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Member since: Wed Feb 23, 2005, 03:32 PM
Number of posts: 6,535

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'Trump Trek'.

Episode One: 'Call Me Crazy One More Time'. Captain Donald J. Trump and his questionable crew are on a mission of exploration and acquisition when a merchant freighter refuses to be searched. Bravely ignoring orders and the Prime Directive, Captain Trump orders a full spread of photon torpedos and a phaser barrage that converts the freighter's home planet to barren wasteland.

Episode Two: 'The Old Ways'. While looking for plunder in a less-developed star system, Captain Trump comes across a strange-looking young alien named Stephen Miller trapped in a sticky bog of political correctness. After the captain sets him free, young Miller makes special hand signs that let the captain know he's 'one of them', so the captain makes him First Mate. The old First Mate is cooked and served for dinner.

Episode Three: 'It's Not Me, It's Her'. After the female crew members become fed up with late night 'leak searches', they report Captain Trump to the Federation. An investigator arrives who becomes convinced that the captain has been blackmailed into a secret alliance with the Romulans. A Federation Board Of Inquiry clears the captain of all wrongdoing and imprisons the investigator, but then are discovered to be Romulans themselves when their cheap ear disguises fall off.

Episode Four: 'The Last Frontier'. The former captain must deal with the humiliations of encroaching age and baldness in the Klingon prison at Rura Penthe, where he is prodded with pain sticks and made to eat gagh. No one rescues him. Sad.

Great series. Gritty and realistic. I'd almost watch it again just for the ending.

Senator Cardin's report on Russia's activities is stunning and worth the read.

Found on Balloon Juice.

I've been following the saga as closely as anyone, but this report gave me the serious chills. Before I read it, I was a proponent of a measured response to the attack, isolating out the bad actors and the oligarchs and freeing Russia from their grip.

This report has pushed me toward the Stone Age crew, as in 'Bomb Them Back To'.

Why are we not in a hot war with Russia? Because they've temporarily defeated us.

Full Summary


Chapter 1 covers Vladimir Putin’s rise to power in Russia and puts in context why he is motivated to invade Russia’s neighbors, interfere in democratic elections and processes abroad, and sow division and chaos in the West.

~The length and intensity of these operations emanate out of Russia in concentric geographic circles: they
began in Russia, expanded to its periphery, then into the rest of Europe, and finally to the United States. The
United States must now assume that the Kremlin will deploy in America some of the more dangerous tactics
used successfully in Russia’s periphery and the rest of Europe.

~ Russia’s security services are aggressive, well-funded by the state, and operate without any legislative
oversight. They conduct not just espionage, but also active measures aimed at subverting and destabilizing
European governments, operations in support of Russian economic interests, and attacks on political

~ Putin’s regime appears intent on using almost any means possible to undermine the democratic institutions
and transatlantic alliances that have underwritten peace and prosperity in Europe for the past 70-plus years

Chapter 2 chronicles the tools and tactics of oppression and misinformation Putin perfected at home, in Russia, before they were deployed abroad. Within Russia, Putin’s regime has harassed and killed whistleblowers and human rights activists; crafted laws to hamstring democratic institutions; honed and amplified anti-Western propaganda; curbed media that deviate from a pro-government line; beefed up internal security agencies to surveil and harass human rights activists and journalists; directed judicial prosecutions and verdicts; cultivated the loyalties of oligarchs through corrupt handouts; and ordered violent crackdowns against protesters and purported enemies.

~ Russia’s ‘sovereign democracy’ relies on democratic structures, albeit largely hollow ones, to give a sheen of
legitimacy to a regime that puts its own interests before those of its citizens. Under Putin’s leadership, the
Russian government has undermined political processes, parties, and opposition that present a meaningful
check on the Kremlin’s power. In October 2014, then-Russian Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential
Administration Vyacheslav Volodin famously quipped that “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin.”

~ An estimated $24 billion dollars has been amassed by Putin’s inner circle through the pilfering of state

~ At least 28 journalists have been killed for their reporting inside Russia since Putin took office in
December 1999… [T]he Kremlin has created a climate where physical attacks against civil society activists,
as well as political opponents and independent journalists, occur regularly and often with impunity.

~ Putin and his allies have neutered political competition by creating rubber-stamp opposition parties and
harassing legitimate opposition. [O]pposition activists attempting to join forces…have been blocked from
using hotels and conference facilities to hold gatherings, and some have even had their homes raided.

~ The pro-Putin United Russia party’s hold on seats in the Russian Duma grew to 76 percent in the 2016
elections, and the number of seats currently held by liberal opposition has been reduced to zero.

~ The image of Putin as defender of traditional religious and cultural values has also been leveraged by the
Kremlin “as both an ideology and a source of influence abroad.” In projecting itself as “the natural ally of
those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization,
multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights,” the Russian government has been able to mobilize some
Orthodox actors in places like Moldova and Montenegro to vigorously oppose integration with the West.

~ Throughout Putin’s tenure in Russia, independent media outlets have been a target of Kremlin pressure to
prevent them from being a meaningful check on his power. The Kremlin’s early efforts to neutralize
independent or critical national media and consolidate state ownership of media outlets had a chilling
effect on the development of independent journalism in the country, and both official and unofficial
pressure have continued against TV, print, and online media outlets that challenge the Kremlin line. Since
Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012, a spate of firings, resignations, and closures among numerous
media outlets suggest that the Kremlin under Putin has no intention of reversing its longstanding trend of
controlling the media space.

~ The use of disinformation and propaganda has long been a hallmark of the Kremlin’s toolbox to manipulate
its own citizens. The historical precedent for these tactics stem from the Soviet era… Propaganda under Putin
has played up examples of Western failures in an attempt to undermine the credibility of a Western-style
alternative system of government to Russia’s corrupt, authoritarian state.

~ To implement its propaganda, Putin’s deputies reportedly summon chief editors on a regular basis to
coordinate the Kremlin line on various news and policy items and distribute it throughout mainstream media
outlets in Moscow. Driving the narrative often requires media partners who have “created myths and
explained reality” in the production of news as well as entertainment—often blurring lines between the two to
ensure that media content fuels enthusiasm for the Kremlin’s overall narrative.

~ State-sponsored media have also doctored the Kremlin’s image to help justify Russian military incursions into
Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria to the Russian population. During the 2008 invasion of Georgia…“television
channels were part of the military operation, waging an essential propaganda campaign, spreading
disinformation and demonizing the country Russia was about to attack.” Russian television inflated
figures of civilian deaths and refugees in South Ossetia by the thousands. Alleging genocide, the picture
that media painted was of the Kremlin “fighting not a tiny, poor country that used to be its vassal but a
dangerous and powerful aggressor backed by the imperialist West.”

~ Vladislav Surkov personally curated what was allowed on to Russia’s television screens, and was seen as
the architect of ‘post-truth politics’ where facts are relative, a version of which some have suggested has
now taken hold in the West.

Chapter 3 catalogues old and new disinformation operations and tactics used by the Kremlin in other countries both to promote its narratives and advance divisive narratives with the goal of eroding social cohesion.

~ Soviet bloc disinformation operations were not a rare occurrence: more than 10,000 were carried out over
the course of the Cold War.

~ Today, the Kremlin’s malign influence operations employ state and non-state resources to achieve their ends,
including the security services, television stations and pseudo news agencies, social media and internet trolls,
public and private companies, organized crime groups, think tanks and special foundations, and social and
religious groups.

~ Disinformation campaigns are used to discredit politicians and democratic institutions like elections and an
independent media; cultural, religious, and political organizations are used to repeat the Kremlin’s narrative
of the day and disrupt social cohesion; corruption is used to influence politicians and infiltrate decisionmaking
bodies; and energy resources are used to cajole and coerce vulnerable foreign governments.

~ “[W]hat they do to us we cannot do to them ….Liberal democracies with a free press and free and fair
elections are at an asymmetric disadvantage … the tools of their democratic and free speech can be used
against them.”

~ The Russian government’s work to destabilize European governments often start with attempts to build
influence and exploit divisions at the local level…. An analysis by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for
Securing Democracy found that the Russian government has used cyberattacks, disinformation, and
financial influence campaigns to meddle in the internal affairs of at least 27 European and North
American countries since 2004.

~ These operations require relatively small investments, but history has shown that they can have outsized
results, if conditions permit.

~ “If everything is a lie, then the biggest liar wins.” At their core, the Kremlin’s disinformation operations
seek to challenge the concept of objective truth…. For Putin and the Kremlin, the truth is not objective fact;
the truth is whatever will advance the interests of the current regime. Today, that means whatever will
delegitimize Western democracies and distract negative attention away from the Russian government. It
means subverting the notion of verifiable facts and casting doubt on the veracity of all information, regardless
of the source.

~ The Kremlin employs an array of media platforms and tools to craft and amplify its narratives. The Russian
government’s main external propaganda outlets are RT, which focuses on television news programming, and
Sputnik, a radio and internet news network. RT and Sputnik target a diverse audience: both far-right and farleft
elements of Western societies, environmentalists, civil rights activists, and minorities.

~ Internet “trolls” are one such tool—individuals who try to derail online debates and amplify the anti-West
narratives propagated by RT and Sputnik. These trolls use thousands of fake social media accounts on
Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to attack articles or individuals that are critical of Putin and Kremlin
policies, spread conspiracy theories and pro-Kremlin messages, attack opponents of Putin’s regime, and
drown out constructive debate.

~ According to one former employee [of a Russian troll farm] staff on the “foreign desk” were responsible
for meddling in other countries’ elections. In the run up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, for
example, foreign desk staff were reportedly trained on “the nuances of American social polemics on tax
issues, LGBT rights, the gun debate, and more… their job was to incite [Americans] further and try to
‘rock the boat.’” The employee noted that “our goal wasn’t to turn the Americans toward Russia. Our task
was to set Americans against their own government: to provoke unrest and discontent.”

Just too much wow. Read the whole goddamned thing.


All Hail The Magnificent Democratic Underground.

You know who loves this site more than anyone? People stuck in Red Hell. Like a lifeline.

But I love it too.

It is utterly unique. It is beautiful. I have grown from it, and its trials have been my trials.

Never been anything like this. Center of the universe. I swear it.

I send you all love.

This feels more like the Cuban Missile Crisis than Watergate.

Brand new, edge-of-the-earth challenge. We have to win this. We have to.

Certainly Russia's thinking on this was as concise and strategic as Osama Bin Laden's on 9/11. Talk about your asymmetric warfare. This has got to be the most impressive example in history since the Trojan Horse.

We got got. Now we have to set it right. Have to. The United States must survive this.

I'm ready to hit the street anytime. But I have a feeling that this breaks open soon, and it feels like there's a clock ticking.

Cuban Missile Crisis.

A Short Note On Christian Atheism.

I was taking the cat poop out to the dumpster last night at about 9:30 PM -- we sponsor three feral cats who live in our building -- and I saw a young woman hovering around the dumpsters. I routinely talk to the homeless who haunt the business park dumpsters at night, mostly because I spent a year as a homeless person, and understand how it happens to people.

The young woman was perhaps in her late twenties, shy and raggedly dressed. I said hello, and asked her how she was.

"Do you have any extra food?" she replied. Her voice was warm and intelligent. She had what some would call buck teeth, and was trying to hide them, but her eyes were quite clear and personable. Most of the homeless I speak to by the dumpster are just that -- intelligent, warm, human -- always concerned about my reaction at first, because I look just like a conservative. Once they read the complete lack of judgment they relax and open up.

I said no at first, and then remembered -- "How about a loaf of bread?" My lunch stuff. I'd forgotten my lunch stuff. She said yes, absolutely, and I said I'd be back in a minute. She met me out in back of the building, and I gave her almost a full loaf of Dave's Killer Bread (so good, and he hires only recovering ex-felons), a bag of carrots, an apple, and some string cheese.

She was grateful, disappeared around the corner, and that was that.

Here is my point: I'm an atheist. Certainly I'm a tree-hugging dirt-worshipping nature boy who reads a lot of the new wild-assed quantum physics books and thinks that it's probably the strongest argument possible for some type of innate intelligent order based on particulate consciousness, but I could never be a practicing Christian.

My grandmother was. She was a devout Southern Baptist who never spoke about her faith -- she thought it was un-Christian to do so, and instead focused on helping and feeding people without any religious overtones whatsoever. She'd had a dream about walking with Jesus in the Garden, she once told me when we got stoned together (she was 82), and that was the basis for her beliefs, nothing more, nothing less. Feed the poor, care for the children, love, the end.

Here's my problem -- the Bible is pretty goddamned clear about this stuff. For a practicing Christian to hoard wealth while a single human being goes hungry anywhere in the world should be ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN BY THEIR FAITH.

For a practicing Christian to go to a service in a clean, warm and well-lit church where security guards roam the perimeter to exclude the rough-looking should be ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN BY THEIR FAITH.

For a practicing Christian to exclude anyone from their company or concern for any reason whatsoever, be it race or religion or sexual orientation or criminal history should be ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN BY THEIR FAITH.

For a practicing Christian to admit to these cognitive dissonances by insisting that the Lord forgives their transgressions as they continue to commit them should be ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN BY THEIR FAITH.

Yet many large churches commit these social crimes regularly, from the pulpit, in word and in deed.

Dial it down to this nation alone. As long as any American citizen is hungry or homeless, I do not think anyone should be allowed to hoard any wealth at all. I think there are more than enough houses for everyone, more than enough food, more than enough medical supplies and clothing for every single American citizen, and if custom prevents us as citizens from solving the clear need of our fellow citizens, then that is the most stark argument in favor of the fact that we are effed up, crazy, full of shit, and undeserving of God's grace in any measure.

I'm an atheist. And yet I'm a better Christian than most Christians. And what I saw in that young woman's eyes -- not a lost soul, just a human being under stress and looking for a little food on a cold night -- burned me. It burned me.

We suck. And we have to do better. And False Faith is worse than no faith at all.

A Polar Bear Died For Our Fucking Sins.

There is no greater gift.
he/she taught me
give no quarter
brook no fantasy
know the truth
speak the truth
fix the soul
heal the rift
grow the earth
make it right

For the overly wealthy, it's not just about having more -- it's about making you have less.

This is classic hoarding-frenzy behavior, goes back all the way to when we split off from reptiles. It was always a significant attribute of royalty, historically very common in the upper merchant classes, and it goes like this: having more than you could ever need is not stimulating enough unless you know for a fact that others are suffering from having less than they need.

It is a clear fact of the hoarding disease -- and it is a disease -- that the hoarder's peak enjoyment comes from the vicarious thrill and guilty pleasure of watching other people starve. For the hoarder, too much becomes ever so much more enjoyable when the difference between themselves and the starving or stress-ridden lower classes grows wider. For them, it's like being a timid person watching a scary movie -- but it's all real.

Wealth is poison. Enough is as good as a feast, and too much in this case is a ticket to disturbingly psychopathic behavior. We all know this, and unfortunately our laws have been warped to satisfy the dark urges of addicts, weakening the nation and casting doubt on the survival of the human species.

Think of it in tribal terms. Say an ancient island culture of perhaps 100 individuals creates a monetary system based on shells. One hoarding-obsessed individual spends their entire life focusing not on work, or building -- but on gaming the economy to get hold of all the shells. Once they have most of the shells, they will still scheme to get the remainder, even though the rest of the tribe will be forced into starvation. How long do you think the other 99 members will allow this to go on? Awhile, perhaps. It's the nature of systems. But when the markers become more important than their meaning, the tribe is doomed unless it acts. They will either seize the shells and cast out the hoarder, or simply disregard the markers and make new ones. It's difficult for larger and more complex cultures to take these steps, but the principles are the same. Money is just an agreement. It is not a thing of value in and of itself, shells or dollars.

First chance we get, let's solve this problem. A 99% confiscatory tax on all incomes over a million dollars per year would certainly help to begin correcting this extremely damaging habit. Simple, fair, clean -- and the hoarding class would still get some pleasure out of maximizing their remaining one percent.

The Best Revenge.

Ryan Cooper

We now know there shall be no quarter from the ultra-rich in their quest to take as much of the national income and wealth for themselves as possible. So they should be given no quarter either.

At the earliest opportunity, a left-wing economic reform bill should deliberately destroy the power of the plutocrats: Break up their monopolist corporations, sharply increase taxation on their capital gains and dividends, levy a confiscatory tax rate on income over $1 million and a 100 percent inheritance tax on estates over $1 million, and kneecap finance with burdensome regulations. Then, strengthen the lower class: Ban "right-to-work" laws at a national level, increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation, beef up the welfare state, and spend to achieve full employment.

Some of the wealthiest and most privileged people who've ever existed are attempting to loot the pockets of penniless grad students so they can have even more money to spend on stuff like $450-million paintings. They've forfeited any right to deference or consideration.

Found this on Digby.

I think this is the best idea I've heard in a year. Let's end this class war forever.

Sea lions in the Sacramento River.

Hiking along the river near the I-80 bridge, my son and I saw a giant black head breach the water and snort in a deep bass whuff. Could not figure it out. Whales? Giant otters? We'd seen otters in a small wetlands area near the American River Parkway.

But these shapes -- massive. Broad backs, giant heads -- there were at least two near where we were sitting by the river's edge, and then we saw perhaps three more down near the railroad bridge on the way back.

My son googled 'seals in the Sacramento River', and came up with this --


She was taking pictures by the river Friday morning when she saw it.

“I couldn’t tell what it was,” said Grear.

Scott Buhl, a Wildlife Response Specialist at UC Davis, knew immediately

“Oh that’s definitely a California sea lion,” said Buhl looking at some cell phone video I shot Friday morning.

Not a dolphin, porpoise or seal, but a sea lion in the Sacramento river.

“He was just hanging out enjoying the day and didn’t seem to be in any distress,” said Buhl.

Buhl, says the the sea lion appears to be a healthy male, weighing roughly 400 to 500 pounds.

“It could definitely surprise you and startle you to see a sea lion staring back at you,” said Buhl.

It’s not uncommon to see a sea lion once every year or two in the River explained Buhl.

And of course a few idiots immediately suggest killing them. Just -- you know, because.

Humans. Ugh.

They were gorgeous. Beautiful. Heart-tugging. Awesome. Amazing experience on a Sunday afternoon.

herstory writes

in the end it was itinerant old pot farmers
green grocers and pot smoking clerks
T.A.'s with things in the closet
typecast kid stars and their momentous assistants
painfully awkward shyboys
sisters of no mercy
tripe mongers and vishnu programmers
secret keepers
pawn shop sweepers
ted behind the safeway
the critical mothers worried about the sun
superstitious wand waving sage burners
little short thinkers
super tall drinkers
the worst and the best
types and offtypes and notypes
persectured songsmiths
fancy little rich snobs who read
and every member of democraticunderground
who saved the human race
from the soviet ghost invasion of two thousand and sixteen
let us drink to them tonight
tell the stories of their mild and scattershot bravery
their hopeless losses
their impossible contraindications
their savaging and their comforting and their sweet wisdom
that lifted the species and sent it out
to the infinite
where it belongs.
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