FTAC: A Jot on Historical Revisionism


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It’s a good measure for what is despotic.

Whoever or whatever it was — or remains — if it was evil, we should collectively appreciate its import, ameliorate its damage, if comparatively recent, and pack it away not to be repeated if the semblance of the same may be prevented or damped.

Related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_Orwell_Matters

As lies are told to hide something or to get something, those who counsel the excising of history — erasure of the past, in essence — would seem most of all ashamed of themselves and sensitive to their own hidden predilections for control and conquest. Only the pulling down of the despot’s statue at the time of the revolution proves liberating and signal of liberation. Yanking old generals off their pedestals? That’s something else.

Related Online

Byfield, Chris. “William Shatner dismantled wokeism in stunning outburst. ‘Utterly ridiculous’.” Express, October 14, 2021.

Weiss, Bari. “We Got Here Because of Cowardice. We Get Out With Courage.” Commentary, November 2021.


Trump’s America in Retrospect: Russian Real Estate Entanglements


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From Correspondence

Of course, everyone enjoys the money! So better here in America — or with an American, albeit not a very good one as stood beside American ideals and rule of law — than elsewhere and someone else. I’ve been shrugging away these themes for a while for being too large for any one person to address and seek to ameliorate. Those involved are the wealthy of the world, and no matter how they made their money, they’re powerful. 😦

Narcissistic leaders want to create, sustain, and leave for prosperity their own great image; they also want to remain in power without price, and for that, some, as dictators do, become as if forces of nature, heartless, unstoppable, ruthless.

Associated with the Conversation

We had been chatyping about DJT, the inferential references to corruption, money laundering, and Russian connections came to mind, so one look-see on the web and a five minutes later I had a starting overview on that subject, which is here listed below (with additions).

True take: free-wheeling American real estate business rides on ambition, caveat emptor, and wealth with the freedom of the seller’s not having to look too closely at The Money, which is in the end and for everyone involved and beyond . . . just money — but oh such a lot of money!

Call corruption the “Cancer of States” and consider that behind “dirty money”, however laundered, lays not only the wreckage of families, government, and lives but an intense leveraging of business and political power. The term “too big to fail” comes to mind, for the measurement of occult wealth, i.e., the contribution of illegal (at worst) and questionable (at best) “fund raising” seems to me an issue avoided by power itself, not that the subject has gone unnoticed.

The informal economy, also known as the underground economy or the black market, makes up a significant portion of the overall economy. It is estimated to be as much as 36 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of developing nations and 13 percent of developed countries’ GDP.1 However, as an article by Economist Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria in The Regional Economist points out, measuring the informal economy is quite difficult.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “How to Measure the Black Market.” May 18, 2015.

For probably all the right ambitious, emotional, and practical reasons, most may shrug off the little bit of grease and leaning — the gifts, the open arms, the warm handshakes; the aggressive marketing or “salesmanship” that nudges with a little bit of caution — that gets business done while facilitating access to new opportunities and relationships — but with too much of the same, the bodies, destroyed businesses and careers, and ruined lives show up visibly everywhere, and that little bit of smarmy activity becomes a tangled and suffocating web.

The matter of observing and measuring atrocious, ruthless, and vicious business behavior and its behavioral, economic, and social effects on societies not accustomed to their own dumb and hapless enslavement through malicious handling would seem another matter, and most certainly a matter of keen interest to economists, ethicists, and the public at large. With that in mind, one might suggest that Moscow’s “Mafia State” and Trump’s egregious approach to those apparently not fit to shine his shoes has set off for general rule the presence of some global and criminal or near-criminal nobility far above the constitutions, interests, and laws of states and their constituencies.

Related Online

Davidson, Adam. “Where Did Donald Trump Get Two Hundred Million Dollars to Buy His Money-Losing Scottish Golf Club?” The New Yorker, July 13, 2018.

Frank, Thomas. “Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos to Unknown Buyers.” Buzzfeed, January 12, 2018.

Kumar, Anita. “Real estate mogul Trump sold condos to regime-connected Venezuelans.” Politico, August 4-8, 2019.

Landay, Jonathan. “Sales of Trump properties suggestive of money-laundering: researcher.” Reuters, January 18, 2018.

Layne, Nathan, Ned Parker, Svetlana Retter, Stephen Grey, Ryan McNeill. “Russian elite invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings.” Reuters Investigates, March 17, 2017.

Related Online and A Little to the Side of The Donald

Craig, Susanne, Jo Becker, Jesse Drucker. “Jared Kushner, a Trump In-Law and Adviser, Chases a Chinese Deal.” The New York Times, January 7, 2017.

Goodman, Ryan, Julia Brooks. “Timeline on Jared Kushner, Qatar, 666 Fifth Avenue, and White House Policy.” Just Security, March 17, 2020.

Helmore, Edward. “Jared Kushner’s company under renewed scrutiny over Chinese and Israeli deals.” The Guardian, January 8, 2018.

IMDB. Netflix: “Dirty Money: Slumlord Millionaire”, Season 2; Episode 3.

Kwong, Jessica. “Jared Kushner-Linked Chinese Executive Sentenced to Prison for Massive Fundraising Fraud.” Newsweek, May 10, 2018.

Lash, Herbert. “Kushner, Anbang end Manhattan tower talks, other talks emerge.” Reuters, March 29, 2017.

Luhn, Alec. “Who is Sergei Gorkov, the powerful Russian banker who met Jared Kushner?” The Guardian, June 3, 2017.

Wikipedia. “Dirty Money (2018 TV series).

On Russia’s Mafia State and Donald Trump’s Business History

Galeotti, Mark. “Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia.” The Guardian, March 23, 2018.

Johnston, David Cay. “Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?” Politico, May 22, 2016. As a companion to Cay’s piece: Kruse, Michael. “The Muckraker Who Tormented Trump.” Politico, January 20, 2017.

Nevzlin, Leonid. “The Result of 20 Years of Putin: Russia as a Mafia State.” IMR: Institute of Modern Russia, January 24, 2020.

While the Russian mafia is a favorite antagonist of Hollywood screenwriters, it is thought to be all-but-defunct in reality. After all, when was the last time anybody in the U.S. heard about major Russian mafia activity?

The criminal underworld is thriving like never before in Europe. The individuals and groups are not random; they are highly organized, well-funded and responsible for rising levels of cyberterrorism, money laundering and murder. Fortune Magazine lists the Solntsevskaya Bratva, alternately known as the Russian mafia, as the largest organized crime group in the world and it ranks above both the Japanese Yakuza and the Mexican Sinaloa cartel in terms of overall revenue. More interesting than its current standing is how it achieved its status. From a culture that encouraged crime to a government that aided and abetted it, the Russian Federation has become a hotbed for a growing criminal underworld.

McIlvenna-Davis, Dylan. “Gangs and Gulags: How Vladimir Putin Utilizes Organized Crime to Power his Mafia State.” Berkeley Political Review, October 9, 2021.

Posted by CNBC to YouTube July 30, 2021.

Related regarding the 2020 American Election

Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. “Election Security VS. Reality.” Last updated September 23, 2021.

July 16, 2018.


FTAC: Aghanistan, Corruption, and Greed


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While the Modern West most certainly appears to be at war with feudal-medieval, narcissistic, and totalitarian forces and tendencies worldwide, there seems a part in which the Modern face off with the Modern over the management of corruption and greed. This note From the Awesome Conversation may be accompanied by a minimum of inline or separate references, but I do believe each claim or implication easily substantiated with a little bit of online research effort on the reader’s part.

From the Awesome Conversation (Now Growing Old as I Grow Old) 🙂

Inline URLs have been added to the original plain text.


HE was thinking “Putin”, whose black market provided the Taliban with arms and materiel and whose white market sells defense goods to allies on Afghanistan’s border. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/08/20/trump-peace-deal-taliban/ Grand Game thinking and Rare Earth Minerals have been a part of this tug-of-war between Moscow and Washington as has been the intent of “updating” Islam or Islamists hewing to impossibly archaic beliefs and execrable behavioral standards. Russia now has the Taliban where it has needed them — in power, out in the open, and free of any kind of support from Washington. 🙂

Moscow’s “Absolutism”, “Active Measures”, “Hybrid Warfare”, and Medieval “Realpolitik” have been somewhat proven against EU/NATO, which by “Reflexive Control” (see “Business Insider, Zawahiri, Russia“) has itself been pushed toward the “New Nationalism” with Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Turkey motivated most of all to march forward into the feudal-medieval past.

Add the arc of Soviet / post-Soviet alliances x Areas of Control x Regions of Influence, and one may glimpse the persistently barbaric and feudal world Moscow has in mind for the global future.

Not only Zawahiri but Jeffrey Epstein as well had Moscow stays in Russia], and the medieval emphasis on “kompromat” — and potential public embarrassment — may have come through most clearly during the Trump Administration (and Trump especially had relationships involving criminal elements and substantial sums of Russian money — start with Craig Unger on all of that).

One more note on Afghanistan: the fate of that state would seem inseparable from corruption and greed on the part of all involved, from the native warlords to American industries fueled by Big Defense contracts and supported by complex battle systems requiring the cooperation and presence of ready assets, especially air-related, and the administrative and technical abilities needed to run and sustain operations.


Related Online

Kazmin, Amy, Benjamin Parkin, Katrina Manson. “Low morale, no support and bad politics: why the Afghan army folded.” Financial Times, August 15, 2021.

Wilkie, Christina. “‘9/11 millionaires’ and mass corruption: How American money helped break Afghanistan.” CNBC, September 10, 2021.


A Glimpse of America’s Deepest Undertow


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If it’s happening here in the United States of America, the same is probably happening where you live, more or less — and “less” only if kept more effectively out of sight.

As an artist — “Writer, Musician, Photographer”, so I have billed myself a lifetime — I’m more accustomed to the idea of “bohemia” than either accustomed to it, much less inured to it. Quite petite bourgeoisie, Internet, tweeds, and all, albeit in a very small space patched with a window air conditioning unit, sigh, I would think downward and outward much, much worse — and it is. Here follow a few links to how American life looks from where it has bottomed out on the streets. While taking it in, I would suggest also a spare meditation on corruption, greed, heartlessness, ruthlessness, and vanity as the ambitions, desires, dreams, impressions, self-concepts and the concomitant or later abuse, narcotics, under-employment, and unemployment and wholesale derailment have never come out of nowhere.

AML Films. Misc. interviews, addicts, homeless, prostitutes.
Glink. “The Dark Reality of Los Angeles.” September 4, 2021.
Horvath, Mike. Invisible People. Interviews with homeless.
Kimgary. Misc. “Streets of Philadelphia, Kensington Ave. Story”. Silent slow-motion coverage of a $1 billion fentanyl and heroin market.
Laita, Mark. Soft White Underbelly. Interviews.
Rodriguez, Frank. Morals Over Money. Misc. associated with Kensington Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Democratic, free, and modern societies come equipped with extraordinary public concern, compassion, moral latitude, and political obligation with open discussion, all of which lends itself to the vibrancy and vitality of energetic national cultures. Issues at the base may not have to do half so much with “morals”, not at least within the most common of normative boundaries, but with the absence of conscience within those setting prices for feel-good junk, so one might call it, right beside unrealistic expectations for those with issues but most desperate for moving on, out, and up with some return to decency, dignity, and security.

Posted to YouTube by Morals Over Money, September 13, 2021.

Posted to YouTube by Soft White Underbelly, February 22, 2020.


FTAC: On the Secular Roof: No Compulsion


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From the Awesome Conversation, A Note Placed with the Rationalist Society of Pakistan (Facebook)

Because there is no compulsion (is there?), the modern secular guaranty is a roof beneath which all faiths and religious practices may be engaged by choice peacefully and securely.

By the numbers, our planet supports fewer than 7,000 living language cultures and approximately 4,200 separable religions and related sects.

For the blood thirsty, religion may be regarded as a gift, for wars related to creed or dogma favored by one powerful house or another (x clan, family, or tribe or by caliphate, kingdom, or empire) tend to be the least resolvable drivers of wars: nothing has ever been proved or disproved by them. For the most part, the employment of religious rhetoric by the powerful traces most of all to the want of personal aggrandizement and the presence of messianic ambition, and limitless greed.

Today’s post-Reformation Europe supports a dozen historical monarchies, all but two of them constitutional monarchies tempered by empowered and popularly elected legislatures and courts independent of churches once regarded as all powerful (there are no compassionate, democratic, humanist, or liberal theocracies. All theocracies remain deeply medieval, primitive, and suffocating, and especially so where subscription (loyalty with payment extracted) has been compelled.

One Earth and Our Own Little Worlds

The Taliban, among other of the world’s absolutists, scolds, and scourges will learn, whether they like it or not, that modern complexity in financing and trade demands ever higher levels of human cooperation and integration across cultural, economic, and geopolitical boundaries. The lone ancient bureaucrat with his snicker and his hand out for the bribe that lifts the gate he guards has now the power befitting make-believe trolls. Really getting things done — big things: accession to favorable security organizations; extensive infrastructure creation, re-engineering, and repair (after war, especially, but obsolescence over time demands the same regenerative efforts everywhere), ports, transnational communications — require good relationships with a whole world. Otherwise — and examples are numerous (start with Zimbabwe and work backward through the world’s dictatorships) — one’s people may be reduced to eating dust and worms.

For those with the full spread on a table in a palace, where’s the worry?

Well, history has a way of devouring those who exploit as well as starve their own.

Today’s responsible government needs must become a partner in the achievement of modern standards contributing to its own prosperity and stability — or the same may choose to remain heavily guarded in its keep and otherwise a vulgar backwater demeaned and reviled worldwide.

Political leaders may have today the puzzle of perpetuating the strength of their own cultures and families and related self-concepts while participating in the development of complex global diplomatic and legal systems bearing on the practical business and technology systems intended to secure a global tomorrow in which the earth and all her cargo may thrive.

Qualities of Living — The State of the State

War is easy.

It is living — and managing for the living — that has become challenging.

I believe for avarice, greed, and vanity, failed and failing states — generally absolute power systems that grind against their own constituents as well as the grain of humanity as well as decaying societies either disinterested in or incapable of damping the rise of their own fascistic elements — fail across measurable dimensions. Absolute and corrupt or decadent powers have despoiled their own environments and societies mightily in the cause of their own glorification. The same have produced a barbarism wondrous to behold and often beyond the bounds of any collective natural or normal human tolerance.

As I’ve written about Qualities of Living (QOLs) before and may come to dwell on the same as a principle for global political, practical, and spiritual competition — who would live best x conditions x population x area-squared? — I’ll reprint here the outline from August 25 this year –>

QOL: Qualities of Living

Biological: Environmental and Human Health

Financial: Actualizing, Beyond Basic, Individual and Family Sufficiency

Psychological: Dignifying with High Degrees of Freedom, Positive Outlook, Potential for Fulfillment, Good Self-Concept, Reliable Community and Personal Security

Spatial: Bases and Boundaries x Person x Family x Clan x Tribe x Nation x Ethnic x Transnational Cultures / Defenses and Retreats

Spiritual: Broad Awareness, Consciousness, Conscience x Comprehension of Community and Personal Place in Time

We may each have our separable dreams — but why not with clean air and water and good soil while in pursuit of contentment, place, and security?

Universally: may we and will we do that much for one another without reference to cultural or political identification and location?

Why not while we dream our dreams do so within the bounds of secured community and personal spaces?

Why not for each person with futures dreamed that may be in part accomplished, comfortable,and enlivening set and sustain the stage for positive accomplishment?

Accentuate Good; Diminish Evil

How good may we be across our species’ one biological platform: Earth?

And how rotten?

The Taliban in pursuit of absolute obedience has made a great to-do of burqa and hijab . . . but are not the virtues desired actually modesty and piety?

As an American of Jewish descent, I would not (yet, though sorely tempted) think of myself as an atheist: I am neither that brave nor cocksure. I would however suggest as virtues worthy of individual consideration and contemplation of possession without religious reference, the following: compassion; courage, empathy; fairness; foresight; fortitude, integrity; patience; temperance.

Worthy of appreciation and occasional experience but better served by diminishment over time: avarice; dishonesty; gluttony; greed; hubris; hypocrisy.

Put another way (more parallel and less awkward): have we — or just our solitary selves — compassion, courage, empathy, fairness, foresight, fortitude, integrity, and patience in all we do with ourselves and with others?

And if and when less noble and we find ourselves avaricious, controlling, corrupt, criminal, dishonest, fanatical, gluttonous, greedy, full of hubris, and hypocritical, should we not wish to have been by character and ethical and moral quality better?

One may ask what may be the balance within as well as politically and socially, for it may be that balance — that mixture in personal and communal or tribal character — that becomes the atmosphere in which we choose to reside or may be doomed to wander.

Related Online

Gannon, Kathy. “Taliban replace ministry for women with ‘virtue’ authorities.” AP News, September 18, 2021.

Lawrenz, Jürgen. “Universal virtues?” Ask A Philosopher, September 1, 2019.

Oppenheim, James S. “FTAC: Global QOL (Qualities of Living).” BackChannels, August 25, 2021.

Oppenheim, James S. “Globalization: A Short List”. Conflict-BackChannels, June 4, 2020.

Stecklow, Steve, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati. “Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures.” Reuters Investigates, November 11, 2013.

Wikipedia. “Environmental issues in Iran”.

Wikipedia. “Environmental Issues in Russia”.

Wikipedia. “List of religions and spiritual traditions”.

Hamlet had in part the experience of the medieval world, a most treacherous political and social space in time. Well, here is our still early 21st Century, and we may ask whether life must be or should be as horrifying as it may have been then.

Whether in Moscow or in Washington (or Beijing) – the three almost Orwellian anchoring points in global security — Big Defense and related “protection” rackets gin up a lot money, the perception of threat driving economies and societies in part or whole, but here one may wonder what if the world’s more apprehending, forward-looking, and good natured souls simply moved to address greater global challenges, leaving the dictators, extremists, hotheads, and malignant narcissists (“MaligNarcs” here) to wallow around a while longer in their own fantasies while they themselves become further displaced by time.


FTAC: The Modern of the World v Feudal-Medieval Barbarity — What the Taliban Represent


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No introduction.

True scope: East-West Rivalry; Moscow v Washington; Political Absolutism – i.e., the power of the sovereign to destroy property and persons alike with impunity – v Democratic Distribution of Power & Rule of Law. Flies in the ointment: black markets; corruption; guerrilla wars; low intensity conflicts; wars by proxy.

Start here with 9/11: https://www.businessinsider.com/exploring-al-qaedas-murky-connection-to-russian-intelligence-2014-6

For fair good reason, the nuclear powers seldom directly confront one another. Financial and political arrangements and families have become deeply entangled above the table and below it, and there’s not much we ordinary people can do about it but ride out the storms with awareness that ultimately the modern world, as we would know it, is well at war with feudal-medieval power as well as barbaric and primitive forces in nature expressed through history.

We’ll survive.

And the Taliban?

The Taliban are already failing Afghanistan, and Afghanistan, by way of our investment and presence across 20 years, has now to choose for itself — out of sight but in the hearts of Afghans and through resistance — what it wishes to be.

One may hope the warlords and others have no wish to become or remain themselves irrecoverably backward.


Taliban: The Whole World Is Watching


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And what is the world watching?

Potentially barbaric medieval ethical, moral, and spiritual decision-making in near real time for which the modern of this 21st Century need have no respect.

Here are two old examples of that kind of decision-making — According to the lore, Muhammad had had Safiyah’s husband killed for his treasure, and the murder was done in the most gruesome and torturing way: a fire was made on his belly to force his confession of knowledge of where the whole of that treasure had been buried. In proximate time, the prophet had taken Saifyah as war booty and later elevated her status to wife and free woman. How nice.

In near history, the rape of a 13-year-old Aisha Abrahim Duhulow by three men was followed up by stoning her to death for adultery. The private act of her tormentors has never been punished while her punishment unto death took place in a stadium before a thousand or so spectators.

How would such “justice” serve had what was meted to Safiyah or Aish involved your wife, daughter, or mother?

In such primitive manner, Muslims become the victims of more malign, narcissistic, and strident Muslims who have chosen to cover their own piratical behavior with familiar dogma.

Sweet words?

Foul deeds.

Two reports related in ethical, moral, and “spiritual” dimensions have surfaced recently in Afghanistan.

BBC. “Afghanistan: Taliban accused of killing pregnant police officer.” September 6, 2021. To be fair, the BBC has reported, “Details of the incident are still sketchy as many in Firozkoh fear retribution if they speak out. But three sources have told the BBC that the Taliban beat and shot Negar dead in front of her husband and children on Saturday.”

We shall have to wait and see whether the “New Improved Taliban” step up to the challenge of undertaking an empirical investigation using modern forensic methods amidst popular challenge. What integrity will they put on display; with what broad acceptance and trust may their findings be met? So we shall see.

Here’s another telltale with fear in the wind —

Looking pale and shattered having already suffered a beating at the hands of Taliban thugs, Gulafroz spoke in English, saying: ‘I was one of the very senior policewomen in Afghanistan.

‘I did everything to encourage women into the police, against the wishes of the Taliban. Now my life is in danger. Real danger.

‘Please help me and my family.’

Stewart, Will. “Top female Afghan cop beaten and hunted by the Taliban pleads for help from the West after eight-month-pregnant policewoman is executed by the terror group for removing a flag.”. Daily Mail, September 6, 2021.


Glimpsed: Guinea Coup


Posted September 5, 2021.

Greed (somebody wants to control the state’s wealth) or Justice (for those cut out from all the deals)?

Do tell.

(BackChannels would gamble on greed for truest motivation for conflict in Guinea and the contesting or seizing of power with violence).

Wikipedia has already come out with “2021 Guinean coup d’état“.

French Wikipedia has the word on Mamady Doumbouya.

For its part, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement that “the insurgents (had) spread fear” in Conakry before taking the direction of the presidential palace, but that “the presidential guard, supported by the defense and security forces, loyalists and republicans, have contained the threat and pushed back the group of attackers.

AFP. “Guinea coup leader says president ‘taken’ and govt ‘dissolved’.” Africa News, September 5, 2021.

BBC. “Guinea capital Conakry rocked by reports of coup attempt.” September 5, 2021.

Wikipedia. “Alpha Condé”.

Wikipedia. “Conakry”.

Wikipedia. “Islam in Guinea”.

Wikipedia. “Mining industry of Guinea”.