Trolling the Trolls

After six months of writing columns for the Reader I finally got some reaction in the online comment box. After my Frat Boy column a “Juan Percent” snarked at me. After this week’s column about my Presidential candidacy I got snarked at by a “Fed Troll.”

In both cases I bit like a fish and replied. It was only yesterday that I realized that Juan Percent had replied to me a couple days after I commented on his post. That was a month ago. I’ll give Juan credit. While I am not impressed with anonymous posts to communicate in our Democracy (I can forgive them in nations where state security will hunt down and imprison complainers) Juan offered a serious reply to me. I then attempted to catch his attention to see that I had offered additional thoughts.

At this one of my Reader contacts sent me an email recommending that I not reply to “trolls” like Mr. Percent. I joked back that I was simply trolling the trolls. What I meant was that by replying to them I was paying them in kind. But that was mostly a joke. I believe in conversation as much as I believe in compromise. If Minnesota’s moderate Republicans in the 1970’s had kept going to precinct caucuses and had conversations with pro lifers the party would be a different place today. Instead they avoided precinct caucuses and left them open to one side of an issue they felt uncomfortable discussing every two years.

While I soldiered on as a Republican for another twenty years even I decided it was pointless to be a lone voice arguing the pro-choice point of view. But its not like I’m afraid of facing those who disagree with me. For years I’d be the only Republican to go to Union endorsement interviews knowing I stood a snowball’s chance in the hellish union furnace. At my first such encounter in 1974 I chided the union members for putting all their apples in the basket with the half dozen DFL legislators who showed up to get their automatic endorsement. One of the legislators, Tom Berkleman, even scolded me for chiding the unions. Well, the Unions reliance on Democrats has not turned out so well since my scolding. As for Berklemen? He was arrested for stealing cigars from a smoke shop a few years later.

I’ll share the last couple thoughts that Mr. Percent and I exchanged to show that at least some trolls have given thought to the issues they pan on the Internet. I say that as a hopeless “libtard”:


I don’t know who you are. Apparently you wish to remain anonymous. I am Harry Welty. I am a liberal in many respects as was my hero Abe Lincoln. I did smoke some weed when I was in college. And yes, I was worried for a while that this might cloud my thinking. Despite that concern, which I’ve since realized was overblown, I do not hide who I am. I live at 2101 E 4th Street in Duluth Minnesota. I have written hundred’s of thousands of words in my blog and tens of thousands for the Reader. I put my name to them. I do not hide behind a pseudonym and send out snarky anonymous one liners at people I disagree with. I am not afraid of my opinions or of making them known to the general public.

When you are willing to come out from hiding I’ll will accord your views the respect honest open opinions deserve.

Yours, with grudging respect,

Harry Welty

To me:

It’s possible we’ve spoken before, though I doubt we travel in the same circles. I think you have Justice Roberts as the swing vote that you’re looking for. Don’t you think it’s a tad disgusting that Kagan came out and said she and Sotomayor will always make liberal rulings? Like established law and the constitution doesn’t matter to them? Made me want to vomit.

Mr. Percent,
I just caught your additional thoughts a month on. Here are a couple thoughts of my own.

You can’t seriously think that living a virtuous adult life means not having been drunk or stupid in youth. I have lived next to college kids for the last 30 years and seen a lot of them stupid drunk.

I expect most of them mature by their child rearing years.

I read the article about Kagan that you said disgusted you. I did not read into her words that she would always vote liberally. And by the way. Do you have a universally accepted definition of liberalism. Tolerance and charity for all are both aspects of liberality in my view. Am I wrong?

Today’s news brings word that Trump’s replacement for Attorney General Sessions has some iconoclastic views. Do you share his views including the one that insists that the courts are inferior to the legislative and executive branches?

Finally, I agree with you on the electoral college. I am not surprised however that many Americans are bothered by the winning side prevailing with fewer popular votes. I am however troubled, outraged really, by the lengths that today’s Republicans are going to to rig election laws and pack the courts especially because they represent a steadily diminishing ideological segment of the population.

To me:

Thank you for your response. Regarding Kagan, what else could this mean: In expressing trepidation about the loss of a centrist, Kagan implicitly conceded that on this court, everyone’s mind is already made up in advance on the cases that count the most and on which the country is bitterly divided. That is a horrible place for the court to be, for it defies the very notion of open-minded adjudication without bias. I doubt she case what the constitution actually says, and only subscribes to her own doctrine of ‘fairness’ whatever that means. Tolerance and Charity SHOULD have limits, it’s not black and white. How far toward communism can a liberal/progressive go before we put the brakes on? I think what you saw in this election, was the public putting the brakes on. (Liberal means different things to different people, I should stop using it. Progressive is a better term for modern Liberals.)


That quote says that Kagan believes everyone on the court is predisposed to vote in predictable ways on hot button issues. If so, she is no more guilty of closed mindedness than any other justice. I presume you think liberal thinking is the same thing as “unconstitutional” thinking. If so, I don’t agree. As a Republican I too am concerned about over reliance on big government. But I also think Grover Norquist’s philosophy has been far too successful. He wants to shrink government to the size that he can strangle it in a bathtub.

I think the Federalist Society’s Scalia worship of Originalism has some serious blind spots.

You suggested that I should be happy with Robert’s because he was a centrist not a conservative. I have been pleased with him because so far he has stood up for Stare decices (spelling?). He is however still in the Federalist Society mold.

That principle represents a healthy regard for the conservative idea of not overturning a long accepted legal applecart. I think that is at risk because of the McConnel/Trump intention to buck the applecart to placate certain slivers of the Republican Party – Namely pro-life evangelicals and Koch Brother fueled laissez-Faire deregulationists. Originalism seems to have become little more than contemporary Republicanism. That’s not healthy. It is simply the raw exercise of power.

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