FTAC – On the Taming of the Wild Press


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Unlike Sputnik, which serves Moscow, the American press is free and not in the flattery business.

Many journalists who achieve a decent wage from a major newspaper have done so on their investigative doggedness and straightness.

American presidents both craft but also inadvertently create their own image – and thinking Americans (aye, there’s the rub) don’t rely on just one news presentation or “cut” on an important story to produced in their own minds at least a seemingly reliable image of a state of affairs.

In government, of course, the stakes rise and the accuracy of intelligence becomes even more critical to power.

In Moscow: for President Putin, the world is – or is made – as he wishes to see it, and he himself is seen as he would have the public know him. There the press has been intimidated, steered, and trained, and from time to time “disciplined” by murder.



https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2015/russia (2015)
http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/06/28/putin-now-seeking-to-intimidate-journalists-into-not-covering-his-opponents/ – 6/28/2016
http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/06/20/putin-rebuilding-the-iron-curtain-in-his-typical-hybrid-fashion/ – 6/20/2015
http://www.gq.com/story/journalism-in-vladimir-putins-russia – 1/13/2017

“The situation in Khimki is not normal; this is a kind of military dictatorship,” says Yevgeniya Chirikova, a member of In Defense of Khimki Forest, a local environmental group. “Journalists and public figures are constantly being threatened. It’s as if our local authorities cannot accept any different way of thinking.”

Over the past year there has been a series of violent attacks on independent journalists here, culminating in the controversial death in late March of newspaper designer Sergei Protazanov, who had been preparing an issue of the oppositionist Grazhdanskoye Soglasiye devoted to electoral fraud in Khimki’s March 1 mayoral contest. That election was won by the candidate of the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party.

Weir, Fred.  “Russian Journalists Face Violence, Intimidation.”  The Christian Science Monitor, April 28, 2009.


When asked by journalists of contacts between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives, he deflected the questions and put the focus instead on what he described as “illegal” government leaks and “dishonest” media coverage.

“The press is out of control,” he said. “The level of dishonesty is out of control,”

After weeks of disclosures in newspapers over turmoil in his administration, he told one reporter to “sit down” for a rambling question.

“Tomorrow, they will say: ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press,'” Trump said. “I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people . . . .”

Holland, Steve.  “‘I’m not ranting and raving.’  Trump on defensive in first solo news conference.”  Reuters, February 17, 2017.

In a Twitter rant that extended into work hours, Mr. Trump at once dismissed the entire Russia story as “fake” and made up, and pledged to hunt down the officials in the government who have supplied the details. He demanded an apology from the “failing” New York Times and accused the news media of making up stories and sources, even as he said he wanted those sources apprehended.

Weisman, Jonathan.  “Trump Denounces ‘Low-Life Leakers,’ Pledging to Hunt Them Down.”  The New York Times, February 16, 2017.


FTAC: Why Ain’t You Special?


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The modern west is fighting the feudal past.

Where feudalism appears as though it might prevail, those invested in their most parochial definitions of culture — x gender x race x religion — take license to express views congruent with their view of power.

Our world has come to naturally combine states founded on ethnolinguistic traditions (our inventory stands below 7,000 living languages with several lost to disuse annually), and most have come to recognize the legitimacy of that course, with the existence of accommodating but still assertive mixed states. Baloch, Hebrews, Kurds, Pashtun, and Russians   have coherence in legacies far predating the uptake of Christianity or Islam, and one may wish for each such some more peaceful survival and co-evolution in the world. The English — the British Empire and the surviving Crown System states — have taken a more heterogeneous course founded in “modern” or more recently established post-Enlightenment ideals and values.

Moscow begs to object, but in deeply hypocritical fashion, and often criminal, it cuts deals before the immense force of “realpolitik”. Kadyrov, Moscow’s tribal anchor for Chechnya, has validated honor killing and imposed (I think) the wearing of traditional “Islamic” dress in his state. The authoritarian minerets-are-our-helmets Erdogan needs little description as regards his sense of mission. And Mahmoud Abbas . . . alas, KGB — he doesn’t represent “The Palestinians”: he represents political absolutism.

In our lovely all-mixed-up democratic estate, the “absolutists” whom I conflate with “malignant narcissists” appear to have similar ideas about their exceptional character in the history of the world.

The mention of a white supremacist organization serves as a topic starter.  The conversational partner wanted to know whether the same related to Russian ultra-nationalism.


Reflection: Sebastian Gorka – Medieval or Modern?


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Photo by Sebastian Gorka via Wikipedia‘s Wikimedia Commons.

Three factors led to Russia’s defeat and any outside actor will have to deal with these factors should they wish to drastically change the Afghan reality in a lasting way.

To change Afghanistan, an outside power must do the following:

  • install a national leader who is a Pashtun but who is recognized by, and able to make lasting deals with, the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnic groups;
  • effectively co-opt the most significant tribal players;
  • cut off sanctuary to any insurgent element exploiting the porous border with Pakistan.

The Soviet Union failed on all three counts.

Gorka, Sebastian.  “U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan: The Lessons of History.”  Jewish Policy Center, Spring 2010.

Related on BackChannels: “FTAC: The New Nationalists and Moscow’s Reflexive Control.” February 7, 2017.

The Cold War ended on December 25, 1991, and although the Phantoms of the Soviet would seem to haunt Moscow as the revived capital of a persistent KGB State under the guidance of President Putin, the axis of east-west competition has been profoundly changed or clarified.

Throughout the Soviet Era, Washington promoted the virtues of Capitalism against Communism, and for most Americans, that argument between “centralized economic planning” and the “free enterprise system” appears to have sufficed for explaining east-west hostilities.

Perhaps there was more to it then — something more about the soul of historic Russian politics in the mix — but the public — or perhaps only this editor, lol —  would not seem to have been able to “get it” until now:

Medieval Political Absolutism


Modern Democratic and Checked Distribution of Power

In the process of developing his own political stance, Sebastian Gorka, the son of a fiercely anti-communist, anti-Soviet father — one Paul Gorka betrayed by the infamous spy Kim Philby and subsequently captured by communist officials in Hungary and imprisoned and and tortured — appears to have focused on Moscow’s continuing totalitarian aspect but not on the medieval aspects that may characterize his own authoritarian response to challengers of American democratic principles and values (including America’s classically liberal outlook).

Instead, perhaps in reflexive response to Islamic Terrorism, Gorka may have played precisely into Moscow’s feudal worldview, preferring to amplify the forces of Islamic Jihad as part of the Trump Administration’s sense of mission while missing the observation that the threat of Islamic terrorism has served Putin quite well.

Here’s a trick: look up “Zawahiri, Russia”.

Also see, for example, David Satter’s work on the “Moscow Apartment Bombings” (National Review, August 17, 2016).

Also consider Moscow’s near 100 years of experience exploiting, sometimes sponsoring, and today perhaps manipulating terrorism.

By focusing perhaps overmuch on “Islamic Terrorism” — a deus ex machina that generally targets for slaughter those Muslims who seem the first to be in its way — Sebastian Gorka has perhaps missed the necessity of putting to rest the yesterday that was the medieval world and its worldviews while further widening the scope of connectivity and cooperation that has brought us our modern world, boosted international trade beyond imaging, and far promoted the secular humanist ideals and values associated with democracy and its defense of community and individual belief.

As now long demonstrated by the Syrian Conflict and Tragedy as well as continuous warfare in Ukraine, the existence of Putin’s world and worldview depends mightily on the validation of authoritarian nationalism and its indulgence in barbarism.

Encountered earlier today: fragments from the web involving Sebastian Gorka.

Note: Gorka’s own misplaced emphasis on loyalty to an elected official, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and by extension himself would seem part of the medieval formula and precisely that which personal and political insight would now do well to address.

My father spent 6 years in a communist prison, two years in solitary. Not two months, two years. Two years in a prison coal mine where each prisoner – hold on to your seats – without machinery or explosives was required by the communist wardens to break ten tons of anthracite off the coal face every day. But, a few years later, in the cold, cold autumn of 1956, something happened that was monumental. Not as monumental as Wednesday morning, but monumental. The group of young Hungarian students and manual laborers, believe it or not — quite a coalition, think about Wednesday. Yeah? Think about the blue-collar rural vote. Some students and some manual laborers decided to have a demonstration in Budapest, the silent demonstration. That silent demonstration devolved into the first freedom fight against communism, the October revolution of 1956, 60 years ago this year. As the result of that revolution, my father was liberated from prison by a revolutionary commander who had captured a Soviet tank.

Frontpage.  “Sebastian Gorka: How We Defeat the Global Jihad: The ISIS threat in our midst and a plan for victory.”  November 30, 2016.

Posted by The Majority Report With Sam Seder, February 9, 2017.

There has been an incredible amount of interest in “our” Sebastian Gorka. I say “our” because Hungarian Spectrum was the first internet site to deal at some length with Gorka, who, by the way, is turning out to be a much more important character in the Trump White House than we first realized.

It was on January 31 that I wrote “Sebastian Gorka’s Road from Budapest to the White House” and on February 2, “Sebastian L. von Gorka’s encounter with the Hungarian National Security Office.” Subsequently, with the help of Eli Clifton, who wrote a fascinating article titled “Why Is Trump Adviser Wearing Medal of Nazi Collaborators?” I ascertained that I was wrong in assuming that the “v.” in Sebastian L. v. Gorka’s name stands for “von.” I came to the revised conclusion that the medal on Gorka’s “bocskai” is the symbol of the “vitézi rend” or “Order of Heroes” and that the “v.” stands for “vitéz.” Clifton’s article is a real gem, which should be read by everyone who wants to know more about Gorka’s right-wing roots.

Balogh, Eva S.  “Donald Trump’s Influential Advisers: Sebastian and Katharine Gorka.”  Hungarian Spectrum, February 13, 2017.


Balogh, Eva S.  “Sebastian Gorka’s Road from Budapest to the White House.”  Hungarian Spectrum, January 31, 2017.

The White House’s omission of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day raised objections from Jewish groups across the political spectrum but the Trump administration’s combative defense was perhaps the most surprising move by a presidency facing record low approval numbers. Last Monday, Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka refused to admit that that it may have been poor judgment not to specifically acknowledge the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.

Gorka was an odd choice of proxies for the White House to put forward in defense of its Holocaust Remembrance day statement.

He has appeared in multiple photographs wearing the medal of a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

Clifton, Eli.  “Why is Trump Adviser Wearing Medal of Nazi Collaborators?”  LobeLog Foreign Policy, February 12, 2017.

On February 7, 2017, Gorka asserted that the White House would continue to call all media criticism of Trump “fake news” until the media let go of its “monumental desire” to destroy the President.[26]


Gorka is a member of the Order of Vitéz (Vitézi Rend), an hereditary order of merit which was founded by Miklós Horthy in 1920.[29][30][31] Although required to list and renounce his membership in the Vitézi Rend, an order prohibited along with other Nazi-linked organizations, on his N-400 Application for Naturalization in 2012 when he sought U.S. citizenship, Gorka appeared on FOX News on Inauguration evening dressed in the uniform and wearing the badge, tunic, and ring of the Vitezi Rend.[32][33]


What editors and writers seem to be detecting in their presentation of Sebastian Gorka is a latent fascism that would appear to mirror Moscow’s character.  As much surfaced with Trump’s choice of Paul Manafort, consultant to Ukrain’s corrupt and piratical Viktor Yanukovych (among other of the world’s dismally kleptocratic personalities) as a campaign manager.  By now, the White House should be figuring out that it needs to change public perception of its own authoritarian bents or continue eroding the confidence of the electorate, and that across Party lines.

Founded by Sebastian and Katherine Cornell Gorka: Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security

Harris, Ben.  “Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka Calls Criticism of Holocaust Statement ‘Asinine’.”  Forward, February 7, 2017.

Clifton does not bother to report why the order was awarded then, or even why the “Hungarian diaspora” existed in the first place; he shows no interest in the order as an anti-communist symbol, merely noting that the Soviets banned it.

And of course Clifton offers no evidence — none at all — that Gorka, or his antecedents, had any kind of empathy for the Nazi regime or its views.

Clifton could have consulted Gorka’s book, Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, to know more about his background. His father grew up during the Nazi siege of Budapest and later joined the anti-communist resistance. He was betrayed by Kim Philby, a British double agent for the Soviet Union, arrested and tortured.

Pollak, Joel B.  “Fake News: Media Smear Sebastian Gorka as Nazi Sympathizer.”  Breitbart, February 14, 2017.

Gorka says journalists have deliberately misrepresented Trump’s intentions, and that on occasion it provides comic relief at the White House.

“I come in every day and with my colleagues we have a good old laugh because we open the newspapers, the ones that are supposed to be the leading authorities in America, and they write about issues where we were in the room the day before, and their reportage has absolutely no resemblance to what is actually happening inside the White House,” he says.

Gorka says the White House is not in disarray and denies its officials are sending mixed signals on policies including Washington’s stance on Ukraine and Russia. But contradictions are apparent.

PRI.  “Breitbart alumni shape the message at Trump’s White House.”  February 7, 2017.

Posted by Fox Business February 7, 2017.

Generally speaking, “If it bleeds, it leads” has been the working rule in journalism, but if nothing much happens — perhaps as when the FBI publicizes a sting — it may well be met with a shrug.

One may flip the question and leave it rhetorical: what conflicts and acts of terror (on BackChannels, “Allahu Akbar Attacks”) have the major media overlooked?

Posted by AfterPod on February 8, 2017.

Related Reference

McKew, Molly.  “Putin’s Real Long Game: The world order we know is already over, and Russia is moving fast to grab the advantage.  Can Trump figure out the new war in time to win it?”  Politico, January 1, 2017.


Also in Media: “Can Trump Reset the Middle East?” – Philos Project – Andrew Harrod -February 13, 2017


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Hendel (speaking from Israel via Skype) said that in Trump’s black-and-white “clash of civilizations” outlook on Islam, the president sees Israel as the “bad guy” facing off against the “good guy.” But Satloff was more pessimistic about Trump’s professed deal-making ability to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Most objective observers just conclude that the objective circumstances for success aren’t there,” he said, pointing out the corruption and violence marring Palestinian politics. “There are all sorts of other things you need to do. You need to build up effective Palestinian governance, [but] that stuff isn’t as sexy as getting around a table and negotiating the best deal ever.”

Source: Can Trump Reset the Middle East? – Philos Project – 2/13/2017

“Rich Man’s Country” and Other Songs


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“Rich Man’s Country”


“Needle in the Rain”


“The Strike”


“Waitress In A Smoky Place”


“One Week in New York”

The above songs flow down from an album — A Shug’s Delight — produced by the editor of this blog and a good buddy a long time ago (psst: around 1990).  Recorded to a Tascam four-track recorder, what has survived has survived dampness (the tapes were stored in a below-ground basement closet) and time and numerous updates in media materials and formats.  Of the material we produced, these five were perhaps the most “socially conscious” and lyrically and politically interesting and cogent to this day’s unfolding — perhaps unraveling — American domestic politics.


FTAC – “Gaza Fortress” and Suzerainty


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“Gaza Fortress” has been pretty much defeated as regards its ability to obtain rockets, if not build them, and its ability to overwhelm the IDF in some kind air and tunnel blitzkrieg. In addition to the plain physical facts of the fighting life, Hamas has made its role as a kleptocratic politically repressive organization glaringly obvious to the people of Gaza, who may not be able to do very much about it but perhaps burn with growing resentment.

Hezbollah, the advanced army of the Ayatollah, on the hand . . . .


At the moment, Russia has been supplying S300/400 surface-to-air missile systems to Hezbollah in Syria, but with nothing said about their being smuggled back into Lebanon.

I would imagine — having only imagination for data, lol — that such a large stockpiling may be destroyed at the outset of war with Israel.

After having been isolated by the Arab Powers over time, I don’t think anyone can deny the existence of a separate “Palestinian People” — but we sure can deny the cooked up KGB narrative that engineered Yasser Arafat and the PLO and produced a system of clans and leadership profiting from the continuous enforcement of the misery of the same.


Everyone wants “peace in the middle east” as if Israel were the problem, but few to none in my experience care to revisit what the Soviet Union put together for the refugees of 1948 and how it has continued to this day to meet with Hamas, Hezbollah, and PFLP and to in effect sustain the conflict in its anti-western, anti- rule-of-law, and now displaced anti-Semitic enthusiasm.


As an aside: I advocate for joint Israeli-Egyptian suzerainty for Gaza (let’s let Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO) know). Such an arrangement would provide for democratic home rule but joint foreign oversight over the external affairs of the suzerainty.

Elsewhere in the world, as with Balochistan as mastered by Pakistan, the arrangement exploits the suzerain for its resources, but I think that Gaza and Israel have developed more than enough day-to-day arrangements in basic services and shipping/trade that little would change while the exploiting of the Palestinians by Hamas would be reduced.

Back to rant: please tell me why Moscow has been kept offstage in discussions of the plight of the Palestinians?


Relevant to the politics of the Soviet / post-Soviet space:




Also in Media: “Aren’t You Tired of Writing Your Stupid Articles?” Georgetown Prof Jonathan Brown Expels Critic From Lecture | Andrew Harrod | February 9, 2017


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“Aren’t you tired of writing your stupid articles?”

I recall Georgetown University’s Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization, Jonathan A. C. Brown, saying that to me on February 7 at Herndon, Virginia’s International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Brown’s brief angry remarks quickly led to my expulsion from his imminent lecture, “Islam and the Problem of Slavery”: an indication of how he and his fellow Islamism apologists handle opposing views.

Read the whole thing —  “Aren’t You Tired of Writing Your Stupid Articles?” Georgetown Prof Jonathan Brown Expels Critic From Lecture – 2/9/2017.


FTAC: The New Nationalists and Moscow’s Reflexive Control


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Historically, Moscow has devoted itself to managing political perception domestically (thank George Orwell for the parables) and producing political influence in its target states. The depth of the totalitarianism is what strikes us, but other aspects of the state’s diplomacy seem within bounds until one starts looking into 20th Century intellectual and political history.


Today, “Moscow” represents the ultra-nationalist neo-imperial version of KGB-style political expression. It loves conservatives! And does so because it may helped create the same using the same methods with the addition of the possible manipulation of “Allahu Akbar Attacks”, for each one of those has induced a greater patriotic nationalist response!

I hedge but a little to leave it to others to connect a few more dots.

Why conservatives?


The divisions formed by the urging to demonize one’s opponents and idolize one’s hero conforms exactly to the medieval mode (and for my conservative readers, our impression of Muhammad’s medieval Islam) encouraged by President Putin’s architecture of power in Moscow.

Where Trump may do no wrong and the “Libtard” Left and Far Left have nothing to offer beyond their cries of outrage (over every little thing!) — and Trump, his plutocratic business class, and the host of “Right Wing Nuts” and, now, “Alt-Right” (White Supremacists) may do nothing good for the country — we may have a “Brown” vs “Red-Green” national politics bent out of shape by foreign influence and manipulation or simple contagion.

Not only has President Trump today a critical issue continuing to develop over Credibility, Integrity, and Trust (CIT), but his followers do as well.

For the term “lamestream media” (Red State has done the etymology) to pervert to a general smear employed by Far Right media to throw doubt on traditionally highest integrity reporting is one thing: however, to have then convinced a large portion of the American population that it cannot generally trust reportage in The New York Times (or Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, etc.), that is quite another — and pretty much what Moscow would enjoy if it could have only centrally controlled the process of confusing and obliterating the critical reading and reasoning facility of so many American minds.

On that, BackChannels repeats but a little differently with the employment of the passive voice: it may have been known that every “Allahu Akbar Attack” would induce a patriotic nationalist response!

Add the reaction to the vaunted threat posed by refugees from Muslim-majority states, especially Syria, and what illness do Moscow’s target states develop?


(Regarding Assad’s indirect engineering and incubation of ISIL as an ideal political tool — a goad for blackmailing the west; a useful foil for demonstrating Moscow’s latest military technology — Moscow’s defense sales have risen on such demonstrations; and in the end the best of enemies prepared for vanquishing — how glorious!): https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/12/09/syria-assad-isil-background/)

Web Search: “Moscow, Marine Le Pen”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/marine-le-pen-front-national-russian-kremlin-putin-invasion-annexation-crimea-ukraine-2014-a7566196.html – 2/6/2017.

Web Search: “Moscow, Donald J. Trump”
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/russian-intelligence-trump-moscow – 12/14/2017 — Take another look at President Trump’s NYT derogating tweet.  Of course there’s more on BackChannels involving Trump, Manafort, Kilimnik, Millian (the paired combinations make for pretty good web searches) and, of course, and sadly,  the imbroglio involving Christopher Steele’s report.

Web Search: “Moscow, Viktor Orban”
https://newrepublic.com/article/132778/vladimir-putins-little-helper – 4/19/2016.

Web Search: “Moscow, Recep Tayyip Erdogan”
BBC.  “Putin Mends Broken Relations With Turkey’s Erdogan.”  August 9, 2016.

Yo, bro’!  Get the picture as President Putin’s Moscow might wish you to get it, albeit without knowing quite so much?

Marine Le Pen appears to represent the French national soul — but with a crooked grin or mouth; President Trump’s own surreal first week and the start of another needs no rehashing here; Viktor Orban has fashioned himself as another palace-building, well palace refurbishing, autocrat; and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political repression and Islamist expression have ditched EU accession and imperiled the NATO arrangement in Turkey.

Related on BackChannels

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/08/29/ftac-americas-division-leans-toward-moscow/ – 8/29/2016.

Related on the Web

Featured in Hungarian Spectrum: http://hungarianspectrum.org/2016/04/30/viktor-orban-moving-in-2018-to-the-place-of-his-dreams/

Thomas, Timothy L.  “Russia’s Reflexive Control Theory and The Military”.  PDF.  Journal of Slavic Military Studies 17:237-256, 2004.