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 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.
Today, Earth Day 2017, thousands of people without a clue about what the scientific method is are “Marching for Science!” with picket signs reading, “THERE IS NO PLANET B.”
It’s a clever pun on “Plan B” — a back-up plan.
These signs are being carried by people who are aware of an obvious truth and a less-obvious lie.
Here’s the obvious truth: Earth is a wonderful planet, home to the human race.
Here’s the less-obvious lie: Earth is both the cradle and the grave of the human race.
“There is no Planet B” is a phrase that could only be uttered by a “mundane” too flat-headed even to have taken seriously an episode of Star Trek, much less have read a science-fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, or Isaac Asimov.
It’s a political slogan engineered by plutocratic liars (who won’t even admit that Pluto is a planet) to promote the pseudo-science of man-made climate change to scam people who don’t understand that the ecology of Planet Earth is based on carbon dioxide being converted by chlorophyll-based plant life into oxygen breathed by animals, who then exhale carbon-dioxide that goes back to the plants.
And around and around and around she goes.
These scientific-illiterates call carbon dioxide “pollution” and spread the propaganda that carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas” — which would only be true if earth was a greenhouse without chlorophyll-based plant life like our neighboring planet, Venus.
Not A Greenhouse
On yesterday’s Real Time With Bill Maher the scientifically illiterate / imagination-challenged Bill Maher did a rant against those visionary businessmen who want to establish a human colony on Mars. “Fuck Mars!” the scientifically-illiterate / imagination-challenged Bill Maher said to wild applause from the scientifically-illiterate imagination-challenged mundanes in his studio audience.
Here’s a word for you, Bill Maher: terraforming. I won’t make you go to the brain-straining effort of looking it up in a dictionary. It means “earth shaping.” This is a word long-known to people who read books — you know, smart people. Terraforming means using science and engineering to take someplace dead and unfriendly to life and making it alive and friendly to life — literally making more Earths.
Here’s another word for you, Bill Maher: Panspermia. It’s the hypothesis that life didn’t originate on Earth but is widespread throughout the universe and came here from somewhere else.
Maybe even Mars.
But it doesn’t stop there. If Bill Maher has ever read a book written by anyone who can see farther than their own hood he’d have learned that scientists and engineers — people he’s never read nor apparently ever talked to — consider it not only possible but necessary to create space-based human habitats and industry to gather additional resources — including minerals and solar energy unfiltered by the earth’s atmosphere — to maintain the long-term ecological health of the Earth and preserve its life.
Wikipedia: “physicist Gerard K. O’Neill in his 1976 book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space proposed the colonization of space for the 21st century, using materials extracted from the Moon and later from asteroids.”
You might start your education with Jerry Pournelle, PhD’s book A Step Farther Out.
There’s not only a “Planet B” but an alphabet soup of planets, not just in this solar system but around stars just being looked at for the first time by telescopes scientists and engineers have launched to look from orbits above the earth’s atmosphere … and by probes that have taken closer looks at the other planets, moons, asteroids, and comets in our own solar system.
You live in Beverly Hills, Bill Maher. That’s a short drive to Caltech/NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. You might have the show you produce Vice take you on a visit.
Or you might just take a look at the lovely photo of Planet Earth that accompanies this article. It was taken by humans who flew a rocket to outer space.
Note: I have just purchased the domains PlanetBSociety — org, com, net, and info as a site to encourage human exploration, colonization, and industrialization outside the Earth’s atmosphere, including a near-future human homestake on Mars.
I’m looking to hand the creation of the Planet B Society and development and management of these domains to someone robustly committed to this goal, and in particular as a repudiation to those mundane custardheads demonstrating today for this planet, as wonderful as it is, to be the cemetery for the human species.
J Neil Schulman
Remember 1997’s movie Con Air, about a prisoner-transport flight?
A few years later after 9/11 all commercial airlines became prisoner transport flights.
I once was offered a free travel voucher for a future flight to give up my confirmed seat. I pocketed the voucher and took my existing ticket to another airline and was in the air within two hours.
That said, we have to stop acting as if an airline ticket is any sort of “contract.” It isn’t. There’s no such thing as a contract where one party has rights and the other party has none. What exists today in the commercial airline industry, pretending to be contracts, are weasel words written by lawyers that promise precisely nothing. Airline ticket boilerplate language is adapted from railroad ticket boilerplate which also promised absolutely nothing. These non-contracts are enforced by government at all levels, capriciously arresting any passenger who asserts his rights.
United Airlines doesn’t have a leg to stand on even by its own convoluted rules. See United Airlines’ Contract of Carriage Document. It turns out that the United flight wasn’t “oversold” as originally claimed and that United’s own procedures do not include mandatory disembarkation of already boarded passengers but only apply to ticketed passengers denied boarding on oversold flights — neither condition applying in the case of a seated passenger violently assaulted by rent-a-cops at the demand of United employees.
United employees and their goons, whether government cops or rent-a-cops, need to go to prison for aggravated assault on and false arrest of Dr. David Dao.
So let’s recognize how United and other commercial airlines treat paying passengers for what it is: corporate-statist horseshit meant to dominate the passenger who has zero legal rights.
The commercial airlines are not operating in a free market but are a restricted-trade cartel with the FAA, the TSA, and municipal airports enforcing the mercantilist rules. No free-market entity would be able to oversell the seats for a flight — competitors would immediately appear to sell tickets to the overflow and a market equilibrium would appear with flights departing under 100% capacity.
Airlines would have to compete for passengers not only with discounts but also more spacious seating, better food and beverage service, comfortable rest rooms, Internet access, electric power, and in-flight entertainment.
But airlines don’t have to compete for passengers because the competition is locked out. The FAA is in collusion with the commercial airlines to restrict competition:
Back in the 1960’s when I started flying an economy seat on a Boeing 747 had more spacious seats, gave access to a passenger lounge, and served meals and snacks superior to First Class service today.
Screw the commercial airlines. Screw any government-guaranteed mercantilist cartel.
Here are a couple of outfits that want to do to the commercial airline cartel what Uber and Lyft did to the medallion taxicabs:
Betty Shelby is a Tulsa, OK, police officer about to be tried on manslaughter charges for shooting a passive, unarmed man named Terence Crutcher.
Shelby is a middle-aged white female.
Crutcher was a middle-aged black male.
Of course every talking head on TV is talking about this case through the lens of race.
I don’t think this case about about race.
I think this is about size and gender.
Betty Shelby couldn’t confront a man who towered over her and outweighed her without her service handgun. Despite the man she was attempting to bark orders at not attacking her but moving slowly away from her with his hands raised, she saw him as a lethal threat. So when they reached an angle when she could not see his hands for an instant — and in her fevered imagination thinking he was reaching into his car for a weapon — she shot and killed him.
There was no gun in his car for Terence Crutcher to be reaching for. Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher because she panicked.
Do I need to say it? Maybe this death would not have happened if grandmothers were not given guns and badges with the expectation that a small woman is equally as enabled to bark control orders at a large man as — oh, I don’t know — another large man.
I’m 6’2″, obese, and have mobility issues. If Officer Shelby ordered me to my knees my failure to obey might well cost me my life because I’m not capable of complying and she would have panicked.
I don’t know who should be sent to prison for this manslaughter of a slow-moving, non-threatening, and unarmed man — Terrified Little Grandma Shelby or the idiot who hired her as a cop under the moronic theory that giving a mouse a gun makes it qualified to subdue a bear.
Ever since the Libertarian Party was formed in December 1971 there has been a hope by some that electing libertarians to high office could slow or reverse the march to greater government control over private affairs.
We just had a crystal-clear proof that it’s a fatally-flawed theory.
In 2016 the American electorate voted for a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress pledged to repeal the Democratic-Party-passed Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
The Republican leadership in the House and Senate crafted a bill that was alleged to do that. It would have repealed the tax penalty for those who did not purchase health insurance. But that’s about the only “repeal” that would have been meaningful since nothing in the bill would have lowered healthcare insurance premiums or expanded healthcare options.
Even that bill failed to pass, leaving the current laws unchanged.
Debates endlessly rehash everything except the obvious: only a small caucus of Republican legislators had any desire to repeal the ACA and the GOP replacement bill was merely a reshuffling of how government-provided benefits were to be managed.
After two terms of railing against the Democratic Party’s health-care law the Republican Party turned out to be derailed even for its own.
There’s a lesson here for all political observers, but particularly libertarians: socialistic programs, once enacted into law, can’t be repealed. Politics, itself, foils it.
Republicans and Democrats — and Libertarians, if ever elected to political power — are constrained by the nature of politics: a game of Three-Card Monte by which a mark is cheated out of his money. A politician shows only the benefits available to the mark and conceals the costs to the mark.
The Republicans never had any intent to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. It was empty campaign rhetoric.
Donald Trump knew that.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan knew that.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi knew that.
Freedom Caucus ally Senator Rand Paul knew that.
The only people who didn’t know it were the marks — the poor working American.
If Republicans want to repeal the Individual Income Tax ACA Mandate they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to make it legal to purchase health-insurance policies across state lines they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to make it legal for medical doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and witch doctors to practice throughout the United States regardless of where they studied and previously practiced, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to allow Americans to buy drugs and supplements across state and national borders without federal interdiction or penalty, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to stop the War on Drugs, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
But they won’t because just as much as Democrats, Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone’s medical choices or well-being. All they care about is maintaining their ability to fleece you and hand out the benefits to those from whom they want votes.
Two of my favorite authors – Robert A Heinlein and Ayn Rand – favored a limited government that would provide an effective national defense against foreign invaders and foreign spies. Rand died March 6, 1982; Heinlein on May 8, 1988 – both of them well before domestic terrorism by foreign nationals or immigrants was a major political issue.
Both Heinlein and Rand, however, were aware of domestic political violence, industrial sabotage, and foreign espionage by both foreigners and immigrants, going back before their own births — Rand February 2, 1905, Heinlein July 7, 1907.
Both Heinlein and Rand wrote futuristic novels portraying totalitarianism (including expansive government spying on its own citizens) within the United States. Both authors also portrayed in their fiction writing and discussed in their nonfiction writing the chaos caused by capricious government control over individual lives and private property.
In their tradition, I’ve done quite a bit of that, also, in my own fiction and nonfiction.
So has my libertarian friend author Brad Linaweaver, whose writings I try never to miss an opportunity to plug.
Brad, like myself, writes in the tradition of Heinlein and Rand – more so even than I do, since Brad also favors limited government while I am an anarchist. Nonetheless I am capable of making political observations and analysis from a non-anarchist viewpoint.
We come to this day in which Brad and I find ourselves without the comfort and living wisdom of Robert A. Heinlein and Ayn Rand. We are now both in our sixties, old enough to be libertarian literary elders.
Oh, we’re not the only ones. L. Neil Smith still writes libertarian novels and opines on his own The Libertarian Enterprise. There are others of our “libertarian writers’ mafia” still living and writing, but none as politically focused as we are – and often, in our opinion, not as good at keeping their eyes on the ball.
We see a duly-elected president whose legitimacy has been severely compromised by the very national intelligence agencies tasked with protecting that legitimacy.
We see in the United States official government intelligence operatives tasked with detecting and disrupting foreign threats yet by ubiquitous domestic surveillance and selective leaks instead act to advance their own partisan policy objectives. This clandestine force has invented a completely false narrative — paralleling the John Birch Society’s paranoid charges against President Dwight D. Eisenhower — that President Trump is a Russian agent.
We see a foreign-based journalistic service, Wikileaks, that acts as the Fourth Estate intended by the American founders – informing the American people of what our government is up to behind our backs – while our domestic major media almost universally have replaced independent news coverage with partisan talking points and debate.
Our president, in his belief that the military needs to be well-outfitted to perform its job of national defense, nonetheless seems intent on outfitting the military to fight the last war, not the next ones.
We see the two major political parties debate existing and even new entitlements as if the government — already twenty trillion dollars in debt and with ten times that in unfunded mandates — has a way to pay for these transfers of earned wealth other than life-destroying taxes combined with increased reliance on Federal Reserve issued fiat money leading to life-destroying hyperinflation.
Oh, national defense? The excuse for that “limited” government?
It doesn’t work.
The American military is so bogged down in foreign quagmires there isn’t even enough money to pay for as basic a national defensive force as the United States Coast Guard.
The Transportation Security Administration — charged with stopping “another 9/11″ — commits daily sexual assault on airline passengers while attempting (often not even successfully) to disarm the very civilian passengers who time after time have been the only effective militia stopping terrorist attacks.
The government is so focused on keeping out foreign workers to “protect” American jobs that it fails to recognize that these same foreign workers – because of their local proximity — must be deputized as the front line of defense to detect the terrorists camouflaged among them.
Writing in the days immediately following the 9/11 attacks – before there was even a Department of Homeland Security joining a shadow government/deep state in being more afraid of the American people than actual foreign threats – I noted that the American people, well-armed and staged at points of weakness, had to be the primary defense against terrorist attacks planned in secrecy and launched without warning.
Instead we have a Security State that disables the people’s ability to defend and protect ourselves, and instead has become more of a threat to the people’s privacy and liberty than foreign and immigrant terrorists post-9/11 attacks.
That Security State is now a direct threat to whatever government Heinlein and Rand would have seen as necessary — especially the Executive.
I don’t know what to tell you to do to fix this problem since as an anarchist I have no faith in government to begin with.
I do know, however, that there are good people – I include in that President Trump and Brad Linaweaver – who think it conceivably can be fixed.
Short of a revolutionary libertarian underground such as the one I’ve portrayed in my novel and movie Alongside Night, I ask them:
We’ve been hearing a lot in the news about applications for a “FISA court” warrant by someone in the executive branch — possibly by request of the 44th President, or the previous Attorney General, or by someone in the FBI, or elsewhere in the “intelligence” community — to conduct electronic surveillance in a building owned and occupied by the then Republican nominee for president, and currently the 45th President, Donald J. Trump.
But no application for such a warrant was ever made to a federal judge, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.
So what is this so-called FISA court?
Let’s start with everything the Constitution of the United States has to say about the federal Judiciary and its jurisdiction:
Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;–to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;–to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;–to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;–to controversies between two or more states;–between a state and citizens of another state;– between citizens of different states;–between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit, in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ….
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Note the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution, which limit the jurisdiction of the federal government to only those powers specifically mentioned in the Constitution:
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Now, here’s what Wikipedia tells us about FISA:
The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) is a U.S. federal court established and authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Such requests are made most often by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Congress created FISA and its court as a result of the recommendations by the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee. Its powers have evolved to the point that it has been called “almost a parallel Supreme Court.”
Since 2009, the court has been relocated to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. For roughly thirty years of its history (prior to 2009), it was housed on the sixth floor of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.
In 2013, a top-secret order issued by the court, which was later leaked to the media from documents culled by Edward Snowden, required a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records – including those for domestic calls – to the NSA.
Main article: United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and enabled it to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies (primarily the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency) against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the U.S. The court is located within the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. The court is staffed by eleven judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve seven-year terms.
So, these 11 judges are not part of the federal judiciary. They are not appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. Their appointment by the Chief Justice of the United States may qualify them as clerks to the Chief Justice but the Chief Justice has no constitutional authority to appoint other judges, and such appointments made by the Chief Justice certainly do not meet the constitutional standard for considering or issuing warrants for anything — and certainly not in a secret kangaroo court.
We see now the “shadow” government has its own secret court and its own goons to carry out its secret orders.
The President of the United States is now learning that such powers have been targeting him and his administration in what appears like nothing other than an attempted coup d’etat by his political enemies, likely loyal to the previous president.
This is something that belongs not in our daily news but in a play by Shakespeare.
Edward Snowden went rogue to alert the American people to this danger.
President Donald Trump, who during his campaign declared Edward Snowden a traitor (he’s not; see the Constitution’s definition of treason quoted above) should reconsider his campaign statement and pardon Edward Snowden so that Snowden might return to the United States and advise President Trump as to what intelligence tools are being used by a hidden and unaccountable power structure to target whoever might attempt to bring them to justice.
Good morning. It’s Monday morning, February 20, 2017, and this is J. Neil Schulman with commentary.
Today the Internet Movie Data Base — IMDb — deleted all its discussion boards. These were message boards for starting topics and posting replies on movies, television, and individuals who were credited in movies and television.
In 1999, seven years before I listed Lady Magdalene’s, my first movie, on IMDb, I started and replied to comments in the IMDb message boards. I found the discussions collegial and enjoyable.
IMDb.com is a division of Amazon.com, as is Withoutabox.com, a service for submitting independent films for festival play. IMDb encouraged indie filmmakers such as myself to make as much use of IMDb as possible to promote our films, including posting background info in the IMDb message boards.
So I did, and that’s when the message boards turned into a nightmare for me.
Withoutabox asked first-time directors to fill out a survey and encouraged us to share it to the IMDb message boards. One of the questions was obvious: what movie directors did we consider influences? I answered with my favorites: Kubrick, Hitchcock, Preminger.
The next thing I knew was a spate of messages: “Schulman thinks he’s the next Kubrick, Hitchcock, Preminger!”
Anything I replied after that was a Chinese finger trap: the harder I tried to pull away the tighter it held me.
From that day in 2006 through the shut down of the IMDb message boards today I was followed by what I soon learned were “trolls” — anonymous writers using multiple “sock puppet” accounts — who worked to destroy the lives and works of anyone working in the film or television business that they could.
Did it require any actual reasons? I don’t know. I think it might be that it was the use of power for the sake of power. They did it because they could and it felt good to feel empowered, even if it was only the power to destroy. I don’t think any personal animus was even required.
I was a prime target. I was accused of making up the film-festival awards Lady Magdalene’s won. I was accused of writing the positive reviews my movie received, or having my friends write them. When I announced Kevin Sorbo would be starring in Alongside Night I was accused of lying about it.
IMDb has user ratings for movies that have started play, ratings from one to ten. The trolls used their multiple accounts so that overnight hundreds of “1” ratings appeared for both my movies on days the movie had played nowhere for months, and from countries where the movie had never been seen. These ratings are quoted all over the Internet, including on Amazon’s own catalog pages.
Positive user reviews were called “fake” and downvoted while negative user reviews were lauded by dozens of accounts.
Complaints on “Help” boards just increased the trolling exponentially. Asking for help from IMDb staff did too, convincing me that some of the trolls worked inside IMDb, and that IMDb was encouraging trolls to increase the site’s traffic — likely as a statistic IMDb management could show the parent company, Amazon.
It didn’t stop at IMDb. The trolls went to Amazon when Lady Magdalene’s first appeared as a streaming video and a DVD, and dozens of killer one-star reviews appeared, many with the exact same paragraphs, word for word. The trolls found my books and started trashing them, too. I pulled Lady Magdalene’s off sale from Amazon for several years in an attempt to mitigate the damage to my overall reputation.
I was accused of writing my own Wikipedia article and that was stripped of almost all true bio info posted by my fan base, replaced by vicious falsehoods put there by my detractors.
I’ve written about most of this before. Why am I bringing it up again now? To gloat that the IMDb trolls have to find another swamp to infest?
I’m here to point out that trolling has become mainstream. The issue is no longer destruction of indie filmmakers on a now-defunct entertainment media message board. It’s that IMDb was a Potemkin Village to train an army of mainstream pundits who are now using the same strategy and tactics to destroy political opponents.
Milo Yiannopoulos has made a meal out of outrageous behavior, trolling liberals on college campuses and in the media by pretending to dark positions only because doing so triggers them. It became unfunny when it resulted in rioting, vandalism, and arson.
Richard Spencer giving a Nazi salute to Donald Trump was similarly performance art designed to gain attention by feeding into the Never-Trump narrative that Trump was surrounding himself with bigots. Spencer is a low-grade tribalist whose nationalism is so wimpy no actual historical Nazi — or even neo-Nazi — would be as broad-minded and inclusive. He’s a poseur.
So we get from the little fish to the whale.
Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, is now reduced to being me, with his hand stuck in the Chinese finger trap.
TV comics — Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Maher, John Oliver, even the “nice guys” Jimmy Fallon and James Corden — have turned their shows into non-stop Trump Trolling. Saturday Night Live has become Trump Trolling Central.
The mainstream news media do to Trump exactly what the IMDb trolls did to me: find nothing good and spin everything bad, even when you’re saying something the trolls had previously stated as their own position.
Trump trolls the trolls back like I tried to do, only he has an immensely bigger fan base than I ever had. But Trump has counter-trolling skill sets I never had.
When Kellyanne Conway misspoke and made a reference to a non-existent Bowling Green Massacre, the news, commentary and comedy media obssessed on it for days.
I think Trump has a learning curve.
So in a Florida rally when President Trump referred to something horrific in Sweden that also never happened, these same media jumped on the red meat again. I don’t think this second time was accidental. I think it’s a calculated diversionary strategy to move the attention-deficit news cycle away from the false narrative — already refuted by Julian Assange — that Russia put Trump in power.
My friend, writer, filmmaker, publisher Brad Linaweaver, has been warning me for years of the destructive potential of the Internet. I always argued back that without the Internet I would be completely invisible since the major mainstream media — right, left, and even libertarian — tend to downplay me if not marginalize me completely.
But when I see how this destructive creature of the Internet has now spread to all other media — when I see a civil war between a crazy far left and a demented far right — I see Brad’s point.
I see the remaining sane libertarians who haven’t been body-snatched by puppet masters already, drowning in a polluted ocean between them.
Changing metaphors, as I must:
The IMDb troll is now the size of Godzilla, and God save Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, and us all.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his 2/18/1997 “Vulcan Mindmeld with God” novelist/Twilight-Zone writer/filmmaker/actor/talk host J. Neil Schulman makes two of his Kindle books free for a few days.
Las Vegas, NV-AZ (OPENPRESS) Today, February 18, 2017, is the 20th anniversary of author J. Neil Schulman’s eight-hour, noon to eight pm “Vulcan Mindmeld with God” that ended his atheism without resort to religion, scripture, or faith.
To celebrate that two-decade anniversary Schulman is making the Kindle editions of the two books resulting from that experience — his comedy fantasy novel Escape from Heaven and his autobiographical The Heartmost Desire — free on Amazon for a few days, beginning Saturday February 18th.
What would you do if God prayed to you for help?
“This is Duj Pepperman and you’re on 680 K-TALK.”
“Duj, this is God, calling from Heaven. I can’t believe I got through. I’m one of your biggest fans!”
With this first-ever call-in from God, an L.A. radio talk-show host is sent on a mission from God that takes him to Heaven – then back to earth – on a rollercoaster adventure that includes meetings with the most famous celebrities in Heaven and on earth. Along the way he learns the origins of our universe, the meaning of life, and how the War between God and Satan will turn out. A comic journey that is inspiring atheists, agnostics, Christians, and Jews, and is generating controversy even among Evangelical Christians!
The Heartmost Desire is author/filmmaker J. Neil Schulman’s most personal book, containing his manifesto for why liberty is necessary for human self-realization and happiness, and his autobiographical description of the experiences that led him from atheism to God, but still relying on reason and rejecting religion, scripture, and faith.
J. Neil Schulman is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His 1979 Prometheus-Hall-of-Fame novel Alongside Night — endorsed by Milton Friedman, Anthony Burgess, and Ron Paul — projected the economic meltdown. It’s now his second feature film, available on Amazon Prime along with his award-winning comic thriller, Lady Magdalene’s, starring Nichelle Nichols. His 1983 novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, won the Prometheus Award, was adapted into a Laserium show, and Robert A. Heinlein told the 1983 L-5 Society, “Every libertarian should read it!” Schulman scripted the CBS revived Twilight Zone episode, “Profile in Silver.” Full bio at http://www.pulpless.com/jneil/jnsbio.html