FTAC: Arab Thinkers Confront Self-Defeating Boycotts of Israel – Some Related Advice


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Inspiration for the response — the headline, “Arab Thinkers Call to Abandon Boycotts and Engage With Israel” —

Halbfinger, David M. “Arab Thinkers Call to Abandon Boycotts and Engage With Israel.” The New York Times, November 20, 2019.

The group has brought together Arab journalists, artists, politicians, diplomats, Quranic scholars and others who share a view that isolating and demonizing Israel has cost Arab nations billions in trade. They say it has also undercut Palestinian efforts to build institutions for a future state, and torn at the Arab social fabric, as rival ethnic, religious and national leaders increasingly apply tactics that were first tested against Israel.

Halbfinger, David M. “Arab Thinkers Call to Abandon Boycotts and Engage With Israel.” The New York Times, November 20, 2019.

From the Awesome Conversation

The wisdom that comes to mind: “The enemies of Israel defeat themselves.”

In modern thought, however, I believe in humanist ethics and principles that over time defeat family, feudal, and tribal pressure and torque while at the same time degrading the motivations for war itself. We have only one planet; we are all of the Earth herself; and whether we like it or not, we are going to have to arrange and contain ourselves for our sense of efficacy, freedom, and survival.

Too often, those who drive conflict — who incite others to violence — have for themselves aggrandizement and greed in mind foremost. Only to a certain extent may they define “the way of the world”. The way of the world is everyone else, and the truth is “everyone else” gets tired of being victimized by other people’s made-up battles — or psychoses.

All who want more death, more injury, more jealousy, more resentment, more fear, more authority, more force for suffocation of the human spirit . . . keep fighting. Everyone one else — take care of everyone else.


The Confidence Man – He’ll Tell You Anything


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Tweeted by the President of the United States of America and posted to YouTube November 21, 2019 at 9:35 p.m. Mar-a-Lago Time.

Fiona Hill lambasts Republican rumor mongering over adoption and promotion of “Ukraine Did It” disinformation.

Ambassador David Holmes responds to badgering Jim Jordan on November 21, 2019.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quot’ — “Yes,” said Gordon Sondland. Regarding coordination: “Everyone was in the loop”. Posted to YouTube by PBS NewsHour, November 20, 2019.

Bill Moyers on Lying & American Democratic Political Survival

How much more should any authentically patriotic American need to here or see?

If America’s yawing Ship of State — still fresh on the Internet Ocean — needs a bit of swing away from the Far (White) Right, it may be getting it as so many Republicans consistently display themselves as bullying, disingenuous, and altogether untrustworthy talkers.

Related on BackChannels

Marie Yovanovitch — The Kind of Person President Trump Fires From His Administration

United States of America — Basic Training

NOT a “Never Trumper” – in fact, she has served Mike Pence as an advisor on European and Russian Affairs – Jennifer Williams testifies before Congress about the “unusual call”. Posted by CBS News to YouTube, November 21, 2019.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, CNN, YouTube, November 19, 2019.

Marie Yovanovitch via CBS News, November 15, 2019.

The editor now tires of the routine involved in quickly assembling a response to a single Trumpian Tweet and so will forego the dredging of similar videos.

I lied.



FTAC: Encouragement for Palestinian Democracy


Inspiration: the claim that Palestinians are struggling to end the occupation and establish peace and democracy.

From the (Still) Awesome Conversation

Fatah and Hamas should then establish peace and democracy where they live and govern by holding fair and free elections with regularity; by eliminating political repression for ordinary Palestinians who question policy; by addressing widespread corruption and related thuggery; by policing and neutralizing invasive terrorist organizations with agendas of their own; by working as hard for Christian and other faith communities as has been done for Muslim ones; by investing in Palestinian entrepreneurship — I, of all people, have been approached for that (Rx. given: international “crowd funding”, and it worked); and perhaps by encouraging an open public discussion about image, power, and wealth and what it means to look powerful while leveraging others and what it means to be powerful by being authentically good, noble, and virtuous; and, finally, by keeping earmarked Palestinian funding at home in the Palestinian Territories, Principalities, or Unified State rather than parked abroad.

The litany of keyword searches seems seldom good: “Palestinian Corruption”; “Palestinian Human Rights”; Palestinian Political Repression”; etc. Is it so strange to think that all of that might be reversed by Palestinian popular insistence on democratic governance, free and fair elections, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, Palestinian internal investment and development?

Further on in the conversation, and from BC’s side of it:

Israel in no way bars Palestinians in the Preoccupied Territories from enjoying the benefits of democracy, rule of law, and responsible and responsive governance. Palestinian “leaders” — or related personalities and organizations — do.

The conversation moves along, and I am fully standing on my boards in this part of the world’s virtual open mall —

Then let US address the “Eastern” side of the “East-West Conflict” to which any nascent Palestinian polity has to refuse further power to be itself authentically liberated — and from what? A) the Palestinian role in serving as a block and goad to the West, its faith in mankind, and its consequent and related civilizational liberalism; B) some propensity in Arab and other feudal realms to dominate and plunder the politically weak by evading law (all but one’s own) and aggrandizing one’s self — the leader’s self – at the expense of all.

I’ve been able to visit a certain surface in history — the Roman anchorage and expansion far into Europe from the south of the continent x the Norse — the Viking — push from the north bearing south and raiding and trading east at least to Baghdad. It’s a helluva story even in outline — but fast-forward to this day, and it turns out the Palestinians that have borne the weight and press of the same / similar civilizational tectonics.

The truth is the “Middle East Conflict” has been engineered and milked for all it has been worth, and the base of the Palestinian Community has paid the price for being on the border between the FOUR distinctly different worlds — the Medieval and the Modern; the Arab and the Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian West — but with the exception of some who have gotten a good deal of money (plus ersatz political family and cachet) out of it.

Note: I hit enter inadvertently, but it’s about right. The Big Picture bears down on the small one. 😦 IMHO, the Palestinians should pursue a course independent of the concerns of so many powerful global players. Eject old polemic and everyone might ask, what would be cautious, prudent, and good today for peace, for work with dignity, for trade, and most of all a modern, responsive, and responsible governing culture?

We should have a new conversation.


Norms! Impeachment Inquiry – The New World Still Battles the Old



The adjectives come easily enough: autocratic, authoritarian, bombastic, bullying, capricious, dictatorial, disingenuous, imperious, etc. The same may be wrapped into one unifying wrapper: “malignantly narcissistic”.

The case fits the object that has become America’s most unrelieved subject of interest.

Posted to YouTube by Daroslaw Toorek, August 23, 2018.

There once was a day in which the power of the sovereign was precisely the power to destroy property or persons — or both — with impunity, and that same power would have been defended by barbaric, cruel, and ruthless machination and violence provided the sovereign could assemble the compacts and raise the army and security necessary to rule by force — or, as above, take care of business himself.

Ours is not that day — or at least not that day in the liberal and open democracies of the west — and very much not a day to be welcomed back.

In the parallel and surreal universe opposed to the west and marching forward into the past, however, the politically absolute may continue to deceive and gas light their hapless populations while making themselves — precisely: their “glory” (rather the effects) of their own brutality mistaken for virtue — of primary importance beneath the dispassionate gaze of God, nature, and the universe. From their most on-high positions, each will violate every last aspect of conscience by lying most freely, destroying most wantonly, thieving most brazenly, and, generally serving themselves most of all without restraint.

And why not if each malignantly narcissistic personality can seize the kind of self-glorifying power dreamed of for itself and achieve — true to form — “unlimited narcissistic supply”?

Posted by Bloomberg Politics to YouTube, November 21, 2019.

One might suggest that Putin, Assad, Khamenei, and, sigh, of late, Erdogan, and Orban, at least, have been living within or toward deeply retrograde dreams, but while empire, dictatorship, theocracy, and dynasty may prevail for Russians, Syrians, Iranians, Turks, and Hungarians, the same will not for Ukrainians — or Americans — for whom medieval power is no longer wanted, need be no longer tolerated, and will be resisted — and that, God willing, to the end of time.

Regarding President Trump

Count the now felonious associates (if you can); take in the bankruptcies and stiffed subcontractors; count the marriages (add in the lovers and spice with the “Grab ’em . . .” remark); consider the cruelty of the betrayals, including the firing of long-term alien labor right along with the tragic Michael Cohen’s sore abuse; think about the lies, especially having to do with his (denied) Russian relationships.

Related Online

Benen, Steve. “All the president’s (convicted) men.” MSNBC, November 15, 2019.

Bump, Philip. “Roger Stone joins the remarkable universe of criminality surrounding President Trump.” The Washington Post, November 15, 2019.

Goldberg, Jeffrey. “The Man Who Couldn’t Take It Anymore.” The Atlantic, October 2019.

Jacobs, Jack. “Trump’s former generals, from James Mattis to Joseph Votel, sound an unprecedented warning.” NBC Think, October 22, 2019.

LeBlanc, Paul. “Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal hits Trump as immoral, dishonest.” CNN Politics, December 31, 2018.

Morello, Carol. “Tillerson calls Trump undisciplined. Trump calls Tillerson ‘dumb as a rock.'” The Washington Post, December 7, 2018.

Walters, Greg and Cameron Joseph. “‘Talk to Rudy’: How Trump Let Giuliani Hijack the State Department into Chasing Conspiracy Theories.” Vice News, November 5, 2019.


The BackChannels process has turned out one that might be distilled to “collect” (media), “select” (quotations, references, videos), and “opine” — i.e., stand on the virtual Hyde Park soap box and declaim. Be that as it may, here are a few of the more notable “moments” in text 🙂 provided by references noted.

“So often, the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want you to do, and here’s how I want you to do it,’ ” Tillerson said at a fundraiser for the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“And I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, I understand what you want to do. But you can’t do it that way. It violates the law,’ ” he said.


Once Mr. Trump treated the military with a level of reverence that he extends to few other American institutions. Peppering his cabinet with retired senior officers enabled him to allay the concerns within the Republican Party about his own lack of experience and preparedness for the role of president. He has spoken admiringly of “my generals” and talked about those who looked the part.

“They were like from a movie,” he said on Wednesday, describing a recent Pentagon briefing. “Better looking than Tom Cruise, and stronger.”


. . . Mattis and Tillerson had together smothered some of Trump’s more extreme and imprudent ideas. But now Mattis was operating without cover. Trump was turning on him publicly; two months earlier, he had speculated that Mattis might be a Democrat and said, in reference to NATO, “I think I know more about it than he does.” (Mattis, as a Marine general, once served as the supreme allied commander in charge of NATO transformation.)


WASHINGTON — When President Trump’s top advisers on Ukraine gathered in the Oval Office in May, Trump gave them a simple, clear directive: “Talk to Rudy.”

Since then, a mountain of evidence has emerged to show just how deeply Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney with no official government role, penetrated American diplomacy toward Ukraine — and turned it toward pressing the country to announce an investigation of Democrat Joe Biden.


LiveUA screen capture, November 21, 2019.


Protection Racket – ‘Quid Pro Quo’? Yes | Shiff asks, ‘Is There Any Accountability’?



Rep. Adam Schiff’s Closing Impeachment Hearing Remarks Posted by C-Span to YouTube, November 20, 2019.

It’s all over.

Or is it “all over”?

The question is not whether or not he was responsible for holding up the aid. He was. The question is not whether everybody knew it. Apparently, they did. The question is what are we prepared to do about it? Is there any accountability? Or are we forced to conclude that this is just now the world that we live in — when a President of the United States can withhold vital military aid from an alley at war with the Russians, an alley fighting our fight to defend our country against Russian aggression. Are we prepared to say in the words of Mick Mulvaney, “Get over it”? Or “Get used to it”. (Pause) We are not prepared to say that.

Quotation starts at 10:56 from the cited video.

Well, there is history made, and while this editor left the Democratic Party with consideration for candidate Obama’s relationship with old Far Left radical Bill Ayer’s, any good feelings toward the Republican Party have been dimmed by its seemingly endless bullying, contemptuous, disingenuous, and rancorous approach to the deceiving and handling of ordinary American voters.

President Trump’s “Shifty Schiff” didn’t shift an inch in this afternoon’s final remarks.

Wanted by Either Party: A Few Radical Moderates.

BackChannels hopes it is not the only lonesome blogger sickened by the aggrandizing and bellicose conservative reactionary rhetoric led in tone by a President to whom rules –not in business, not in marriage, not in politics — seldom, if ever, apply.

Related Online

Fandos, Nicholas and Michael S. Schmidt. “Sondland, Defiant, Says He Followed Trump’s Orders to Pressure Ukraine.” The New York Times, November 20, 2019.

Kessler, Glenn and Salvador Rizzo. “The Fact Checker’s guide to impeachment hearing spin.” The Washington Post, November 12, 2019.


Arlo, Elvis, Pete & A Story About Peace


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Posted by Arlo Guthrie to YouTube, June 30, 2008; show time: Wolf Trap, Vienna, Virginia, August 8, 1993.

Related Online

Arlo Guthrie & Pete Seeger – “More Together Again – In Concert” (Download Page).

Wikipedia: Elvis Presley; “Pete Seeger”; “Tao Rodríguez-Seeger”.

Wolf Trap.

Posted by NoMadU55555 to YouTube, October 1, 2017.


FTAC: American Civil Service Patriots and President Trump’s Impeachment Hearing



They’re the civil servants of our Federal government sworn to uphold the Constitution. They recognize the Presidency and its powers as a position in constitutional terms as well as their obligations in relation to that. As such, their loyalty may be to the position but not the occupant who dares to challenge the boundaries and contours of power as set by the Framers.

James S. Oppenheim, editor of this blog, via sub-thread comment during PBS live coverage of the impeachment hearings on November 19, 2019.

They — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman; Jennifer Williams.

Posted by PBS NewsHour to YouTube November 19, 2019.

Posted by C-Span to YouTube November 19, 2019.

Badgered to give up the name of the “whistle blower” during the open hearing, Lt. Col. Vindman refused to deliver the name or discuss any of the intelligence personnel charged with the keeping of each their portion of the nation’s secrets, which certainly seems sensible to this editor if not his Republican interrogator.

Related on BackChannels

United States of America – Basic Training

Posted by PBS NewsHour to YouTube on November 19, 2019.

Related Online

Fonzone, Christopher. “What the Law of Military Obedience Can (and Can’t) Do — What Happens if a President’s Orders are Unlawful?” Just Security, May 4, 2018.

Hakim, Danny. “Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns.” The New York Times, October 28, 2019.

Jacobs, Jennifer and Justin Sink. “Trump Orders Substantial Cut to National Security Council Staff After Whistle-Blower Complaint.” Time, October 5, 2019.


Marie Yovanovitch – The Kind of Person President Trump Fires From His Administration


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The military-based oath taken by America’s diplomats, military officers, and other officials may be found on BackChannels beneath the title, “United States of America — Basic Training” (specific reference in the law for the oath taken by the nation’s civil servants may be found here (PDF, Title 5, Section 3331 “Oath of Office”).

“She understood that corruption was the ‘Achilles heel,’ so to speak, of Ukraine,” a former State Department official who knows Yovanovitch told CNN Thursday prior to the release of the complaint. “And so Masha, by doubling down on corruption and making it kind of her leitmotif of her tenure as ambassador, was doing exactly what she should have been doing and what US policy has been in Ukraine for quite some time.”

Hansler, Jennifer. “Diplomats express alarm over Trump’s treatment of former Ukraine ambassador.” CNN, September 26, 2019.

Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch had been doing her job as prescribed by law, and yet President Trump chose to have her removed and out of his way.

Sworn in as ambassador to Kyiv in August 2016, Yovanovitch has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts to help stabilize Ukraine’s shaky economy and push reforms to root out endemic corruption.

She’s also been at the forefront of U.S. backing for Ukraine in its ongoing fight with Moscow over Russia-backed fighters battling Ukrainian government forces in eastern regions since 2014.

Yovanovitch drew attention in early March when, weeks before Ukraine’s March 31 presidential election, she called on Kyiv to fire the country’s special anti-corruption prosecutor. The speech was notable not only for its timing but also its bluntness.

Miller, Christopher. “U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Openly Criticized by Top Ukrainian Prosecutor, Departing Early.” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, May 6, 2019.

Lutsenko alleged that she made a “do-not-prosecute” list and disseminated it in Ukraine, an accusation that she strenuously rejected and which Lutsenko himself retracted.

Lutsenko is himself deeply implicated in the Ukraine scandal and has been accused of colluding with Giuliani to launch investigations in Ukraine into Trump’s political enemies, specifically Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

Knight, Ben. “Who is former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch?” DW, September 15, 2019.

The Washington Post has a December 2018 piece on those who have been fired or positioned to resign from their posts in relation to President Trump’s decision-making or handling. Causes cited range from attempts to damage the Mueller Investigation to dismissal for abuse of Department funds for personal security and travel. Be that as it may, disruptions involving America’s Justice and Security systems may be most disturbing, from the firing of James Comey at the FBI to the resignation of General Jim Mattis as Secretary of Defense.

Perhaps President Trump listens to his inner voices and no one else’s — and now he has few educated, experienced, and powerful others of the first rank to whom to listen.

Over time and with energies dispersed by curiosity and a great range of interests — the editor cannot “track” the whole world and every dimension of it 🙂 — BackChannels has kept folders for others now absent from the Trump Administration: John Bolton, Dan Coats, Nikki Haley, and Sue Gordon (“the highest-ranking career intelligence official in the country” according to CNN’s Samantha Vinograd in her analysis, “Sue Gordon’s departure is bad news for Trump and country” [CNN, August 12, 2019]). Conclusion: Trump has been either abandoned by or removed quite a few of America’s best and brightest in the assessment of threats domestic and foreign.

With the dismissal for Marie Yovanovitch, President Trump has notably removed a most dedicated, experienced, patriotic, and well prepared and talented diplomat of note and, above and beyond those attributes, one possessed of great integrity and spine.

Related Online

AllGov. “U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine: Who is Marie Yovanovitch?” September 11, 2016.

Diehm, Jan, Sam Petulla, and Zachary B. Wolf. “Who has left Trump’s administration and orbit?” CNN Politics, October 21, 2019.

Ghitis, Frida. “Real hero takes down phony corruption fighter.” Op-ed. CNN, November 15, 2019.

Hansler, Jennifer. “Diplomats express alarm over Trump’s treatment of former Ukraine ambassador.” CNN, September 26, 2019.

Knight, Ben. “Who is former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch?” DW, September 15, 2019.

Mettler, Katie, Callum Borchers, and Nick Kirkpatrick. “‘You’re fired’: A timeline of Team Trump departures.” The Washington Post, December 20, 2018.

Miller, Christopher. “U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Openly Criticized by Top Ukrainian Prosecutor, Departing Early.” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, May 6, 2019.

U.S. Department of State. “Marie L. Yovanovitch”. Archive.

Vinograd, Samantha. “Sue Gordon’s departure is bad news for Trump and country.” CNN Opinion, August 12, 2019.

Wikipedia. “Marie Yovanovitch”.

Posted to YouTube by The Washington Post, November 15, 2019.