members of the usual crew like MichaelPh and Democratic Luntz in posting meaningless doodads on the same diary, which also illustrates another favorite tactic of Obama's thugs: abusive troll ratings. Troll ratings of a comment by the diarist, titled "I was in Iowa..." by nevadadem, mcfly, Elvis meets Nixon, Potus2020, gchaucer2, rf7777 were uprated by Dump Terry McAuliffe, PaintyKat, swissffun, bonesy, bobswern, ZhenRen. Six troll ratings, six upratings, followed by bitter name-calling... Is this an example of Obama's famous ability to heal divisions?
Or maybe by "healing divisions" Obama means the same thing as proponents of the Surge in Iraq, which Obama votes to fund every chance he gets. The Surge "healed divisions" by allowing each side to drive the other out of mixed neighborhoods, and Presto! Everybody is just alike, on one side of the wall or the other.
Obama's thugs obviously have the same sort of "cleansing" in mind, and it's working. As an Iowa caucus chairman, ZhenRen, commented (on ManOverboard's diary) about deciding not to write a diary criticizing Obama's supporters:
When I got around to thinking about a diary, I'd noticed someone else had written one about a similar incident in Iowa, and he was getting viciously attacked, called a racist, etc. He didn't do a very good job at presenting his facts, and opened himself to some hostility that possibly could have been avoided to a degree.
I haven't written many diaries, and am somewhat new to DKos (been lurking awhile longer than my ID would indicate). I decided to not put myself through the attacks that were sure to come. I was exhausted after working my butt off working for the Edwards campaign, and it was the first chance for a rest after months of work. I let it go.
One last look at ManOverboard's diary shows gchaucer2 posting an empty comment with nothing but the title "Are you frigging drunk?" This jewel received 10 upratings from Obama's supporters. What is it about "Are you frigging drunk? that encouraged mayan, Elise, Elvis meets Nixon, Rex Manning, dconrad, kubrick2008, rf7777, Libertaria, djolfs, and Into The Stars to recommend it? There's nothing in it except brute hostility!
Anyone who can stand to read through the comments of the thugs already mentioned can find any number of examples of the same concerted effort to stifle discussion on Daily Kos.
Just one more incident from one of my own diaries, which didn't mention any candidate...
A couple of days ago I came across a fantastic YouTube video of Billie Holiday and her best friend Lester Young playing sublime music with some of the greatest stars in the history of jazz. What the heck! Let's have a little beauty on DK, and leave the battle for truth and justice for another day! So I posted a little diary that was nothing but the beautiful video, with a minimal intro. One of the readers couldn't get the sound to work on DK, so I gave him a direct link, and Wham! Down comes a troll rating! For a link to a Billie Holiday video on YouTube!
This puzzled the original poster, Ohio. Thanks for the link, he or she said, and what's up with the troll rating? Is it someone you know?
It was indeed someone I knew... the irrepressible "kharma," who has troll-and hit-tagged every diary I ever wrote that was critical of Obama, sometimes dozens of times on the same diary, even after other TU's had removed the tags. It isn't enough for Obama's supporters to write "turd" as a tag on my diaries... they have to stalk me all over DK too!
I have written diaries critical of both Hillary and Obama, and been attacked by friends of both, but I have to say that none of Hillary's friends ever flooded a thread with empty comments, or followed me all over Daily Kos troll-rating links to Billie Holiday!
In my opinion, based on my experience on Daily Kos, after posting 70 diaries mostly attacking Bush/Cheney, or supporting Kucinich, Dodd, and Edwards, Obama has brought more bitter divisiveness to Daily Kos than any other candidate, and if that's the sort of "healing" we can expect from Obama as a candidate or President, it's very bad news.
So it's time for Obama either to rein in his thugs, or acknowledge that he approves of their tactics.
I sent his media office a couple of emails about this problem, with links to examples, but they didn't bother to reply.
(In order to avoid dozens of troll-ratings for whatever I post in the comments, I have adopted the awkward expedient of replying in updates to the diary, sometimes also extracting substantive comments from threads where they were buried in empty comments by Obama's thugs, and quoting them in full.)
MeteorBlades' comment is worth extracting from the ocean of whatever that is down there:
There is some Trollish behavior in many candidate Diaries by a small number of people of various persuasions. But before you write "Obama's thugs ..." it behooves you to determine whether these folks are paid or volunteers sent by the Obama campaign. For all you know, some of them are paid Clinton or Gravel or McBush operatives stirring up shit. Just because they say they support Obama doesn't mean Obama (or his strategists) approve of their behavior, knows of their behavior, or, given the exigencies of the primary campaign, gives a hoot that they're handing out zeroes or fours on a blog.
As I've been saying for weeks: If you want more civil behavior here, then rein in the "thugs" who support the same candidate you do, and urge backers of the other candidate to rein in their "thugs."
I acknowledge MetorBlades' point here, but I don't think any candidate, including Obama, is so out of touch or contemptuous of DK that they don't know what their supporters are doing here. So for me, they are "Obama's thugs" until he rejects or denounces them. Even mild reproof would probably be enough.
Valhalla's comment is similar to MeteorBlades', but with an interesting reference to Reagan:
I think that any especially inspirational figure (whether for good or for ill) will always attract a subsection of irrational overly zealous supporters. Obama's the most charismatic politician since Ronald Reagan, and if there had been a conservative Daily Kos around in 1980, he would have his share of cultists shutting trying to control the discussion. But, I don't think it's far to blame Obama for his supporters. If he could control them, I am sure he would ask them to get off of Daily Kos and do some phonebanking and canvassing instead! It's tough but please and try separate Obama from the small minority of his supporters who go overboard.
Again, I think this point of view has a lot to recommend it, but it isn't necessarily a very good thing that Democrats are experiencing the same sort of irrational exuberance as Reagan's fanatics. It seems to me that most of the country subscribes to a more progressive platform than either of the remaining Democratic candidates is proposing, and with the truth of the situation on our side, I think we would be better off without so much in the way of unthinking charismatics.
Searching For Pericles asks a good question about Hillary's main thug:
I'd like to ask why Mark Penn still has a job. Shaheen was fired for his "cocaine" comments, but Penn did the same thing, on national TV on Hardball, and he still has a job, despite the fact HRC likes to trumpet how she doesn't approve such tactics.
If she doesn't approve of it, how come nothing has happened to Penn for his reprehensible behavior?
I totally agree that Mark Penn epitomizes everything that's wrong with HRC's campaign and the DLC branch of the Democratic Party in general. That blood-sucker billed Hillary $3.8 million during January 2008, while the wheels were coming off her campaign!
Boston Boomer adds a sad end-note in a reply to MeteorBlades:
For the record, I don't support either candidate, but I've gotten to the point that I don't want to come here much anymore. I still check in occasionally, because dkos is a years-long habit for me, but I'm weaning myself off this place. It makes me sad, because I've enjoyed the interactions I've had here with many other Kossacks who are now gone or have gone silent and I've learned so much here in the past. But I'm now resigned to the fact that this is now mostly an Obama cheerleading site.