Analysis

Unidentified

What’s the most frightening thing about UFO’s — Unidentified Flying Objects? After all, it’s common to look up and see birds, aircraft, clouds, and other things flying in the sky.

What’s frightening is the first word in the acryonym: “Unidentified.” We’re scared because certain objects perform maneuvers unlike other things we see in the sky and we don’t know what they are.

Alleged UFO

Remember the phrase “Going postal?”

According to the Wikipedia article the expression originates in a series of more than 20 workplace rage cases between 1986 and 1997 where United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder.

Postal Workers Statue

Despite my libertarian suspicion that working at a government post office would be such a bureaucratic nightmare — akin to the 1985 satire Brazil — that psychotic violence is predictable, Wikipedia informs us that postal workers actually have a lower rate of workplace violence than in comparable private-sector jobs. Nonetheless, the phrase entered popular usage to mean a stultifying job site where explosive behavior is understandable. See the hilarious 1999 Mike Judge movie Office Space.

Now.

One week ago 14-year-old high-school student Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after bringing a science project to school showing the inner workings of a digital clock. Never mind that the device had nothing in its workings that looked like a bomb — no sticks of dynamite, no liquids like in Die Hard 2 that appeared to be explosive when mixed, no cell phone that could have remotely detonated a charge left in his locker. It was enough that it looked like a clock, a necessary component shown in dozens or hundreds of movies and TV episodes for any time bomb. Zero tolerance, you scared the crap out of us, kid, bring out the handcuffs. In the years after Columbine High School, that a student’s device was “Unidentified” — plus the kid had a Middle Eastern name — was sufficient to assume the kid was going postal.

Ahmed and his Clock

It’s September 2015, fourteen years after September 11, 2001. The United States has never recovered from what happened that day. It’s still a benchmark for every political discussion about what the government should do to “keep us safe.” Since 9/11 the Bill of Rights — once considered the constitutional centerpiece of American civil liberties — has been made about as irrelevant in practical politics and jurisprudence as the Magna Carta. Congress passes laws, the President issues executive orders, and the courts ignore massive violations of what except for wartime — the Civil War, the two World Wars — would have been unthinkable violations of individual privacy and freedom.

World Trade Center 9/11

But in terms of the number of U.S. troops deployed in active combat zones, the United States is closer to being at peace than at any time in recent memory. Yet the operations of government are not only premised on being in a state of heightened alert but assume that embedded among the civilian population are enemy saboteurs waiting to repeat 9/11 … or worse.

It has turned our major news media into war propaganda media, not censored by a government office but defining what is an approved talking point — an allowable subject for discussion — entirely as if such a censor had his finger on the dump button.

Orwell’s Big Brother State in his prophetic novel Nineteen-eighty-four would have been overwhelmed by the challenge of running a propaganda operation like the Fox News Channel — FNC — an acronym which might as well stand for the Fox National Committee akin to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC).

This was my response when my friend Brad Linaweaver told me he thought the Republican Party was more responsive to FNC’s Chairman Roger Ailes than to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

The events of September 11, 2001 — and every day of violence since then — have ultimately left the American people — and often other people outside our national borders — with what I’ll now call Unidentified Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — UPTSD.

Something is Out There. We do not know when it will attack us and bring on an Apocalyptic Day of Judgment. We’re so scared we can’t think straight.

Our movies and TV shows reflect our obsession with Living Dead who still look vaguely human but are in truth hideous monsters living among us.

Our news shows — the commercials on news shows — report on topics that when I was young could not even have been imagined, much less discussed on television. Same-sex marriage? Transgendered people? Pills that produce erections? Fetal body parts? Orgasms?

In the 1960’s Walter Cronkite or Huntley-Brinkley would have been thrown off the air if they had done a story on any of these. Even Paddy Chayefsky’s and Sidney Lumet’s brilliant 1976 movie satire Network — with fictitious news anchor Howard Beale’s on-air screed against “bullshit” — is comparatively tame compared to an average hour of 2015 television.

A comedian such as John Oliver is today as respected a source of investigative journalism as former WW2 foreign correspondent Edward R. Murrow was on CBS News in the 1950’s — this now when there are three domestic cable news operations, four major broadcast networks, and a World Wide Web with 24/7 ability to cover news.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Call this social insanity what authors before me have.

Heinlein writing science-fiction in the 1940’s called it “the crazy years.”

Futurist Alvin Toffler called it “future shock.”

I’m calling it UPTSD — a general social malaise in which ordinary people have a shortened attention span in which eternal verities are buried under the 24-hour news cycle and in which even totalitarian brainwashing has to be refreshed on a daily basis because yesterday’s brainwashing is already history.

Brad Linaweaver sees that as the Death of Western Civilization and the Enlightenment.

Me, I take that level playing field, where their ever-changing daily propaganda is no less crazy than my own anarchist rantings, as good news.

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Alongside Night and Libertarian Movies


I write this the day after the 2015 Anthem Libertarian Film Festival closed without playing the most focused, hard-core and just-released libertarian movie — the one based on my novel of the same title, the only one where the libertarian author also wrote, produced, and directed the adapted movie — my own movie, Alongside Night.

Anthem Film Festival

So why should anyone else give a damn? Why should even I give a damn when Alongside Night was one of the opening-night movies previewed in a rough cut at the 2013 Freedomfest that hosts the Anthem Film Festival and a few days ago my movie just had its commercial release the same weekend as the 2015 Anthem Film Festival/Freedomfest as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack … and from all indications my movie has a bright future in multiple-venue and multiple platform distribution?

Alongside Night Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack cover

It’s because I’m one of that rare breed of novelists, screenwriters, and directors able to package a commercial-grade story with core libertarian themes that can also entertain people who disagree with its ideas. People who haven’t done any of this but are in positions of critical judgment over the artistic output of those like us who have done it need to pay attention.

I have four decades in as a celebrated libertarian novelist with major celebrity endorsements, awards, and reviews on my books; also as a libertarian editor and book publisher; a journalist and opinion writer published in major newspapers and magazines; screenwriter for primetime network TV; and I also won three film-festival awards for the first feature film, Lady Magdalene’s, that I produced, wrote, and directed — including a “Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Values” given to me at the 2011 Anthem Film Festival. Got that? The very libertarian film festival that I’m calling out here already gave me an award and its parent convention already played my movie that they rejected as unworthy.

Here’s the Anthem Film Festival’s description on Amazon.com’s Withoutabox website inviting filmmakers to submit:

U.S. Narrative Feature
Narrative features must highlight a libertarian theme. They can be any genre–comedy, drama, action, mystery, etc. They must present a problem created by authoritarian control and resolved by personal innovation or free enterprise. The theme may be subtle. The authority could be a parent, employer, or school board, for example; it does not have to be a government. We are looking for films that celebrate individual initiative, personal accountability, and self-reliance.

Say what else you want about Alongside Night as a movie. Maybe you don’t like my storytelling, my directing, the acting performances, the editing, the music, the visual effects. But if you’re a libertarian wanting your values to compete in the marketplace with movies carrying anti-libertarian content and promoting anti-libertarian themes, you still have to acknowledge that the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival’s call for entries describes Alongside Night. If Alongside Night had played at the 2015 Anthem Film Festival it would have been the only narrative feature film this year.

After receiving 300 film submissions the Anthem Film Festival did not select to screen a single narrative feature film — that means a feature-length movie telling a fictitious or fictionalized story, whether drama or comedy — at its 2015 festival. It played only documentaries and short films that usually appeal only to academics and indie film buffs — movies that with rare exception never have commercial appeal to a wide audience.

For a thriller like Alongside Night with a star-driven cast of actors with major film and TV credits, a film score by a composer with credits in dozens of major Hollywood movies and recorded by the National Symphony of Ukraine, visual effects done by a team that did effects for James Cameron’s Titanic, and produced, written, and directed by the only libertarian-feted author who crossed over into being a libertarian feature filmmaker — the only major libertarian movie release this season — not to play at the only film festival claiming to be libertarian is disgusting. That’s a true statement even when made by the subject of that observation, himself.

I don’t need the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival for my movie to succeed both in finding its audience and getting noticed in the media. See my article “Making Liberty Go Viral.”

Las Vegas Weekly article by Josh Bell

But I already saw a previous attempt at a libertarian film festival — Jason Apuzzo and Govinda Murty’s 2004-2008 Liberty Film Festival go under as soon as it aligned itself with the neocon David Horowitz Freedom Center.

This year’s FreedomFest, run by Anthem festival director Jo Ann Skousen’s husband, Mark Skousen — allowed GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Marco Rubio a keynote platform speech at the convention without having a libertarian interlocutor to challenge them on their anti-libertarian positions.

A festival representing itself as pro-liberty — and that’s both Freedomfest and the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival — needs what Andy Levy said about me on Fox News’ Red Eye — “full-on” libertarians who don’t soften their expression to appeal to liberals in the media or conservatives inside the beltway.

As I already said, I don’t need Freedomfest or the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival. I can get my movie out without their help.

Official Alongside Night Movie Website

But we do need libertarian conventions and film festivals in general to popularize libertarian ideas and get them traction in the mainstream culture.

If Jo Ann and Mark Skousen are not to follow Jason Apuzzo and Govinda Murty into having their outreach diverted by statists in libertarian clothing, they’d better pay attention to why I have a successful four-decade career as a libertarian breaking through into the mainstream media: New York and London book publishers, the Los Angeles Times book review and opinion pages, magazines like National Review and Reason, CBS prime-time network television, and now commercial movie outlets.

I already posted on the Freedomfest Facebook page a suggestion for next-year speakers.

Freedomfest Speaker suggestions

I strongly advise them to stop using trivial differences of personal taste or marginalization of the undiluted libertarian expression as a reason to sabotage their own core mission of popularizing “free minds and free markets” and to take my decades of experience into account.

They might also take into account that if Pat Heller and I had not run into each other at FreedomFest in 2011 when I got my Anthem award for Lady Magdalene’s, Alongside Night never would have secured the financing to get made.

Alongside Night Executive Producer Patrick A. Heller with Anthem Film Festival Director Jo Ann Skousen
Alongside Night Executive Producer Patrick A. Heller
with Anthem Libertarian Film Festival Director Jo Ann Skousen
Photo Courtesy of Liberty’s Outlook

Like or not, Mark and Jo Ann Skousen are godparents to the movie production of Alongside Night.

Postscript July 18, 2015:

In email correspondence following our public exchange of comments Jo Ann and Mark Skousen wished to make clear that they do not in any way endorse my films, and I wished to make clear that the film festival run by Jo Ann Skousen judges libertarian content in films to be anathema. Mark Skousen also wrote that I’m quickly becoming persona non grata at FreedomFest. If FreedomFest does not reverse its course and stop providing higher profile platforms for Republicans and Neocons than hard-core Rothbardian/LeFevrian/Konkinian libertarians, that will be a badge of honor.

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Flag Banning


I’m a native New Yorker. Had I been alive in the past centuries with my current beliefs I would have been a slavery Abolitionist and if possible both an activist in the Underground Railroad smuggling slaves to freedom in Canada and an agitator for slave rebellions against slaveholders in states where slavery was legal.

That said, I oppose the current move by retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Sears and eBay to ban sale of merchandise displaying the Confederate Battle Flag and of Warner Brothers to stop making toy “Dukes of Hazzard” cars carrying the Confederate flag decal.

Dukes of Hazzard General Lee
Dukes of Hazzard General Lee

This wiping out of American history, putting the Confederate flag into an Orwellian Memory Hole, can only benefit a totalitarian view where the honoring of any rebellion against central government is tagged as unallowable. The cause of preserving slavery was an evil motive for rebellion but the Constitution as permitting no exit clause for dissenters against hegemonic centralism is also evil.

I would have agreed with abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison that, if anything, the non-slave-owning states should have seceded from the Union and been a haven for slaves escaping from the slave-holding states.

Libertarians make a mistake if we believe our freedom can only be lost to government edict. The surrender without a fight to trendy historical censorship is as quick a path to tyranny.

When private companies ban merchandise because the fragile among us object, it will never stop. Banning sales of firearms and ammunition when evildoers use them against the innocent will follow. The battle flag of the American Revolution — the “Dont Tread on Me” Gadsden Flag — will disappear if some demented Tea Party zealot commits a lone-wolf act of terrorism and embraces that symbol while doing it.

And when we see drone-strike “collateral damage” burning the Stars and Stripes should Americans pull down their national flag in sympathy as well?

Abandon your past and you condemn your future.

If flags can be banned, so can books and movies.

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Absolute Paranoia

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
–Lord Acton

Secrecy begets tyranny.
–Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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.
–Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Not liking or trusting governmental power is how the United States began as a country separate from Great Britain, but as the British Lord Acton’s famous quote demonstrates you don’t need to be American like science-fiction author Robert A. Heinlein to distrust State power.

Lord Acton - Robert A. Heinlein
Lord Acton / Robert A. Heinlein

National Review editor, Rich Lowry, recently appeared on the Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity show, arguing that National Security Agency collection of metadata on a customer’s telephone messaging did not violate the customer’s Fourth Amendment right to be secure from government snooping because the metadata was not the customer’s private property but belonged to the phone company.

As an NR alumnus writer I emailed Rich pointing out that his Social Security number was issued by the government, therefore also not protectable private property, but nonetheless could be used along with other easily obtainable personal data to access bank accounts, open new lines of credit, and possibly even sell his house like in the 1995 movie The Net. Rich wrote me back with a balanced response inspiring me to write this article.

The specifics of the debate on government casting a wide net to collect information on the citizenry, ever since Edward Snowden revealed the intelligence agencies were lying about not doing it, are beside my point here. I’m not seeking a balance between government doing what the Bill of Rights forbids it to do versus the utility of government employees lawyering themselves out of these prohibitions because they imagine it will enhance national security.

What I am pointing out here is that such massive spying not only uncorks limits on government power established because of numerous examples of past abuse but also destroys trust in law itself — constitutional, legislative, regulatory, judicial, or even arbitral — because what is done in absolute secrecy is by nature exercise of absolute power.

Have you noticed how popular mass-media purveyors of political suspicion are ubiquitous, whether partisan Democrats seeing Republicans as evil incarnate, Republicans seeing Democrats through the same paranoid lens, or maverick social critics issuing jeremiads accusing both right and left as being incurably corrupt?

We are beyond the debate engendered by Edward Snowden’s revelation that government is collecting massive data on the People.

The debate now is given the inevitable corruption caused by absolute power exercised in absolute secrecy, how trustable is that data anyway?

It’s bad enough when a rogue cop can imprison a suspect by planting a gun or a bag of drugs, perhaps even smuggling it into a police station’s evidence room.

But what does it do to a person’s ability to imagine there is actually some honesty and fairness in any system of justice if those in charge of collecting the evidence do so in such secrecy, and on such a massive scale, that the rational response by someone not even an anarchist like me is absolute paranoia?

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Why Won’t Iran Make an Arms Deal with Obama?


The Fox News pundits will love this article for once because they’ll think it’s only about attacking Barack Obama.

It can’t be helped.

Yesterday the Iranian Ayatollahs made it clear there’s no middle ground in negotiations between Iran and the United States-led coalition to reach a treaty denying Iran the ability to make an atomic bomb. Considering how impactful economic sanctions have been on Iran, this is on the face of it a curiously obstinate position for the Iranian rulers to take.

In a lot of old Westerns there’s an phrase attributed to chiefs regarding treaties the United States broke with Native tribes: “White man speak with forked tongue.”

Given the recent success of the Islamic State including this week’s taking of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, there’s a renewed debate generated by the left about the wisdom of the United States invading Iraq in 2003 and by the right about withdrawing all remaining U.S. troops in 2011.

A wide spectrum of political opinion ranging from Patrick Buchanan on the right, Brad Linaweaver from libertarian minarchist quarters, and filmmaker Paul Greengrass on the left have criticized not per se the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and his rape-room sons from power. Saddam Hussein’s awful record of human-rights violations and economic banditry made him eminently worthy of being overthrown.

The primary criticism was instead not leaving the Ba’athist Party in power so U.S. forces could have withdrawn from a politically stable Iraq May 1, 2003 when President George W. Bush stood in front of a “Mission Accomplished” sign on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

A war lasting six weeks would have bled the United States — and the Iraqi people — far less than an occupation lasting eight years.

But that’s not my point here. As Paul Greengrass’s movie Green Zone portrays, the United States was making back-channel promises with the Ba’athist leadership that the U.S. would begin formal diplomatic negotiations with them if they assisted in deposing Saddam Hussein. If anyone deserves being criticized it’s not only President George W. Bush (for attacking a country that hadn’t attacked the U.S. first) but U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz breaking promises to Ba’athist leadership turning what could have been a brief war into a bloody and totally unnecessary eight-year occupation. The rise of the Islamic State is a direct result of that treachery.

Now we get to Iran and Obama.

Muammar_Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi

Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi saw what happened to Saddam Hussein for refusing to reach a deal with the United States, and went the other way. Gaddafi openly allowed inspections so the United States couldn’t invade Libya on the pretext that he, also, was amassing weapons of mass destruction; renounced any ties to terrorist groups and paid reparations for the downing of Pan Am Flight 103; and dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s well enough that the George W. Bush administration took Libya off its list of terrorist states, opened an embassy with full diplomatic hoopla from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and even a phone call from President George W. Bush ending with Bush saying, “God bless you.”

The United States was still expanding its embassy in Tripoli during the first year of the Obama admninistration.

Then the Obama administration conspired with Gaddafi’s enemies allowing him to be deposed, dragged into the streets and killed by a mob on October 20, 2011. Neither Condoleezza Rice nor George W. Bush uttered a word of protest.

The lesson to any other foreign leader was clear: Cooperating with the United States would ultimately not make any difference. Whether you were a defiant Saddam Hussein or a compliant Muammar al-Gaddafi, you were still a dead man.

The United States speaks with a forked tongue.

Now is it any wonder that Iran doesn’t think it can negotiate a treaty with the United States and feels its only safety is in getting its own arsenal of atomic bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles?

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Schooling the Academics


As I write this Cinemax is running the 1986 comedy Back to School.

The movie stars Rodney Dangerfield, the brilliant stand-up comic whose theme was always, “I get no respect.”

The theme of Back to School is Dangerfield’s, who co-wrote the story, about a successful self-made multi-millionaire whose only schooling is the School of Hard Knocks, versus snobbish and entitled academics with no real-world accomplishments who give the real-world achiever no respect. As Dangerfield’s movie portrays, the feeling is mutual.

Back to School poster

I dropped out of college, the only community college that would accept me based on a certificate of completion from a private tutorial academy, in my second semester. It wasn’t only that I was bored by instructors who couldn’t write or argue as well as I already could from what I’d learned in my own reading and teenage entrepreneurial pursuits, but the academic atmosphere itself offended me. A psychology course expected me to share my personal life with other students, all strangers, as if this were group therapy. I’d already undergone several years of private psychiatry which had been personally beneficial and knew what issues were mine to resolve, but nobody else’s business.

As well, after years of sitting in classrooms that taught me far less than days reading books I’d chosen from visits to libraries, I was impatient to test myself in the real world. I’d already achieved minor success as a photo-journalist who beginning at age 14 had sold photography to local newspapers and portrait photography to individual clients. Now, pursuing writing as my new profession, I was more interested in making sales to newspapers, magazines, and book publishers. Delaying this by sitting in classrooms that had nothing to teach me that I couldn’t teach myself more efficiently had no appeal to me. The social approval of others who would judge me not on my actual work but on academic degrees struck me as remnants of an aristocratic Old World that I thought the American Revolution was fought to disestablish.

Today, after decades in the real-world marketplace, I can acknowledge lost opportunities because I didn’t pursue academic degrees. I wasn’t entirely allergic to classrooms and audited Murray Rothbard classes in economics he taught in Brooklyn. I’ve taken extension courses in subjects that interested me at UCLA. I achieved a certificate from college courses in police work that qualified me to become a California peace officer, though I never was offered employment in the field. And I even taught a graduate course in digital publishing for the New School, based on my own early entrepreneurship in the field, to students seeking a Masters degree. One of my students was a vice-president at Prentice-Hall publishing.

Nonetheless, when in the 1990’s I applied for a full-time editorial position at Reason Magazine after having been published in Reason, National Review, the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page; had two award-winning novels published by major New York publishers; and had written for prime-time network television, Reason editor Virginia Postrel told me in a phone follow-up to my job application that I didn’t even make her top-ten for the position because I didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree.

The only paid editorial office position I ever scored in my career was working for a soft-core porn pulp magazine published by Screw Magazine’s Al Goldstein.

Today — even having achieved endorsements and praise on my writing from numerous doctorate-wielding university professors — academics with no publishing credits nearing my own in both popular media and academic journals, dominate conferences from the Independent Institute, Students for Liberty, CATO, the Reason Foundation, and conferences like PorcFest leaning to the left and FreedomFest leaning to the right — and I haven’t received a main-program-track speaking offer at any of these events for years.

I have friends like Brad Linaweaver — who holds a Masters Degree in English from the ivy-league Rollins College — who has real-world publishing credits as long or longer than my own. Academic achievement does not preclude real-world results.

But my disgust and contempt for supposedly libertarian publishers, conference organizers, and organizations that give out grants and awards for writing, publishing, and producing serious works encompassing free-market and libertarian ideas — preferencing academics over marketplace achievers like myself — makes me want to aim projectile vomit over their revanchist Old World Class.

This, alone, loses the libertarian future, and don’t think this autodidact doesn’t hate their guts because of their discriminatory lack of respect.

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Bill O’Reilly: Trade is Not Violence


In a discussion with Fox News correspondent Ed Henry on The O’Reilly Factor for April 30th, Bill O’Reilly argued that “selling heroin is not nonviolent.”

Eliminating the double negative, O’Reilly is saying that the act of selling heroin is an act of violence.

Bill O’Reilly, one of the most highly watched TV pundits of our time, either doesn’t understand English language usage or he’s deliberately conflating non-violent and violent acts in a misuse of language that would alarm George Orwell, who in his novel Nineteen-eighty-four warned of a “Newspeak” that equates opposites: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” Eric Blair, writing with the pen name George Orwell, argued that the confusion of opposites is a precondition to negating thoughtful resistance to totalitarianism.

Bill O'Reilly
Bill O’Reilly

On the premise that Bill O’Reilly is, himself, confused — rather than deliberately misusing his platform to disarm his audience intellectually — let me clarify.

Here — Bill O’Reilly — are acts of violence:

  • Throwing a punch at someone.
  • Stabbing someone.
  • Holding down someone and forcing a sexual act.
  • Shooting someone.
  • Exploding a bomb in a crowd.
  • Flying jetliners into an office tower.
  • Holding someone down and making them consume a toxic substance or injecting a toxic substance into their body against their will.

Here — Bill O’Reilly — are acts that contain no element of violence:

  • Possessing something.
  • Transporting something.
  • Concealing something.
  • Offering something in exchange for something else.
  • Giving something in exchange for something else.
  • Accepting something in exchange for something else.
  • Applying to someone’s body, at their request or with their consent, a medicinal, pharmacological, or otherwise biologically active substance.

Violence does not exist without force. Selling heroin to a consenting buyer is not a forcible act.

If I sell someone a car, it’s not my responsibility to make sure the buyer won’t drive that car drunk, or while texting.

If I sell someone guitar strings it’s not my responsibility to anticipate the possibility the E string would be used as a Garrote wire to assassinate someone.

If I sell someone cutlery it’s not my job to run a criminal background check to make sure a carving knife will not be used to commit a murder.

Heroin is merely one of dozens of opiates that can be used for pain management. Like cars, guitar strings, and dinnerware it can also be misused.

A free civilization attempts no more than preventing individuals by force or deceit from injuring others. When, instead, some people impose their will on others, whether for reasons of avarice or altruism, it is always the hubris of those who think themselves better than others and thus should rule their inferiors.

There’s an old word for that in the English language: aristocracy.

There are other words: busybody and meddler are the kindest; bully and fascist are less kind.

You have a voice. Freedom allows you to attempt to convince others that you have something to teach them, and your large audience suggests you’re good at that. You want to tell your big audience that heroin is habit-forming, and that it’s also risky using it because heroin distribution is controlled by violent illegal cartels, that’s accurate information.

John Stossel would also argue that decriminalization of a product monopolized by violent illegal cartels — as the word “decriminalize” defines — would make selling heroin in a Walmart no more violent than selling ibuprofen, single-malt scotch, or Redline.

But when you go beyond your rhetorical gift of moral persuasion and avuncular advice — when you use your position to advocate for the use of force to impose your beliefs on others — you’re no different than the criminal or terrorist co-conspirator who also believes the civilized restraint of foregoing force in dealing with others doesn’t apply to them, either.

Cross that line — even using the excuse that you’ve engaged police, bureaucrats, and soldiers to do the dirty work for you — you’re a megalomaniac criminal sociopath and an enemy of the free.

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The “Great Game” of Poker

“We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Speech to Joint Session of the United States Congress, March 3, 2015

Q: If Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help?

REP. RON PAUL: I wouldn’t do that, because I don’t expect it to happen. A Mossad leader said it would be the stupidest thing to do in the world. They’re not about to do this. And you’re supposing that if it did, why does Israel need our help? We need to get out of their way. When they want to have peace treaties, we tell them what they can do because we buy their allegiance and they sacrifice their sovereignty to us. And then they decide they want to bomb something, that’s their business, but they should suffer the consequences. When they bombed the Iraqi nuclear site, back in the ’80s, I was one of the few in Congress that said it’s none of our business and Israel should take care of themselves. Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?
2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate Nov 22, 2011

I just saw on Turner Movie Classics Humphrey Bogart’s last movie, as a sports writer turned boxing promoter, from 1956, The Harder They Fall. It’s about an oversized South American named Toro Moreno (Mike Lane) who, despite having zero boxing skills and a glass jaw, wins 23 heavyweight fights by the simple expedient of all 23 opponents being paid to take dives. So when Toro Moreno is finally in a real bout against the real world heavyweight boxing champion, he goes down in the third round with a broken jaw, and lasting that long only because his strategy is to stay away from the champ as long as possible.

The State of Israel has prevailed in all its wars to date beginning in 1948 against the combined military forces of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq; in 1967’s Six Day War against Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq; in 1973’s Yom Kippur War against Egyptian and Syrian forces; in 1976 Israeli commandos successfully rescued 102 Israeli hostages from Entebbe, Uganda; and Israel prevailed against the Palestinian Liberation Organization attacking from Lebanon in 1978 and various additional attacks from Palestinian Arabs, including rocket attacks, in the years since. In 1981 the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq’s sole nuclear reactor, under construction outside Baghdad.

Israel is rumored to possess a nuclear arsenal as well as chemical and biological weapons — but rumor is all it is since Israel has never admitted to it and no objective proof of Israel’s status as a nuclear power has ever been offered.

So I imagine a poker game in which the players are U.S. President Barack Obama; Supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei; King Salman of Saudi Arabia; Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu; and Dr. Ron Paul.

King Salman is holding markers from the United States and Barack Obama is holding markers from Israel. It’s an open secret that it’s not entirely an honest game because some players can signal other players; yet it’s still interesting because the players do conceal their true hands and the game is based almost entirely on the ability of several of the players to bluff the others. Dr. Ron Paul, the only player who’s not a Head of State, has been allowed into the game only because he’s willing to play all his cards openly and his cards inform the other players.

Iran and Israel both have to convince the other players that they have powerful hands (military forces) to remain in the game. Israel has to convince the other players that it has a nuclear arsenal and Iran has to convince the other players that it can have a nuclear arsenal in short order.

The United States has a massive nuclear arsenal and the most deployable, effective, and well-armed military in human history. But the United States is in massive debt and to avoid what I’ve termed Yankruptcy has to use its military in ways pleasing to foreign powers such as Saudi Arabia, which is willing to inject massive amounts of investment capital into the United States economy all the while financing radical Wahabis whose agenda is an Islamic caliphate that attacks or at least dominates the United States and as many other powers as possible.

Dr. Ron Paul is showing four Aces in Hearts.

King Salman has four Aces in Diamonds.

Ali Khamenei has a pair of jacks in Clubs.

Barack Obama is holding a Royal Flush in Spades. (Racial reference acknowledged but unavoidable — it’s simply the highest hand possible in Poker.)

Barack Obama is the only player who actually knows the cards in Netanyahu’s hand.

King Salman is using his markers to signal Barack Obama both to fold and to use its markers with Israel to signal Netanyahu to fold.

The outcome of this game is entirely in the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu because Neyanyahu is the best player at the table and is utterly willing to raise to the maximum regardless of his hand.

But ironically, if Obama successfully uses his marker to get Netanyahu to fold, and himself folds because King Salman wants him to, then Ron Paul wins the hand.


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Fox News Attacks the U.S. Army and Traditional American Values

There is something inherently wrong with the armed forces that defend us. We now know the Veterans Administration ignored hundreds of sick veterans begging for medical care to the point where some, perhaps many, lingered and died while waiting for treatment in a rigged system. At the same time we know the Pentagon is knocking itself out to render special treatment for a homosexual/transexual private convicted under the Espionage Act — a traitor, not a whistleblower. Let’s review. Private Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, is serving a 30-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth for making public more than 700,000 classified documents. He did this while serving as a low-level intelligence officer in Iraq. He also latched on to an Apache helicopter mission that resulted in civilian casualties. Manning passed on this mountain of explosive secrets to Wikileaks traitor Julian Assange and another fellow computer hacker who ultimately turned him into the feds. Considering time already spent in the brig Private Manning, who is diagnosed as suffering from gender dysphoria, will be eligible for parole in seven years. In the meantime he’s demanding transfer to a civilian prison so he can avail himself of hormone therapy, something the Army does not do. In fact, Army policy prohibits transgenders from serving. Figure that one out. The feckless Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is bent on banishing this restriction and allowing transgenders in he Army so the public would be forced to pay for expensive transgender medical treatment, including sex-change operations. You might call this idea just one more iteration of Obamacare. Private Manning says he wants to live life as a woman from now on and the ever-willing left, along with their cohorts in the media, now refer to Private Manning as “her” and “she.” His legal name change is seen as enough reason to change his gender. He even posed for a picture wearing a blonde wig and lipstick. Policy makers for our military forces especially in the Army have created a public square to experiment with social change. Inevitably they have had to face the consequences of caving in to the latest fashion forced on them by liberal agendas. Private Manning’s story is that of a mentally disturbed young man with a history of trouble in and out of the Army whose ego led him to betray his country. Why must taxpayers indulge him?
–Liz Trotta, America’s News Headquarters Commentary, FNC, May 17, 2014

I’ve been aware for a long time that commentators on the Fox News Channel get away with the most extremely jingoistic, the most atavistic, the most bigoted opinions in weekend commentaries that would make even the average weekday Fox viewer cringe.

But the commentary quoted above from FNC’s Liz Trotta managed to surprise even me.

My friend, Brad Linaweaver, calls Fox News the Pentagon Channel because of all the 24-hour news channels Fox is the one that tends to support the agenda of those who find the Pentagon’s ungodly budget always too small, no projection of military force anywhere in the world too unattractive, and no invasion of privacy or restriction of liberty unnecessary. After seeing lively debates on Fox on all these subjects — often dragging in quasi-libertarians like Senator Rand Paul or in-house personalities like Bob Beckel or Kennedy to take the opposition — I’d have to say that Brad is being only slightly sardonic.

But unquestionably Fox, like much of the degraded talk-radio right today, has adopted the worst propaganda techniques that used to be the patented reserve of party-line Communists and World War II era Nazis. It’s a perfect storm of spinning half truths or facts presented in a misleading context, tunnel-vision ideology, and ad hominem slurs replacing reasoned discourse.

This was the technique perfected by Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, but for those not a student of history like Mr. Linaweaver, one needs go no further than the average anonymous Internet troll to find this level of vile attack.

In the above commentary Ms. Trotta manages to conflate the Department of Veterans Affairs — which does not treat active military — with the Army’s healthcare policies for active-duty military, and conflates both with the Affordable Care Act that addresses only civilian medical care.

Ms. Trotta manages to forget that homosexuals now serve openly in the U.S. military forces so a “feckless” Defense Secretary (who as an Army volunteer serving in combat earned two Purple Hearts) considering extending this policy to transgenders isn’t that much of a stretch.

But Ms. Trotta — in both managing to dismiss “gender dysphoria” as a treatable medical condition while simultaneously dismissing transgendering as a passing fashion — also does not know or chooses to ignore that as late as 1973 the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality in its official diagnostic manual as a mental illness.

Private Chelsea Manning
Private Chelsea Manning formerly Specialist Bradley Manning
Visible on uniform: National Defense Service Medal,
Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal,
Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon,
10th Mountain Division Combat Service Identification Badge,
One Overseas Service Bar, One Service stripe

As recently as last year’s Libertopia conference I objected publicly to the pre-name-change Bradley Manning being referred to as “her” or “she.” My reason — ineloquently expressed in an inappropriately caustic tone of voice — was that I considered it an Orwellian demand to ignore the evidence of the senses and refer to a biological male using feminine pronouns. My objection was not to transgendering but that transgendering — actual gender reassignment of a biological male into a biological female capable of achieving a natural pregnancy — was not yet medically possible.

Stand a naked man and a naked woman up in front of a child. Ask the child to identify the gender of each. I think it would be a crime against the human mind to correct the child who sees a human being with male genitalia and demand that the child refer to that person as “she” or “her.”

But I was not a child when I made my angry remarks and I should have been capable of parsing the issues of gender reassignment without using as a rhetorical device a human being I consider a hero — Chelsea Manning.

Chelsea Manning is listed by that name in the Special Thanks of my movie, Alongside Night.

My own past mistakes aside, I regard that Liz Trotta’s objections to Chelsea Manning being referred to as “her” or “she” is unadulterated bigotry.

Trotta’s wrapping herself in the flag while attacking both a Vietnam-era Purple-Heart veteran and branding as a traitor and sexually slurring an Iraq War Army volunteer whose conscience led her to expose video of war crimes buried by being classified is vile.

Exercise of conscience in defense of justice, Ms. Trotta, is not exercise of ego. It’s an American value and should be a Fox News value.

Calling Private Manning a traitor is also a lie. Private Manning was never charged with treason, much less convicted of it.

Referring to Wikileaks editor, Julian Assange, as a traitor is worse than a lie. It’s moronic, inasmuch as Julian Assange is not and never has been an American.

I am revolted by supposedly “conservative” commentators like Liz Trotta who — if they’d been reporting events at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts April 19. 1775, would have commented that the Americans shooting at British military were traitors. What values does Liz Trotta wish to “conserve” — the mindless support for tyranny that this country fought a bloody revolution to end?

Respect for individual differences is an American value and should be a Fox News value, Ms. Trotta.

Belief in acting to achieve justice above robotic obedience to authority is an American value and should be a Fox News value, Ms. Trotta.

And respect for heroes who put themselves in harm’s way to protect you is an American value and should be a Fox News value, Ms. Trotta.

If Fox News wants to criticize the Army, let it be that the Army still disarms soldiers on base so they have to dial 911 for civilian police to defend them from crazy people shooting at them.

The right of human beings — much less Americans, much less the Army — to defend themselves against enemies shooting at them should also be a Fox News value, Ms. Trotta.

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The Leno Factor


My fellow libertarian friend, the multi-talented Brad Linaweaver, called me up today more upset than usual with one of his favorite pin cushions, Bill O’Reilly, host of the Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, which — as Fox endlessly tells us — has dominated its time slot now for 14 years. On today’s show O’Reilly, a drug warrior nonpareil — managed to shock even fellow drug warrior Charles Krauthammer with his suggestions that if he, O’Reilly, were the Drug Czar there would be drug dealers hanging in the United States and drug addicts would be doing multi-year rehabs in Singapore style concentration camps.

I’ve written about O’Reilly before, in an article first published in the July 15, 2009 issue of The New Gun Week, and reprinted here, titled “A Shadow on the Second Amendment.”

In that article I wrote:

The Second Amendment movement just can’t tolerate a Bill O’Reilly who – knowing that Dr. Tiller had previously been shot at and his clinic bombed — repeatedly and editorially called George Tiller a “baby killer.” O’Reilly boasts The O’Reilly Factor has the highest ratings in cable/satellite television news. O’Reilly knew there are always psychotics waiting for a justification to commit mad violence and it was as foreseeable endlessly repeating “Tiller the Baby Killer” was inviting murder as it was for King Henry II’s infamous remark that led to the assassination of Thomas à Becket: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

Brad and I agree that a homicidal habit of fantasizing or even encouraging people’s deaths should be a deal killer for a responsible network, regardless of how high Better Dead Lists drive a show’s ratings.

Nevertheless ratings are what drives commercial television so if Fox were finally to get weary of their high-rated sociopath, maybe there’s a TV star who just lost his job that might be a high-ratings replacement, himself. I wrote about this star in my previous article here.

Jay LenoBill O'Reilly
Jay Leno / Bill O’Reilly

Last Thursday, February 6th, NBC’s number-one-late-night star — Tonight Show host Jay Leno — did his last show. As I previously wrote, with rare exception The Tonight Show with Jay Leno held first place in the 11:35 PM ET/PT late-night time slot ratings since 1995, winning the late-night war for NBC against competition such as David Letterman on CBS, Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, and currently syndicated reruns on Fox. At the time of his last Tonight Show Jay Leno was considered one of the top-five most popular TV stars.

A lot of people have speculated that after it sinks in with Jay that he’s not going to be happy tinkering around with his cars, and that club and Vegas gigs won’t satisfy his addiction to being a comedy star, he’s going to want a new TV show. They’ve suggested that Fox might be a new home for Leno.

They’re right, but it’s the wrong Fox.

Jay Leno has all the qualifications — plus a massive existing fan base who already miss him — to take over Bill O’Reilly’s time slot on the Fox News Channel.

Jay Leno is wittier than Bill O’Reilly. He’s as used to interviewing presidents, experts, and celebrities as Bill O’Reilly. He’s been a ratings king even longer than Bill O’Reilly. He’s a conservative populist like Bill O’Reilly acceptable to the Fox News older demographic. And — best of all — Jay’s not a bullying fascist like Bill O’Reilly, whom I’ve felt for a long time is Burt Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker in 1957’s The Sweet Smell of Success or Andy Griffith’s ‘Lonesome’ Rhodes in that same year’s A Face in the Crowd.

Roger Ailes — I got your Bill O’Reilly problem solved right here. You might want to make the call fast, though, before CNN grabs Jay and puts O’Reilly’s ratings into the Tail Spin Zone.

Addendum, February 12th: On today’s O’Reilly Factor during the mail segment O’Reilly managed to come down on both sides of the death penalty for drug dealers. First he responded to a viewer letter asking if he favored the death penalty for drug dealers by saying he opposed the death penalty but favored harsh prison sentences. Then afterwards he read a reader letter: “Having been to Singapore where drug smuggling brings a death sentence, I can tell you that it works” — O’Reilly said nothing. This juxtaposition of letters in which O’Reilly’s final word is quoted from a viewer without objection — with the preplanned backstop that, “Well, I’d just said I was opposed to the death penalty for drug dealers” — is the sort of rhetorical loop-de-loop that is the hallmark of a master propagandist who admires the unfettered efficiency of homicidal totalitarians but hides behind ambiguity because unambiguous clarity would end him.

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