Armed and Deadly Mouse


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.

Mouse

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.

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National Healthcare is the Health of the State


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 It would have repealed the tax penalty for those who did not purchase health insurance.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.

Re-peel BananaCare!

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.

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Rational Security

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.

Three authors -- Heinlein, Rand, Linaweaver

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:

How?

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The Fake Court


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:

Article III

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.

Amendment 4

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.

Amendment 5

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.

Amendment 6

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.

Amendment 7

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.

Amendment 8

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 11

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.

Amendment 14

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:

Amendment 9

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10

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.

US Courts

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.[1] Its powers have evolved to the point that it has been called “almost a parallel Supreme Court.”[2]

Since 2009, the court has been relocated to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C.[3][4] 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.[3][4]

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/…/United_States_Foreign_Intelligen…

FISA court
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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Act#FISA_court

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.

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Troll


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.

Trolls Win

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?

No.

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.

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Author’s 20th Anniversary Of His “Vulcan Mindmeld With God” Gives Away Two Free Kindle Books

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.

Escape from Heaven
Escape from Heaven book cover

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
The Heartmost Desire book cover

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.

Biography
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

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Vamp Until Ready

Special thanks to my daughter, Soleil, for convincing me to write this, and to my friend Brad Linaweaver for pointing out I needed a new ending. (Sorry, Brad, I couldn’t figure out where to put in your “Don’t take any silver nickels” line) — JNS


Vamp Until Ready


A short story by J. Neil Schulman

“Whadda we got?”

It was difficult for the detective to be out during the day, but a combination of a classic Burberry trench coat, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, gloves, and 10,000 SPF sunblock made it at least possible, if not comfortable.

“Just what you’d expect in this neighborhood,” the uniform, a lycanthrope, said. “Human on human. Body parts all over the street. You taking over, Detective … ?”

“Vladimir,” said the detective, flashing his gold shield. “Yah. Secure the alley and start a canvas for witnesses.”

The wolfman snorted. “These cannibals never talk to us.”

Detective Drac Vladimir grinned, exposing his fangs. “They always talk to me, once they look me in the eyes.”

#

After filing the witness reports back at the precinct, Vladimir and his partner, Detective Bela Sipos, sat down at their usual cop bar, Blue Bloods.

A cute vamp sauntered up to their booth in the back. “The usual, Vira,” said Vladimir.

“Two Bloody Mary’s,” Vira wrote down, and headed to the bar, swaying her behind for attention.

123RF
Illustration by artant

“You ever going to ask her out?” Vladimir said to his partner.

“Too young for me,” Bela said. “Not even two hundred. We’d have nothing to talk about.”

“Anything about today seem strange to you?” Vladimir asked.

“We’re off the clock and you want to discuss the case?”

Drac cocked his head to the side.

“Okay. What did you see I missed?”

“It’s not what I saw, “Vladimir said. “It’s what I didn’t see. Human body parts all over the alley but not a drop of blood.”

Vira arrived with the drinks. Bela took an appreciative sip but waited until the vamp was out of earshot before he spoke. “You think it was one of us.”

“Maybe. I’ve asked the M.E. for an expedited report.”

“On a humacide?” Sipos shook his head. “Drac, this is Daytown. These creatures never grow old enough to learn not to eat each other.”

“Precisely,” Detective Vladimir said. “They’re babies. So if one of us is a pedo, I take a special interest.”

“Okay,” Bela said. “When have I ever not played second fiddle to you on a case? Speaking of that, you playing this weekend? I’m bringing a new string quartet by Mala Deutscher.”

“Absolutely,” Detective Dracula Vladimir said. “Amazing child prodigy. The vamp’s only forty and she’s already composed a violin concerto, an organ cantata, and a grand opera.”

Both detectives sipped their Bloody Mary’s in concert.

#

“Vladimir! Sipos! My office. Now!” Captain Stoker’s voice bellowed through the squad room.

“Pay me,” Drac said to his partner as they got up from facing desks.

“How do you always know the exact time?” Detective Sipos asked, tossing a gold coin in a perfect arc.

Vladimir swiped the coin mid-arc and dropped it into his vest pocket. “When you can answer that, boychick, you can be lead detective.”

The two detectives went into their captain’s office and sat down opposite the ornate mahogany desk. Constantin Dimitrescu’s “Peasant Dance” was playing softly out of the Captain’s desktop computer.

Captain Stoker used his desktop guillotine to cut the tip off a Havana cigar and struck a wooden match, waiting for the flare to die by half before lighting it.

He blew a perfect smoke ring which expanded over his detectives.

“Why is it always you two?” the Captain asked.

Sipos opened his mouth but before he could get out a word, Stoker shook his head.

“That was a rhetorical question,” Stoker said.

“Captain,” Vladimir started.

Stoker interrupted. “I have IA asking me why two of my detectives are walking on their turf.”

“I walk where the forensics lead,” Detective Vladimir said. “The M.E.’s report says the heart didn’t have a drop of blood left in it. We’ve got a pedo.”

“Or a zombie,” the Captain said.

Detective Vladimir shook his head. “Zombie wouldn’t drain the heart and leave the valves perfectly intact. Would’ve eaten the whole thing. No, Cap, it has to be one of us.”

Sipos added, “And someone who knows enough about police work to make it look human-on-human if you don’t care enough to look carefully – which Drac always does.”

Stoker puffed the Cohiba again. “If it’s someone on the job you bring it to me.”

“Yes, Captain,” Vladimir said. Detective Sipos nodded.

“If I get even a hint of what you two did on the Van Helsing case,” Captain Stoker warned somberly, “I’ll have your shields.”

#

The two Detectives genuflected before the altar at Saint Alastor Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, drank the blood and ate the wafer, then took seats in a rear pew with a clear view of the entire congregation, just as Black Mass began.

The Bishop read from the Book of Medici, the choir sang from Carmina Burana, and the Detectives focused almost all their attention on a figure cloaked in black, two rows ahead of them.

Detective Vladimir nodded to his partner, and Dracula and Bela slowly and softly began moving apart … when the Figure Cloaked in Black turned around and looked Detective Drac Vladimir directly in the eye. “Not here in this Unholy space,” she said.

It was Vira, the vamp cocktail waitress from Blue Bloods.

Vira metamorphosed into a bat and flew high into the belfry, smashing into a bell before crashing through a stained glass window into the freedom of the night, the bell ringing and ringing, underscoring her melodramatic escape.

“Call it in, I’m after her,” Drac said to Bela, just before metamorphosing into a bat, himself. Then Detective Vladimir tossed the gold coin he’d won from his partner back to him. “For the collection box.”

The End

February 15, 2017

Copyright © 2017 by The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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Defending Discrimination & Deportation

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his most famous speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke in favor of discrimination.

What, Neil?

I’m a writer. Words are what we writers use to communicate. I’m using words to communicate with you right now. So the defined meanings of the words we use matter because differences matter.

The word “discriminate” was originally used to mean an ability to recognize core differences and render judgment. A person who exhibited discriminating taste for fine food and wine, for example, would have taken the sentence, “You discriminate” as a compliment, because a judgment was being rendered between food and wine which was more enjoyable to food and wine which was mundane or disgusting.

But, as often happens for reasons of propaganda, this use of “discriminate” was replaced by a sinister meaning: to render an unjust distinction. The original use was largely buried.

Dr. King wanted the original meaning of “discrimination” to be present in the future world he fantasized about. He wanted people not to refrain from discriminating judgment, but to make such distinctions based on character, which is a measure of moral worthiness, instead of ancestry or appearance, which is largely meaningless to judging a person’s worth.

MLK Memorial

Dr. King was teaching a moral lesson, one he’d learned from his background as a Christian and from fairly recent to him exemplars of moral philosophy such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau. These moral lessons transcended politics. Thoreau was a philosophical anarchist, Gandhi an East Indian nationalist, and King, himself, a Christian democratic socialist.

I call myself a libertarian when that term is not conflated with electoral partisans. I’ve frequently called myself an anarchist when that term is not conflated with vandals, arsonists, communists, or nihilists. I’ve called myself an Agorist since I was closely involved with launching that individualist-anarchist free-market movement founded by my friend and mentor, Samuel Edward Konkin III. Since I consider many calling themselves Agorists are instead stealth communists, I’ve recently considered newer labels such as Konkinist or – pinning it down with my own brand – Alongside Night Agorist.

But whatever label I use, I’m attempting to narrow the meaning to a moral philosophy based on natural law, natural rights, and making meaningful moral distinctions between individuals.

Be clear: the libertarianism I hold to is judgmental. Tolerance is not necessarily a virtue. It depends on what one is tolerating. My friend, author/filmmaker Brad Linaweaver, will be writing eventually about “That Hideous Tolerance,” expanding the concept from the title of his favorite C.S. Lewis novel, That Hideous Strength.

Nonetheless the libertarian moral judgment is narrowly drawn. Taste alone, such as the food and wine connoisseur’s discrimination, allows for one’s individual choice but does not allow for imposing one’s individual choice on unwilling others. So it is within my individual choice what I eat or drink but I may not choose what others may eat or drink – well, at least so far as I’m not holding cooks at gunpoint or murdering other people to drink their warm blood or eat their tasty flesh.

Rendering such moral judgments does require study, thinking, and discussion.

This could go on for volumes but I’m now going to zero in on a current controversy: the deportation of lawbreakers.

As I said, I’m an anarchist. But I do conclude that law and order is necessary even in an anarchist condition – that condition where the State no longer decrees what is punishable.

As an anarchist novelist, filmmaker, and essayist I’ve repeatedly made the point that work and travel are basic human liberties, so I reject the idea that government may rightfully (again, this is a moral discussion) restrict or license who may travel to somewhere else one is welcomed, and to exchange labor for pay when both buyer and seller of the labor freely reach an agreement.

But please remember that this essay of mine starts out by discussing discrimination – rendering judgment on essential differences.

In this instance the statist and the anarchist can agree: there is absolutely nothing wrong with expelling those who rob, rape, defraud, maim, or murder other individuals. Discriminating against others based on race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, or even bad character if they have not victimized others by violence, menace, or deceit, is not a morally just reason for deportation. Having committed invasions of the rights of others and their justly-acquired property is a good reason to be a candidate for exile – allowing for mercy and mitigating circumstances.

Statistical analysis of risk that one might commit a violent offense is not a good enough reason for deportation. “Working off the books” isn’t a good enough reason. Passively accepting benefits that others have been swindled out of by politicians isn’t a good enough reason. Taking a job that someone else wants isn’t a good enough reason.

Murder is a good enough reason, assuming a response more severe than deportation isn’t called for. Planning criminal invasions of other people’s peaceful celebrations is a good enough reason.

Being an anarchist it would be neglectful of me not to make what Fox News pundits would call “moral equivalences.” Yes, the operator of a drone who kills innocent bystanders while eliminating terrorists may not be guilty of murder. But this anarchist might hold them to the same standard of negligent homicide that is used against reckless drivers.

If an anarchist can advocate for gated communities drawn up by contract, it’s hard to convince a believer in statist law-and-order that countries can’t have borders and use them to keep out enemies.

But, yes. It would also be so much easier if those same statists were able to discriminate between laws which defend people from being mugged and laws which prevent people from ingesting whatever food, drink, smoke, vapor, or chemical they have decided is necessary to their pursuit of happiness.

I seem to recall that this last was important to those who said countries should be based not on the divine right of kings but on the divine rights of everyone.

So there’s the problem. It isn’t discrimination. It’s that the wrong things, and the wrong people, are being discriminated against.

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Julius Schulman Violin Hero


I became, first, a photographer, then a writer, then a filmmaker, because I did not learn to play the violin like my father, Julius Schulman.

My father, simply and demonstrably, was one of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, a century noted for master violinists such as Yehudi Menuhin, Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., Mischa Elman, David Oistrackh, Isaac Stern, Zino Francescatti, Leonid Kogan, and of course, Jascha Heifetz.

I grew up in a house where I could hear my father practicing the violin for hours every day.

I have a vivid memory of sitting enraptured at age four in front of a record player upstairs at my grandparents’ house in Forest Hills, New York, as my grandmother Sarah played for me radio broadcast transcriptions of my dad performing violin solos.

In the past few days I’ve had a “proof of concept” how good my father was on the violin. When I released one of my dad’s old radio recordings onto YouTube, I received a copyright infringement notice from RCA Red Seal records saying I had used a portion from one of Jascha Heifetz’s RCA records. Someone else might have been upset at the accusation of theft. I took it as one of the greatest compliments my father had ever received that my dad’s playing could be confused with Heifetz’s.

Copyright Infringement Claim

I’m told I sang the entire Mendelssohn violin concerto when I was four. Why I wasn’t started on violin lessons at that age is something I don’t know. I do know that when I did start violin lessons at age eight, with one of my father’s colleagues in the Boston Symphony as my teacher, I heard the sounds coming out of my violin — and compared it to what came out of the violin when my father played it — and quit practicing.

Whenever I was introduced to any of my parents’ friends I was always asked first thing whether I played the violin.

Consider that when Hercules murdered his children in a Hera-induced fit of madness Hera was probably doing them a favor. My father premiered his career at eight-years-old when he performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall. In classical music this is called being a “prodigy.” In movies it’s called being a “child star” — and we know how many child stars have emotional problems when they grow up and are no longer treated as entitled. A grown-up child star often regards their own child as competition. Maybe that’s why my father wasn’t eager for me to be a violinist. Or maybe he was noble and just didn’t want his son to have to eat the shit that comes with being in such a ruthlessly competitive business. I sure showed my father, though. I became a novelist and filmmaker, totally secure professions in comparison to music. *snort*

So I grew up in hero-worship of my father and sixteen years after his death that has never gone away.

My father twice gave up chances to tour as a solo violinist with only expenses covered because it was the Great Depression and instead my dad accepted orchestra positions with a weekly paycheck, so he could send half his pay to his parents whose fortune had been wiped out in the Crash of ’29. My father bitched about that for the rest of his life but my mother, sister, and I wanted for nothing in a career in which my father got a steady paycheck for all but one year in an orchestra career stretching over a half century.

When in the 70’s I gave my father a copy of Harry Browne’s book How I Found Freedom in An Unfree World — which introduced him to the concept of “family slave” — my father said he wished he’d read that book before he made his career choices. I didn’t tell my dad that it would have created a time paradox because if he hadn’t made the choices he did I never would have been born so I couldn’t give it to him to read.

YouTube Channel

By the way, I got the idea for calling my dad’s YouTube music videos, play list, and YouTube channel “Julius Schulman Violin Hero” because “Jimi Hendrix Guitar Hero” is what rock music’s greatest guitar virtuoso was called.

Here’s some trivia regarding my dad:

  • My father’s given name was Julian, not Julius, but his family called him Julie — as did most of his colleagues throughout his life. When his older sister Geri brought him to register for school she called him Julie — which the registrar wrote down as “Julius.” The name as registered for school stuck with him for the rest of his life.
  • My father had no middle name.
  • After my father passed my mom and I sold my dad’s Guarnerius violin, but I still have his first quarter-size violin that he learned to play on.
  • My father went bald in his late twenties. He started wearing a toupee when the Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra began television broadcasts in the 50’s and the lighting crew complained that reflections off my dad’s bald head were flaring in the television camera. He quit wearing the toupee as a member of the Boston Symphony in the 60’s.
  • His favorite author was Robert Ruark, who wrote novels about Africa. I had the pleasure of telling Nichelle Nichols — who got to name her Star Trek character “Uhura,” a femininization of the Swahili word for “freedom,” “uhuru” — because at the time she met with Gene Roddenberry regarding the role she was reading Ruark’s novel Uhuru — my father’s favorite.
  • My father played in pit orchestras for Broadway shows, and his favorite musical was Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man.
  • My father was a lifelong anti-Communist, which often caused him problems and certainly lost him jobs in a music industry rampantly populated by card-carrying Communists. But that didn’t stop my father from being close friends with fellow Boston Symphony violinist — and card-carrying Communist — Gerry Gelbloom, whom my dad picked to be my violin teacher. My father told me he distrusted Fidel Castro even before Castro came out as a Marxist-Leninist. My father told me, “I didn’t trust Castro because he smiled too much when there was nothing to smile about.”
  • As a member of the San Antonio Symphony my father bought a bright orange Volkswagen camper for overnight trips with my mother, but he also used it to commute to work. The orchestra members immediately dubbed it “Orange Julius.”

My father’s influence on me didn’t end with music. When at age fourteen I borrowed his Nikon and Ricoh 35mm single-lens-reflex cameras (the lenses were swappable) to shoot a junior-high basketball game — which led to my regularly selling photography to local Massachusetts newspapers — I developed those photos in my dad’s basement darkroom.

My dad shot movies of his orchestra tours around the world with a Bolex 16mm movie camera — movies so professional they were played on TV and got my father an offer to become a union cinematographer for a Hollywood studio — and later in life, after my father’s death, I became a movie director.

My first lessons both in shooting guns and their usefulness in defense against criminals came from my father. My dad was an NRA member and every month I read in his subscription copy of American Rifleman the “Armed Citizen” column with newspaper clips detailing ordinary people using their guns to stop crimes.

My dad held a license to carry a concealed firearm in Massachusetts, New York City, Texas, and California. He defended himself with a handgun from gangs of muggers following late-night concerts in Boston and New York on five separate occasions, wounding no one and only having to pull the trigger once. On another occasion he saw a woman being carjacked on 72nd Street and used his handgun to order the carjackers out of her car. The would-be victim sped off safely.

My dad applied for a license to carry a concealed handgun as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, when after a late-night concert a fellow violinist in the orchestra was mugged, beaten up, hospitalized, and his violin smashed. My father played in orchestra concerts a Guarnerius violin dating back to 1716 — an irreplaceable antique. This was not going to happen to him.

My dad made his license application at our local police station in Natick, where we lived. The Natick police captain licensing my dad told him the story that one of the first times my dad deposited his symphony paycheck at a local Natick bank the silent alarm was set off. My father had opened his violin case (which he also used as a briefcase) to take out the check. The clerk who set off the alarm had thought my father was about to pull out a machine gun from the violin case.

At the time my father was given a license to carry a concealed handgun in New York City — 1970 to 1975 — only ex-cops, family of cops, private security agents, and private detectives were given carry licenses, although exceptions were sometimes made to wealthy applicants who slipped the desk sergeant $5000 and a bottle of Chivas Regal scotch. My dad didn’t have to pay the $5000 — only the bottle of scotch — because as a concertmaster for the Metropolitan Opera he was considered New York royalty. But my father nonetheless took his responsibilities as a gun-carrier seriously and practiced regularly at the firing range where — he told me — most of the security guards, private detectives, and cops looking for extra practice “couldn’t hit anything.”

Later in life I wrote Op-Ed articles about gun defenses on the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, and in National Review. These articles and much more were collected in my 1994 book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns, and my dad got to see the front book cover with this praise from Oscar-winner and NRA President, Charlton Heston: “Mr. Schulman’s book is the most cogent explanation of the gun issue I have yet read. He presents the assault on the Second Amendment in frighteningly clear terms. Even the extremists who would ban firearms will learn from his lucid prose.”

Stopping Power book cover

The truth be told in full, my fascination with the violin and classical music has influenced my entire professional career as a writer and filmmaker.

My first novel, Alongside Night, contains in the quotations on the novel’s frontispiece, “Tzigane — Maurice Ravel.” That gypsy-style violin piece played by my dad — “tzigane” being the French word for “gypsy” — was on my mind while writing about gypsy cabs, the counter-economic transportation Elliot Vreeland uses during a collapsing New York City’s unending transit strike. In the movie adaptation of Alongside Night the Ravel Tzigane became the musical theme of the movie’s underscore.

In 1980 my short story about a violinist “The Musician” — in 1981 published in the magazine Fantasy Book — was broadcast as a radio play.

The Musician premiere flyer

My second novel published in 1983, The Rainbow Cadenza, took all my musical knowledge to adapt the idea of contemporary planetarium-based Laserium shows into a futuristic fully-realized visual music. I wrote most of the novel in 1981 while staying with my parents in San Antonio, so I could pick my dad’s brain as necessary.

The Rainbow Cadenza cover

After the sale of my script “Profile in Silver” to CBS’s Twilight Zone broke me into screenwriting, my first feature-length screenplay was No Strings Attached, about a violinist who must learn to play again after suffering a hand injury. That script was published in my 1999 book Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings, for sale on Amazon.

Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings book cover

Read screenplay No Strings Attached

In the first feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, Lady Magdalene’s, one of the characters is a violinist. Despite the character being the bad guy the movie is dedicated to my dad. All violin playing you hear on the Lady Magdalene’s movie soundtrack is by my dad.

So here’s to my father, Julius, my violin hero.

His official web page, Julius Schulman: Life With A Violin.

Julius Schulman: Life With A Violin

His Official YouTube Channel, Julius Schulman Violin Hero.

Oh, and here’s my mom talking about her life with my dad, an interview I did with her on Mother’s Day, 2007.

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The Crown

Standing in front of the Queen
As an American, intimate at Court
Her nation renders sovereign honors.
I copy them and say to her, “First time.”

“What was it like, for you?” I asked her.
“Not the first time. I imagine that
Must have been a thrill.
But the third time
Or the twentieth?”

The Queen tells me, “I knew there must be
A Mystery buried within it.”

I ask the Queen,
“Do you try to unravel the Mystery?
As I do while saying a prayer…”

The Queen slaps me. “Cheeky!”

Crown

“Was that a wrong question?”
I ask the Queen.

The Queen glares at me.
I do not apologize.
I was, after all, invited.

Later that day I learn
There is discussion
Whether I am to be banned from Court.

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