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Tommy Carcetti

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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2007, 03:49 PM
Number of posts: 41,284

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Serious question: Was former DUer Catherina some sort of Russian disinfo op?

Normally, I don't give much thought about long gone DUers, but I was searching Twitter and I came upon an old--and yet very familiar--Twitter handle: @Catherina_News

@Catherina_News was the Twitter handle for an individual who posted here at DU between 2008 and 2015 under the name Catherina. During that time period she posted over 35,000 times and grew quite the following here at DU, with many fans and admirers calling for her opinion and take on various topics. I can recall more than one "Catherina Appreciation thread."

She wasn't just a regular poster; she was a bit of a board superstar, and she came with her very own fan contingent.

Her focus, however, seemed to be aimed for the most part at various international conflicts that she seemed to pin as overreaching acts of American imperialism. First it was Libya, then it was Syria, and finally it was Ukraine.

Either coincidentally, or very much not, Catherina's take seemed to closely mirror a lot of talking points on Russian state media. This particularly became very prominent towards the end when she weighed in on news surrounding the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine, the subsequent Russia's seizure and annexation of Crimea, and the proxy Russian separatist war in Eastern Ukraine that erupted thereafter.

With benefit of 20/20 hindsight (or is it 2022 hindsight?) we can see how much of Catherina's positions on Ukraine here at DU were simply parroting raw Russian disinformation. However, because she came with her own cheering section, a lot of people bought into the information in her posts and repeated it without questioning. And that really put a cloud over events that were happening in Ukraine and Russia during that time period and many DUers' understanding of the situation.

But what was most tragic about the Catherina situation was that even as many DUers seemed to admire her as a vocal advocate against reckless western imperialism, she was on Twitter laying attack against American Democrats and progressives, viewing them as brainless sheep and eviscerating President Obama (who was the sitting president at the time, mind you) in rather plain, unequivocal terms:





Meanwhile, she was far, far kinder to the head of the Russian Federation during that same time period:



Anyways, Catherina remained extremely popular with a segment in DU up through the end in 2015 before running into the buzzsaw that was the 2015-16 DU primary wars. She posted this rather obnoxious and self-indulgent GBCW post announcing her departure in November 2015:


Now, again with the benefit of hindsight, we know there was a huge amount of Russian originated disinformation that flooded social media and the internet from 2014 and on forward. We know that a lot of this permeated into DU, both as it related to issues about Ukraine-Russia in 2014-15 and about the 2016 presidential election itself (for both primaries and general). We also know that DU was taken down in a DDOS attack for two weeks following the 2016 election. I have no idea who was behind this, and if it was a domestic or a foreign attack, but perhaps the admin knows more?

But about Catherina in particular--and note that I usually don't care about the real-life alter egos of our posters. I do have to wonder what her "deal" was/is, because she did have a rather considerable persuasive hold on a lot of her fellow DUers.

Clearly, one look at her Twitter account (starting with her avatar) seems to indicate she holds Russia in very high esteem and the US in very low esteem. Is this just the case of a very enthusiastic "Tankie" (i.e. an apologist for the Soviet Union and its history)? Or are we looking at some sort of Internet Research Agency/Savushkina Street styled operation here? And is DU even important enough to merit such a targeted operation?

There were not a whole lot of details about Catherina that we knew. A few of her fellow posters claimed she lived somewhere in Latin America or abroad, and that she was supposedly a woman of color. At this point, who knows? Maybe she was. Then again, her close tracking of Russian disinformation does make me wonder.

And for whatever it's worth, the @Catherina_News twitter account mysteriously went silent around September 2014 about the same time many people (including myself) began to note of her anti-Democrat, anti-American progressive postings on Twitter.

It remained silent for 8 years...until a month ago, when the account suddenly began retweeting posts about the war in Ukraine.
Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Wed May 18, 2022, 04:15 PM (187 replies)

The unbearable sadness of Mariupol for me.

For over the past three months, a good part of my mind and attention every day has been focused on the war in Ukraine and the impact that has conflict has had on the Ukrainian people. The fact that I am second-generation Ukrainian with family still in the country, and with a family history of my grandparents having fled the country during the worst of World War II, only serves to act as a multiplier for the emotions that I've been feeling.

Besides my concern for the safety of my family--who thankfully live in the "safer" Western Ukrainian regions--the fact that about three years ago I had a chance to tour the country and absolutely fell in every single bit of it (the culture, the people, the food) has kept me worried about the wellbeing of both Ukrainians and their cities.

And while my travels in Ukraine took me to many remarkable places and cities--Kyiv, Lviv, the Carpathian mountains--in the end it's been the fate of one particular Ukrainian city that has haunted me the very most: Mariupol.

I did not visit Mariupol when I traveled to Ukraine; in fact, I didn't even come close to visiting anywhere in Ukraine's besieged Eastern regions. And yet, over the past few years I've grown to know Mariupol on a second-hand basis, and it always seemed to fascinate and intrigue me in a way.

I first heard about Mariupol during the onset of the 2014 Russian proxy war against Ukraine using so-called separatist forces. Nearby Donetsk and Luhansk fell to the invaders, but Mariupol was somehow able to miraculously hold them off. And in doing so, the Ukrainian national spirit in Mariupol grew (bolstered in part by those fleeing the occupied regions) and there was a breath of new air in the city. This is even more notable considering that like many places in Eastern Ukraine the majority of residents speak Russian as their primary tongue as opposed to the native Ukrainian. It didn't matter: Mariupol was Ukraine, and that was that.

And though I never actually visited Mariupol in person, I had "visited" its streets via Google Maps and found it to be a charmingly eclectic mix of a town, with different elements and styles comprising the whole. You had the old school Soviet apartment block buildings--the Khrushchyovkas and the Brezhnevkas--but you also had newer, 21st Century modern architecture sprinkled throughout as well as staid churches that dated back to Tsarist days. And given its prime location on the Sea of Azov, Mariupol was a beach town, too; no doubt probably a favored vacation and recreation spot for many in the region.

And to round it out, of course, was Maripol's most indelible and unmistakable landmark: the absolutely massive Azovstal steel plant that sat in the very center of the city and dominated nearly ever wide shot picture of Mariupol. Azovstal was--by all objective measures--ugly as sin: dirty, gritty, polluting, not to mention an old Soviet relic. But even so, there was something oddly appealing about its hulking, imposing, industrial aura that gave it out; a sense of raw honesty that somehow made it welcome in the overall panache that was Mariupol.

And now Mariupol is no more.

Nearly every single structure in the city is bombed to the ground or otherwise inhabitable. Sadly, I almost knew this would be a certainty the moment the first Russian bomb touched Ukrainian soil that Putin would go after Mariupol, and go after it hard. Not only was it a strategic port city, and ever since seizing Crimea in 2014 the Kremlin has sought to cut off Ukraine from the sea, but I think there was also a punitive goal in mind as well. Because Mariupol resisted the initial wave of Russian invasion, because it dared to clothe itself in Ukrainian pride, because it contradicted the Kremlin falsehood that the Ukrainian government was somehow persecuting its Russian-speaking citizens, Mariupol would be forced to pay a price.

And it most certainly has. Over 300,000 of its 400,000 residents forced to flee their hometown. The death toll cannot be even close to being verified at the moment, but undoubtedly is certainly within the tens of thousands. Only a small pocket of resistance remains at the Azovstal plant; the outlook for their survival is not good. Those who remain in portions occupied by the Russians risk either being paraded around for propaganda purposes, or removal and deportation to areas deep within Russia.

Mass graves. A theater full of civilians--including scores of children--bombed, and hundreds left dead. Indescribable and immense pain and suffering, everywhere.

The total destruction of an entire city is nothing new to humanity; it's a practice that dates back as far as long as human civilization has existed. The ancient city of Carthage was infamously burnt to the ground by the Romans in 146 BC. Russia saw its own cities such as Leningrad and Stalingrad virtually destroyed in total during World War II. And our hands as Americans are not bloodless in this practice either, whether it be by a single bomb (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) or a prolonged and furious bombing campaign (Dresden).

Even in my own lifetime, I can remember Grozny. I can remember Aleppo. I have seen the virtual destruction of cities take place before my eyes on the news.

But--perhaps because where age brings wisdom, or perhaps simply because as someone with Ukrainian roots I have additional emotional investment--Mariupol's tragic fate has hit me harder than ever before. It's more than just reading a history book. It's more than even turning on a news report on television.

It's hard.

It's really, really hard.

An entire city, an entire place--where people lived and took pride in. Gone, just like that.

But even so, Mariupol existed. And it may--at some point in the future--exist once again.

Вічна пам'ять, Маріуполь. Вечная память, Мариуполь. Eternal memory, Mariupol.


Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Wed May 4, 2022, 03:04 PM (17 replies)

BREAKING NEWS: Russian General Aleksandr Dvornikov revealed as contestant on Fox's The Masked Singer

In a twist that shocked both primetime television viewers and geopolitical military experts alike, Russian General Aleksandr Dvornikov was revealed as the latest contestant to exit the popular Fox network game show The Masked Singer.

Dvornikov's secret persona--a pink, yellow and fuscia colored robotic Koala Bear hybrid named "Buffy"--was forced to reveal itself in front of audience members after receiving the lowest amount of votes for Dvornikov's spritely rendition of the Saweetie/Doja Cat hit song "Best Friend."

Dvornikov served as the lead Russian general in its 2015-16 military campaign in Syria, where the near-total destruction of the city of Aleppo by use of cluster munitions and thermobaric bombs has been attributed to his command. More recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin tapped Dvornikov to lead military operations in Russia's attempt to seize control over Ukraine's eastern regions after a prior attempt to take Ukraine's capital Kyiv failed and lead to a hasty retreat by Russian forces.

Prior to Dvornikov's unveiling, viewers were provided several clues hinting at his identity. These clues included a pint of human blood, a piece of hot, twisted metal shrapnel and a TOS-1 Heavy Flamethrower commonly used by soldiers under Dvornikov's command.

After being revealed to the audience, Dvornikov plainly remarked through an interpreter, "The special military operation forces under our control will crush the Banderite neo-fascists and their NATO enablers to their very last man, and the vision of a reunified brotherhood under the common banner of a Greater Russian Motherland will be realized at long last. Those who attempt to resist such a goal will suffer grave, swift and unforgettable consequences. We shall bring all enemies to their knees, and the entire world will take notice and know to never again test the great Russian giant."

Dvornikov then paused for a second and then added (again through an interpreter), "I'm out, y'all! Peace!" as the audience roared in excitement.

Despite all the fanfare surrounding Dvornikov's surprise appearance on The Masked Singer, some critics questioned the move, calling it, "morally ambiguous," "an unwise decision," and "absolutely and rightfully subjecting the entire cast and crew of an American reality singing competition show to prosecution for brutal war crimes against humanity, may God have mercy on their wretched souls."

However, producers of The Masked Singer quickly brushed off such criticism.

"Yes, sure, war is hell," one producer noted, while humming bars of "Best Friend" to himself. "We get that. But war can also be fun, and musical, and we think bringing by Alex on to our show, we were able to highlight that fun side and bring a smile to some faces. And who doesn't like to smile?"


Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Thu Apr 21, 2022, 11:28 AM (38 replies)

So, admittedly I hadn't been paying that close attention to the "Hunter Biden laptop" story...

I knew the very general basics of it, knew that it had changed hands and thus there would naturally be issues about chain of custody on it.

So I naturally just wrote the entire story off as right-wing bullshit/disinformation, even though people on right wing social media were screaming and yelling how it was a "SMOKING GUN" of...well, something. I don't know.

As it turns out, it was in fact right-wing bullshit/disinformation.

But I had no idea how extreme right-wing bullshit/disinformation it actually is.

Turns out, it is a pure dumpster fire on a train-wreck level of bullshit/disinformation that only the stupidest, most gullible idiots would possibly believe has any merit.

To wit:


Last month, The Washington Post was able to publish a report based on a copy of material that we obtained from a Republican activist named Jack Maxey who’d gotten it from Giuliani. We had multiple experts examine the contents of a hard drive that purported to contain the laptop’s contents, validating tens of thousands of emails as likely to be legitimate. But an enormous amount of the material on the drive couldn’t be validated as legitimate, in part because of the game of telephone that the material had undergone by the time it reached us. (The report notes that efforts to obtain the material in 2020 were rebuffed.)

“The experts found the data had been repeatedly accessed and copied by people other than Hunter Biden over nearly three years,” our report explained, with those we spoke with being unable to “reach definitive conclusions about the contents as a whole, including whether all of it originated from a single computer or could have been assembled from files from multiple computers and put on the portable drive.”

For example:

“[An expert] also found records on the drive that indicated someone may have accessed the drive from a West Coast location in October 2020, little more than a week after the first New York Post stories on Hunter Biden’s laptop appeared.”
“Over the next few days, somebody created three additional folders on the drive, titled, ‘Mail,' ‘Salacious Pics Package’ and ‘Big Guy File’ — an apparent reference to Joe Biden.”

So let's just get this straight.

1. Someone had access to Hunter Biden's laptop
2. Someone added new files to that laptop thinking that wouldn't be easily detected
3. Someone actually decided to title those files "Salacious Pics Package" and "Big Guy File" because they thought that would somehow make this a SMOKING GUN of criminality.

I mean...holy shit.

What sort of brain dead thought process is that?

It's as if I wanted to frame my neighbor for murder, and so I dig a hole in his back yard, put a gun in it, and then fill it up and place a sign saying "MURDER WEAPON BURIED HERE" right above it.

That's just so pathetically lazy and half-assed I would almost feel bad for the person who thought they were a genius doing it, except that there are plenty of people out there who are more than happy to buy that story, hook, line and sinker.
Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Wed Apr 20, 2022, 10:38 AM (77 replies)

I'm sorry, but as a Florida public school parent, I feel as though I must share this:

This absolutely and positively was in my children's elementary school math book, believe me and trust me because naturally you just should do that on the internet:

"Johnny--who believes that race is a social construct which historically has been used by governing powers to create an artificial hierarchy in society based solely on that race--has three apples. Kenny, who believes that the idea of "color-blindness"--while perhaps well-intentioned--has been too often been co-opted as an excuse for modern-day authorities to refuse to address historical racial injustices of the past, has two apples. How many apples would Johnny and Kenny have if they put their apples together and both agree that dominant racial groups have subconsciously created their own reality when it comes to race relations and thus are stifled in making any significant moves towards racial equity, which means racial groups are given the necessary means in order to achieve a more equal society (not to be confused with racial equality, which is merely a superficial equal distribution of such means regardless of the specified needs of any one particular group)?"

I'm sorry, but this is just not cool. Not cool at all.

(Do I even need the here?)
Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Mon Apr 18, 2022, 11:10 AM (45 replies)

BREAKING NEWS: Musk offers to buy Twitter for $43 B cash, 852 quadrillion Rubles or 27 "Fartcoin"

Billionaire Elon Musk today officially sought to purchase social media giant Twitter today, offering payment in at least three different options.

Musk told Twitter shareholders the buyout could be made by payment of $43 billion in cash. Alternately, investors would also be given the option of payment of 852 quadrillion Russian Rubles--with strict fixed rate conditions--or by 27 "Fartcoin."

Fartcoin is a previously unknown cryptocurrency founded only last week by 8Chan user Boobsmaster69KKK, which languished at $0.0000001 per USD until Musk promoted the currency on his Twitter feed yesterday, thus causing its value to immediately skyrocket to $25,028 per USD at time of press.

Twitter shareholders were reportedly mulling all three offers, although some expressed a desire for even more buyout options, such as Chuck-E-Cheese tokens and those 20% Bed Bath and Beyond mailer coupons that are delivered nationwide to postal residents on a semi-regular basis.

Details at Eleven.

Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Thu Apr 14, 2022, 03:33 PM (5 replies)

Another right-wing Deplorable bites the dust on Twitter.

Besides Donald Trump, I don't know if there was an account on all of Twitter that epitomized pure right-wing ugliness more than Juanita Broaddrick.

For those unfamiliar, Broaddrick's main claim to fame is that during the height of the Clinton-Lewinsky impeachment saga around 1998, she claimed that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her back in the 1970s. And while any woman claiming sexual assault deserves the right to have their claims heard by the public (and she most definitely did that), it soon became clear that Broaddrick's story had some serious issues concerning its credibility. Beyond the lack of any contemporaneous evidence, her story read like a bad Lifetime Movie more than a believable claim of rape. It left more questions than answers, like the fact that Broaddrick actually hosted a fundraiser for Clinton just a couple of weeks after the day she would later claim the assault took place. But most problematic was the fact that she actually executed a sworn affidavit denying that she was ever sexually assaulted by Clinton, which she has never bothered to retract in any subsequent testimony.

Broaddrick's story was ultimately so useless and full of holes, Ken Starr had no use for her during his investigation of Clinton. Ken Starr--a man so determined to bring Clinton down over the slightest foible. Think about that for a moment.

Anyways, Twitter came, and Broaddrick's feed wasn't just a screed against the Clintons, but against any and all Democrats and left leaning political figures in general.

But raw partisanship is one thing; gross hypocrisy is quite another. And that's where Broaddrick was the absolute worst.

Broaddrick--who made her bread and butter her claims that she was sexually assaulted by a powerful political figure--was very quick to jump to the defense of other powerful political figures accused of sexual misconduct...so long as they were conservative Republicans. So when Roy Moore was accused of inappropriate behavior regarding underaged teenagers, Broaddrick was quick to his defense without a second question.

And when the "Access Hollywood" tapes emerged during the 2016 campaign where Donald Trump was bragging about his desire for women to "grab them by the pussy," Broaddrick within days appeared at a pre-debate event literally sitting next to Trump and defending him vehemently. And she always supported Trump vocally, through every single accusation of sexual impropriety on his part.

But the worst would have to be her spirited support of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and her below-the-belt attacks against Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Broaddrick immediately branded Ford a liar, denied she could have even possibly been telling the truth, and even mocked Ford's physical appearance and testimony mannerisms during the Senate hearings. Mind you, Ford did what Broaddrick never could do--testify under oath that she was sexually assaulted. A genuine and credible Broaddrick might have painted Ford as a kindred spirit regardless of politics.

But Broaddrick was neither genuine nor credible. She was a hypocritical and hateful hack, and she does not deserve anyone's support or lent credibility.

She made crude comments about Michelle Obama and other figures who never caused her the slightest bit of harm. She reposted White Supremacists, spread lies about COVID and vaccines, and engaged in Q-Anon conspiracy theories (even appearing at Q-Anon conferences).

Apparently in the end, it was a homophobic remark--referring to gays as "the rainbow people" and how she was "sick and tired of having their lifestyle crammed down our throats on a daily basis"--that did her in.

Good riddance to human rubbish. Truly an awful person on all levels.

Enjoy Truth Social, you bitch.
Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Mon Apr 11, 2022, 11:31 AM (61 replies)

The grim geography lesson of war.

Most people outside of Ukraine probably have not heard of Mariupol. Or Bucha. Or Kramatorsk.

Until recently, they were just dots on a map in a far off land.

Now those towns--and sadly, many more--will soon become indelible reminders of certain events that transpired there.

War, and the associated horrors that go along with it, have a way of doing such things.
Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Fri Apr 8, 2022, 10:28 AM (1 replies)

So let me get this straight:

FEC levies a fine against the DNC and the 2016 Clinton Campaign for billing information regarding the Steele Dossier as "legal services" when it should have been billed as "opposition research" (i.e., a billing error):


Meanwhile, that very same day...

In an interview, Donald Trump tells Vladimir Putin--fresh in the middle of a war where his army is slaughtering untold numbers of Ukrainian civilians--that he ought to release whatever dirt he claims to have on the Biden family since he's "not exactly a fan of our country":

"Come on, that's just Trump being Trump. Can't you give him a break already?"

Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Thu Mar 31, 2022, 03:10 PM (25 replies)

BREAKING NEWS: Trump claims Will Smith would have never hit Chris Rock if he were still President

Former President Donald J. Trump told a crowd of his supporters at a recent rally that actor Will Smith would not have rushed the stage and assaulted comedian Chris Rock at this year's Academy Awards ceremony after Rock made a joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett-Smith, Smith's wife.

"It really was a shame, truly a shame," Trump told his audience. "It's something that should never have happened. And if I were President, it would have never have happened. For sure. We would have never seen it happen, this horrible, terrible thing."

Trump did see fit, however, to further weigh in on the incident.

"I will tell you this, however," Trump said. "Will Smith is a smart guy. A real smart guy. And a strong guy, too. A strong guy and a tough guy. He's beaten the aliens. He's beaten the aliens multiple times. He beat them in that Men in Black thing, and he beat them in Independence Day, too. Which is another name for the Fourth of July. A lot of people don't know that the Fourth of July is also called Independence Day. It's sad, but it's the truth. Our kids--our kids are just not being taught that in our schools anymore. And it's a shame. Such a shame."

"He also was a boxer, once, in that Allie [sic] movie," Trump added. "So, yeah, a tough guy and a strong guy."

Trump was quick to identify the individual who he viewed as truly responsible for the Oscar fracas.

"Will Smith simply does not respect Joe Biden, and that's why he did what he did," Trump proclaimed. "He viewed him as weak and knew he would never get any sort of response back from Old Sleepy Joe. And so he ran up on stage and--bam!--punched The Rock right out. All over a joke. Such a shame. It's because we don't take jokes anymore. You know, when I was President, people took jokes. There were no fights. You heard a joke and you just took it, and that was that. It happened all the time for us. Men would come up to me, grown men, all with tears in their eyes, and they would tell me, 'Sir, you're a joke. Sir, your administration is a joke.' And you know what I would say in response? I would say, 'Thank you. Thank you.' Because it was all done with love. So much love. There was so much love back then, and now it's all gone. And what you're left with is just a mess. A huge, terrible mess."

Notably, the situation may have touched a personal nerve with the former President; during the 2011 White House Press Correspondence Dinner, then President Barack Obama made several jokes at the expense of Trump, who was in the audience. Many have speculated that the incident may have served as a motivator for his 2016 presidential run.

But Trump's focus, at least publicly, remained on more recent matters.

"What you saw at the Oscars only happened because we had an election that was stolen from us, from the American people," Trump declared to his supporters. "That's the only reason it happened, because we have a fraud of a President in the White House who did nothing to stop what happened to poor Jack Rock at the Oscars."


Posted by Tommy Carcetti | Mon Mar 28, 2022, 10:47 AM (5 replies)
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