Extraordinary Funeral Service: Praising John McCain


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“United States of America — Basic Training.” BackChannels, February 2, 2017.

BackChannels has been enjoying — appreciating, actually — the NBC News videos on YouTube featuring each of the notables speaking at Arizona Senator John McCain’s funeral service at the National Cathedral this day in Washington, D.C.  More remembrance, the service even at its most personal heights — see the previous post featuring Meghan McCain’s reflections on her father’s death — has been an extraordinary reflection on the American spirit and the principles and values that inform the nation.

After God Bless America, may God bless Town & Country for the transcriptions.

Hubbard, Lauren. “Read the Full Transcript of Barack Obama’s Speech at John McCain’s Funeral.” Town & Country, September 1, 2018.

From the above delivery by former President Barrack Obama:

In captivity John learned in ways that few of us ever will the meaning of those words, how each moment, each day, each choice is a test. And John McCain passed that test again and again and again. And that’s why when John spoke of virtues like service and valor they weren’t just words to him, it was a truth that he had lived and for which he was prepared to die. And it forced even the most cynical to consider what were we doing for our country? What might we risk everything for?

Related Videos

Scroll down.  The live links for the list have been placed at the bottom of this post.

George W. Bush

Joe Biden

Joseph I. Leiberman

Henry A. Kissinger

Meghan McCain


Pogrund, Gabriel and Colby Itkowitz.”McCain memorial: ‘What better way to honor John McCain than follow his example’. The Washington Post, September 1, 2018.



Watch Love: Meghan McCain’s Magnificent Eulogy for Her Father


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Full Transcript: Hubbard, Lauren. “Read the Full Transcript of Meghan McCain’s Eulogy for Her Father John McCain.” Town & Country, September 1, 2018.


More important: all true!

Toward the end, Meghan McCain while honoring her father well recognizes their virtues of the country they have both loved.

The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. she’s resourceful, confident, secure. She meets her responsibilities. she speaks quietly because she’s strong. America does not boast because she has no need to. The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great. That fervent faith, that proven devotion, that abiding love, that is what drove my father from the fiery skies above the Red River delta to the brink of the presidency itself.


FTAC: Lebanon – Iran: Cash – Arms – Trade


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The Iranians, with their crashing rial economy, have been offering Beirut even more cash – from where, exactly, we don’t know – than the Americans, along with guns, agricultural and industrial assistance.

Fisk, Robert. “Lebanon is on a tightrope, balancing Saudi, Iranian and Western interests — its position is precarious.” The Independent, August 31, 2018.

I’d assign the delusional surrealism to the narcissism involved in most politics middle east but may also note that the transnational narcotics and other smuggling businesses may be doing well for Hezbollah and whatever else Iran has going “behind the curtains” and “under the table”. The main player in pressuring up illicit funds from all sources has to be Moscow — and Moscow loves frozen conflicts as well as unsettled and weak governments. It doesn’t seem to know how to create much good, but it sure knows how to gin up a lot of cash ready for the laundry.

Back to something like observable reality: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_equipment_manufactured_in_Iran

Iran has the industry; the west has the addicts and coke heads — and there may be the cash for the arms. I do wonder how that might actually look in numbers.


FTAC: Draw Muhammad? Don’t Draw Muhammad?


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Inspiration: commentary on Dutch conservative MP Geert Wilders call for a “Draw Muhammad” event.  Related:

Mr Wilders, the firebrand leader of the Party for Freedom, has lived under round the clock protection for years because of his anti-Islam rhetoric. A 26-year-old man, reportedly from Pakistan, was arrested this week in The Hague after making an alleged death threat against Mr Wilders.

“To avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided to not let the cartoon contest go ahead,” he said.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/31/geert-wilders-cancels-muhammad-cartoon-contest-pakistan-protests/ – 8/31/2018.

Should Wilders have pressed this old matter concerning civility, criticism, and freedom of speech?

Westerners don’t kill people over cartoons.

The “Draw Muhammad” fad goes back to the slaughtering of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/07/terrorism.religion (2004)

A civil, multicultural, and tolerant people have no need to bait those associated with any peaceful ideology, race, or religion; however, Islam has been saddled with some portion of extremists / hotheads / jihadists and the tolerant, generally speaking, chose to express that to the intolerant — and then the intolerant proved themselves exactly as depicted and expected.

The attack not so long ago on Charlie Hebdo offices: same thing.

A foiled attack in Texas involving Pamela Geller’s “Draw Muhammad” event: same thing.

There are powerful forces in the world rooted in criminality, power, and wealth that want to produce a feudal global society perpetually at war over small differences and one has most likely manipulated Islamic Terrorism to help install that “feudal mode”. The world would do well to see that clearly and follow up by continuing to diminish racial, religious, and other extremism, by embracing and promoting the benefits of liberal democracy, and by applying its better energies to other challenges and issues.


In the United States, the First Amendment / Freedom of Speech concept suggests the tolerating of hateful speech, and so we permit white supremacists and Black Panthers to _lawfully_ gather and express themselves in the public space without restraint. 

That is freedom.

ose whose opinions are indeed hateful may suffer opprobrium for the same and social marginalization, and that is the way America has worked lo these many years since 1791.


“Political Correctness” may diminish that freedom if and when the state attempts to codify what is acceptable criticism and what is not.

We don’t like hate speech, but we think so much of “domestic tranquility” — a term also embedded in America’s foundations — that we tolerate the presence of it in the open, and we then address it with counter-arguments and social behavior, i.e., we walk away from it and shun those who beliefs and attitudes are not what we ourselves in our collective American majority would wish to embrace.

Perhaps Geert Wilders has recognized that we are 14 years along from the assassination of Theo Van Gogh, and he has chosen a socially responsible route, not necessarily the best political stance. On the other hand, since September 11, 2001 the world has engaged in a great conversation about Islamic extremism and perhaps as progress has been made in diminishing the appeal of it — and motivation for it — the urge to condemn Islam for it has perhaps been diminished as well.


FTAC: Strident Right and Defensive Argument


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A portion of the newly strident right hustles to dismiss heretofore reliable sources of information: we have all heard of “Fake News!”  Where that blanket dismissal fails, the sophists then fall back on impugning the credibility of public intelligence sources.  Recent topic of interest: “Fancy Bear” — the fancy title for a Russian hacking team involved in the manipulating of an American election.  In the target zone: the consulting and security firm “Crowdstrike”, which, indeed may have fumbled with some claims about Russia’s MO in Ukraine — but not about the U.S. incident.  In the same business, Fireeye has also reported out on Fancy Bear.  For good measure, BackChannels took a glance at former British spy Christopher Steele’s reputation and found it holding up quite well.

When the most self-righteous on the Right dismiss high-integrity reportage out of hand with shouts of “Fake News!” and the launching of barbs against state officials and private sector consultants in the intelligence business (with Fancy Bear, cybersecurity), have another look at the targets of that ire.

They are all “Fake News!” creators:


Arguing is so easy: discredit sources; dismiss facts (now that there are “alternative facts” as well); get it down to ad hominem mud pies — and one might feel . . . triumphant. Easy-peasy.


One might wonder who leaked that NSA tool — they might now be former NSA . . . .


Crowdstrike’s investigation of “Fancy Bear” in the U.S. domestic attack has not been impugned.

Even though “everyone knows” Christopher Steele just makes up stuff, well — https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/21/author-of-trump-russia-dossier-wins-libel-case-in-us-court-christopher-steele

Note: the consultancy for Christopher Steele worked on what has become known as the “Steele Dossier” was Fusion GPS.

Also, for the record: the editor of BackChannels is an independent American voter and enjoys, alas — or “oh joy!” — no financial support from either Democratic or Republican interests.


Unfiltered: South African President Ramaphosa on Land Reform & Parliament On the Same Earlier This Year


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Posted to YouTube August 27, 2018

Posted to YouTube May 8, 2018

Related Online

Akin, Katie. “Trump tweets incorrect on South African land seizures, farmer killings.” August 24, 2018.

Business Day. “SA is no Zimbabwe, says US state department on land expropriation.” August 24, 2018.

Ramaphosa, Cyril. “EXCLUSIVE: ‘This is no land grab’, writes Cyril Ramaphosa.” Business Day, August 24, 2018:

During this year the department of rural development and land reform released results of a land audit to establish land ownership patterns. Among other insights forthcoming from the land audit, it emerged that:

  • Individuals, companies and trusts own 90 per cent of land in SA, and the state 10 per cent
  • Of this 90%, individuals own 39%, trusts 31%, companies 25% and community-based organisations 4%, with co-ownership at 1%.
  • In terms of farms and agricultural holdings, 97% of the total agricultural holdings are owned by 7% of landowners
  • Agricultural land ownership by race: 72% of farms and agricultural holdings are owned by whites, 15% by coloured citizens, 5% by Indians, and 4% by Africans

For decades, the country’s assets — its land, its minerals, its human resources, its enterprises — have been owned, controlled and managed in a way that has prevented the extraction of their full value.


FTAC: Israel: Minority Position: Arab Resentment


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Inspiration: claim that Israel is not a liberal democracy.

You’re wheedling for power.


And you have to use a rhetorical approach to do it.

Here’s a piece from Foreign Affairs titled to reflect the dissenting Arab attitude: “Israel’s Second-Class Citizens”. The reading, however, tells a different story. If within Israel, one is an enemy of the state by way of action or speech, one may expect the state to defend its interests internally. On your basis, one might argue that France is not a democracy either as it defends its heavily Catholic culture as well as its laws in the humanist tradition.


The author of the summer 2016 piece, As’ad Ghanem, actually titled it with his own Palestinian agenda and here by inference is what he has said about himself in self-revelation:

The various strains of Arab political thought were brought together in December 2006, when a group of Arab activists and intellectuals published a declaration, The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel, that sought to define Arabs’ relationship with the state and their hopes for the country’s future. The document, which I co-authored, called on the Israeli government to recognize its responsibility for the expulsion of Palestinians around the time of Israeli independence and to consider paying reparations to the descendants of the displaced; to grant Arab citizens greater autonomy in managing their cultural, religious, and educational affairs; to enshrine Arabs’ rights to full equality; and, perhaps most striking, to legally define Israel as a homeland for both Arabs and Jews—a direct challenge to the historically Jewish character of the state.

As much appears similar to the Black Panthers / New Black Panthers demanding from the United States reparations for slavery that ended officially in 1865 and which results by 1965 had produced a slew of racial equality programs that remain in force today in the form of Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, Federal set asides for minority-owned businesses, etc. And yet that demand lays emphasis on racial resentment with the intent for getting something out it.

How is the Palestinian cause within Israel both different and less marginal?

Does the displacement and disempowerment of Israel’s Jewish majority in character remain of primary interest to the whole of Israel’s Arab constituency or just some part of it?

Related Online


The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) is a black separatist group that believes black Americans should have their own nation. In the NBPP’s “10 Point Platform,” which is taken from the original Black Panther Party, the NBPP demands that black people be given a country or state of their own within which they can make their own laws. They demand that all black prisoners in the United States be released to “the lawful authorities of the Black Nation.” They claim to be entitled to reparations for slavery from the United States, all European countries and “the Jews.”


FTAC: On the American Constitution and American Ideals


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Reactionaries Inspire Revolutionaries

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez caught a bit of criticism today for her control of a “town hall” type meeting — although partisan — on behalf of a portion of those discarded or discounted within the American system.

Regarding the young politician’s social concerns and the knee-jerk branding that is the ever malleable bogey ne “socialism” as framed by a self-righteous Right, a statement about comprehensive governance serving the American People seemed appropriate.

A whole systems approach to the governance of a nation need not be a totalitarian approach but rather sensible in producing and sustaining cohesion and national security, which is in part defined by a nation’s political coherence.

On the present course, the wealthy have become wealthier, the poor more overwhelmed by ordinary lifestyle costs (an issue that reliably drives inflationary battles for higher minimum wage), and the numbers of abandoned, addicted, droned out, incarcerated, and politically impotent Americans continue to rise. While it’s good to push the top of the game, as it were, one might consider it prudent to get a good image of what’s going on in the basement too — and respond to it by other than shrugging it away.

I’ll repeat — or not if I haven’t said this already — I’ve framed the present general challenges to democracies as “medieval v modern”. We have to choose by adjusting ourselves to where we think the _whole country_ needs to be in the next one or two generations. Divided between Left and Right, rich and poor, dotted by islands of prosperity surrounded by seas of misery: that’s not where I would want this ship to go.

While it would seem every age needs its Dickens, and this one seems no exception, our United States of America was born with extraordinary ideals and insight.  The nation was given a great future at the outset.   Also appearing earlier this in my part of the awesome conversation:

The authors of our Constitution created a document beyond their own time.

Americans have produced miracles in the multidimensional accomplishments designed to ensure “domestic tranquility”. However, much has been done as well to undo that progress and return us all to the capricious rule of the strong while returning the nation to the conditions of feudal estates.

[Steps off soap box].

I’ve had a look at the place; can’t fix it with a Facebook post; maybe it’s time to take another step back . . . .

I keep this scene handy:

Much of the American public has been trained to “argue” using slogans (e.g., “Two legs bad; four legs good”) — and then there’s an Administrative part that actually gets into the issues and argues through them to give us the public-private compacts — agreements that serve our capitalists and our public both. That’s being eroded and there’s not a thing I can do about it but . . . publish.


Homeless Cody, American Citizen 2017

Posted to YouTube April 29, 2017.

Videographer Mark Horvath’s “Invisible People” project has made the “invisible” quite plainly seen and now into the millions of views.  From BackChannel’s perspective, there has been a cold and impersonal aspect to life in America despite the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman humanism built into her foundations.  Fill in the gaps in the “precipitating event” part of Cody’s story: how did we become — when did we become — so callous and so cruel a national culture?

No need to blame President Trump on this score.  The problem didn’t develop with his tenure.  Nonetheless, one may question the developing atmosphere and mentality that “kicks to the curb” or just leaves there 0.17 percent of the nation’s headcount, rejects culpability, and looks away.

Americans – San Francisco Public Transportation Shooting Gallery 2018

Posted to YouTube April 25, 2018.

They may not all be Americans (I don’t know), but America’s opioid crisis also begs the Whisky Tango Foxtrot question:  how did this happen?  It’s hard linking business and political elements to so troubling an aspect of personal and social behavior, but there too one may wonder how so many, many souls became so unfathomably lost in America.

We know all about machines and systems but seem either unable to defend the vulnerable or address their motivations before the great slide down the groove to a make-shift make-do “Skid Hallway”.

As I’ve referenced Orwell in this post, any interested in a refresher may find it here:

For another sort of “refresher” or an introduction to civic responsibility and sense, I recommend acquaintance with the following:

United States of America: Basic Training