Ukraine to USA to South Sudan – Worlds of Hate, Scale Unknown


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SLAVIANSK – Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Tuesday they were holding an American-Israeli journalist in the city of Slaviansk and the online news site Vice News said it was trying to secure the safety of its reporter Simon Ostrovsky.

Reuters.  “American-Israeli journalist held by east Ukraine militants.”  YNet News, April 23, 2014.

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The president of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress narrowly escaped with his life on Monday after he was targeted in an assassination attempt in central Kiev.

Ya’ar, Chana.  “Pres. of Ukrainian Jewish Congress Targeted in Car Bombing.”  Arutz Sheva, March 6, 2013.

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A local rabbi said the last time he saw a message like this one was in 1941, when Nazi armies occupied Donetsk. It is painful, he told a reporter, to be used by “cynical politicians” who see Jews “as an instrument of their political games.” Secretary of State John Kerry called it “grotesque.”

Ghitis, Frida.  “Mystery surrounds Ukraine’s anti-Semitic pamphlet.”  The News Tribune, April 23, 2014.

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“As a Jew, what impacts me is how the anti-Semitism that prevailed in that part of the world seems to still be in the gut of some people in that community,” said Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress.

“Sixty eight years hasn’t changed much,” said Rosen, whose parents were Holocaust survivors.

Corbin, Cristina.  “US Jewish leaders deeply troubled by ‘outrageous’ pamphlets in Ukraine.”  Fox News, April 18, 2014.


I think 68 years have changed the world quite a bit, but deeply seeded beliefs and attitudes toward Jews have been distributed across space and down through generations.  Anti-Semitism remains a pervasive presence in contemporary political life.  Not only in Ukraine or across the arcs of the Arab and Muslim worlds have cultural communications and actions laid out this truth, but even from the heartland of the most inclusive of democratic open societies, the Untied States of America, has come this expression of ever vacuous rage.

(Reuters) – The suspect in the Passover Eve killings of three people at two Jewish community centers near Kansas City is a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of spewing vitriol against Jews, law enforcement officials said on Monday.

Gillam, Cary.  “Ex-Ku Klux Klan leader charged in Kansas Jewish center killings.”  Reuters, April 14, 2014.

Related: Wilber, Del Quentin.  “Von Brunn, white supremacist Holocaust museum shooter, dies.”  The Washington Post, January 7, 2010.

In numbers – Incidents x (character + intensity) / place + time — what does anti-Semitism look like spatially?

What is the character of the spillover into an aggregated bigotry, the sort signaled by the canard, “What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews”?

Journalists better funded than I — my beat is broadband; my most cherished resource is my library — may be urged to look into this question about now because the answers may presage greater conflict (or be used to head it off) encouraged by an appeasing diminishment of the significance of anti-Semitic acts, rhetoric, and tactics.


 . . . Ukraine’s prime minister, anxious to maintain U.S. support against Russia, issued a statement accusing Moscow and told a U.S. TV channel he would find the “bastards” responsible.

Reuters.  “Ukraine rabbi seeks end to anti-Semitism row – in vain
Ukrainian PM blasts anti-Jewish leaflets, demands to bring those responsible to justice.”  Haaretz, April 20, 2014.

The righteous of the world — of any creed, ethnicity, race, or religion — need to know more about this kind of hatred NOW, post-WWII, post-Holocaust, and its distribution and intensity in the industrialized world.

In the developing world, if South Sudan may be representative of that, tribal genocide would seem to go unabated, well noted, and yet barely addressed with either martial or poetic (intellectual, attitude-changing) force.

That too needs greater attention, energy, and focus.

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FTAC – Syria – On the Battle of the Middle Against Extremes


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The most general thing that might be done with Syria has to do with the development of the Army of the Middle Temperament, which General Idris possibly represented. The reality is it’s not going very well, and the deeply fragmented character of revolutionary forces (anti-Assad) may be additionally hampered by anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, anti-western thought . . . in short a whole complex of attitudes and beliefs that having made clear what the revolution is against — i.e., the Assad dictatorship and the horror it has brought to Syria, and the entire free world is against that (by reduction: the kleptocratic Putin-Assad-Khamenei art of power) — it may be having a more difficult time articulating what it is FOR.

Perhaps much of the twisting nature of the conflict may be approached in terms of the divide or split between traditional loyalties, including that implied by Arab pan-nationalism, and dawning principles about mankind. It takes a lot of work on the inside to become coherent about what the revolution is fighting for. The extremists have a ready-made program, or believe they day, but they are of the same malignantly narcissist personality as the Assad regime.

The reader may imagine the prompt for the comment.

Of course, what is happening to Syria and the Syrian People in their totality has to stop.

Getting power to the people, however, proves just about impossible given 1) the fragmentation of the revolution, 2) the requirement that a revolution must be fought FOR the installation of better ideas and healthier people as well as against a tyrannical presence, and then 3) in the less than perfect world, with good relationships forged atop strong foundations, the kind of commitment to common cause sorely compromised by the self-defeating habit of a heady contempt and enmity for others who might have been more helpful otherwise.

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FTAC – Will the New World Wake Up? Wake Up! Wake Up!


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If there were a “true religion” God, perhaps, would have created fewer of them for waging wars that seem to pit all against all. However, despite mankind’s many religions and near 7,000 living languages, there may be a sufficient progressive tendency to bond toward the mild, moderate, and virtuous middle however we may conceive — of have conceived — of the meaning of our existence. Developing that bond, tending toward good, minimizing the power and impact of dogmatic absolutists may be our common struggle.

While mentioning the Soviet, now post-Soviet, vision accompanied by the familiar oligarchies of kleptocrats mad for power and wealth (and their display), one should not overlook elements of the Christian mythos in Hitlerism and its propagation in the Muslim world during and after World War II. This old fighting is not only or always about belief and religion: it is about the language-shaped character of humanity and the idea of human virtue and dimensions, ideals, and values associated with the same, e.g., “dignity, equality, fraternity”; human rights, equal justice; the balance between communitarianism and individualism; idealism itself.

As some doors may open on a new world, others may close, and we hope — I hope together we hope — that the door closes firmly over time on absolutism, dictatorship, terrorism, and totalitarianism.

Pretty words.

Across social divides, the human heart suffers from a sympathetic astigmatism: “the good” are in about the same place emotionally — please stop the fighting! — but also a different place for each language-informed and poetry-embracing mind and spirit.  Nonetheless, the horror meted out in such as the Syrian Civil War, where the razory madness of a brutal dictatorship matched to an implacably evil fascist religious movement — just set all those millions in the middle aside for a moment — have been out on full display, tells that an end is wanted and the vision need not be Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or atheist or Arab or anything other than the largest possible human response to the twin obscenities of the unrestrained greed and sadism of the unconscionable and ruthless.

Now return to those millions traumatized at least, displaced most likely, maimed at worst — although the worst, the dead, number beneath the first million on the grim statistician’s abacus — and their inability to date to grapple with the twinned evils noted.  They can do it, they can stand up on their own land, but only if — IF — they can arrange themselves with others, including those they may have believed competitors, enemies, rivals, and threats.

As with Syria, so the world: the want is for a bonded middle force that today does not exist.

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Rhetorical Objects – Anti- Anti-Semitism & Anti-Semitism


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In the wake of last week’s Eastern Ukrainian flyer imbroglio — briefly: a flyer bearing the “symbols of both Russia and the People’s Republic of Donetsk”and distributed outside a synagogue by men wearing balaclavas had asked the region’s Jews to register with the government and declare their property — I was tempted to compose a piece titled “Is Putin Playing for Jerusalem?”, as the Russian President may be accused of many things but never anti-Semitism.

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Putin talks about Wailing Wall in Jerusalem – posted June 26, 2012.

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“As you know, Judaism is one of the four traditional religions in our nation . . . .” (0:25).

So, hate the haters, political anti- anti-Semitism has become the symbol of virtue, and the other: that’s the tar with which to spatter one’s enemies.

However, in our convoluted topsy-turvy atmosphere complicated by facsimile bipolar political sociopathy and the license taken to exploit deceit in the cause of an immense but fragile “egotism”, it’s hard saying who, actually, is the anti-Semite and whom the anti- anti-Semite.

Or the call might be easy: neither – no one (normal) at heart.

The truth is as regards all but an emotionally arrested and purple political fringe — one that should stop holding its collective breath for validation of (choose any combination) white / black / Muslim / Aryan / Internationalist / (simpleton) / etc. supremacy — the Jews are off the examining table for any majority of concern and have been since Auschwitz reopened as a museum.

Nonetheless, the higher one climbs on the ladder of power, the more valuable the “anti- anti-Semite” and “anti-Semite” chips become.

The two political rhetorical objects — one claiming (“I am an anti- anti-Semite”), the other accusing (“You are an anti-Semite”) — may have nothing to do with modern Jewry, Judaism, Jewish culture and life, Jews, or Jewish anything else — but these two objects in social currency have power in service to the will to control others,  and for a certain kind of political personality and temperament, that’s all that matters.

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Crisis of Conscience: Anti-Semite Learns He’s a Jew – Posted August 7, 2013.


An excerpt From The Awesome Conversation (FTAC)

The possibilities:

1. Donetsk could have published the flyer earnestly and backpedaled, possibly with a rebuke from Moscow. That would be the simplest explanation.

2. Ukrainian nationalists masquerading as Russians distributed the flyer to make break-away Russian nationalists look bad.

Now it gets interesting.

3. Putin may have suggested creating and distributing the flyer in Russian incognito to suggest just how low Ukrainian nationals would go in overturning the Moscow-aligned Yanukovych government.

Notably, and much to the credit of the Jewish community in Ukraine, Jews receiving the flyers asked the men distributing them to take off their face masks.

Guess who ran away?

The possession of integrity should not be so difficult.

However, comfort, defense, and refuge may be taken in lying given a certain kind of leader and leadership plus follower and following.


As pointed out, it’s not going to stop at threatening letters. At 2 AM, Saturday morning, the Nikolayev synagogue in Ukraine was firebombed multiple times, as the anti-Semitism escalates.

“Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video).”  The Jewish Press, April 20, 2014.

Unfortunately, it appears the flyer and the emphasis on political rhetoric has not sufficed for either amusement or manipulation.

Posted to YouTube April 20, 2014.

However, I have a problem with the video: the weather in south Ukraine appears to have been above freezing last night: where has the snow come from?  The looks of another synagogue firebombed in February look quite different from the building of interest, and the building of interest appears on the web elsewhere as a single story unit, not the two required for camera placement as the video would suggest.

Should anyone with a smart phone care to report in on the story, which has made the rounds on the Jewish press, please do.

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“It is part Soviet theme park, part wacky anti-western wonderland.”

Harding, Luke.  “Inside the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’: balaclavas, Stalin flags and razaorwire.”  The Observer, April 19, 2014; The Guardian.

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“I’m asking those behind this not to make us tools in this game,” he said. Anti-Semitic incidents in the Russian-speaking east were “rare, unlike in Kiev and western Ukraine,” he said.

Reuters.  “Ukraine rabbi calls anti-Semitic leaflet a political hoax.”  April 20, 2014.

More From the Awesome Conversation

I used to call the “Islamic Small Wars” wars for detectives and poets — everything that happens has been planned in private and the motivation is all in the head suspended there by language.  It’s disturbing seeing the same mode become ascendant in eastern Europe.  Without claim for the crime, there’s no known criminal, and the fingerpointing goes in every direction.

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The traditional political cultivation of an anti-Jewish animus in services to institutional development and greed has been at least socially explicable. One understand the poison and its applications. The application of “anti- anti-Semitism” and “anti-Semitism” in Ukraine may signal a brand of cynicism and manipulation that has less to do with hating Jews than with tarring one’s political enemies.

However . . . Russian desk expert Luke Harding published this gem yesterday:…/ukraine-donetsk-pro-russia… It could be the “kiddies” after all, and, God help them, if they’re demonstrably anti-Semitic, Putin will jettison them.

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FTAC – Syria – Comment on the Revolution on the Inside


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Attitude-belief systems have organic qualities.  The Assad regime believes it owns Syria and Syrians on an absolute autocratic and kleptocratic basis; opposition leadership within the Syrian National Coalition, however, carries forward the intellectual poison that is anti-Semitism masked as anti-Zionism plus, reverse engineer it, an Islamic contempt for the world that isn’t itself, i.e., other than Muslim.  To traverse the distance from the defensive position they’re in (as trapped between Putin-Assad-Khamenei and assorted bands with varying affiliation or affinity or practical alliance with Islamic Jihad, they have got to do some things within their own poetics or intellectual programming.  While they discover, mull, or wait on that, they’re living through a hell that will not recede if either Assad or Islamic Jihad ascend to clear “victory” of any kind.

Associated with the above thought was an L.A. Times’ article about Maloula, the Christian enclave battered between forces.

If attitudes (about others) are predicated on beliefs, which have affect (+/-) and structure in terms of primacy — some beliefs are more fundamental to self-concept than others — then revisiting the earliest linguistic “wiring” or programming demands effort on the part of the soul so slowly but with certainty poisoned.

Breaking news having to do with rebel forces obtaining TOW (anti-tank) missiles underscores the defense position held by Syrian “moderates” in the field.

With extremes provided by a tyrant on one hand and Islamic Jihad on the other, the state of affairs on the field seems impossibly inverted: one would think an inclusive, responsive, and responsible democratic way would have been embraced and pursued by most Syrian, but even if embraced,  most Syrians caught unprepared for civil war have fled the fighting and those remaining “in-country” may not dare to speak so, again, captive between armies and uncertain as regards who might prevail.

In Syria, the center simply did not hold.

Of late, some online have conflated the inhumanity of the Assad regime with “genocide” even though the Assad cause is Assad and not particularly focused on any single ethnic, racial, or religious community.  The bastards — the dictator “Putin-Assad-Khamenei” — stand together against the aspiring democratic forces (we could have a talk about that phrase as well) that would undo them and their type permanently.

While the revolution in the field bogs down with some escalation in firepower — Russian tanks vs American TOWs — the revolution in the heart seems barely to have gotten a start.

To my Syrian friends, whether established or latent, I would suggest this epigram (doctors write prescriptions –poets must make do with witty remarks): “The whole world may be against what you are against; however, the whole world may be also against what you are for.”

What does Syrian liberation mean . . . now?

What are “moderate” Syrian forces for?

It’s not ping-pong (although I do my sharing of “pinging”) going on in Syria or in Washington’s diplomatic circles.  These matters in political psychology — about national and personal self-concept, about motivation, about attitude-belief systems and their suspension within language and its social grammar — may have an as yet unformed weight as powerful as barrel bombs and Russian tanks.

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FTAC – Kansas City Shooting – Anti-Semitism and Social Grammar


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“The crime of antisemitism is an ageless one . . . .” — no, it isn’t. I may be above 2,000 years old, approximately, and Wistrich is more exact, but it has been very much a part of political rhetoric tuned to theft. Where Jews have done for others and reaped the rewards of service to others; where Jewish numbers have grown and Jewish wealth accumulated accordingly; where Jews, whether for ambition, divine guidance, or just the accumulated wisdom of the ages, have done well in myriad dimensions, someone has wanted to take it from them. The next day: they have killed Jesus; there are are too many of them; all that is evil may be ascribed to their presence (even when they’re completely absent from political space).

I have learned that with a confirmed anti-Semite, reason left that mind a long time ago and in its place is, indeed, the playing out of a “social grammar” probably internalized in infancy, the word “Jew” having possibly been heard and envenomed often over time sufficing for summoning a bad feeling.

“Poisoned ears” may have an epidemiology and etiology all their own, and I would expect the countermeasures for embedded anti-Semitism, bigotry, and xenophobia to emerge from approaches in psycholinguistics that focus on attitude, belief, and behavior formation.

The source of inspiration for the bounce: Small, Charles Asher.  “Violence Erupts When You Tolerate Antisemitism.”  The Daily Beast, April 14, 2014.

Related: Wilbur, Del Quentin.  “Von Brunn, white supremacist Holocaust museum shooter, dies.”  The Washington Post, January 7, 2010.

Although Charles Asher Small warns against bad mouthing the Jew as one might about bad mouthing the Muslim or anyone else, “political correctness” is not what is wanted with either anti-Semites or bigots: what is wanted is clarity with regard to the health of whole language atmospheres and then the encouragement of decency and mutual regard across divisions, and that with the mothers, perhaps, foremost on the lines defending democratic “all-for-all” social systems.

Here too, as with previous of today’s remarks, I may go a little further: America’s free speech concept specifically sets out to protect unpopular speech, the sort of speech we may not wish to hear, and while hoping for great and much needed revolutionary speech (come election time), it well includes hate speech.  Given so capacious a freedom, we leave it to social response to shape the intellectual environment of the state: e.g., we leave David Duke to do his thing from American soil, but, for the most part, we leave him a comparatively isolated figure in American politics and his followers equally isolated as political and social fringe.

If we fail to address and alter the language behaviors that embed in the very young the kernels of a bigoted social grammar, then, indeed, our open society states, our all-for-all democracies, will face greater challenges to their internal coherence and cohesion.

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FTAC – Sawing On — and On and On — (Malignant, Political, Civilizational) Narcissism


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In Egypt, the government that “came to power in a fair election” represented the only party with a program at the time, such had been the character of Mubarak’s suppression of all political competition, and, indeed, it proved its identity in values by immediate rewriting the state’s constitution to serve its own most undemocratic ends. Notably, it not only maintained Mubarak’s torture chambers but made them its own.

While “the problem” may be labeled “authoritarianism” and attention deflected away from Islam thereby, the primary driver in both unconstrained military and theocratic ambition has been “malignant narcissism” AKA “political narcissism” AKA “civilizational narcissism”. In individuals diagnosed with “narcissistic personality disorder” the signal that is “grandiose messianic delusion” may be quite distinct; in politicians, the same in personality may be recognized too late or — as happens with dictators, secular or religious — abetted by the “gonna get something” mentality of their followers plus the naturally strident and normal narcissism of youth.

Result: ih conflict, the same mentality playing on both sides of the table (“different talk; same walk”).

Against both, the middle in humanity — sometimes I call that the “humanity of humanity” — needs to assert or reassert its interests, and that would seem to involve a unique struggle but one familiar to many of many religions: the revolution on the outside may need to be matched by another within the heart.

Inspiration for the above note: Rodrik, Dani.  “The Problem is Authoritarianism, Not Islam.”  World Affairs, August 12, 2013.

Q: Why narcissism?

A: Narcissistic mortification.

Causes and encourages are more probably multivariate regarding contributing factors in producing, say, an actor-producer-director of a personality and a contemporary monster like the dictator Putin-Assad-Khamenei, which is not to suggest that all of their counterparts opposite their position in Syria are honky dory either.

In any case, Dani Rocrick’s essay well covers the “all-for-all” character of the open democracies, the Musketeer quality of my paraphrase extending easily from “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”   However, as if with a sharp plain, he criticizes the authoritarianism on the surface of governance associated with the Muslim-majority states.

It may be noted of BackChannels that while I give portion of the “Islamic Small Wars” attention, such as the junta in Burma, Paul Biya in Cameroon, and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe are never far from mind either, nor. for that matter at this time is Russia’s President Putin, who appears to have been hastened along his predictable track by his commitment to Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.  “Washington” as if it had a mind rather than contained a collection of such, may have thought that Putin representing Russia’s interests in the middle east would have no investment in Ayatollah Khamenei’s client state and platform for Hezbollah, but it turns out that what Putin, Assad, and Khamenei value most are their respective positions as absolute authorities, achieved or in ambition, in each of their states.  That quality also provides a political basis for greater cooperation between China and Russia.

Where fits Muhammad in this?

Approaching the eve of Passover today, some may be reminded that, “So We took retribution from them, and We drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them” (Quran 7:136).

Who is “We”?

The Jewish mythos acknowledges God alone as having parted the Red Sea with Moses as merely a leader: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided . . . . ” (Exodus 14:21).

Repeat: ” . . . all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind . . . .”

Moses, recruited by God in the first place, speaking to Pharaoh as intermediary for God (for it would not do for God to speak to Pharaoh, Pharaoh having confused himself with God), and, by God’s will, leading the Jewish People and a “mixed multitude” down to the sea, may have in “Abracadabra” fashion reached out a foot or two over the lapping tide, but the language doesn’t change as regards who’s Boss, from beginning to the end, alpha-omega, and Who, exactly, “turned it into dry land”.

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FTAC – Just a Word On Imperial Russia v.2.0


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The Kremlin has returned to the criminal abuse of language in its effort to renew animus with the west and line its oligarch’s pockets with the proceeds attending conflict and contemplated conquest. Basically, the “Vertical of Power” has resuscitated Russian Imperialism.

Inspiration for the comment: an article on Chinese-Russian energy cooperation, which would seem out of left field given plenty of motivation by way of news out of Ukraine and Syria; however, in the back channel behind the back channel (are back channels recursive?), stands the unexplored thesis that the two great superpower dictatorships, Russia and China, understand one another better than they do their treacherous democratic open society partner on the Security Council.

Of course, the two mobsters are going to cut deals to cut out the nice guy.

This BackChannels blog signal travels to at least 112 nations, which provides me with a unique opportunity to pose a challenging question in development and with interest in improvement in the qualities of living across geopolitical space: choose, oh distant reader, how you wish to live: subjugated to economic and political elites whose judgment is capricious and powers strong enough to bend laws to suit their acquisitive, controlling, and unhealthily narcissistic wills?  Or as constituent participants in governments possessed of greater integrity and capable of open public policy and law formulation subject to public or citizen’s audit?

With now state-controlled media and lots of propaganda money spread through the New Old Now Old and Far Out Left, Putin’s Russia will attempt to exploit language to produce renewed anti-American, anti-”western” (i.e., specifically pro-dictatorship) animus and xenophobia.

For the record here, the author of this blog enjoys zero (zilch, nada) political funding, and the only funding I may really want — not that I don’t need money — would be open online journalism or research grant money.  In the universe of institutions, genuinely independent writers, research analysts, and scholars may be made to suffer — I know of no roof today beneath which to seek shelter — but the charm that comes with that fragility is intellectual freedom, a prize without price considering what media mercenaries have demonstrated do for the most tainted of paychecks.

I’ll go a little further to note than I am not the happiest of Americans in acknowledging the role Big Money plays in lobbying for laws and influencing Federal policy, but if, when, and where I may have specific complaint, I have confidence in my being able to research and write about the matter beholden to none and otherwise unfettered.

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