Condemning Both Sides Now

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
–Joni Mitchell

The media firestorm condemning President Donald J. Trump is not because of what the President said last Saturday denouncing the political violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, but because Trump refused to condemn only one side’s violence.

Trump is a few years older than I am and I remember anti-Vietnam War protests infiltrated by communists carrying North Vietnamese flags. Communists also tried to take over Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights marches.

A protest against removing a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee doesn’t make all those protesters Nazis, KKK, or White Supremacists any more than communists turned anti-war protests or civil-rights marches into communist rallies

I’m a libertarian who is neither left nor right. Attempts to align libertarians with either the right or the left have repeatedly proved to be disastrous.

You go to the left and find politically-correct socialists. You go to the right and find pietistic social conservatives. You go as far as you can to the left and you find communist dictatorships. You go as far as you can to the right and you find fascist dictatorships.

Nazis don’t exist on any political spectrum. Adolf Hitler’s surreal movement might as well be the extraterrestrial Kanamit people-eaters from the classic Rod Serling-Damon Knight episode of The Twilight Zone, “To Serve Man.”

There are no neo-Nazis, just demented political cosplayers who think putting on Nazi wardrobe and performing Nazi salutes will bring them power. They might as well jump straight to worshipping H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu, which would at least have the virtue of being performance art.

The twentieth century saw rival totalitarian movements repeatedly at war. Nazis murdered many millions; Communists murdered many more millions.

In America (excluding Hollywood) it was generally understood that Nazis and Communists were equally diabolical; yet socialism and fascism managed to gain political footholds in domestic policies. Those footholds have gotten worse in the post 9/11 21st Century as an Espionage-Post-Industrial Complex that leverages all major education, communication, and entertainment media, and have turned them into engines of mass brainwashing.

Donald J. Trump is not a libertarian, nor is he an ideologue of any sort. He’s not an alien invader like Hitler; but neither does Trump exist on any conventional political spectrum. Donald Trump is not a great demented planner like Lenin, Mao, or Hitler; he’s a billionaire capitalist who learned how dysfunctional government is from direct experience and decided to make America less self-destructive. His slogan overreaches: Donald Trump wants to Make America Work Again.

But one thing Donald Trump is good at is recognizing how the Major Media is operated as a cabal that echos throughout thousands of channels only a narrow spectrum of permitted opinion, with socialism at its left boundary and fascism at its right boundary — variants only of totalitarian social control.

How the illusion of marketplace competition has constructed a propaganda engine worthy of any totalitarian regime — suppressing any actual media organs regularly voicing radical anti-control dissent — is beyond the scope of this article. (When it’s written it won’t be by me but by Brad Linaweaver.)

When across what is portrayed as a supposed political spectrum the President is universally criticized for being evenhanded in his condemnation of all evil thugs — as if an open-eyed American view of anti-individualist thugs is a crime — we have all the proof anyone needs that once again — like the Hitler-Stalin Pact 68 years ago — socialists collude with fascists in unified opposition to individual rights and liberties.

Stalin and Ribbentrop
Soviet Communist Dictator Stalin and Nazi German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop shaking hands after the signing of the pact on August 23, 1939

Let me be clear. I do not consider Robert E. Lee, general for a confederacy that maintained race-based plantation slavery, to be a hero. Robert E. Lee fought for villainy.

But if people who pay their taxes want Robert E. Lee’s statue in a tax-supported park, that’s no more a crime than favoring a statue of Union war-criminal Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

General Sherman Memorial, Washington DC
General Sherman Memorial, Washington DC

The thing about Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists is that neither is a movement that has political reality in 21st Century America.

Real totalitarians, by a magician’s trick divided into right and left, do have political reality; and they control the media owning the stage and targeting the mirrors.

Socialism is every bit as evil as fascism; the words themselves — “socialism” and “fascism” — may make a distinction without any real difference.

Those who denounce insufficient condemnation for dead evils — Nazis, KKK, White Supremacy — yet turn a blind eye to the living horrors of socialism as we see today in North Korea, Venezuela, and on American college campuses — are the enemies of liberty and I will not rest until they are so recognized.

Trump tweet

Alt-Control-DELETE

Ironic

Athwart

NOTE: Per my previous article I’m still behind on current utility bills. Contributions using the “Like It — Reward It” link on this page, that keep the lights on while my agent seeks a sale of one of my screenplays or books, is greatly appreciated. — Neil

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Submission

Oy vey.

Look, I’m a libertarian anarchist who’s been a muckraking journalist, a magazine editor, an Op-Ed writer for major newspapers, a much-published book author and magazine writer, a network television screenwriter, the founder/CEO of two publishing companies, a blogger, a tweeter, an indie writer/producer/director of two narrative feature films — and that doesn’t begin to exhaust my experience and the jobs I’ve done both for pay and on my own dime.

I’m a professional, and amateur-for-fun, pain in the ass.

So despite my sweet nature I keep finding myself at the center of controversies.

Here’s the latest, and unless you who are reading this can figure out a way to help me, this one may finally put me out on the street with a cardboard sign, “Will Write For Food.”

Who am I kidding? I’m a 64-year-old man with ongoing health issues.

This might kill me.

For most of this year I’ve been writing new screen stories and sending them to my literary manager since 1977, Joel Gotler at the IPGLM management company in Los Angeles.

Joel is a big deal in the business. He’s represented superstar writers for decades. Joel has an executive producer credit on The Wolf of Wall Street.

After spending most of the last ten years focusing on producing my own movies I’ve spent this year trying to make a screenwriting sale to a major studio. The money is a lot better and a sale could secure the finances for my old age. But there’s a firewall in my way. I’ve been a member of the Writers Guild of America since I made my script sale of “Profile in Silver” to CBS’s The Twilight Zone series in 1985. The studios won’t read an “unsolicited submission” from a writer. As a manager, not an agent, Joel can’t directly submit my writing to the studios because it’s not allowed by Writers Guild rules. So the only way I can get a studio to read my submission is through an agent or agency that’s signed up with the Writers Guild.

Included in that agency category is arguably the most powerful talent agency on this planet: Creative Artists Agency — CAA, for short. The “A List” client list of CAA includes among the most famous and accomplished actors, directors, and writers in the motion picture and television industry — “The Industry” when discussed among The Industry.

After my first two novels were in print from major New York publishers — Crown and Simon & Schuster — my first sale to The Industry was a four-page outline that Joel Gotler — when he was still an agent — sold in 1983 to movie producer Herb Jaffe at the film production company Vista Films. Vista Films had produced major box-office successes such as The Wind and The Lion, Demon Seed, and Time After Time. My outline was titled “All the King’s Horses.”

Under contract to Vista Films I turned my four-page outline into a 100-page screen treatment — just one short step from being a shooting script. You can find that treatment in my 1999 book, Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings. It’s still in print and on sale at Amazon.com.

“All The King’s Horses” was a very commercial idea. In 1983 the two-year-old marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to Charles, the Prince of Wales — and the birth one year earlier of their first child Prince William, second in line to the British throne, was a modern fairy tale in all major media.

In 1983 the tabloids had published not the first word about marital troubles with this royal family.

So when in 1983 I wrote a romantic comedy “All the King’s Horses” about the Princess of Wales, while on a goodwill tour with her son to the United States, filing for divorce and child custody in an American court — and the Prince of Wales through derring-do winning back her heart — it was, as they say, a “high concept” movie idea.

Nonetheless — perhaps with backroom pressure from the real British monarchy, who did know what was going on behind the scenes — Vista Films was unable to find a studio to make the movie.

Seven years later the rights reverted back to me. By this time — 1990 — word of marital problems between Charles and Diana were being leaked to the media. But what was being reported as gossip was no longer ripe for a fictional treatment.

In 2017 — 20 years after Diana’s tragic death — a movie about a fictional Princess Susan and Prince Arthur from the fictional country of Wittland — struck me as once again a possibly commercial romantic comedy.

So in March 2017 I turned my old treatment into a screenplay, retitled The Princess of Brentwood.

The Princess of Brentwood

Yet the firewalls preventing my screenplay from being read by the movie studios, or by movie stars and big-name directors who only read what their agents and managers sent to them, remained.

I sent The Princess of Brentwood screenplay to Justin Ptak, who praised it, but he was still waiting for the Writers Guild to accept him as a signatory agent, so he could not yet submit it for me.

I sent The Princess of Brentwood screenplay to Joel Gotler, who on May 8th emailed me that he was too busy to take on the project. Joel’s assistant Rachel Levine told me in a phone conversation that their office was so swamped with other projects that Joel wasn’t even allowing her to read the script. My experience with Joel after many years was that Joel no longer had time to read scripts himself but sent it out for story coverage. I knew that because in the early 90’s I had been one of those who was paid to read manuscripts and write coverage reports for Joel.

I subscribe to IMDb Pro because it provides contact information to The Industry.

A legendary agent at CAA, Fred Specktor, had a direct email address listed.

Attaching a PDF copy of The Princess of Brentwood screenplay, I emailed Fred Specktor:

Dear Mr. Specktor,

Attached as a PDF is my new screenplay, The Princess of Brentwood. I’m seeking representation for this as well as other projects.

Over a four-decade career as an award-winning novelist, filmmaker, and journalist, notables who have praised my writing include Charlton Heston, Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Burgess, Robert A. Heinlein, and Milton Friedman.

My past representation has included Curtis Brown and H.N. Swanson.

Sincerely,

J. Neil Schulman

The Princess of Brentwood
A Screenplay by J Neil Schulman
89 pages
Genres: Romantic Comedy / Courtroom Drama / Action-Adventure

Synopsis:

The whole world watched the fairy-tale romance of Prince Arthur and Lady Susan, their royal wedding, and the birth of their son, Prince John. But life as a Royal turned out not to be what Princess Susan expected with its relentless political control and media scrutiny.

On a two-week goodwill tour of America with her 8-year-old son, Prince John, heir to the throne after his father, Princess Susan applies for permanent U.S. residency and custody of John which would forbid him from visiting the kingdom until he’s grown up.

The consequences of this decision complicate International tensions, legal wrangling, media frenzy, a re-evaluation of his life choices by Prince Arthur, and a kidnapping which puts the Prince’s character to the test.

J. Neil Schulman is a filmmaker, novelist, screenwriter, journalist, radio personality, songwriter, and actor.

His dozen published books still in print include the novels Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza, both of which won the Prometheus Award, and the anthology Nasty, Brutish, And Short Stories. His third novel, Escape from Heaven, was a Prometheus-Award finalist.

Schulman’s articles and essays have been published in magazines ranging from Cult Movies to Mondo Cult, and in newspapers including funny articles and serious Op-Eds for the Los Angeles Times.

His 1986 original episode for CBS’s The Twilight Zone, “Profile in Silver” about a time-traveler who prevents the JFK assassination played three times on CBS prime time and has been frequently replayed on SyFy and Chiller.

He’s writer/producer/director for two indie feature films, Lady Magdalene’s (2008) and Alongside Night (2014). Both are available on Amazon Video/Amazon Prime, as well as DVD or Blu-ray editions also on Amazon Prime.

A few days later I made a follow-up phone call to Fred Specktor’s CAA office and, to my amazement, Fred Specktor took the call. Initially Fred Specktor intended only to inform me that he could not read an unsolicited submission but I managed to keep the conversation going long enough to explain that the script was based on an outline that Herb Jaffe had bought back in 1983 and that my most recent credits were as the writer-producer-director of two indie feature films from 2008 and 2014.

This was enough for Fred Specktor to agree to having The Princess of Brentwood read at CAA if I’d sign a standard submssion release form. I agreed and was transferred to Specktor’s assistant, Joey Amoia, to whom I gave my email address.

Minutes later I received and replied to this email:

On 6/19/2017 4:54 PM, Fred Specktor Asst (Joseph Amoia) wrote:

Hello –

Per your conversation with Fred, in order for us to accept your project, we must have Submission Release Forms sent to you and fully executed. To expedite the process, please answer the questions below.

1. Name of the Project:

The Princess of Brentwood

2. How many pages it is:

89 pages including cover sheet

3. Name for ALL writers of the script (Please note each writer will have to sign 3 copies)

J. Neil Schulman

4. Which client the project is intended for (if any):

For directing: Danny DeVito or Paul Greengrass or Rob Reiner
For the lead role of Princess Susan: Keira Knightley or Emma Watson or Alice Eve or Emilia Clarke

5. Address of where the Submission Release Forms should be sent

J. Neil Schulman
150 S Highway 160, C8-234
Pahrump, NV 89048

Once I receive this information I will send out (3) submission release forms via mail. They need to be signed by the writer(s) and all original copies mailed back to me.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thanks,

Joey

Joey Amoia
Office of Fred Specktor | CAA

Now.

I’ve been in The Industry since Joel Gotler started representing me in 1977, when my first novel Alongside Night had not yet been sold to a publisher. Based on the unpublished first-novel manuscript Joel started submitting it for a film sale.

From 1977 through my phone call to Fred Specktor I’d never been asked to sign a submission release form because submissions coming through a known manager or agent never require one.

So to expedite this process and make it more standard, more professional, I emailed Joel Gotler and his assistant Rachel:

On Jun 19, 2017, at 5:50 PM, J. Neil Schulman wrote:

Joel and Rachel,

I spoke on the phone today with Fred Specktor, CAA superagent. He’s having his assistant Joey Amoia mail me release forms so they can read my script The Princess of Brentwood. I don’t suppose you’d want to send a copy of my screenplay over there, yourself, to help this process along?

Neil

Joel replied:

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2017 01:21:54 +0000
From: Joel Gotler
To: J. Neil Schulman
CC: Rachel Levine

We can.

Sent from my iPhone

Rachel confirmed for me by telephone that an email from Joel to Fred went out a few days later, containing the submitted screenplay. Rachel instructed me not to get directly in touch with Fred Specktor’s office regarding the submission release forms since this was now their submission and did not require one.

A few weeks went by during which it would have been common for CAA to have read my screenplay, and on July 6th Rachel emailed me back: “No word yet! We’ll check in with them if we haven’t heard
anything on Friday- give them to the end of the week.”

Another two weeks went by without our hearing back.

I need to tell you that every day that went by was putting severe financial pressure on me, and most important, it was passing a deadline for me to make travel arrangements to my daughter’s August 5th wedding in Seattle. If I had a pending deal on The Princess of Brentwood I could ask friends to lend me the money for the trip.

Finally, on July 26th — not being able to reach Rachel — I decided to phone Fred Specktor’s assistant, Joey Amoia, to find out what the status was of Joel Gotler’s submission of The Princess of Brentwood.

Joey said he thought I was calling about not receiving the submission release forms, because the package containing them had come back to him from the CAA mailroom. He said he knew nothing about the submission from Joel Gotler. I asked him to check the CAA computer to see if Joel’s submission might have ended up with another agent. Joey told me the title The Princess of Brentwood was not in the CAA computer therefore no CAA agent had it read.

Joey told me he’d personally re-sent the submission release forms, and in a call from him later that day he told me that regardless of the submission coming from Joel Gotler I’d still have to sign the submission release forms.

Once they were received back Joey Amoia assured me my screenplay would be in Fred Specktor’s reading for the weekend of August 5th.

Coincidentally the same weekend as my daughter’s wedding that because of this delay I would not be able to attend.

Because the submission was supposed to have been received from Joel Gotler, I emailed Joel and Rachel:

Amoia had no knowledge that Joel had sent Fred Specktor The Princess of Brentwood. The purpose of his call was to let me know that he just became aware yesterday that the CAA mail room had failed to send me the release forms allowing Fred Specktor to read The Princess of Brentwood and that Joey had today FedExed the release forms to me. When I told Joey about Joel’s submission he said I needed to sign the release forms anyway and that when he received them back he’d put the script in Fred Specktor’s weekend reading. He also checked the CAA computer to check whether The Princess of Brentwood was in their system; it wasn’t.

Apparently we’ve been waiting to hear back on a submission from IPGLM they didn’t know they had.

I told Joey that I would sign the forms and Fedex overnight them back to him so Fred Specktor could read The Princess of Brentwood this coming weekend.

Sincerely,

Neil

Joel emailed me back: “Right, just sign the release.”

Later in the day on July 26th — after the Writers Guild East offices were closed — I phoned the Writers Guild West to find out if Joel Gotler’s management company IPGLM was now possibly signed as a Guild-approved agency that could make submissions for me. I was connected to Bertha Garcia, an administrator in the WGA West’s Contracts Department, who told me it wasn’t.

It was a friendly conversation in which Bertha told me (based on my spelling my email address using the Ham Radio Letter Code) that she was a licensed Ham, and as an anecdote I told Bertha about the confusion and delay at CAA of my screenplay being read because the Submission Release Forms had been lost.

That’s when Bertha dropped a bombshell on me. I asked her to email what she’d just told me.

On 7/26/2017 5:25 PM, Bertha Garcia wrote:

Hi Neil,

This will confirm our phone conversation of this afternoon. It is the Guild’s position that WGA signatory agencies may not ask writers who are WGA members to sign release forms.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Bertha Garcia
Administrator, Contracts Department
Writers Guild of America West, Inc.
7000 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048

I’d just been told that CAA, a WGA signatory agency, was asking me, a WGA member, to sign a submission release form that they weren’t allowed to ask a WGA member like me to sign and that as a WGA writer I wasn’t allowed to sign. Yet if I didn’t sign it I was also being told that Fred Specktor wouldn’t read the script that could not be sent to a studio unless it came from a WGA signatory agency.

Talk about a Catch-22!

I then emailed Joey Amoia, and cc’d Fred Specktor, Joel Gotler, Rachel Levine, and Bertha Garcia:

Dear Joey,

Houston we’ve got a problem.

CAA is a WGA signatory. I’m a WGA member. According to the email below from Bertha Garcia at WGAW CAA — as a WGA agency signatory — isn’t allowed to ask a WGA member to sign a release form and as a WGA writer member I’m not allowed to sign one.

The CAA legal department must be aware of this.

I am willing immediately to sign a CAA agency agreement making me a CAA client as a writer, producer, director, actor, multi-published-book author, and songwriter.

I am willing immediately to sign a CAA packaging agreement for my screenplay, The Princess of Brentwood.

Joel Gotler at IPGLM would remain my personal manager.

I’ve attached my WGA membership card below in this email.

Sincerely,

Neil

J. Neil Schulman

I copied in Bertha Garcia’s email to me.

I got no responses to this email before receiving an email from my mailbox service on Thursday that I’d received a Fedex package. I confirmed by phone it was the package from CAA. I decided to pick up the package, sign the release forms, and Fedex them back to Fred Specktor’s office.

I’m so broke I had to ask a friend to PayPal me to cover the cost of gas for a 120-mile round-trip drive to a FedEx Office location in Las Vegas and cover the Fedex charges.

When I picked up the Fedex package with the CAA submission release forms, and read them, I understood why the WGA would have a problem with them. The WGA has its own arbitration process regarding originality and credits.

The CAA release forms I was being asked to sign included:

6. I recognize that you and your clients have access to and/or may create or have created literary materials and ideas which may be similar or identical to said material in theme, idea, plot, format or other respects. I agree that I will not be entitled to any compensation because of the use of any such similar or identical material which may have been independently created by you or any such client or may have come to you or such client from any other source.

7. I understand that such similarity in the past has given rise to litigation so that unless you can obtain adequate protection in advance, you will refuse to consider the submitted material. The protection for you must be sufficiently broad to protect you, your related entities, affiliates and individuals, your clients, and your and their employees, agents, licensees and assigns and all parties to whom you or they submit material. Therefore, all references to you in this Agreement shall include each and all of the foregoing.

I phoned Joey Amoia from my car and told him I had signed and was Fedexing the forms and that I’d email him the Fedex Tracking Number when I returned to my computer.

When I returned home from the Fedex office I found the following email from Joel Gotler:

Neil,

This kind of letter does nobody any good. I personally sent your script to Fred last month as a favor to you (despite telling you I was passing on this multiple times initially), and if they have procedures to follow or don’t want to read, what can we do? But now you’re displaying yourself as a problem client to people I’ve known and respected for decades. I have to step aside on this.

This conversation is done.

Joel Gotler

I sent this next email later that night to Joey, Joel and all other parties cc’d in:

Dear Joey,

As I promised, attached is a PDF copy of my signed release form which is on its way to your office via FedEx Express, Tracking No. XXXXXXXXXXXX. Delivery is scheduled by Wednesday August 2, 2017 by 4:30 PM.

Below my signature and above my printed name I added the words “Subject to WGA rules.” That should keep the WGA off our backs.

Just for the record this has been the first time in a 40-year literary and screenwriting career — since Joel Gotler started representing me in 1977 — that I have ever been asked to sign a release form.

Sincerely,

Neil

I replied to Joel Gotler separately:

Dear Joel,

I signed the release form and Fedexed them back to Fred Specktor’s office. I copied you in to the email. Rachel is signed up for Fedex tracking updates.

I did this despite Rachel telling me a submission from you to Fred Specktor did not require a signed release from me; despite such a release ostensibly violating WGA rules; and despite the insult to you in Joey Amoia continuing to ask for a release from a Joel Gotler client after Joey Amoia had it confirmed that the submission had come not from me but from you.

There must have been a miscommunication between us at some point since not “multiple times” but zero times did you tell me you were taking a pass on The Princess of Brentwood. Here is what you did email me:

April 27, 2017: “Having it read while I’m away. Joel”

May 3, 2017: “We haven’t read it yet. You are way ahead of us. Patience, please.”

May 9, 2017: “I can’t take on another project. Ptak will have to do the selling. I am on overload with what I have on my plate, so don’t wait for me. Good luck in placing it.”

That’s it. Nowhere did you or Rachel ever tell me by email or phone that you’d read or had The Princess of Brentwood covered at IPGLM, determined the screenplay uncommercial, and were passing on it.

If that had been the case I never would have bothered you about sending the script to Fred Specktor after he asked to see it.

As things stand now my last word to Fred Specktor and Joey Amoia was to get back to you, not me.

If Fred Specktor takes this project on and you still don’t want to be a part of it, let me know.

Your friend and client since 1977,

Neil

The next morning at 8:45 AM PDT Joey Amoia phoned me and told me what he then said in email a few minutes later:

Subject: RE: Release Forms
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2017 15:39:05 +0000
From: Fred Specktor Asst (Joseph Amoia)
To: J. Neil Schulman
CC: Joel Gotler, Rachel Levine, Fred Specktor

Hi Neil,

Per our conversation, Fred has decided not to read or accept your script. Please do not send it to us.

Best,

Joey

Joey Amoia
Office of Fred Specktor | CAA

I was now being exiled from The Industry for attempting to avoid being sanctioned by the Writers Guild for violating WGA working rules.

I phoned Rochelle Rubin who’s in charge of agencies, signatories, and contracts at the WGA East.

Rochelle knew me well for several reasons, one of which was my required member endorsement for Justin Ptak to become a WGA signatory agent. But Rochelle also knew me because of emails I’d responded to earlier this year regarding the root of this problem: the studios being allowed to refuse “unsolicited” submissions from WGA members. I’d forwarded a copy of this email to Rochelle:

Subject: Re: WGA Strike Authorization Vote – PLEASE READ
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:27:54 -0700
From: J. Neil Schulman
To: Geoff Betts

Jeff,

Thanks for taking my call.

I just posted the following statement on all my Facebook pages and a jpeg is going out in my Twitter:

I just had a conversation with Geoff Betts, business manager of the Writers Guild of America, East, of which I’m a member.

The Writers Guilds, east and west, are in negotiations with the AMPTP (the major U.S, movie/TV production/distribution studios) and asking members to authorize a strike possibly as early as April 19th.

The issues the Guilds are asking the members to strike over only affect pay rates and benefits for the small percentage of members who have current paying work. The Guilds are asking the vast majority of members who like me are not currently working to authorize a strike vote on behalf of pay rates and benefits for the small minority of members who are currently working.

I explained to Geoff Betts that when I try to submit my writings — scripts, screen stories, short literary stories, and novels to a production company or studio that is contracted with the Guilds I am told that my materials are unsolicited and they will not read them.

I informed Geoff Betts that if the Guilds want my vote to authorize a strike they must make it a demand to the AMPTP that all submissions from Guild members must be regarded as solicited and given equal consideration to submissions coming from the major talent agencies such as CAA and WME.

J Neil Schulman

This is the center of my problem. After four decades in The Industry I can’t get my submissions read without going through gatekeepers — and now the gatekeepers inside are putting me on the other side of the castle moat.

Rochelle Rubins asked me to forward all the emails to her. I did and later in the day she phoned me to say this being a Friday she would take this up Monday with Writers Guild management on both coasts.

I then sent the following email to selected members of the Entertainment Business press:

Subject: WGA – CAA feud with me at Ground Zero
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2017 12:58:40 -0700
From: J. Neil Schulman
To: (Named editors) Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter

As a long-time WGA member (I joined in 1985 when I sold my first original screenplay to CBS’ The Twilight Zone) I now find myself in the middle of a conflict between the WGA and CAA, which happened when my literary manager, Joel Gotler at IPGLM, submitted my new feature screenplay, The Princess of Brentwood, to Fred Specktor at CAA seeking representation.

In a phone conversation with me on June 19th Fred Specktor agreed to read my screenplay if I executed a submission release form. I agreed but then Joel Gotler emailed me that he would make the submission to Fred Specktor. It’s universal industry practice that a submission from a major management agency to a major talent agency bypasses the need for any release forms from the writer.

Over a month went by after Joel Gotler emailed the screenplay to Fred Specktor with Joel’s office unable to get a response from Fred’s office so I phoned Fred’s assistant, Joey Amoia on July 27th, who apologized for not getting the release forms out to me in a timely manner and said he was Fedexing them to me. I informed Joey that the submission had already been sent from Joel at IPGLM to Fred but after checking Joey Amoia phoned me saying I needed to execute the release forms anyway.

In a phone conversation with WGAW contracts administrator Bertha Garcia on an unrelated matter, also on July 27th, I related the story about the delay on the release forms from CAA and Bertha informed me that as a WGA signatory CAA was not allowed to ask a WGA member such as myself to sign a submission release form. I asked Bertha to email this to me, which she did, and with an email cover of my own I forwarded Bertha’s email to all parties at CAA and IPGLM, with Bertha at WGAW cc’d.

I then received the release forms and decided to sign them anyway, with “Subject to WGA Rules” written in between my signature and printed name, and Fedexed them back to Fred Specktor/Joey Amoia. I emailed the tracking number and a PDF of the signed form to Fred Specktor, Joey Amoia, Joel Gotler, and Joel’s assistant, Rachel Levine.

That’s when all hell broke loose for me.

Joel Gotler emailed me that he was withdrawing as my manager.

And today Joey Amoia phoned me, then emailed me, saying that Fred Specktor would not read my screenplay and I should not send it to them as called for in the release form I’d signed.

I’ve spoken with Rochelle Rubin, contracts manager at WGAE (I was living in Jersey City, NJ when I first joined WGA East and have never changed my membership to WGA West even though I’m now living in Nevada) and have forwarded all the emails to her — 20 of them. Rochelle says she’ll get on this after the weekend.

By following the advice of a WGA executive I appear to have foiled my attempt to get my screenplay read and packaged by CAA This seems fundamentally wrong to me — a lone screenwriter up against the most powerful agency in the biz — and this comes at a time in my life when I’m in financial meltdown due to having made no sales since the last feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, 2014’s Alongside Night. After a limited theatrical run and a Beverly Hills premiere in July, 2014, Alongside Night — and the other feature I’ve written/produced/directed — 2008’s Lady Magdalene’s — both currently stream on Amazon Video/Amazon Prime, and are also available on DVD or Blu-ray).

If this story is of interest I am willing to share all the emails with the three of you as well.

Sincerely,

J. Neil Schulman

I then emailed Fred Specktor, Joel Gotler and the others copied in:

Subject: Re: Release Forms
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:56:16 -0700
From: J. Neil Schulman
To: Fred Specktor
CC: Fred Specktor Asst (Joseph Amoia), Joel Gotler, Rachel Levine,

Dear Mr. Specktor,

If this whole matter didn’t adversely affect my career at a time when I need a new deal to keep my finances afloat I would laugh at this comedy of errors.

When a month went by without Joey Amoia sending me the submission release form you and I’d talked about I assumed CAA no longer was requesting a signed submission release form from me because instead of the submission of The Princess of Brentwood coming from me it had come to your office from my manager, Joel Gotler at IPGLM. Joel’s assistant, Rachel Levine, emailed me that she was following up on that submission. Yet when I spoke to Joey a few days ago he seemed unaware that the submission came from Joel, not me — and his email to me today telling me not to send the script once again ignores that the submission wasn’t coming from me but had already come from Joel Gotler.

So that leaves me in the middle of something, and I don’t know what it is.

Is it CAA’s procedure to request submission release forms from managers like Joel Gotler, who not only has represented superstar writers for decades but has an executive producer credit on The Wolf of Wall Street?

Or is it CAA’s procedure to request submission release forms from WGA members when Bertha Garcia at WGAW says that violates its agency rules?

Either way, I signed the form because I promised I would and it’s on its way to your office.

This matter has gotten out of hand and there’s still time to turn it around before Rochelle Rubin at WGAE takes this matter up with WGAE and WGAW management on Monday (she has all the relevant emails) and before I get callbacks from the entertainment business editors at the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety.

I’m just a screenwriter who will lose his house if I don’t make a deal. Joel Gotler is already pissed off at me. I literally have nothing more I can lose.

Sincerely,

J. Neil Schulman

Joel Gotler emailed me:

You had better stop these diatribes.

Sent from my iPhone

I emailed Joel back:

Or what? I’ll be out of the business and lose my house?

Your office’s failure to follow up with Fred Specktor before this spun out of control has already cost me attending my daughter’s wedding in Seattle on August 5th. There’s nothing more any of you can do to hurt me.

Later that day (Friday, July 28th) the editor from the Los Angeles Times phoned me. We talked about 20 minutes. He asked me to email him the contact info for the Writers Guild executives I’d talked to and I did. He emailed me: “Thanks. We will reach out to the guild.”

And there’s where it stands: one powerless writer being kicked out of The Industry.

Again.

See my May 18, 2010 article “Yes, There Is a Hollywood Blacklist — and I’m on It

I’ve tried to continue paying my bills in any way I can think of within my skill sets.

For most of this year I’ve been putting up new Kindle books onto Amazon — all three of my novels, my short story collection, my Heinlein Interview book, and several nonfiction books.

One of my literary representatives, Justin Ptak, has been trying to gin up interest for film or series productions based on my novels, screen outlines, and finished screenplays. But until the WGA adds him to its electronic list of signed agents he can’t make any submissions for me to WGA-signed production companies or studios.

I’m living in a house in the name of my deceased parents’ living trust that has a mortgage from Wells Fargo Bank. The mortgage payments are several months past due.

I have a storage unit containing valuables, both family and literary, which is on 30-day notice of an auction of its contents if I don’t immediately bring last month’s missed payment up to date.

It’s the end of July and I have no funds to pay next month’s utility bills or Internet connection or web-hosting or car insurance.

I’m running short even of groceries.

Most heart-breakingly, I don’t have the money to travel from Nevada to my daughter’s August 5th wedding in Seattle.

In short, my failure to make a meaningful sale or obtain work doing the only things I am experienced and capable of doing is sending me down the drain.

Here’s a link to read The Princess of Brentwood.

Award-winning author/screenwriter/filmmaker/Mondo Cult publisher, Brad Linaweaver, has read it and compared the quality to classic scripts by Ben Hecht and Billy Wilder.

I’m airing all this because dignity is not on the menu for me. The trolls have everything they need to call me a no-talent or a has-been and tell me to look for a day job.

Whatever.

If there’s someone out there who both cares and has the connections to someone who might do something with this script or something else I’ve written, here I am.

And please note the PayPal “Like It – Reward It” links.

God bless you if you do.

Neil

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Moneyball Healthcare

Remember the book and movie Moneyball, about how Oakland Athletics manager Billy Beane used a microbudget (compared to far-better-funded major-league baseball teams) to bring his team to the playoffs in 2002?

The U.S. Senate is about to debate a House Republican bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare.

Lobbyist TV spots I get here in Nevada are begging GOP Nevada Senator Dean Heller not to repeal Nevadans’ healthcare. The deception in these spots is the unstated communist-socialist-fascist assumption that without taxpayer funding paying for health insurance — and bureaucrats running it — there can’t be any healthcare.

Yet I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s — a time with far less robust medical treatments — when medical doctors made house calls and a hospital stay wasn’t that much more expensive than a hotel stay.

Sam Jaffe as Doctor Zorba on Ben Casey
Sam Jaffe as Dr. Zorba on “Ben Casey”

Healthcare — before government and private insurers bid up the prices with Medicare, Medicaid, and employer-paid-for health insurance — was already affordable to ordinary people.

Cuba — because of its communist economy — has to be one of the poorest countries on earth. Yet because Cuban doctors and hospitals have so little money they have done what indie filmmakers do as compared to the big movie studios: innovate cheaply. Havana’s Center of Molecular Immunology has developed an anti-lung-cancer vaccine called CimaVax that treats both current and genetically likely patients.

My point is emphatically not that a low-budget approach to finding cures produces superior results to an approach with much more money. The visual effects of a $180 million movie are going to be far superior to the visual effects of a movie made for $200,000.

My point is that for people of limited means low-budget healthcare solutions should not be driven out of the marketplace and denied them.

Have you heard of Medical Tourism? Countries like Thailand, India, and Singapore have state-of-the-art hospitals and medical personnel offering surgeries and treatments at half off or less than the equivalent care sold in the United States — and without the rationing and life-threatening delays in countries with socialized medicine.

So while Republican senators debate the replacement of Obamacare only discussing how socialized medicine can be funded without further bankrupting the United States, returning healthcare to price-suppressing market competition isn’t even on the agenda.

If a doctor in Cuba or Thailand can “moneyball” medical treatments in those poorer countries, why can’t they do it here?

Create Medical Enterprise Zones in the United States — free from taxes, regulations, and other market impediments — where foreign doctors can provide treatment to Americans at the same discounted prices they do in their own countries to “medical tourists.”

Let Cuban doctors treat Americans with their breakthrough cures right here in America.

Why should foreigners not come here with their excellent but cheap healthcare to Make America Great Again?

Liberating Healthcare

So Can Americans

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Triple Jeopardy


O.J. Simpson is back in the news. Tomorrow, July 20, 2017, O.J. goes before a Nevada parole board that may release him after serving nine years in prison. Never having had a firearm in his hands during the incident for which he was tried, Simpson was convicted of armed robbery — with corollary charges — of a former business associate who had in fact stolen from Simpson for resale O.J.’s personal memorabilia. O.J. Simpson was trying to recover that stolen property in the presence of armed security.

The Nevada conviction was for doing only things O.J. Simpson had every right to do.

But the actual reason behind this kangaroo trial was political. Nevada prosecutors and a judge colluded to imprison O.J. Simpson for the California double murders for which he was acquitted after a criminal jury trial in California Superior Court.

I consider the retrial of Simpson in a second California Superior Court — in which he was found civilly liable for those same murders — violates the spirit of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which reads, “…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”

Don’t tell me there’s no being “put in jeopardy of life or limb” when extrajudicial proceedings from a second civil trial can put you in prison in another state where you might get shanked.

That aside, the failed California prosecution’s “mountain of evidence” — despite O.J. Simpson’s criminal acquittal — has convinced the same media pundits who now invent news saying Vladimir Putin conspired to install Trump as his White House puppet — to this day report that Simpson is guilty of those murders.

Every one of these elitist talking heads who consider themselves smarter than the jury who considered testimony and evidence for eleven months — then acquitted O.J. Simpson in less than a day — never consider that the forensic evidence was a frame-up of Simpson by the actual murderers who lured O.J. Simpson to the bloody murder scene and manufactured other evidence tying Simpson to the crime.

Ridiculous?

Not according to forensic experts.

I wrote a book titled The Frame of the Century?. It’s still on sale at Amazon as a 1999-published trade paperback.

Some audio links to a radio show I appeared on promoting the book with trial witness Ron Shipp calling in — can be found on the publisher catalog page.

The Frame of the Century?

Beginning with his criminal trial then closely studying new evidence brought out in his civil trial, I became convinced that all that might have been proven in two trials was that at some time after the murders and before the police arrived, O.J. Simpson had driven to the murder scene of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and an unfortunate waiter, Ronald Goldman, and transferred a few drops of blood to his Bronco and from there to his Brentwood home.

My best theory is that O.J. Simpson was lured to the murder scene by his ex-wife, Nicole, phoning O.J. while being held at knife-point. It being a local call from landline to landline there would have been no billing records for detectives to find, and any redial would have been foiled by LAPD Officer Robert Riske using Nicole’s house phone to call in the homicide.

To me everyone was always asking the wrong question about O.J. Simpson’s claim that he was framed. His defense team accused a racist and corrupt LAPD officer of framing Simpson — never an implausible scenario if you’re familiar with LAPD history — but the question that had never been asked nor answered was whether the killer or killers — or an accomplice — could have diverted suspicion by planting evidence against Simpson.

It would have had to be an inside job by someone with forensic expertise. I identify in my book someone whom a Venn diagram places in both circles.

In my book I examined a number of Brown-Goldman murder scenarios, but the one which has become the most prophetic is where I suggested that even the DNA blood evidence against O.J. Simpson could have been manufactured in a laboratory, really needing only the knowledge that it was possible.

I wrote,

But there was one additional possibility I discovered. If you didn’t have enough of O.J.’s blood, Dr. Frankenstein could make more for you.

Dr. Frankenstein, as it turns out, could be anyone with a high school diploma and a job in a biochemistry lab. Any lab doing criminalistics would do. So would most university labs. It just required a device called a thermal cycler used for PCR testing of DNA, and common lab equipment such as a blood centrifuge.

Five thousand bucks worth of lab equipment that could be ordered on an 800 line, paid for by credit card, and delivered by mail, anonymously—and another couple of hundred dollars in chemicals. The techniques had been in use for a decade, and everybody who worked in the field knew it could be done.

Any policeman who’d ever spent any time talking to a lab technician, or had to be briefed on DNA procedures for a criminal case, would know about it, too.

He’d need a drop of O.J.’s blood, as a reference sample. Type the red blood cells for ABO and enzymes. Do PCR on the white blood cells to clone the DNA—as much as you need. Shipp wouldn’t even necessarily need a drop of O.J.’s blood as a reference sample. If he had a lab blood report giving O.J.’s ABO type, ESD, and PGM subtype—used in case O.J. needed a blood transfusion— then all he would need is a sample of O.J.’s DNA—and he could get that from a used Kleenex, or a fingernail clipping, or a follicle from O.J.’s hair.

Now you get a test tube of blood of the same ABO type. Centrifuge the blood to separate the red and white blood cells. Heat the red blood cells carefully to destroy the enzymes, while preserving the ABO typing, and pour in enzymes matching your reference sample. Then take the white blood cells and subject them to X-rays or short-length ultraviolet to destroy the DNA. Do PCR testing on the white blood cells to make sure none of the DNA is left. If it is, give them more radiation.

Then take the DNA you’ve cloned using PCR and mix well with the now DNA-free white blood cells, and mix it back with the red blood cells.

Voila. Instant O.J., suitable for use at the crime scene of your choice.

–J. Neil Schulman, The Frame of the Century,
Pages 93-94, Pulpless.Com, June, 1999

Nobody at the time I wrote this took it seriously. Crazy Neil.

Nobody, that is, until August, 2009, when Forensic Science International: Genetics — reported on in The New York Times described in detail precisely how DNA blood evidence could be created in a laboratory and planted at a crime scene.

According to The New York Times article,

Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases.

The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

“You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”

I’m not even the first writer to get this idea of planted DNA produced. The November 18, 2009 (Season 11, Episode 9) of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, “Perverted,” had this as its plot line.

There was no eyewitness testimony to O.J. Simpson committing these murders. There was no security footage of the crime. The entire case — the mountain of evidence — was based on O.J. Simpson walking in the blood, supposedly dropping two gloves — one at the crime scene, one on his estate — and driving like a terrified rabbit from the murder scene back to his house.

The frame up was actually easy for someone who had access to O.J.’s bedroom with Aris black leather gloves and Bruno Magli shoes, and both house and Bronco keys casually left in the kitchen — both facts that were testified to in O.J.’s criminal trial.

In my book I proved that the person who fits the Venn Diagram committed perjury during his prosecution testimony against O.J. Simpson.

Being declared “not guilty” by a jury in modern America is just nowhere near enough to avoid a lengthy prison term and a reputation being ruined.

That O.J. Simpson, though acquitted by a criminal trial jury of the crime, committed the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman is something everybody knows.

And endless repetition by media pundits — convincing to prosecutors, jury, and judge in another state — was enough to take away his liberty on unrelated bogus charges for nine years.

That was triple jeopardy.

O.J. Freed Tweet

JNS and O.J.

OJ Tweets

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The Attack on Memory


My friend, writer/filmmaker/publisher, Brad Linaweaver, has considered — since his days as an undergraduate at Florida State University — the most dishonest movie ever made to be the 1973 Robert Redford/Barbra Streisand movie, The Way We Were, because of what he called its missing reel: the skipping over any mention of the Hitler-Stalin Pact between August 23, 1939 and Hitler’s invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941.

During that almost two-year period members of the Communist Party of the USA — including many Jewish members — opposed the United States joining Great Britain in declaring war on Jew-oppressive Nazi Germany.

It’s ironic that Barbra Streisand’s recording of the song “The Way We Were” from that movie includes the famous lyrics

Mem’ries light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored mem’ries of the way we were

George Orwell coined the term “memory hole” in his 1949 novel Nineteen-eighty-four to describe the erasure of any history or fact inconvenient to resisting current propaganda. Eric Blair — Orwell was his pen name — gave his novel’s viewpoint character Winston Smith a job he’d had in real life as a police functionary in British India: redacting and altering archives to reflect current government propaganda needs.

Memory and the preservation of the past through documentary records is crucial to human existence. The philosopher Alfred Korzybski considered memory — he labelled it “time-binding” — to be what separates human beings from all other animals.

There can be no personal identity without memory. When through trauma humans have lost memory of their personal lives — profound amnesia where an individual does not remember one’s own job, home, spouse, family, or friends — continued life begins anew, and often the rebooted personality has different opinions, tastes, and life preferences.

Academic researchers and those teaching courses on witness testimony in criminal cases have often repeated in classroom settings an experiment where during a routine class an actor rushes into the classroom, does something dramatic, then abruptly leaves. The class members are then quizzed about what they just witnessed, and the class witness results vary wildly from the actual performance.

After-action interviews of participants in military combat and police actions often find direct inconsistencies between firm memories testified to about the events and what physical evidence or even visual and audio recordings of the events later show. The formation of a memory while adrenalized can create an inaccurate recollection that convinces a witness to recount a false narrative thereafter.

Emphasizing this artifact of human memory malformation and mal-retention is of great value to those who wish to manipulate people through propaganda that erases inconvenient facts.

But now we see propagandists extending memory studies regarding fleeting events to memory in general, conflating eyewitness inability to remember what a bank robber looked like with witnesses testifying to their names, current home addresses, employment, and their family’s names.

If human beings can be infantalized to the point where court testimony is worthless, why have trials at all? The totalitarian impulse to go from arrest to imprisonment has eliminated the barrier of overcoming a presumption of innocence with proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

A few days ago the celebrated actor Martin Landau died.

Again.

Martin Landau
Martin Landau, 2010

I — and half a dozen others I’ve discussed this with — have firm and detailed memories of repeated television, newspaper, magazine, and website reports of Martin Landau dying between two and three years ago.

One of those who remember as I do is a Facebook friend, Chris Bobak, who published on a Facebook discussion I started on this topic the following screencap from 2015 referencing Martin Landau’s death:

Bobak Imgur

In my own case my firm and detailed recollections of Martin Landau’s earlier death include not only wall-to-wall TV news reports over the first few days, but conversations with fellow friends (some fellow entertainment industry professionals who had met Martin Landau), the Academy Award telecast including Martin Landau in its “in memoriam” presentation, and in my case reading a memorial article by a friend in a cult-movie online magazine remembering Martin Landau’s performance as Bela Lugosi in director Tim Burton’s 1994 film, Ed Wood.

And our memories contradicted by this same writer friend denying any memory of Martin Landau’s prior death nor that he ever wrote such an article. But he also says that now that Martin Landau has died, this is, in fact, the article he will write.

An actress I’ve worked with also tells me she recently took a class at the Actors Studio with Martin Landau, so he could not have been dead.

This is not an isolated case. Over many years this discontinuity in memory has repeated for me numerous times — so often, in fact, that this has become the theme of my fourth novel currently in progress, The Fractal Man.

Neither is this phenomenon rare. I met during a party at writer/producer Tracy Tormé’s house a woman named Starfire Tor who moderated a Yahoo! group devoted to such discontinuties.

More recently these events have been called the Mandela Effect due to numerous people recalling that Nelson Mandela had died in prison and never became the first black president of South Africa.

I have heard and considered many different theories to what this phenomenon indicates.

UC Irvine cognitive scientist Donald D. Hoffman, PhD., posits that the human brain might simultaneously take in data from a much more complex reality, then — like computer binary data being simplified into desktop icons — present a conventionalized simple timeline.

Physicists who consider the existence of parallel universes or multidimensional realities consider that there might be slippages between or among them.

Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen contemplated what has sometimes been called Einstein-Rosen bridges between parallel universes. Later physicists have called these “black holes.”

Physics these days keeps on offering up possibilities far beyond conventional experience: dark matter and dark energy; string theories with 11 physical dimensions; laboratory creations of new forms of water beyond the usual ice, liquid water, and steam; previously unknown types of light in which photons might even create solid objects.

Then there are those who insist none of this can be real and what people like me are reporting about discontinuities are just bad memory. And they use these “studies” showing how bad witness testimony is to bolster their argument.

I quote Shakespeare: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The outright rejection, scoffing, and trolling of any report of the unconventional, extraordinary, or even unique is an artifact of the type of mind to whom order is more important than facts.

These are the people Orwell warned you about.

Note July 19, 2017:

I consider major discontinuities of memory regarding public milestones to be a problem far beyond individual psychological or neurological maladaptation. To quote Claude Lacombe in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “It is an event sociological.”

I think the reported memory discontinuities in my article “The Attack on Memory” indicate the necessity for at least a new scientific paradigm, if not a scientific breakthrough, to consider how the human brain, human consciousness, and physical reality intersect.

J. Neil Schulman

JNeil's Razor: The simplest explanation may not be the explanation that accounts for all the reported facts.

The work of UC Irvine cognitive scientist Donald D. Hoffman, PhD: http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ and http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/HoffmanPubs.html

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Counter Terrorism


I’m only surprised it took this long.

In a 1999 article I wrote:

“A few weeks ago in Israel, a terrorist drove his car into a crowd of civilians, intent on mass murder.”

The Islamic-jihadi tactic of mowing down innocent civilians with a motor vehicle isn’t new. It didn’t start after 9/11. It didn’t start in Nice, France. It didn’t start on London Bridge.

As far as I know yesterday’s attack on worshippers exiting London’s Finsbury Mosque is the first time this method of attack has been used by a non-Muslim against Muslims.

Finsbury

War between Muslims and non-Muslims is nothing new. It goes back well before the Crusades — starting at the end of the 11th century — to the foundations of Islam itself. According to Wikipedia — “Muhammad spent his last ten years, from 622 to 632, as the leader of Medina in a state of war with pagan Mecca.”

The Marine Corps Hymn in its second line — “To the shores of Tripoli” — memorializes the United States fighting Islamic Barbary Pirates in the early 19th century — but these piratical raids had been ongoing already for centuries.

It’s not Islamophobic to note the historical fact that Islam, when it reaches beyond religious proselytizing into territorial expansion — is violently aggressive.

So a counter-attack using a terrorist tactic pioneered by Islamic partisans is surprising only in that it took until June 2017 to happen.

Anything I say beyond this will be obvious and trite, dividing along political lines.

Some people will say, “Good. They had it coming.”

Other people will say, “This is just another case of prejudice against Muslims.”

And I find it fruitful to quote Proverbs 11:29: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.”

Or, “What goes around, comes around.”

Or, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

Told you I’d be obvious and trite.

So let me add just one more point from my perspective as a libertarian.

I’ll say it in three sentences:

Only individuals exist.

Individuals are to be judged as innocent or guilty only by their own actions.

Targeting any collective merely on the basis of guilt-by-association is evil.

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Why Jeff Bezos is a Billionaire and I’m Broke

Evidently nobody remembers Xerox PARC and how the lack of IP protection made Bill Gates rich. So nobody got the joke in my title, which said “Bill Gates” instead of “Jeff Bezos.”

Do I think I have ownership in an idea? Nope. I’ve already written endlessly that “Ideas can’t be owned.”

But, damn. My idea can be used without any compensation just because it’s unsolicited?

Stephan Kinsella’s screeds to the contrary, that just ain’t right.

“No compensation is offered for unsolicited business ideas.” — Amazon.com

Subject: From an author of 11 Kindle books
Date: Mon, 8 May 2017 23:00:06 -0700
From: J. Neil Schulman
To: Jeff Bezos
CC: Justin Ptak, Friends of J. Neil Schulman, Ken Holder, Editor, The Libertarian Enterprise

Dear Mr. Bezos,

I’m author of eleven Kindle books currently on sale via Amazon, producer/writer/director of two feature films currently streaming on Amazon Video/Amazon Prime, plus additional hardcover and paperback books, and an Audible audiobook, also on sale via Amazon.

Back in 1989 I was one of the earliest distributors of downloadable books by best-selling authors, SoftServ Publishing, and in 1995 was the founder of Pulpless.Com which marked up additional publishing milestones.

I predicted almost all of what has come to pass in publishing in a 1987 article titled “Here Come the Paperless Books,” and I taught a graduate course called “Book Publishing in the 21st Century” for the New School/Connected Education in 1991.

Book Publishing in the 21st Century

Being as immersed in writing and publishing as I’ve been I note the superiority of digital book editions to printed books in all ways but one: the direct personal contact between author and reader that used to take place in bookstore author readings, Q&A, and book signings.

I propose we now enhance the Kindle experience by introducing the Virtual Kindle Author’s Personal Appearance.

The VKAPA would be a scheduled and publicized Amazon Kindle Bookstore online event where an author speaks by live video-conference to Kindle readers, reads a portion of one of the author’s Kindle books, answers live questions from the on-line audience, then personally inscribes and autographs readers’ individual Kindle editions using an app that affixes the personal inscription/autograph to that reader’s individual Kindle edition.

I propose that Kindle authors participating in the VKAPA not be charged for this service by Amazon but instead be treated as honored guests and share in the additional revenue generated by the Amazon VKAPA event.

As originator of this idea I ask that Amazon respect my authorship of this proposal and that Amazon publicize me as the first author to be given a VKAPA, and that I be given a small percentage of revenue from all future VKAPAs, to help me survive in my impending old age.

Sincerely,

J. Neil Schulman
See http://www.pulpless.com/1866.html
See http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2010/07/if-im-so-smart-why-aint-i-rich/
Listen: http://pulpless.com/pulpjing.html
Kindle Author and originator of commercial downloadable books

Reply from Amazon.com:

Subject: Kindle Direct Publishing – Executive Customer Relations
Date: Wed, 10 May 2017 20:49:15 +0000
From: Amazon.com ecr-kdp@amazon.com
Reply-To: ecr-kdp+A28V3YOSTY4D31@amazon.com
To: J. Neil Schulman

Hello Mr. Schulman,

My name is Abbey Washington with Kindle Direct Publishing Executive Customer Relations. Mr. Bezos received your business proposal and I’m responding on his behalf. I have shared it with the appropriate department. If the team has any questions for you or interest in the proposal, we will contact you. No compensation is offered for unsolicited business ideas. Thank you for taking the time to share your proposal.

Regards,

Abbey Washington
Executive Customer Relations
Kindle Direct Publishing

http://kdp.amazon.com

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JNeilCare


Repeal and replace ObamaCare? Like this is hard to figure out?

Look. I’m an anarchist-libertarian but I also take notice of politics.

The libertarian position is getting the State completely out of the business of health, healthcare, healthcare insurance, and medicine, whether at the federal, state, or local level.

No drug laws.

No Drug War.

No requirements for drug prescriptions.

No legal penalties for possession or sale of any quantity of drugs, so long as no violence, force, coercion, or fraud is involved.

No FDA approval or control of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, or supplements.

No restrictions on the importation of pharmaceuticals.

No Drug Enforcement Agency.

No medical licensing of doctors, nurses, dentists, or any other healthcare provider.

The premise of a free society is that what you put into your body, what you see as beneficial for your pursuit of happiness, what free people trade, are all private matters protected as preexisting unenumerated rights under the 9th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and — since not specifically granted to any branch of the federal government within the text of the Constitution — denied all branches of the federal government under the 10th amendment.

Oh, and all federal legislation and regulations are null and void ab initio, and prosecutable as criminal activity “under color of law” under Title 18, Section 242 of the United States Code.

If you’re feeling generous all these restrictions are incorporated to the States as well under the 14th Amendment.

That’s the libertarian position. That’s my position.

So let’s move on. The “Overton window” of the politically possible is not where a libertarian like me is.

Conservatives and Minarchists (this latter a term coined by my old friend, Samuel Edward Konkin III) believe in restricting the State as much as humanly possible.

Democrats, liberals, progressives all favor Universal Health Care, also known as “Single Payer” also known as Socialized Medicine.

Even a former Nixon administration economist like Ben Stein sees this as inevitable.

I don’t.

I see a possible stopgap from destroying all remnants of the free market in medicine, health care, and health insurance.

It’s my point One in the list below.

Caduceus

The issue the Democrats, liberals, and progressives all use against the “Repeal and Replace” of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is the disposition of those with preexisting conditions. The “heartless” Republicans want to kill off the poor because they oppose (they really don’t oppose it) Universal Socialized Medicine.

So let’s remove everyone with a preexisting condition from the health insurance market by putting them all on Medicare.

Yes, this is single-payer. But it’s not universal single-payer. It limits those who are single-payer clients to those who are currently breaking the back of the health-insurance market.

The Affordable Care Act — by legally requiring those with preexisting medical conditions to be included in the insurance pool — denies the purpose and nature of insurance, as a market product, itself.

Insurance, by definition, is based on risk of something happening in the future, a happening to which there can be an actuarial projection.

Someone with a preexisting medical condition is to health insurance precisely like buying automobile liability insurance after you’ve already crashed. It’s a past, not future, event.

Take these people out of the insurance market by putting them all on Medicare and everyone else can participate in a market for health insurance.

It’s not a libertarian solution. It is, however, a solution that limits government and preserves a free-market in health insurance for everyone else.

It’s a conservative or Minarchist solution.

My other points all address increasing competition, breaking up medical and pharmaceutical cartels and increasing market entry to healthcare providers.

Here then is a nonlibertarian proposal for JNeilCare:

1. Anyone with a preexisting condition regardless of age can sign up for Medicare.

2. All restrictions and barriers to Americans purchasing pharmaceuticals from foreign manufacturers and foreign pharmacies are hereby repealed.

3. Any health-insurance-qualified provider is allowed to provide services directly to a patient at a cash discount of their choosing.

4. Any physician’s, surgeon’s, nursing, dental, or other medical or health service provider’s license issued by any state or U.S. territory is good throughout the United States and its territories. Any foreign physician, surgeon, nursing, dental, or other medical or health service provider licensed in any state or U.S. territory may practice anywhere in the United States and its territories.

5. Anyone may purchase health insurance from any company selling such policies regardless of location of either seller or buyer.

It ain’t libertarian but it sucks a whole lot less than the United States adopting Universal Socialist Single-payer Medicine.

Oh, and feel free to sweeten this with as much of the libertarian position as you can get away with.

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Violon Chinois


Back in 1999 when I spent a couple of days at Epcot/Disney World I saw a performance of an ethnic Mongolian group performing on traditional Chinese musical instruments.

One of the traditional musical instruments was the Mongolian “horsehead fiddle.”

This is an instrument sized in between a viola and a cello, placed between the knees of the performer while sitting, and bowed like a cello. But just listening to it I knew I was seeing and hearing the grand-pappy of the modern string instruments that came out of Italy, particularly Cremona, ancestor to my father’s 1716 Guarnerius violin. In a November 1985 trip to Italy (obviously prior to my 1999 visit to Epcot) I’d visited the Stradivarius museum in Cremona which contained Stradivarius, Guarnerius, Amati, and other such violins, violas, and cellos.

One of the Chinese musicians performing at Epcot spoke English. I asked how far back in history the horsehead fiddle went and where it originated. The answer came back after discussion among the musicians that it was played in Inner Mongolia in the 12th century — well before Marco Polo’s 13th century visit to the region. I asked the Chinese musicians if Marco Polo could have brought back a horsehead fiddle with him to Italy. They didn’t know but said it was possible.

From that experience and conversation I concluded that Marco Polo must have brought a horsehead fiddle back to Italy, and it became the basis for the modern Italian-developed string instruments.

Ironically, as seen in the movie The Red Violin, when Mao’s Cultural Revolution was destroying violins as Western contamination they were actually destroying their own cultural heritage.

I was unable to prove the direct connection until — with my sister’s help — we found the proof I’d been looking for:

Mongolian Horse-head Fiddle

So it turns out that while I’m not anywhere the musician my dad was, I’m not half bad at being a cultural anthropological musicologist.

J Neil Schulman

Note: A web page I made about my father’s Guarnerius violin when my mom and I were selling it back in 2005 is still up at Million Dollar Violin.

Julius Schulman: Life With a Violin

Julius Schulman Violin Hero

Julius Schulman YouTube Channel

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War with the North

The forests in Canada are owned by the government of Canada. The forests in the United States are in some kind of marketplace, no matter how compromised. Therefore, subsidized Canadian lumber can be sold cheaper than American lumber. This is especially true when it comes to very useful soft wood.

Predictably, Trump is already accused of starting a trade war. Predictably, Reason and CATO will do what they always do, and scream that this is government interference in the marketplace.

I’ve devoted a large part of my life to promoting the Austrian School of Economics. Ludwig von Mises and Hayek are the Plato and Aristotle of that school. Their contention is that the laws of the marketplace are based on an accumulation of personal choices. These operating principles work at any level of economic activity.

That means white market, gray market, black market. Any market.

That means these laws are not the monopoly of agorism or any other radical counter-economic ploy.

The classic texts of the Austrian School are largely about the above ground economy. That means the topic I’m advancing does not require immediate references to Alongside Night or New Libertarian Manifesto. It requires something else, about which more anon.

So, back to my epiphany.

The high-profile defenders of the “free market” are the Reason and Cato Gestapo. They can’t use the word “Trump” for more than a paragraph without also using the word “Tariff.”

After decades of listening to these empty suits, I finally realize they need a new definition of American Capitalism, since the original Austrian School completely failed to anticipate what has happened at the macro level.

Here is the new paradigm for the above-ground economy.

American Capitalism is defined as the purchasing of products from Socialist Countries.

Any attempt to interfere with the purchase of foreign Socialist goods is itself Socialist.

Therefore, the only way to preserve Capitalism is a de facto monopoly of only doing business with Socialists.

Bye bye, Austrian School in the above-ground economy — which is what the actual Austrian economists really cared about.

Later American non-Austrian Austrians are not the point of my epiphany.

As for anyone trying to be a patriotic American and a supporter of free markets at the same time, lots of luck.

–Author/publisher/filmmaker Brad Linaweaver, in a privately circulated email

Brad Linaweaver
Brad Linaweaver

Brad Linaweaver understates his case. He’s too moderate.

A free market is by definition a market comprising free traders — traders who own private property and are making unregulated trades with other private property owners.

No State or collective of States is a free trade partner. All States have acquired anything they offer for sale by criminal activity.

Whether it’s by mercantalism, Opium Wars, slave trade, gunboat diplomacy, fiat money, trade cartels, “free trade” treaties, etc., nothing a State or cartel of States does promotes or supports free trade. The only thing a State or cartel of States can do to promote free trade is self-destruct.

The Canadian State is preventing private Canadians from purchasing dairy products from private U.S. sellers. This is restriction of trade to protect Canadian dairy producers and keep their prices up against competition from American dairy producers.

The American State, acting on behalf of American dairy producers being excluded by the Canadian State from selling its products to willing Canadian consumers, is retaliating by imposing tariffs on the sale of soft Canadian wood to American buyers. That this wood being made subject to an American State tariff is owned by the Canadian State itself only makes more pointed that we are not dealing with free trade. It would be true even if the Canadian State was merely using trade barriers to disadvantage American lumber producers by subsidizing its own producers.

The White House press conference today with U.S Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross used dishonest and loaded language. “Dumping” a commodity is false statist language. In private sales it’s called “discounting” and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But there’s no private seller here so the language of “trade war” is invoked because “war” is how States typically interact with each other.

I favor a free market but we’re not discussing here anything to do with one. This is a tactical war move by one State against another State, as much as a troop movement or dispatch of an aircraft carrier.

If self-impoverished socialist Canada thinks it can win any war against the far-more-capitalist United States with Donald Trump in charge it’s not lumber they’ve been smoking.

Donald Trump is a capitalist who, like Brad, favors free trade but is not uncomfortable with using the superior position of the Unites States if trade barriers disadvantage those Americans he’s pledged to place First.

Those libertarians who don’t agree with Brad on that are either lying or stupid.

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