George Conway's Tweet


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Representative Jeff Flake jumped the gunwales of the Republican Ship as it swung toward the rocky coast of Trumpian Autocracy. For his conscience and his faith in the American and western liberal project, it must have looked better to swim off alone than stay aboard to go along and get along with the New Boss so apparently fond of unsavory associates. However, it appears that some left behind have been driven to mutiny outright — and God bless ’em!

“Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics,” the founders of the Lincoln Project wrote in a New York Times opinion piece published Tuesday. “As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character.”

Marshall, Abbey. “George Conway and other conservative critics launch PAC to take down Trump.” Politico, December 17, 2019.

BackChannels strongly suggests the Lincoln Project connect with Malcolm Nance ASAP to reestablish radically moderate Democratic and Republican positions in a way that both competes the Parties while assuring Americans of desired progress, prosperity, and security in either direction and in keeping with the bedrock of American ideals, freedoms, principles, privileges, and values.

Published earlier today (and before this news of a Republican split emerged online): “FTAC: A Personal Note on America’s Democracy and its Defense”.

Related Online

Boyer, Dave. “George conway targets Trump with new Super PAC in big to take down wife’s boss.” Washington Times, December 17, 2019.

Conway, George T. III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson. “We are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated.” The New York Times, December 17, 2019.

Easley, Jason. “Rudy Giuliani Is Now Working Directly For Russian Intelligence.” Politics USA, December 15, 2019.

Fink, Jenni. “George Conway, Other Republicans Declare “We Are Republicans’, Announce Lincoln Project to ‘Defeat Trumpism’. Newsweek, December 17, 2019.

Flake, Jeff. “My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump: We created him, and now we’re rationalizing him. When will it stop?” Politico Magazine, July 31, 2017.

Gettys, Travis. “George Conway shames the GOP for replacing conservatism “with an empty faith led by a bogus prophet.” Salon, December 17, 2019.

Oppenheim, James S. “Mafia ‘Don’? Laundering the Authoritarian President’s Image.” BackChannels, September 7, 2018.

The Lincoln Project.

Stephen Colbert, December 16, 2019.


FTAC: A Personal Note on America's Democracy and its Defense


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We may think that “style” doesn’t matter, but for the purposes of shepherding a nation into a new future, the civility and common interest taken in defining and resolving issues matters greatly.

I suppose we were (I was) having a discussion about Republican manners of late.

From the Awesome Conversation

For “New Rhetoric”, I’ve been using, as perhaps you have seen, “Left / Far Left” and “Right / Far (White) Right” to express displeasure with the contempt voiced by each clump, more or less, characterizing the news-creating behavior (“Sarsour” | “Charlottesville”) from beneath each “Big Tent”.

For Animal Farm qualities, “Horseshoe Theory” fits.

Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers alienated me from his Party; Trump’s style isn’t his issue — his excessive narcissism, related lying, apparent fascination or, alternatively, moral insensitivity to absolute power — or approval of it — are real problems. Republican loyalists are wrong to brush aside those issues or minimize their portent.

Americans may differ in their appraisal of their Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian civilizational inheritance that through the Founding Fathers delivered an ingenious construction for a prudent balancing of interests and powers that would effectively guaranty the greatest experience of freedom in business, faith, and speech known to history. Democrat or Republican, the basics are all right here:


The President has borrowed ferociously (possibly against losses our farmers took on negotiations with China — and now he’s walking back on his tariff policy); while the border has been of great concern, he has perhaps been less than candid about the flow of narcotics into North America; his highness and the Party have been consistently bullying, callous, disingenuous, vicious, and vindictive with their targets, and while they might feel big about that, I’d be embarrassed having someone like (“Badgering”) Jim Jordan representing me.

We may think that “style” doesn’t matter, but for the purposes of shepherding a nation into a new future, the civility and common interest taken in defining and resolving issues matters greatly.

Also to be noted, the President’s foils (like Jim Comey) and investigators have themselves been, often enough, Republicans (e.g., Mueller, at least) — just better ones than so many with so much hubris on display.

More to be known but in the works for some time: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and one powerful Palestinian businessman have launched highly ambitious projects in the middle east that have the future designed into them, and both are game changers — or should be and profoundly so. Neom is one; Rawabi is the other.

Thank you for the comment on photography — I am still busy with that art and technology and still setting up for business with it. Broadband Internet has taken me into what I call “People’s Diplomacy” — or what we have all been doing on Facebook for a while — and feel I’ve made some progress as an accidental tourist in Conflict Studies, International Affairs, and Political Science — but then everyone here has gotten that start, but not all with some earlier interest in Russia and the Cold War.

Norfolk Southern Railway Bridge as viewed from James Rumsey Memorial Park, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, October 19, 2010. (c) J. S. Oppenheim 2010.


Trump: IG Report 'A Disgrace': Fact Checkers: IG Report Good!


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The Bull has been gored and The Party is bellowing, which it does through denial, obfuscation, nitpicking, and ridicule — and for what it does to defend its Reality-Defying / Reality-Evading Highness — and does so badly and baldly — it has now made a habit of treating moderate, independently observant, and thinking Republican voters with contempt.

Fox 10 Phoenix, December 9, 2019.

BackChannels’ view: The IG report has been accepted on major observations while “irregularities” have been regarded by Trump’s opposition as minor “nits”. Nonetheless, the GOP’s bull has been gored, and The Party has been bellowing about what it may deny but cannot change.

I’ll go further here: The Republicans, who for fear of The Donald may well be referred to as “The Party (Sycophantic)” — they have earned that much — appear to have become the Party of Power (Now Matter What — and Absolute) while the Democrats have soldiered on to become the Party of the American People (Empathizing, Listening, Watching, Reasoning, Judging).

Notwithstanding the justified concern over aspects of the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to investigate onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, make no mistake: The dual headlines of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report are: 1) the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia was adequately “predicated,” i.e., had a lawful factual basis, and 2) no agent acted out of animus toward President Trump or his campaign.

Those two findings should put to rest persistent allegations from Trump and his champions that the bureau’s scrutiny of the contacts with Russia was illegal or, worse, a plot of the “deep state” to derail his candidacy. And whatever valid beefs Page may have with the investigation, they have nothing to do with Trump.

Litman, Harry. “Barr allegedly wanted to avoid public confusion. But he caused more.” The Washington Post, December 13, 2019.

The grammar-school-civics-class version of our Revolution is that it was a rebellion against monarchical tyranny, and that in framing our Constitution, one of the preoccupations, the main preoccupation of the Founders, was to keep the executive weak,” Barr told the audience. “This is misguided.” Instead, Barr advocates for what is known as the “unitary executive theory,” which challenges the long-established doctrine that the president’s control over his branch of government is shared, to some degree, with Congress and the courts. “Whenever I see a court opinion that uses the word share,” Barr said, “I want to run in the other direction.” Critics say that in its maximalist form, the theory is a license for authoritarianism — a concern that Barr dismissed with ridicule.

Rice, Andrew. “Trump’s Other Lawyer: Much more powerful than Giuliani, William Barr is exercising the Justice Department’s full force to defend a president in crisis.” Intelligencer, New York Magazine, December 5, 2019.

If the observations were less than cogent, frank, honest, and prescient, I’d have to make them myself.


The Bull has been gored and The Party is bellowing, which it does through denial, obfuscation, nitpicking, and ridicule — and for what it does to defend its Reality-Defying / Reality-Evading Highness — and does so badly and baldly — it has now made a habit of treating moderate, independently observant, and thinking Republican voters with contempt.

Related Online

CNN. “Coons: I wish GOP colleagues would admit IG report shows there was no witch hunt.” December 11, 2019.

Hofstadter, Richard. “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Harper’s Magazine, November 1964.

Kiely, Eugene, Lori Robertson and Robert Farley. “How Old Claims Compare to IG Report.” FactCheck, December 10, 2019.

Rice, Andrew. “Trump’s Other Lawyer: Much more powerful than Giuliani, William Barr is exercising the Justice Department’s full force to defend a president in crisis.” Intelligencer, New York Magazine, December 5, 2019.

Moscow’s GOP?

” Trump’s ex-Russia advisor Fiona Hill blasts Ukraine election interference conspiracy theory”, Los Angeles Times, and posted to YouTube November 21, 2019.


FTAC: Economics for the Future: Qualities of Living


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We’re going to approach a point (here on earth — Mars seems still on some distant horizon for me) of diminishing returns for both technology and conventional “economic development”.

Someone is going to have to be visionary about a future in which the “Return on Investment” will be measured by Improved Qualities of Living (biological, financial, psychological, spiritual) x Area-Squared (or, if you prefer, Cubed). 🙂

For the present, we are all stuck between greed and human needs — and we’re being overtaken by criminality and greed.

Rome is failing.

I hope we are all tired of medieval politics.

it’s time to create something better, healthier, new.

Play with engines, life support systems, navigation, and time long enough, and for some, the future may well be on Mars.

We Earthlings, however, should we avoid the fate of the dinosaurs, expect to remain here on Earth in comparatively comfortable and secure conditions better than the baselines known to the present. More comfort, not less, please, and less conflict, God willing, as the “payment” for that nonsense continues to rise.

In the future, if we have to move people from untenable geophysical space — perhaps in relation to desertification — to more plentiful space we might be able to do that. Or we may be able to transport more of plenty to more challenged space. Why not? Perhaps some of this day’s conflict-driving cultural issues will have become archaic.

What might be the best basic “Qualities of Living”?

I’d rank “Personal Security” — or freedom from insecurity — highest on any list but leave much else to readers who have already chosen their personal areas of public battle, e.g., clean air and water, open space; durable and reliable built space; affordable, fair, and open transportation systems; affordable and reliable energy for all we humans do and need to do; political and social inclusion in stable enterprise and responsible governments; etc.

Qualities of Living x Area-Squared.

One block of urban space; a square mile of rural space; whole regions; whole states: how attractive, good, livable, survivable may the same be made on a public basis? How about a private basis, and that whether apartment, beach shack, mountain hut, or mansion?

At the moment, the “progressive” or “progressing” future seems a damaged idea as barbarism lifts off in the “New (and Fascist) Nationalism”.

However, where one sees a problem and may accurately define it, one may address the same.

Related Online


Everybody's Gone Serfin', Serfdom USA . . . .


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Quick Take by Bloomberg, December 4, 2019.

As we know, the Grinch is a cartoon. So is the Trump administration’s view of life in America. In this cartoon version, everyone has access to well-paying full-time jobs that can support a family. Those jobs are plentiful even for those who lack education, transportation, and skills, or have criminal records. In this cartoon country, the only people who don’t take advantage of this prosperity are just too lazy and prefer to live as dependent on the largess of the federal government.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board. “New food stamp rule says if you don’t work, you can’t eat.” December 8, 2019.

Fariborz Pakseresht, Oregon’s Department of Human Services director, said the rule change would make things worse “for those already facing difficult circumstances.”

“It also will result in an increased burden on food banks and other community resources to fill the void,” Pakseresht said.

The Associated Press. “19,000 Oregonians will lose food stamp benefits under new Trump rules.” Oregon Live, December 7, 2019.

As BackChannels — in fair blogger fashion — tries to knock out posts in hours as opposed to weeks, the quick look-see into themes produces impressions and summations but on the outside of the machinery.

Nonetheless — the tea leaves:

The Trump Administration’s stance with regard to the decay of the American street is that it would rather not see it, and it appears to believe that what is unseemly may be plainly hounded, starved, or threatened out of existence — or, eventually, thrown into Federal camps or prisons. Its actions, policies, and “vision” have each tended tend toward the promotion of greater desperation for America’s afflicted, marginalized, and struggling souls.

In addition, the Trump Administration’s War on the Poor this Christmas / Solstice Season hardly stops with the latest food stamp debacle. “Medicaid Work Requirements”, a draconian ploy certain to enserf the more miserable and altogether vulnerable of Americans, has been strongly contested by physicians and advocates for the poor. Other Dickensian steps take by the Administration have included deep cuts in Public Housing and Public Transportation budgets, both increasing the discomfort of America’s poorer citizens while threatening their independence as well (at least from the Federal standpoint — states have budgets too, and not all of the 50 are so dumb in relation to providing basic transportation services).

In California, the Trumpian State has been playing tug-of-war with the state’s ability to keep the most vulnerable of its citizens off the streets. Predictably, the President has withheld funding for housing vouchers that would reach some 50,000 souls, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

One state noted — 49 to go — but here BackChannels may choose to listen to related complaints than dwell in the Patch of Social Issues with other than blog-like focus.

Medicaid Work Requirements

American Academy of Family Physicians. “Medicaid Work Requirements”. Position Statement and Backgrounder, last updated August 2019.

Pear, Robert. “Trump Administration Approves Medicaid Work Requirements in Utah.” The New York Times, March 29, 2019.

Cuts to Public Housing and Public Transportation Budgets

For HUD, the budget requests $44.1 billion in discretionary funding, a 16.4 percent decrease from 2019 funding levels. For DoT, the budget requests $21.4 billion in discretionary spending, a 22 percent decrease from 2019 funding levels.

Andrews, Jeff. “Trump administration proposes dramatic cuts to public housing — again: it’s the fourth time the Trump Administration has taken aim at housing subsidies.” Curbed, March 11, 2019.

Federal Housing Vouchers Withheld

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – In the latest skirmish over California’s homeless crisis, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, asked President Donald Trump on Thursday to stop withholding federal housing vouchers that could benefit 50,000 homeless people.

Reuters. “California asks Trump administration to release money to fight homelessness.” December 5, 2019.

Fischer, Jonathan L. “Donald Trump Thinks Homeless Is a Scourge. His Administration Just Ousted the Official in Charge of Addressing It.” Slate, November 16, 2019.

Related Online

Hunter, Sarah B., Melody Harvey, Brian Briscombe, Matthew Cefalu. “Housing for Health: A State-of-the-Art Program for Reducing Homelessness in Los Angeles County.” PDF. RAND Corporation, 2017.

Invisible People, December 7, 2019.

Reason, December 5, 2019.

Curbed, March 1, 2018.


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.