“ARE LIBERALS READY for us MAGA Republicans to retake this nation in 2024? We are going to pass so many laws restricting them that their heads will explode.” That was the question/statement/declaration on Quora to which I responded in a manner that I hoped was entertaining and not seem insufferably silly.
This question was posted in a section on Quora titled “Leftist Viewpoints,” which is supposed to be about “Leftist Political Issues, Biden’s America, and Multicultural issues.” I tend to avoid getting involved with political issues online but this one immediately made me feel impish. So I answered the question:
It is so bloody boring having a sane, sober, and all-around pretty nice guy running things!
I mean, except for Hunter—whose dalliance with the Dark Side seems to be behind him—the only Biden scandals we get are the teensy-weensy ones that you guys blow up all out of proportion (most of which involve Hunter) or the ones you guys just plain makeup (ditto).
Please, bring back the petulant, malevolent, ignorant Former Guy and his minions and give us our daily dose of lying and bullying and … and … dare I say it? … OWN US!
OWN US LIBTARDS!!!”
It’s a bit over the top in its attempt at irony but I’m dealing with a vast array of people on the internet, many of whom are active members of the VRC (the vast rightwing conspiracy) and humor barely dents their armor. And, even among cognescenti of the form, irony is tough to get across on the internet.
But what the hey!
To accompany my answer, I made a meme. I found the photo of a large demonstration (below). I cropped the photo and added the “Own us!” declaration at the top. The full image can be seen at the end of this article.
Retake this nation!
A few comments about my answer followed, mostly from like-minded liberals. But one determined individual with a decidedly right-leaning worldview left several comments. Given the location and the comments, I thought he—they are almost always guys—was a troll-in-training. Nonetheless, I engaged with him in some bantering with him being borderline nasty while I countered with what I intended to be ironic defection.
On March 24, 2023, said troll ended our conversation with a final volley and subsequently blocked me so that I could not respond. I posted this remark:
“Oh, darn—[former commenter] blocked me before explaining how my responding to his taunts, condescension, and insults with my own mocking humor qualified as ‘bullying.’ So I couldn’t respond to his final salvo.”
Four weeks later, a comment from a new person—also rightward-leaning but with an even more contentious demeanor—popped up in response to the above. Rather than use his online handle, I will refer to him below as the Unnamed Troll (or UT). As UT responded to comments by others, I missed a few of them. (Quora did not alert me via email of these comments.)
My effort below is to place the comments by UT that make up an “argument” between him and me in the chronological order in which they were posted. As Quora doesn’t place exact times on comments, I may have the comments a bit out of order. It shouldn’t matter as you will get the gist of the back-and-forth easily.
The comments that appeared on Quora are in plain black type; commentary and observations written for this article here on Neal Umphred Dot Com are in brown type. Any errors/typos that either of us made are left untouched (although I did make a few alterations in my own spacing between paragraphs).
Tuesday April 25
Unnamed Troll #1: “Nothing like a boring traitor in office who sold influence through his son and family to hostile foreign actors and got rich at the public trough. We all love the boring village idiot who doesn’t know where he is, mumbles incoherently, has violent outbursts, won’t hold public press conferences and can barely string together a full sentence. Yea for America.
Commentary: So, he opens by remarking about the rightwing conspiracy theory that President Biden, his son Hunter and, apparently, other members of the Biden family, have somehow made a fortune taking advantage of the “public trough.”
Joe and Jill Biden have a combined estimated wealth of $9,000,000. The bulk of that was earned from book royalties and speaking fees (plus their landed assets). I am not going to look up his history as a speaker and what he commanded at functions, but Joe Biden has published twelve books and Jill Biden has published three. These could easily account for those millions they have along with the millions they have paid in income tax.
This comment leads me to assume two basic possibilities about UT:
1. He lives in a rightwingnut echo chamber, only hearing or reading “news” from Fox News, OAN, Breitbart, Epoch Times, The Blaze, etc. Apparently, he really believes this schidt, which I guess makes him some kind of stupid.
2. He knows this schidt is schidt and he is a troll.
Unnamed Troll #2: “Nothing like the philosophical bartender waxing poetically about issues he knows little about while providing cover for a corrupt, inept and increasingly authoritarian federal government. You say review the list of accomplishments, are you unbiased enough to recognize any of his failings or do you spin so hard that you turn them into wins or make ridiculous excuses?”
Commentary: Quora suggests that members post some kind of identifier (job, educational career, etc.) to help others gauge the validity or intelligence of their answers. Not having anything else to write, I listed myself as “Former Bartender/bouncer/confessor at Too Many to List.”
So, UT posted this on another thread on my answer, which I did not see until a day later.
Note that he does not acknowledge that he has reviewed any list of the Biden administration’s accomplishments. This is not a difficult task: type “biden’s accomplishments” into Google and the browser turns up 22,000,000 listings. The first page even includes an attack on those accomplishments courtesy of Fox News.
Neal Umphred: “Thank you! I haven’t been owned once this week. You have made my day …”
Commentary: As the theme of my answer is “Own us!,” what else was I supposed to say?
Unnamed Troll #3: “twice now. This country is doomed when a large portion of the electorate considers this administration a success. We will pay for our excesses and the bill will break this country.”
Commentary: The “twice now” thing refers to comment #2 that I did not see until a day later.
Wednesday April 26
Neal Umphred: “Ohmygawd—owned twice in one day and by the same MAGAholic! I’d say it’s damn near orgasmic but I’m not given to hyperbole. I can say that I am one happy Libtard, though. Thanks, J …”
Commentary: My response to his “twice now” comment above. With this, I have made two responses to his comments, both of them ironic and/or just plain silly.
Unnamed Troll #4: “I assume you are going to block me now? Seems the modus operandi. Ill ask again - do you recognize any failures in this administration or do you spin everything so hard that you turn them into wins or make ridiculous excuses?”
Commentary: I don’t know why my ironic and/or just plain silly responses would make him think I was about to block him. Perhaps, as an annoying troll, he is simply used to being blocked after normal people find him a pest?
Thursday April 27
Neal Umphred: “OMG—I am so busy with real life that I missed some of these fascinating comments of yours. My apologies: I was not intentionally ignoring you. (Plus Quora only sends me notifications when you reply to one of my comments.)
The weather here has finally broken and is starting to act all Springly. Means it’s time for me to climb back up onto the roof and clean off any moss that grew over the winter.
Life is but a dream, sh-boom sh-boom …”
Commentary: Instead of blocking UT, I responded with an apology, an observation about the weather in my neck of the woods, and a note that it’s mos-scraping time again. I included a line from the song Sh-Boom, a hit for both the Chords and the Crew-Cuts in 1954.
In other words, I am countering his “serious” statements with apparently trivial ripostes. I am refusing to play his game and be trolled.
Unnamed Troll #5: “Do you consider yourself clever and engaging or do you actually realize that you are insufferable?”
Commentary: Ah—the first personal insult. This would be a good place to block him.
Of course, I don’t.
Neal Umphred: “Aww—owned again! (Sh-boom sh-boom …)”
Commentary: Instead, I post another hopefully clever and engaging riposte.
Neal Umphred: “Well, frankly, my wife took your “philosophical” compliment as you being flirtatious and, in fact, insisted that I block you. But I told her that all I had to do was inform you that I am happily married and unavailable and blocking wouldn’t be necessary. So, she’s willing to give you another chance—just NO MORE FLIRTING!”
Commentary: The philosophical thing refers back to troll comment #1. I admit here to a bit of pop psychology in assuming that many of the men who spend god-knows many hours trolling on the internet are lacking in other areas of their personal lives—like getting laid fullfillingly.
Unnamed Troll #6: “Well, frankly, my wife took your “philosophical” compliment as you being flirtatious and, in fact, insisted that I block you.
• Your wife seems delusional but that is not surprising. It seems like blocking is your go to move.
But I told her that all I had to do was inform you that I am happily married and unavailable and blocking wouldn’t be necessary.
• I see not only is your wife delusional but she is a gluttony for punishment and probably has poor eyesight.
So, she’s willing to give you another chance—just NO MORE FLIRTING!
• Funny how you refuse to answer a question that has been posed multiple times now.”
Commentary: UT is back with my blocking him again, despite my not having mentioned it. In fact, the only person on this page who has been blocked was me—and by another rightwing troll! With any remarks about my wife (on anyone’s partner when arguing online), he is treading on potential thin ice.
You know, if his opening remark hadn’t been a rightwing conspiracy theory about the Biden family, I might not have labeled UT a troll and would have answered his question in a serious tone. Alas, too late for that.
Neal Umphred: “Holy Flaming Asshole—you are bordering on insulting my wife and still I haven’t blocked you! Well, wuddaya know, maybe your flirting is working and, not only am I owned by you, I am enamored of you. Wherever could this lead?
Last time I “did it” with a Rep*blican was with this to-die-for Italian devotchka who had just posed for photos for the May 1995 issue of Playboy (the one with Nancy Sinatra on the cover). Despite her many physical attributes and her endearing willingness to bare them for all and sundry, she was somewhat reactionary bed-wise. Fortunately, a liberal application of foreplay woke her to having a progressively more relaxed and open-minded approach to a bipartisan experience.
But I digress while the moss calls (sh-boom sh-boom) …”
Commentary: Some might say that my exclamatory opening is an insult to UT. I would not bother arguing with them any more than I am arguing with UT. To my lasting discredit as a sexually functioning human being, I bring up sex again. My anecdote is reasonably accurate but I was hoping UT would express a wee bit of appreciation for my use of liberal, woke, progressive, open-minded, and bipartisan in a sentence about the old in-out.
Unnamed Troll #7: “Lot of snark to avoid answering a question. You are not near as clever as you think you are. I assume you are a strong advocate for abortion as birth control so let hope you practice what you preach and have not spread your seed.”
Commentary: Ah, schdit, UT is back to personal insults. This is where I decided to end the back-and-forth; it wasn’t much fun and was taking up a little more time than I had intended.
I decided that UT’s seventh comment would be the page’s penultimate comment and that I would have the final word.
I complete you
This is my final comment: “Ah, you’re getting testy again and testiness often leads to nastiness. So here we will call it quits. But, not wanting to leave you unfulfilled, as a final gesture I thought that I would complete you: you’re blocked.”
FEATURED IMAGE: I found this photo accompanying the article “On Giving Tuesday, make America great again with your generosity” by Petula Dvorak for The Washington Post (November 27, 2017).