Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2007, 03:49 PM
Number of posts: 23,006
Number of posts: 23,006
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, 03:12 PM (4 replies)
....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, 11:22 AM (115 replies)
(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, 09:55 AM (3 replies)
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, 12:28 PM (91 replies)
OMG! These pictures of puppies and kittens are sooooooo adorable, aren't I right?
By Jon Pliger
Senior Investigative Reporter
March 3, 2015
Hey guys! We all know puppies are so incredibly cute. And we also know that kittens are just beyond adorable. But what if I were to post pictures of puppies and kittens......together? CUTENESS OVERLOAD!!!!!!!! So let's check out some positively pretty photos of our furry little friends. Prepare to be awwwwwwed!
Oh, and did you know the moon landing was a hoax? No, really! You see, NASA knew it couldn't really land on the moon because they knew the mutant moon monsters who had landed in Area 51 (you know, the guys who look like Bigfoot) would come back to kill us all for invading their territory. So instead, they commissioned a film crew and shot the landing at a movie studio in Burbank.
Playing the part of Neil Armstrong was singer Elvis Presley, who landed the role in good part due to his 1956 cover of the classic Rogers-Hart song "Blue Moon." But in 1977, Presley threatened to expose the hoax, so the government locked him in the basement of World Trade Tower 7.
Presley remained in Tower 7 until 2001, when the government imploded Tower 7 in order to destroy the evidence. The elder Presley was then relocated to Afghanistan where he was made to impersonate terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden.
Oh my goodness! That puppy is telling the kitten that he loves her! Have you ever seen anything so precious?
Don't believe me? You can ask fellow investigative reporter and national treasure Robert Prary. He'll tell you the exact same thing! You can believe him because he once wrote something important thirty years ago!
So in conclusion, we can all agree there's just nothing cuter than puppy dogs snuggling up with kittens. And that's why you should never stand in the direct path of government chemtrails. Oh, and ask me about my grandkids! They do this cute little thing where they dress up in adult clothes and sing "You Are My Sunshine". You just have to see it !
The preceding was published in its entirety with permission of the author and under the specific authority set forth in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988).
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Mar 3, 2015, 09:21 AM (36 replies)
This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government.
A blatant, "Pants on Fire" level lie according to Politifact:
These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government.
First of all, there was no coup in Ukraine. Secondly, if by fascists Pilger is referring to members of the Svoboda and Right Sector parties, neither party has any representation in Ukraine's governing cabinet.
No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe — with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine.
"Vladimir Putin's people" didn't lose 22 million in World War II. The now-defunct Soviet Union lost over 20 million people. Of course, the Soviet Union comprised 15 separate Republics, only one of which was Russia. Vladimir Putin (who was born 7 years after the end of World War II) is president of the Russian Federation. And estimates show that the Russian SSR lost approximately 14 million people (both civilian and military), or 12.7% of its population. The Ukrainian SSR actually lost a greater proportion of its population than the Russian SSR in World War II (16.3%), as did the Belarussian SSR and Armenian SSR.
Now, if Pilger is insinuating that Vladimir Putin's "people" includes the 14 other former Soviet States as well as Russia, well, that's quite telling.
Nuland’s coup in Ukraine did not go to plan. NATO was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea — illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 — voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.
Here's a good one. First of all, of course, there was no coup. Secondly, NATO never attempted to "seize" the Russian Black Sea Fleet--I don't know where he's coming from there. The 1954 transfer of Crimea from the Russian SSR to the Ukrainian SSR was an internal Soviet matter, but Crimea had never, ever been part of the modern Russian Federation, and in 1994 Russia agreed via treaty that notwithstanding the existing Black Sea Fleet bases, Crimea was Ukrainian territory and it would respect Ukraine's sovereignty.
Funny thing about the Crimean referendum and the so-called "international observers." These were not observers from the UN or OSCE or any other legitimate election monitoring agency. These "observers" came from the "Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections", a sham Russian based group whose leaders have ties to far right organizations (funny that Pilger trumpets them while supposedly decrying fascism, don't you think?):
Of course, the biggest lie by Pilger is that "There was no invasion (of Crimea by Russia)" which is simply idiotic. Of course there was a Russian military invasion of Crimea. Well-organized and well-armed, regimented military units--far beyond the capabilities of any local militia that would have the opportunity to organize in literally four days--seized the local parliament, airports, harbors, Ukrainian military bases and other portions of Crimea beginning around February 26, 2014. A timeline of events in the run up to the infamous March 16, 2014 referendum:
Here's a report from The Guardian the day the local parliament was seized
Maxim, a pro-Russian activist who refused to give his last name, told the Associated Press that he and other activists had been camping out overnight outside the local parliament in Crimea’s regional capital, Simferopol, when heavily armed men wearing flak jackets, and holding rocket-propelled grenade launchers and sniper rifles took over the building. He said:
On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history.” In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).
In fact, the events in Odessa on May 2nd were indeed clashes between two sides and not just a one-sided slaughter of pro-Russian separatists as Pilger claims. While the official pro-Russian line only wants to focus on the fire at the trade union building itself, the events did not start there. In fact, the incident started when a pro-Ukrainian demonstration was attacked by a pro-Russian group, and at various points gunmen identified as pro-Russian were seen shooting at and killing several on the pro-Ukrainian side. Only after that initial event was there the later confrontation at the Trade Union building. Even at the Trade Union building, sources said there were Molotov cocktails thrown at the building and from the building, indicating it was a two-sided clash between the groups.
This rally was later attacked by a pro-Russian mob of 300 from the group Odesskaya Druzhina armed with bats and firearms at Hretska Street. Both sides fought running battles against each other, exchanging stones and petrol bombs, and built barricades throughout the city during the afternoon. Both sides had firearms. Some eyewitness accounts said the first victim was a pro-Ukraine protester shot with an automatic weapon in the lung around 13:40 local time, and that an anti-Maidan supporter, armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, opened fire in a lane leading to Deribasivska Street. Some shots were fired from the roof top of the Afina shopping centre to shoot down at the crowds.
So, as you can see, Pilger's account on Ukraine is full of documentable falsehoods. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to lay it out.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Mar 2, 2015, 04:31 PM (2 replies)
One year ago today, Victor Yanukovych began packing his valuables in preparation of leaving Ukraine.
He wouldn't actual leave--via his own personal fleet of helicopters--until the early morning hours of February 22nd. Only after he left did the Ukrainian Rada (parliament) vote to remove him for dereliction of duty.
But it was the three day time period that is so fascinating. Within that window, there was the deaths of several dozen protesters at Maidan on February 20th, the circumstances still somewhat controversial and unclear. Then there was an EU brokered deal signed on the evening of February 21st that would have given Yanukovych the authority to remain in office until early elections could be held.
The fact that these events preceded Yanukovych's ultimate departure but not his preparations to depart cast serious doubts on any claims that either of those events served as a tipping point to the ultimate change in regime.
And the relative ease and length of time in which Yanukovych had to pack up his considerable treasure (three days) casts even more doubts on the claim that Yanukovych was running due to a imminent threat to his safety, which some use as the basis that Yanukovych was removed as a result of a "coup" perpetrated by individuals not clearly identified by proponents of that theory.
Surveillance video from Yanukovych's mansion beginning from February 19th and running up until the early morning of February 22nd shows the large amount of oil paintings, antique valuables and other items being loaded up into moving vans. More video captures Yanukovych's fleet of helicopters flying off, with the former president ultimately ending up in Russia.
A good read about Yanukovych's preparations can be found here:
The three day time period--and the proper order of events--are very important to keep in mind when analyzing the events leading up to the regime change in Ukraine one year ago.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Feb 19, 2015, 09:15 AM (15 replies)
I.e. people they would prefer to deal with and people they would prefer not to deal with. And that came out in some of the State Department communications.
However, that said, I do not think they played any active role in changing the regime. I think the US was very encouraged by Maidan because Yanukovych was not a favored player and the hope was that a break from him would be for the better. (Undoubtedly a risky proposition that has not always played out well for us.) But Maidan ultimately succeeded not because the US intervened in it, but rather because of Yanukovych's own efforts to suppress it. And the more Yanukovych pushed, the protesters on Maidan pushed back, to the point where Yanukovych determined he didn't want to be Ceausescu'ed, that he was still a very wealthy man and could live very nicely as a private citizen somewhere else (somewhere else being Russia.) So he literally packed up his bags and left.
But yes, I will admit as far as I think the US had people it would prefer to be running the show, specifically folks who would represent a break from the old oligarch line that you seen in Russia and towards a much more western oriented governing approach. And that's why I think Yatsenyuk struck such a chord with the US. Because while he's by no means your common everyday man off the street, he's likewise not the old oligarch guard, either. He's fairly young, flies regular commercial airlines (as opposed to private jets), stands in line with the commoners to vote, has advocated for financial and governmental oversight, and clearly struck a chord with the people on Maidan still without making himself out to be an ultra-nationalistic firebrand. So it's a no-brainer that he became a favored figure that the US wanted to see rise to the top in Ukraine. Now, what some people mistake as the US State Department "hand picking" Yatsenyuk based on the infamous Nuland-Pratt phone call really didn't amount to anything closely as nefarious. It's best analogy would be that of fantasy football fans picking their rosters to lead their fantasy (read: not real) teams. They simply had no ability to actually pick the Ukrainian government for them, no matter how much some people think.
Interestingly enough, while Yatsenyuk did end up as prime minister, the man who was elected President--Petro Poroshenko--represents something closer to the old guard in terms of Ukrainian government. He is, after all, an oligarch with a lot of wealthy assets. That being said, he has pledged reforms, but it's too early to tell how far he'll go through on them. But you can also say the fact that Ukrainians chose to replace one oligarch (Yanukovych) with another (Poroshenko) runs contrary to the argument that the US was deeply involved in picking Ukraine's leaders, since such a subtle change would arguably not be worth all the trouble.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:51 AM (1 replies)
Think about the stupidest conservative you personally know, like a family member or Facebook friend.
You know, the one who's always forwarding or posting the fake news stories and quotes that are easily debunked within a minute's internet search. The one who has a fetish about the military but has never served a day in his or her life. The one who constantly talks about what "the founding fathers" want. The one who constantly posts pictures of the American flag, or guns, or guns in front of the American Flag. The one who professes to be an expert in communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism, etc., but hasn't picked up a history or political science book in decades, if at all.
Perhaps they like to quote the guy from "Duck Dynasty" as if he were Confucius. Or maybe they'll say something about blacks or Hispanics or Muslims that comes off just a tad bit racist. Or, hell, really racist for that matter. And then they'll explain it away with some sort of self-serving statement about not being beholden to "political correctness."
Then imagine that your stupid Facebook friend/family member was at one time a nominee on a major political party ticket for the second most powerful position in the nation, and just a heartbeat away from being the most powerful person in the country and possibly the world.
I'm guessing your idiot Facebook friend would look something like this:
Because, face it. When you boil it down, that's all who Sarah Palin is. She's your idiot Facebook friend who has absolutely no clue how stupid he or she sounds, and will never, ever shut the hell up.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Jan 26, 2015, 05:15 PM (61 replies)
I have, at least once in my life.
It was years ago, at a summer job at a swimming pool. My boss there I still consider one of the worst human beings I've ever had to deal with in my entire life (and I usually like people and believe most people are good at heart). She was constantly attempting to make herself look like the "cool", "edgy" boss in front of her employees. You know, the whole, "I'm not your boss, I'm your buddy" schtick. But she had a seriously passive aggressive mean streak, and she had her favorite employees, and her not-so-favorite employees.
For whatever reason (I still to this day don't know why), I was one of her not-so-favorites. She would constantly criticize and nit pick everything I did. She would demand I enforce the most nonsensical rules at the pool. She once told me that my relationship with my then-girlfriend (now wife) was doomed to fail. Another time she told me that I was not smart enough to get a scholarship into graduate school (which I ultimately did). She accused me of omitting information on my job application (even though I had kept a hard copy of the application and was able to show her that I did not omit anything.) She scheduled me for long shifts on days that I had specifically asked off far in advance.
This grew worse and worse over the summer, until one morning when I arrived before my shift began. Except Boss Lady decided I wasn't sufficiently early enough, and she chewed me out and threatened to fire me if I wasn't sufficiently early for my shift again. It was the last straw, and I was sick of it. I was so upset and frustrated, but I didn't want to show it to her face to make me look bad, to let her know that she had gotten to me. So I went into the bathroom behind her office, went into a stall, and let out a scream. Just to get that frustration of having been abused emotionally and verbally off my chest.
I came back out feeling a little better. Except Boss Lady then came up to me and said she had heard me yell. And that she wondered if I was on drugs, because "that's how people on drugs act." And that was it. I had enough of her shit. I put in my notice of resignation that day.
So why am I posting this and dredging up old bad memories?
I'm posting this because I'm a white male, and what happened to me summers ago with that horrible boss at that pool was the exception, not the rule. But seeing how things went down in Ferguson last week, and how they've gone down for the decades before that, that this is how life is like for many African Americans in this country. They are constantly being put down, constantly being told they are less than, constantly being told they are failures. And when the last straw breaks and they dare get just a little out of line, those who have provoked and prejudged them can then jump up and say, "See! I told you so! They are violent!" And it's just such a frustrating, vicious cycle.
I had that feeling one day in my life. I can't even imagine having to wake up and feel that way day after day after day.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Dec 2, 2014, 10:09 AM (74 replies)