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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2007, 02:49 PM
Number of posts: 24,326

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I think people are discounting a major reason for Trump's popularity. And it's very simple.

That is, the susceptibility of a significant portion of the population to being conned and scammed.

As evidence, I'll point where I'll always point: Facebook. Because sad as it seems, Facebook is our best means today to see normal human interaction and human reaction to stimuli over a diverse group of people you either know or people who know the people that you know.

Over the past year or so, I've seen essentially the same scam come up every month or two, in a variety of incarnations. It's called "Like Farming". A Facebook page will appear, purporting to be the page of a major US company. Most frequently it's Disney World. Sometimes it will be an airline or a retailer. They'll post a generic picture, and then claim that they are holding a contest. They'll claim they are giving away an all expenses paid 5 day vacation for 4. And not only that, they'll also give you $2,000 in spending money. Sounds great, doesn't it? So exactly does one have to do to win this sensational prize? Why, it's very simply. Just "Like" the page and type "Thanks" in the comment section.

And just like that, tens of thousands of people will do just as they say, thinking they're in the running for a vacation worth several thousand dollars. Of course, the problem is, they're not actually liking the real Disney World (or whatever company they think is running the contest) page. They're liking the page for "Dizney World" or "Disney World." (with a inconspicuous period behind it.) Meanwhile, the people who've created the dummy page get access to whatever information on your own Facebook page that is available to friends that isn't available to the general public. It should be obvious given that the dummy page has no other markings that an official page would have (no verified check mark, no posting on any other topics than this one contest). But you'll see tens of thousands of likes, and comments such as "I can't believe I have a chance to win this vacation!". Because sadly, despite all the obvious signs, there are plenty of people who think they are genuinely in the running for an official Disney World vacation. And it breaks my heart to see such gullibility on display.

Or sometimes there will be a blurry picture, and the message above will say, "Like this page and type 'Like!' in the comments and see what happens!". And again, thousands of people will fall prey, thinking that the simple act of liking a picture will magically change a static .jpg's digital properties.

I've also seen people fall victim to MLM scams on Facebook. I saw one friend posting about her "Essential Oil" business, and claimed--without any sense of irony or sarcasm--that these Essential Oils helped claim--among other things--Parkinson's, Autism and Cancer. No. Really. Apparently, the key to ever major disease out there is flax seed oil.

So now, we have this bombastic, in your face, presidential candidate who's made his living hawking himself in front of television cameras. He's had exactly two specific proposals in the 7 months he's been running for president: First, he's going to build a wall along the Mexican border and claims he'll have Mexico pay for it. Secondly, he's going to deny admittance to the US on the basis of religion, namely to Muslims. Other than these two ridiculously impractical and offensive proposals, the rest of his campaign has been shrouded in vaguery and smoke and mirrors. He'll talk about all the polls he's leading, about how he's going to win, all the people he knows, how he'll "Make America Great Again", how he has hats that say "Make America Great Again", and lots and lots of tearing into enemies and perceived enemies under the guise of "I'm not politically correct."

He hasn't said anything. He hasn't said a thing. He's gone on and on and on blabbering his mouth, but has yet to offer a single realistic, viable proposal or vision of how he wishes to lead the most powerful country on earth and help its citizens. All he talks about is himself. It's one of the most frustrating things I've happened upon in the news in recent memory, about how someone so obviously vapid and doing something only to selfishly feed his own pathologically festered ego can be so successful at the hands of gullible people.

But people eat it up. They think "Make America Great Again" is an actual policy, or that his "I'm not politically correct" validates their own internal bigotries. Just like "Like Farming" and MLM scams, we're seeing another great con being played on the American people, and far too many of them are falling victim.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Wed Feb 10, 2016, 11:14 AM (36 replies)

I'm sorry. I keep on going back to the fact that DONALD TRUMP CANNOT SPEAK.

Yes, he talks. And talks. And talks. And talks.

But I'm not talking about talking. I'm talking about speaking.

And he seems completely incapable of giving an actual coherent, organized, thought out public speech.

Yes, the argument can be made that in politics, talk is cheap. And I'm sure we've all felt let down by at least one politician who gave great speeches but failed to follow up with concrete results.

But still, there's something to be said about someone who can speak to inspire or move, or make us think about something greater than just them. I saw it last week at the State of the Union. I beamed at President Obama's speech. He made me feel proud and hopeful, even despite the fact that we still have problems in the world. And while those are just feelings, I'm glad there's someone out there who can use the power of words to convey a idea of something more than yourself.

I actually tried listening to Trump's speech from Liberty University today. Because I wanted to know if somehow, there was something I was missing about the man's appeal. I knew I would vehemently disagree with his message, but that wasn't my purpose here.

But it was nothing. It was absolutely nothing. He talked about his poll numbers, then building a wall, then mocking his opponents, then China, then his poll numbers, then Iran, then building a wall, then mocking his opponents, then China.....no more than a minute on any subject before switching to another subject. There was no actual thought put into this. He was just talking and talking and talking. Not once was he actually speaking.

Today, we celebrate one of the greatest orators in American history, a man whose powerful words struck deep into the hearts of millions and help changed this country for the better. And thank God we have recordings of his speeches on records, so that people like me--who were born long after Martin Luther King was shot dead in Memphis--could continue to marvel at that awesome ability long after he died.

Martin Luther King did not talk. He spoke. And the narcissistic, incoherent drivel I heard today was as far from speaking as was humanly possible.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Jan 18, 2016, 10:38 PM (36 replies)

There is nothing about Donald Trump or his personality that is even remotely admirable or likable.

Or redeemable.


You might recall the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry are discussing Jerry's nemesis/neighbor Newman with utter contempt, when George pauses and says, "Well, he's merry." Against all that he believes about Newman, Jerry is forced to concur: "He is merry, I'll give him that."

In the world of partisan politics, at times we are forced to admit that even the worst of your opponents might have some sort of admirable qualities when one puts everything else aside. Yes, Reagan traded arms for hostages, turned his back on the AIDS crisis, and was otherwise a clueless empty suit in the Oval Office....but he did have that vague Old Spice scented grandfather fogeyness about him where we'd all expect for him to pull out a quarter behind the nation's collective ears. George W. Bush plunged the nation headfirst into Iraq and the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, but there was the whole folksy faux cowboy thing about him that probably wouldn't have been so disconcerting had he not been the most powerful man on the face of the earth. And there was always a sense of classic tragedy behind Nixon's paranoia and feelings of inadequacy.

But that's all in the past. And now you get to this man, the current beast we have to deal with:

And for the life of me, I cannot think of one single quality or attribute about Donald J. Trump that comes off as likeable or admirable. I just can't.

He's ugly, both inside and out, but will insist that he's anything but that. He's not funny or original in his thinking. He's been a horrible husband, a horrible businessman, and really horrible about everything he's ever done in his horrible little life. His self-flaunted riches and fame are the result only of a situation he was born into and not in any way the result of anything he's actually had to work for. He's stupid, with his limited vocabulary that he only seems to use to bring other people down. He fails to put forth any ideas that could at least be praised for their ingenuity or specificity. He wants to kick old ladies out of their homes so he can build tacky casinos on their land. He breaks promises to pay for the medical care of his deceased brother's infant grandchild out of spite against said deceased brother. He gleefully cheers the loss of people's jobs at Macy's because Macy's previously had the gall to discontinue his cheap clothing line. He's a reality TV show star--need I say more?

And now he's using the bully pulpit to self-aggrandize himself in his own little Cluster B narcissistic bubble, and the fuel he's using is hatred and paranoia and whipping people up into witch hunt like frenzies against immigrants and refugees, Hispanics, Muslims, women, and anyone who doesn't genuflect before his own graven image.

So with all that in mind, I can't say but I'm rather non-plussed at the fact that this man has any sort of popular support, that anyone with even a limited amount of intelligence would consider him suitable for the Presidency. For some reason, I'd like to think there's something in the collective human mind that would make us automatically reject such an awful, horrible, terrible human being.

And yet, he survives. And he thrives.

The only other political figure in modern American history where I remain at a complete loss in trying to think of anything remotely positive or admirable about would be Dick Cheney.

But even he played a great Darth Vader. Trump, on the other hand, would be lucky enough to be Jabba the Hut.

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Fri Jan 8, 2016, 04:48 PM (37 replies)

Pets and anti-freeze.

Unlike most liquid chemicals, they say anti-freeze has a very sweet, pleasant taste to it. Thankfully, human beings have the foresight to know that despite something having a sweet taste, if it's labeled "anti-freeze", most people are smart enough not to drink it. Unfortunately, cats and dogs are not blessed with that sort of knowledge, and if they come across a puddle of leaking anti-freeze underneath a car, sometimes they will be drawn to the sweet taste and they will drink their fill of it. They are completely unaware of its lethal effects.

On my Facebook page, I was unfortunate enough to come across someone who shared a video by an individual who goes by the name "Catfish Cooley." I won't bother linking to his page because he doesn't deserve that sort of publicity, but if you are so curious, you've got the Google. While I've never heard of him before, apparently he's of that oxymoronically titled category "internet celebrity." In other words, he's completely talentless but he does have a webcam with Facebook and Youtube accounts and he'll talk into it, and people will inexplicably follow him and hoist celebrity status upon him. On his videos--and I could only stomach a few of them--you'll find the most vile, disgusting statements regarding President Obama, Muslims, guns, blacks, and numerous other topics. And of course he supports Donald Trump. The fact that he's visually repugnant (a squatty, shirtless man who slurs his words) is the very least of his flaws.

And yet he has nearly 80,000 followers on Facebook. I'm still stumped if this is a Poe's Law deal, something so absurd yet completely ambiguous as to whether it's supposed to be satire or serious. But from the looks of the comments on his videos, there are hundreds of people who clearly take his diatribes very seriously. People think he's "folksy" and "speaks his mind" and "is not afraid to be politically incorrect." It's the exact same thing that's pushing the narrative in the Donald Trump phenomena. People eat this shit up like it's some sort of delicious candy. It's the cats and dogs lapping up that sweet, sweet anti-freeze, completely blind to the fact that what they are indulging upon is slowly poisoning them.

People who prey using fear and hatred and anti-intellectualism are inexplicably being celebrated as great minds in society. And it's reaching epidemic levels.

Idiocracy has officially come to America. And it didn't take 500 years for it to happen, either.

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Fri Dec 11, 2015, 10:27 AM (0 replies)

Overheard at the GOP Base Returns and Exchanges Department:

"Jeez, I hate doing this. Listen, I'm going to have to return this one. No, don't get me wrong. This one's great. It says all the right, crazy whacked out shit that I want to hear. I absolutely love the whole anti-immigrant thing, the self-aggrandizing, the petty insults, the ultra-thin skin, the Twitter meltdowns, the whole package."

"The problem though is.....well, the neighbors hate it. They say it keeps them up all night screeching about 'I'm going to build a big wall!' and 'Loser!' and 'Huge!' and all that sort of stuff. And not that I actually give a shit about my neighbors, but their whining annoys me, and well, I really don't want to have to deal with that."

"So I'm looking to exchange this one out for something else. You know, something that says things that are just as bat shit crazy as the things this one says, but says them in a calmer, more approachable, more likeable tone. You know, one who you don't immediately want to slug between the eyes the moment you see it. So what else do you have?"

"Oh......okay. Yeah. That technically works, but......the problem is, that's last year's model. And I'm just afraid that if I go around parading last year's stuff, I'll just be laughed out of the room. They'll just think I'm living in the past. I mean, I might as well be posting Bitstrips to my Myspace Page about doing the Harlem Shake while talking on my flip phone, you know what I mean? Anything else?"

"No, I said something that didn't want to make people punch it in the face."

"Hmm.....I guess it could work. I mean, the whole 'Let's shut down the government, come on, it will be fun' thing--I love it. Plus the whole poor timing low blow jokes against political opponents, I really dig. Still....there's the whole Hispanic Canadian thing. What the hell's that about? Is that even like a real thing? I mean that's just....weird. Right? What person even thinks of that sort of stuff?"

"Do you have anything else? Maybe something that comes from a non-political background that, while impressive, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever in one's ability to actually lead a government?"

"Oh, and do you have anything that comes in black? Supposedly that sort of thing goes a long way in making me look less like....well, me."

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Nov 5, 2015, 09:53 AM (0 replies)

Let's not forget Trump's quote was not only about McCain.

"I like people who weren't captured."

While he was directing his comment in context towards McCain, his comment stung towards anyone who may have been captured on the battlefield.

So regardless of what one might think about John McCain or the GOP, it's just a completely shitty thing to say.

It fits Trump's M.O. though. He's always talking about "winners" and "losers."

He'll happily identify himself as a "winner" despite having multiple business failures over his career. I guess being able to insulate his own personal wealth while thousands of his employees lost their jobs makes him a "winner" in his own mind.

And anyone who dares to cross his path will inevitably be identified as a "loser" by Trump on his rambling Twitter feed.

So in Trump's idiotic, feeble little mind, servicemen who manage to avoid capture might be the winners. Those who are captured and held as POWs, however, are the losers.

Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Sun Jul 19, 2015, 06:51 AM (23 replies)

On Joe Biden

The tragic death of Vice President Biden's son Beau has me thinking about the man, his personality and his legacy.

The public perception over the past six years has too often been to pain Joe Biden in a "goofy uncle persona", as a guy who's friendly and warm but has a reputation of thinking before he speaks at certain times. While not entirely untrue, this sells the Vice President way too short.

The fact of the matter is that he has been serving the public for over 40 years. He's remarkably well-versed on both foreign and domestic politics. He's endured multiple tragedies and setbacks, from the death of his first wife and daughter, to suffering a crippling brain aneurysm in 1988, to criticisms that he allegedly plagiarized portions of a stump speech in his 1988 campaign, and most recently the death of his elder son Beau. And yet he's managed to survive it all with remarkable grace and humility.

I've had the opportunity to meet Vice President Biden. Okay, perhaps "meet" is too glamorous a description of what took place, but we did have a brief interaction with one another. Back in 2006, then Senator Biden was the headline speaker at a political dinner function at which I was volunteering. Shortly before the dinner's speeches began, I left the main banquet hall to use the restroom. On the way to the restroom, I saw Senator Biden walking in the hallway surrounded by several handlers. As I crossed paths with his entourage, I smiled and said, "Good afternoon, Senator." He looked back at me, and with a warm smile and a cheerful voice, he replied, "Good afternoon, young man!" And that was it. Nothing more. As I said, it was barely an encounter, but it was a memorable one for me nonetheless.

Now, the cynic might poo-poo that mundane encounter as completely meaningless (and cynicism about politicians is unending, that fact brought home as I am currently in the midst of a "House of Cards" binge watch over the past couple of weeks). But call me crazy, I think Vice President Biden's greeting came off as completely genuine, that the guy genuinely likes interacting with constituents and ordinary people. I would not be surprised if people who've had the opportunity to interact with the man on a much more substantial basis than my own came out feeling the exact same way.

I'd be very surprised if Vice President Biden runs for President in 2016. I was skeptical of that possibility even before his son's death, but now even more so. However, if given the chance, I think he would have been a fine, compassionate and quite competent leader of this country.

And for those who continue to insist to perpetuate the "goofy uncle persona" about Biden, I'm not completely insulted. Given that he was preceded in office by an individual who was gave off the perception of being a cold-hearted, cruel, emotionless cyborg, having his place taken by a goofy uncle might very well have been exactly what this country needed.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Jun 2, 2015, 02:12 PM (4 replies)

What Pam Gellar did is akin to....

....someone chumming the water of a popular beach in order to warn people about the dangers of sharks.

On Edit, because sadly I have to:


No, I am not calling Muslims sharks.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon May 4, 2015, 10:22 AM (115 replies)

Trying to understand current race relations without historical context is the height of insanity.

(Caveat: I am white. So I can't avoid the fact no matter what, I'm coming at this from a white person's perspective, and inevitably someone might accuse me of suffering from white guilt, even though no one in my family ever owned a slave and half my family was barely in this country long enough for the Jim Crow era. Still, I think I've studied enough history that I believe I know enough to speak out on the topic.)

So often I've heard the question--usually directed towards blacks and minorities although usually not expressly so--"Why do people still bring up issues of race? Can't we get beyond black and white?"

And on the surface, it might be a fair question. Consider this: If someone hypothetically had zero knowledge of history--say they were an alien from another planet--and they came across this country and they heard people talking about how people with one skin pigmentation see things differently than people with people with another skin pigmentation, they'd think we'd all be completely insane. Such a biological difference would seem so utterly trivial, so minute that it would seem--without historical context--nonsensical. I mean, besides a random corny blonde joke, do people obsess over hair color? Do people obsess over eye color, or a person's dominant writing hand? Yes, we're all technically One Human Family and none of these things should ever matter.

The problem that we cannot get around, however, is that in terms of skin, those things did matter. We live in a country that all throughout its colonial gestation and for nearly the first century of its existence allowed the enslavement of individuals exclusively with black skin. Parts of this country, including its capital city, were very literally built with slave labor. And then after slavery was finally abolished (only after the most tumultuous 5 year period in the country's history), for another century we saw laws on the books that legally sanctioned the segregation and disparate treatment of people based on skin color. And when those laws were challenged, people were beaten, sprayed with hoses, attacked with dogs and even hung from trees. Did we really expect that Brown vs. Board of Education or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would act as a light switch that would instantly turn off all of these problems that had been festering in this country for centuries?

The fact that African Americans in this country in its present date disproportionately make up a greater percentage of people living in poverty or incarceration is no coincidence at all. But we're told over and over again that the past is in the past, slavery is long gone, Jim Crow is long gone, etc., so having race "matter" is only causing further division.

In 2015--only half a century removed from LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964--we're told race shouldn't matter. The problem is, for roughly the first 200 years of the country's existence, we were told that race did matter. We were told race mattered over and over and over again. That fact was drilled into our heads. Race was everything for that period.

In clinical terms, that's what's referred to as bipolar disorder.

I love America. I love the City of Baltimore, a city that I have a deep familial connection with and without any irony whatsoever my favorite city in the country. That we still have to have a discussion about race in 2015 infuriates me to no end. But history demands that we do, so we can attempt to reach that "more perfect union" that has been sought for over 200 years.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Apr 30, 2015, 08:55 AM (3 replies)

If there's one thing I simply cannot stand, it's poverty shaming.

Recently a person on my Facebook page indignantly posted her dismay that when driving by the local food bank, she saw a woman pick up food and put it in her late model car. The obvious insinuation there was that this individual had the money to spend on a new/newer car but couldn't be bothered to pay for her own groceries, and perhaps even that she was somehow gaming the system.

Of course, such a knee-jerk reaction (with emphasis on jerk) immediately discounts other logical possibilities:

1. The woman was picking up food not for herself, but for someone else who didn't have access to a car.
2. The woman didn't own the car herself but was borrowing it from a friend for need of transportation
3. The woman had recently been able to afford to buy a new car but due to a sudden change in circumstances (job loss, illness, etc.) was in need of financial assistance.

And there are other possibilities as well. People in poverty can still drive cars, even newer model ones. That doesn't make them poor, nor should it disqualify them from financial help.

The bottom line here is simple: If you don't know the circumstances behind what you are seeing, kindly shut up. It's none of your business and it's inappropriate to pass judgment on someone who very likely is struggling immensely and whose life may be a living hell. I'll freely admit that I sometimes give a dollar to the person on the street corner with a "Hungry, Please Help" sign. Yes, I know there's the possibility that person may use that dollar for alcohol or drugs instead of for food. Yes, it may be possible the person actually isn't homeless and is playing a scam. But you know what? It's a dollar. A dollar of mine that probably would go towards buying a candy bar that would go to my waistline. If the person is in fact scamming me, that's on their conscience, not mine. I won't miss that dollar, and if the person is in fact in need of help and would use that dollar wisely, I'd much rather give them that dollar than snidely pass judgment on them.

Now there's efforts afoot in numerous states to prohibit people on food stamps from buying certain items of food such as steak or seafood. Because God forbid they or the family eat the same food as the rest of us.

Some of these people, I swear, I think they think you aren't actually poor unless you are wearing a potato sack and eating nothing but bread and water. And if you are wearing a potato sack and eating only bread and water, they'd still knock you for being "lazy". It's a total lose-lose.

What makes some people feel the need to be so callous to pass such judgment, and to assume that if you're poor, you're either a fraud or lazy and unmotivated?

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Apr 9, 2015, 11:28 AM (91 replies)
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