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My 100 Most Important Books

I put together this list in response to a Facebook posting tagging me and asking for my 100 top most important books.

Apparently this sort of thing had been going around the web since April 2003, when the BBC’s Big Read began the search for Britain’s best-loved novel, and asked Britons to nominate their favorite books.

The truth is that at different times in my life I’d have different books on the list.

If you’d asked me when I was in my teens and 20’s The Catcher in the Rye would have been in the top five. Also most of my books are currently still packed in boxes from my last move and if I went through them I could easily add another hundred titles. How about The Illuminatus! trilogy, or Hitchhiker’s Guide books? They easily could have been on my list.

I did an interview years ago for Science Fiction Review where I listed a whole bunch of other authors I love who influenced me.

Then there’s the books I mentioned in my Facebook profile.

Honestly, I can’t remember half of what I’ve read over the course of a lifetime so how can I remember what my favorites are?

But here’s the list I put together. I didn’t follow the BBC protocol and included both fiction and nonfiction.

First of all, my own books (11 books):
FICTION:
Alongside Night
The Rainbow Cadenza
Escape from Heaven
Nasty, Brutish, and Short Stories
Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings

NONFICTION/OMNIBUS:
I Met God (audiobook)
Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana
Self Control Not Gun Control
Book Publishing in the 21st Century
The Frame of the Century

C.S. Lewis (17 Books):
FICTION:
The Chronicles of Narnia:

The Magician’s Nephew
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle

The Space Trilogy:

Out of the Silent Planet
Perelandra
That Hideous Strength

The Great Divorce
The Screwtape Letters

NONFICTION:
The Abolition of Man
Miracles
Mere Christianity
The Problem of Pain
The Weight of Glory
An Experiment in Criticism

Ayn Rand (8 books)
FICTION:
Atlas Shrugged
The Fountainhead
Anthem

NONFICTION:
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
The Virtue of Selfishness
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
The Romantic Manifesto
The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

Robert A. Heinlein (26 books)
FICTION:
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Job: A Comedy of Justice
Have Space Suit — Will Travel
Citizen of the Galaxy
Glory Road
The Past Through Tomorrow
Farnham’s Freehold
Between Planets
The Puppet Masters
The Door Into Summer
Double Star
Starman Jones
Red Planet
Starship Troopers
Tunnel in the Sky
Beyond This Horizon
Friday
Time Enough For Love
Podkayne of Mars
The Rolling Stones
The Star Beast
Farmer in the Sky

NONFICTION/OMNIBUS:
Expanded Universe
Tramp Royale
Grumbles from the Grave

Aldous Huxley
Brave New World

George Orwell (2 books)
Nineteen-eighty-four
Animal Farm

Brad Linaweaver (5 books)
Moon of Ice
The Land Beyond Summer
ClownFace
Anarquia
(with J. Kent Hastings)
Free Space (co-editor with Ed Kramer)

L. Neil Smith
The Probability Broach

Victor Koman (3 books)
The Jehovah Contract
Solomon’s Knife
Kings of the High Frontier

Colin Wilson (3 books)
FICTION:
The Philosopher’s Stone
NONFICTION:
The Outsider
A Criminal History of Mankind

Franz Kafka
The Trial

Mark Twain (3 books)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Huckleberry Finn
Letters from the Earth

Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol

H.G. Wells (2 books)
The Time Machine
War of the Worlds

Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange

Viktor Frankl
Man’s Search for Meaning

Carl Jung
Man and His Symbols

Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends and Influence People

S.I. Hawakaya
Language in Thought and Action

Ludwig von Mises
Human Action

F.A. Hayek
The Road to Serfdom

Murray Rothbard (2 books)
Power and Market
For a New Liberty

Samuel Edward Konkin III (2 books)
The New Libertarian Manifesto
An Agorist Primer

Harry Browne
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World

Ken Grimwood
Replay

Arthur Hailey
Airport

Robert LeFevre
The Philosophy of Ownership

Lysander Spooner:
No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority

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J. Nostradamus Schulman? (Part II of II)

Part II

Read Part I here.

Here Come the Paperless Books!, 1987

The inability of my literary agent to sell my already-sold-to-the-movies novel-outline-and-chapters to a New York publisher to be my third published novel — and a six-month-long Writers Guild strike that killed a movie deal I had in development with a production company for CBS — left me frustrated that my chosen career as a writer was entirely subject to the whims of major corporate-owned media. I observed that the bottleneck was always distribution. The distributors — book publishers and book-store chains in printed media, and movie studios, TV networks, and theater chains for movies and television productions — were in between me and the audience I wanted to reach. What if — I asked myself, not as a plot device but as a real-world business model — I could find a way to take out the middle-men and be able to offer myself as a writer directly to readers?

In 1987 there was not yet a World Wide Web, but there were home computers that could transfer files to each other by using telephone modems. There were many “bulletin boards” — which were computers set up to receive incoming calls from other computers — and there were several large companies — The Source, Compuserve, and GEnie among them — which had thousands of subscribers who logged on to share files with each other. File transfer speeds were slow as molasses and usage both of telephone lines and of the commercial computer services were expensive –so file-sizes had to be kept extremely small. But using new file-compression techniques, a book-length text file could be transferred relatively cheaply.

I saw an entry point into a market whereby instead of having to sell my book to a publisher who would attempt to get it shelved in bookstores where readers might consider buying it, authors such as myself could offer our books directly to readers as compressed text files, and readers could then print them out and read them at home or in their offices.

But, being an experienced science-fiction writer, I was able to use the same techniques I’d used to build fictional futures to extrapolate what a developed market for what I called “paperless books” would look like in a few years, as all phases of computer technology and data transfer progressed.

In doing so — beginning in 1987 with a self-published booklet I handed out at the American Booksellers Convention, titled Here Come the Paperless Books! — and in comprehensive detail in a course I gave in 1989 through the New School/Connected Education — I outlined what in just a few years would become today’s World-Wide-Web-based Amazon.com, utilizing online catalogs with browsing, samples, and reader reviews of downloadable text-and-graphics books, music, and movies — Kindles and iPhones to download them onto — and easy direct access from creative author/producer to readers and audiences.

Nothing supernatural about it.

I did found and operate two companies to implement these ideas. But that’s an article for another day.

The Frame of the Century?, 1999

Beginning with his criminal trial then closely studying new evidence brought out in his civil trial, I became convinced that all that might have been proven in two trials was that at some time after the murders and before the police arrived, O.J. Simpson had driven to the murder scene of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and an unfortunate waiter, Ronald Goldman, and transferred a few drops of blood to his Bronco and from there to his Brentwood home. To me everyone was always asking the wrong question about O.J. Simpson’s claim that he was framed. His defense team accused a racist and corrupt LAPD of framing Simpson — never an implausible scenario if you’re familiar with LAPD history — but the question that had never been asked nor answered was whether the killer — or an accomplice — could have diverted suspicion away from himself by planting evidence against Simpson.

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

I wrote,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to The New York Times article,

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

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

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

Supernatural? Nopers. I was just being thorough — exploring all possibilities — and my training as a science-fiction writer cut in again.

I’m not even the first writer to get this idea of planted DNA produced. Next Wednesday’s episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is titled “Perverted” and you can see a preview of the episode here.

So if not in my novels and non-fiction writings, where are my supernatural prophecies?

I talk about them in my audiobook, I Met God.

So far they aren’t earth shattering prophecies that will rock the world.

Two quick examples.

In 1970 I got psychic inklings that my paternal grandfather was going to die half a day early. He was old but was in great health and robust spirits the last time I’d seen him at a family gathering several weeks earlier. All day — starting around eight in the morning — I was anticipating every time the phone rang that it was a phone call telling me my grandfather was dead. That call came around four in the afternoon — and he’d died around one in the afternoon, hours after my first premonition.

And in 1982 during a Halloween party at a friend’s, I saw a woman dancing when a clear Voice in my head said, “If you ask her to dance, you will marry her.”

I asked her to dance and twenty-one months later I married her.

The Voice hadn’t mentioned anything about our divorce eight years later.

Just as well. If I’d known, I might not have a brilliant and talented daughter in college today.

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J. Nostradamus Schulman? (Part I of II)


Part I

(Part II continues here tomorrow.)

If you look at my official bio I list “unemployed prophet” as one of my professions.

I wrote my own bio and obviously my tongue is firmly in my cheek there. I’ve written science-fiction set in the future and to create the thought experiments our profession’s literature requires we need to engage in futurism so detailed that, often enough, it’s actually of concern to security analysts, and of use to think tanks like the Rand Corporation. One of the famous stories of our profession is how Astounding Science Fiction editor, John W. Campbell, was paid a visit by FBI agents in 1944 because the short story “Deadline” by Cleve Cartmill was perilously close to outing atomic-bomb research being conducted by the ultra-secret Manhattan Project. And, of course, in 1945, Arthur C. Clarke described the deployment of geosynchronous orbital communication satellites in such detail, years before Echo and Telstar, that if he had but published on a patent application, rather than in the magazine Wireless World, he might have ended up richer than Bill Gates.

To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only high-profile published-and-produced science-fiction writer who admits that he has supernatural psychic powers including precognition, mediumship with the dead, OBE/astral travel, and the Big One — direct communication with God.

Writing science-fiction using the literary techniques of speculation and extrapolation puts me firmly in the tradition of nineteenth and twentieth century authors like H.G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and the aforementioned Arthur C. Clarke.

Claiming I have foreseen the future puts me in the literary tradition of the sixteenth century author, Michel de Nostredame, better known today as Nostradamus, whose 1555 book The Prophecies has been a bestseller in the subsequent four-and-a-half centuries. Al Gore, eat your heart out!

Crossing back and forth as I do between rationalist authors whose projections of the future claim no supernatural basis, and those who do, I thought it was time I took a look at my prophetic writings and separate the technical from the psychic.

Alongside Night, 1979

This relates to the 1979 edition. I did some updates in the 1999 trade-paperback re-issue — and that’s the text used in the current 30th anniversary PDF edition — so I’m only discussing the 1979 original.

In Alongside Night I portrayed a “near future” in which the U.S. dollar has been inflated to the point of near-worthlessness. As a consequence, economic and political chaos have followed. Foreigners have bought up much of the real assets in the United States. The United States has dropped out of NATO and the remainder of the NATO allies have combined with the European Common Market to form the European Common Market Treaty Organization — EUCOMTO — which has issued a gold-backed currency called the Eurofranc. Possession of gold bullion has once again been prohibited in the United States, as it was from May 1, 1933 to December 31, 1974. The real-estate market has collapsed and abandoned buildings are being lived in by squatters. Street crime is rampant. An organization called Citizens for a Free Society is staging mass rallies in favor of a return to hard money and free markets. Radicals are being secretly arrested without charges or warrants and sent to hidden federal prisons. And the underground Revolutionary Agorist Cadre is using the inability of the United States government to pay its troops with money that anyone will accept to recruit them to protect its own hidden merchant trade routes and marketplaces. At the time of my story the Soviet Union still exists. The technological advances I portray in the book are very modest. I portrayed videophones, video-intercoms, video-capable notebook computers and the use of electronic documents and identification, computer banking, digital movies and music stored on small discs, plus the use of lasers and masers for communications that can’t be intercepted … but nobody carries cell phones or iPods.

None of this required any supernatural precognitive powers. All of it — no matter how much it resembles current situations and news stories — is based on nothing more than looking at existing historical cases of what happens when nations hyper-inflate their paper money. I didn’t do anything that a political think tank couldn’t do. The only difference is that, as a fiction writer, I took the history and theoretical projections and applied them to the country I was then living in.

And that’s what makes Alongside Night so scary — that it didn’t take any supernatural powers to write it.

The Rainbow Cadenza, 1983

The Rainbow Cadenza takes place approximately two centuries in the future from when I wrote it. I created a “future history” (a concept John W. Campbell applied to a cycle of stories Robert A. Heinlein was writing for Astounding Science Fiction in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s) then started writing the events of my story having established a history of prior events. In the story, as I begin it, due to cheap drugs that allow males to select for male children, planet Earth has a population of males that outnumber the female population by seven males for every female. Affordable space flight has made it possible for millions of people to live off the earth — mostly in immense space habitats based on the theoretical designs of physicist Gerard K. O’Neill in his 1978 book The High Frontier — but the bulk of the human race still lives on earth. The United States in my future has combined with Mexico, Canada, and Cuba into a North American Concord, but by the time my story begins the earth has a one-world government. Because of the relative scarcity of women, rape was a major social problem in the future history I’d created. To “solve” the problem the government drafts young women for a three-year term of service in government-run brothels — but it’s not prostitution because, like universal health care — it’s a free government service available to all men on a rationed basis. Men who are exclusively gay and don’t partake of that universal service have become politically powerful — and have allied with women who are veterans of the service — plus the most politically powerful social group, Lesbians — to form a major element of the governing class. Gay marriage is not only legal, it’s encouraged — it takes men off the roster needing to be “serviced.”

Christianity — being intolerant of this social institution — has either fled off earth to the space colonies or has gone underground. Both female draft evaders and male rapists share the common fate of having their “immunity” to the rape laws stripped away, and they live in ghettos where during the night they are “Touchables” subject to legal rape by hunters known as “Marnies.”

To implement the technology of distinguishing legal citizens from Touchables, everyone has been implanted with body-heat-powered RFID chips that can be scanned from miles away. Other technological advances portrayed in the novel are satellite TV with DVRs and videophones, household robots, flying cars and flying belts (the latter used by Marnies who fly in packs like motorcycle gangs), printed books being replaced by digital books, and of course the aforementioned space flight and space colonies.

The future history and social institutions I portrayed in The Rainbow Cadenza weren’t even intended as necessary extrapolations from current trends, though I was well aware that the availability of a cheap gender-selection birth-control pill — if men could control its use — would be used to create more male babies in patriarchal cultures that don’t value females. But this was, for me, just working backwards to create a logical reason why a future society would draft women into public brothels instead of drafting young men into armies. I was trying to highlight the evil of utilitarian ends-justify-the-means thinking trampling individual rights by taking the emotional issue of national defense out of the equation. All the other social projections I made were simply logical extrapolations of the history I’d created to be able to tell that story.

Nothing supernaturally precognitive there, even when China started having villages with many more males than females for many of the same reasons I’d used to build my future history. And half my technological predictions were so mild that they’ve come to pass in less than three decades, much less twenty.

All the Kings Horses, 1983

This was intended to be my third novel but it was sold first as a treatment to Vista Films, a production company that had made movies including Time After Time, The Wind and the Lion, Demon Seed, and Motel Hell.

This was in 1983, just two years after the biggest television and tabloid event ever — the royal marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales, to Lady Diana Spencer. At a time when all the supermarket tabloids were still writing fairy tale stories about their perfect marriage and the birth of their first son, I wrote and sold to a movie company a story about the future separation and divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

I’m told that the reason you never got to see it was that when the project got submitted to the studios, the Royal family found out about it and used leverage to bury it. No studio picked up the rights. No New York publisher would touch the manuscript. By the time the rights had reverted back to me, my projections had already become fact. This may well be the first time I was black-listed. I know of black-lists I got put on further forward in my career.

Was this some sort of supernatural crystal-ball-looking on my part?

Hardly. I simply thought it would be a funny way to make fun of the tabloid media to write a story in which the British Royal Family had to put up with the divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales — and custody of the future heir to the British throne — played out in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Part II continues here tomorrow!

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Karl Marx versus Political Correctness

Karl Marx is the most influential economist in human history. Since the publication of The Communist Manifesto, co-written with Friedrich Engels, in 1848, and Marx’s magnum opus, Capital (Das Kapital, in its original German) the first volume of which was published in 1867, Marxist scientific theories regarding the exploitation of workers have motivated revolutions throughout the globe. Marxism has been the primary force behind the ideological hostility to free-market economics, which Marxist theory argues allows non-productive classes to rob and dominate productive classes.

Karl Marx didn’t pull his scientific theory of working-class exploitation out of a hat. It was a logical extrapolation from the “labor” theory of value. This originates with the second-most influential economist in human history, Adam Smith — generally considered the father of capitalism and of economics as a science, itself — with publication in 1776 of Smith’s book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

Adam Smith argued that a product’s value comes from how much labor went into making it. Marx took that a step further and postulated, therefore, that if someone other than the person who made a thing was getting more back for selling it than the person whose labor went into making it, there was a gap which Marx termed “surplus labor value” — and the difference between a sale price and how much went back to the laborer was “exploitation” of the worker — a systematic robbery.

It was to close this exploitation gap and restore equity to the worker that Marx developed his class theories and divided the world into productive exploited classes and non-productive exploiter classes.

Now, it’s not at all uncommon throughout human history for a scientific theory to become widely adopted even if it’s dead wrong. The classic example is the cosmological theory that the earth was the center of the universe (because it was created by God) and therefore the rest of the universe rotated around the earth. Those who made astronomical observations which disproved this theory took a lot of heat for suggesting what is now regarded as scientific orthodoxy: that the earth is but one planet revolving around a star, one of many stars in a galaxy made up of billions and billions of stars, one of a universe made up of billions and billions of galaxies … and don’t even get me started about whether there might be billions and billions of universes.

The counter of Marxist theory comes from more-modern economists who started from scratch and decided that Adam Smith’s theory of value was obviously wrong — that you could spend years as a laborer making a grandfather clock that is worth less to you than a bottle of water if you happen to be dying of thirst — and came up with the idea that a thing’s value is only what you’re willing to trade for it at an exact moment in time. Deductive logic follows from there and ends up with a holistic argument for unfettered free trade so everyone gets precisely what they want most.

But that’s actually a side-argument for me at the moment.

Regardless of going about it all the wrong way because everything they were doing was based on what today can be regarded as outmoded crackpot science, Marxism has its heart in the right place: justice for the productive class. When Marxism identifies freeloaders on the backs of the productive worker, it sees it as its job to free the worker from the freeloader … not burden the worker with more freeloaders.

That is the exact opposite of what’s going on in what is seen as left-wing politics today, which claims to be the workers’ friend but burdens their productivity with taxes, regulations, and setting up workers to go to war against each other by dividing them into “unionized” workers and “scab workers.”

Scab workers are independent workers willing to work for less than the government-protected price for labor the unions have negotiated for themselves. Businesses like to hire the cheaper guys because if they don’t, other businesses elsewhere (like China) who don’t have to pay union rates can undersell them and drive them out of business.

With most U.S. manufacturing now having gone elsewhere, keeping labor prices artificially high creates a new ex-working class that now organizes to tax workers so they can get their food, rent, and healthcare paid for.

If Marx were alive to see this, he’d have to go back to the drawing board and ask himself if ex-workers are now the biggest burden on the diminishing working class.

Marx wasn’t nearly as hostile to capitalism as most Marxists. Marx saw capitalism, exploitation of the worker and all, as a necessary evolutionary phase on the way to a stateless utopia in which nobody had to exploit anybody else. Once again, if Marx had managed to live long enough to see how his theories worked out in practice — Marx died in 1883, 34 years before the first Marxist revolution in Russia — he might have gone back to the drawing board.

Regardless, when conservatives and Republicans — Glenn Beck being the best example — constantly harp on members of the American Democratic/progressive movement being Marxists, they’re giving far less credit to Marx than Marx deserves, and far too much honor to the American Democratic/progressives than they deserve. They should be so Marxist as actually to care about productive people and want to get the free riders off their asses.

Marxist or Capitalist: it’s time to cut the crap and for leftists to admit that anything that enslaves productive people under the thumb of the non-productive and exploitative special interests is counterrevolutionary … and needs to be denounced and opposed.

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A Day to Celebrate World Peace, Civilians, Survivors, and an Old Friend

Veterans Day in the United States started out with a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson, 90 years ago, to celebrate on November 11th the armistice — peace treaty — ending World War I. It wasn’t until 1953 when a Kansas shoe-store owner named Al King came up with the idea of using that holiday to honor all war veterans that the campaign to turn Armistice Day into Veterans Day got its legs.

Veterans — according to Al King’s idea for this holiday — are soldiers who managed to get back from one of the Unites States’ wars alive. We in the United States honor those who didn’t get back from a war alive on Memorial Day at the end of May. And, however much you might want to thank a man or woman currently serving, Veterans Day is not yet their holiday. That would be like giving out high-school diplomas to sophomores.

I’m not sure whether Al King contemplated the idea of his holiday honoring servicemen and women who never went to war, but served during peacetime. Not that there’s ever been all that much of that.

The thing about war veterans is that they know from personal experience the fragility and preciousness of life, and why it’s better to settle things without fighting if that option is on the menu. That sort of experience used to be called wisdom. It’s what some older people have that most younger people don’t.

Veterans also know what they were told they were fighting for, and that has a definite flavor and smell to them. So a lot of them tend to get grouchy when what they thought they were fighting for is treated cavalierly by the people entrusted to keep it going.

For their wisdom, and knowing that liberty is worth fighting for, I like many others take this opportunity to thank veterans for their service.

Of all the veterans I’ve known in my life, the one I like best didn’t actually wear the uniform of the United States during a war. He was disabled out of the Navy — which he expected to make a lifetime career after graduating from the United States Naval Academy — before World War II broke out, and his service during World War II was as a civilian engineer. He told people — including me, when I interviewed him — that he couldn’t get back into the service because of his health. That wasn’t quite true.

His biographer, Bill Patterson, discovered that he’d been politically active in the California Democratic Party before the War and was considered too much of a pinko to be trusted. That’s pretty ironic considering that many years later he wrote a science-fiction novel which is generally regarded about as right-wing, pro-military, and even fascist as any ever written: Starship Troopers.

In the movie Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Neil Patrick Harris — playing himself — is given a total pass under ridiculously suspicious circumstances by an ultra-right-wing military officer because Neil played a role in Starship Troopers, which is this douche bag’s favorite movie. That’s pretty much all that Hollywood types imagine they understand about the political thinking of author Robert A. Heinlein.

In Heinlein’s novel, a veteran doesn’t have to be a military veteran but can be a veteran of any government service — and most of them are non-military jobs. The deal is, you sign up, the government gives you tests to figure out what you do best and where you’re needed, and that’s what your service job consists of. If war breaks out you might end up with a weapon in your hand but otherwise probably not. There are no draftees in Heinlein’s novel — government service is 100% voluntary. At the end of your term of service — and not a second before — you get the right to vote. Currently serving personnel have no franchise, so voting is entirely by civilians … but civilians who have chosen to place their social group above themselves for part of their lives.

Now, I’m not down with Heinlein’s Starship Troopers qualification for voting because I don’t go along with taxation without representation. On the other hand, Heinlein never specified in the novel whether taxes could be levied on non-voters. So he finessed my possible objection by not dealing with it.

But Heinlein’s science-fictional thought experiment does have the advantage that the people who are voting are of net value to the people around them rather than being net burdens. Heinlein always considered, from his reading of history, that the downside of unrestricted democracy was the masses voting themselves benefits on the backs of a productive minority who were then enslaved to the power of the majority. He considered that a re-invention of slavery and opposed it.

For his opposition to working-class slavery Robert A. Heinlein has been branded a fascist by generations of morons who have no moral problem with picking the pockets of people who work harder and smarter than they feel like doing.

Mr. Heinlein passed into the next world over two decades ago, but I believe in life-after-death and he may be reading this.

So Happy Veterans Day, Mr. Heinlein, and I hope wherever you are your slanderers have to kiss your ass.

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Results Not Typical

I’m fat.

This might not be apparent to those of you who know me only by word. Also, if you’ve met me in person, in the right decade, you could have known me when I was thin. There was a time I wore size 32 waist/34 length slacks and a 40 Long jacket.

I don’t need a reminder that I’m fat. I remember it quite well every time I get up from a chair or look in the bathroom mirror.

But I was reminded that I’m fat when an old pal of mine from my AnarchoVillage days — fellow Prometheus-laureate Victor Koman, perhaps best known for his 1996 novel (of which I was the first publisher) Kings of the High Frontier, recently published a new book titled Dr. K’s Sure-Fire Instant Weight-Loss Secrets.

Unusually, Koman simultaneously released his book not as an audiobook but as a videobook you can watch free on YouTube.

Spoiler Warning: Dr. K has only one “sure-fire instant weight-loss secret.” It’s “Eat less, exercise more!

I’ve known Victor Koman since 1975. At no time in the 34 years I’ve known Victor Koman was he ever fat. Oh, he might have put on a few pounds in recent years when due to knee problems he couldn’t be as active as he used to be, but even at his most sedentary it never would have crossed my mind to think of him as fat.

Victor Koman was not fat the last time I saw him in person in spring of this year. Victor Koman is not fat appearing in the brand-new videobook edition of Dr. K’s Sure-Fire Instant Weight-Loss Secrets.

If you’re going to buy a book on weight-loss (or a funny book on the subject of weight loss) an author’s photo of Victor Koman will sell a hell of a lot more copies than an author’s photo of me.

If our face was the same, I’m the “before” picture and Victor Koman is the “after” picture.

I’m the Biggest Loser they show you in the promos. Victor Koman is the guy they trot out hugging everyone on the season finale.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Viewed as a thermodynamic paradigm, Victor Koman is absolutely correct about his weight-loss secret. It’s sound chemistry and physics. Restricting the availability of fuel while simultaneously increasing the consumption of fuel, for any thermodynamic engine, will result in a net depletion of the fuel supply. The human body is a thermodynamic engine. Excess fuel is stored on the human body as fat. Restricting intake of new fuel while simultaneously increasing the consumption of stored fuel will deplete an engine’s stored fuel supply.

I’m not stupid. I’m also not particularly weak-willed. You can’t be weak-willed and several times in your lifetime stick to a regime of diet (under 1000 calories, under 40 grams carbohydrate) and exercise (both cardio and weight training) sufficient to lose over 100 pounds, and a dozen other times lose over 50 pounds, plus faithfully sticking to Weight Watchers for over six months which resulted in a loss of only ten pounds. For several years of my life I walked over three miles every day. For close to a year I worked out at Bally’s for an hour four days a week.

I’ve also written books — including three novels which each took me years to complete. I also have written scripts and articles to deadline, and wrote, directed, produced, and post-produced an independent film. I also entrepreneured several businesses for years at a time. I’m not known as a quitter.

Yet, I’m fat. I suffer from Type II Diabetes, a disease that would be better controlled were I to become thinner.

Why hasn’t Victor Koman’s thermodynamic weight-loss secret worked to keep me fit?

This isn’t a problem just for me. Obesity has become more the rule than the exception in the United States and other parts of the developed world. Pundits blame fast foods, sugary drinks, candy machines, kids texting and playing with their Wii’s rather than biking and jumping rope, and of course the inevitable laments that the taxpayers aren’t being sucked dry enough to pay for school and after-school physical education and sports.

Look. I hardly ever eat fast food. I don’t eat candy. I don’t consume drinks with calories in them. When I eat dessert it’s Sugar Free Popsicles, Sugar Free Jello, and no-fat/no-sugar added “ice cream.” The bread I eat has 40 calories a slice and has low net carbs. I take the skin off my chicken and eat as much fish (not breaded and fried!) as I can afford.

I know how to diet. I’ve done it my entire life.

I know how to exercise. I know about cardio and weight-training and stretching.

I’ve tried diet aids and diet foods and diet supplements and diet plans. My body can’t tolerate most diet aids. They’re either stimulants that give me a racing and sometimes irregular heartbeat or they’re blockers that give me chronic lower-intestinal problems. (I won’t be more graphic than that.)

Durk Pearson, Sandy Shaw, and Will Block are personal friends I’ve talked to about my health problems, and I regularly read Life Enhancement. I’ve tried most of their recommended supplementing.

I’ve also had “the talk” with every primary-care physician who’s treated me over the years.

We’ve eliminated hypothyroidism as the cause of my weight gain.

I keep up with biological research. I read about genetic body types — ectomorphs, endomorphs, and mesomorphs — and genetic propensities to weight gain based on one’s ancestry. I read about ghrelin/leptin cycles, and lab experiments being done on rats. I read about theories that obesity can possibly be an actual disease spread by a virus.

Is obesity caused by a disease or a series of bad lifestyle habits? Is overeating an addiction like alcohol or cocaine?

If I’m so smart and strong-willed, why am I still fat?

Why, indeed?

I can tell you this much. I am deconditioned. At my current weight any attempt to exert myself runs the risk of overexertion leading to hyperventilation. Attempts to exercise result in painful muscle cramping.

Every attempt to restrict food intake makes me lethargic and sleepy.

In other words: my body appears to have a will of its own. It fights me and hurts me when I try to “Eat less, exercise more!

Matching my ancedotal data, the medical research shows that 95% of patients who lose weight regain it within five years. Medical science has less of a handle on dieting and health than it does on how to treat cancer.

Diet and exercise is so ineffective a long-term treatment for so many obese patients that many doctors won’t even prescribe it anymore, and if you read medical literature as I’ve done you discover that invasive and often painful bariatric surgery — followed by weeks of a liquid diet then by a diet more restrictive than any I used to lose hundreds of pounds — is the only medical treatment doctors are willing to recommend to their severely obese patients.

Late-night TV has a lot of commercials and infomercials for various diet plans — Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrasystem, cookie diets — plus no end of diet supplements. There isn’t a single one that doesn’t sport a disclaimer something like, “Results Not Typical.”

Yeah. How far would a car manufacturer get if next to the city and highway mileage figure on the sticker it had the disclaimer, “Results not typical”?

So what’s my recommendations for weight-loss success? Eat less and exercise more — if your body doesn’t try to kill you doing it.

And please, could the next Jonas Salk come up with an effective, non-invasive, and not painful or cognitively adverse treatment for obesity which doesn’t need that damned disclaimer?

Here’s one thing the AMA won’t tell you. Back when almost everybody smoked — and those were also the days when everybody typically ate butter, cheese, and red meat as staples — obesity, Diabetes, and even heart disease were far less common.

I suspect nicotine might be the cure for obesity, but who’s going to fund the research?

Maybe I should just pull a Nutty Professor on myself and even though I’m not a smoker try the nicotine patch.

But I’m just not that brave.

As for my recommendation for Victor Koman, it’s that his next book be Dr. K’s Sure-Fire Secrets For Getting Rich Quick.

It should consist of twenty chapters of Victor Koman recommending, “Buy low, sell high!”

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How Treacherous Republicans and Fake Conservatives Are Destroying America

Who gets it worst in the Gospels — the pagan Romans who nailed Jesus Christ to the Cross or believers in the One God who delivered Jesus up to the Romans?

It’s not even a debatable question. Whomever Christians believe betrayed Jesus — Herod, the Pharisees, or Judas — it was monotheists far closer to Jesus in their beliefs than the Romans who come in for the most criticism.

And of course. The Romans were cosmopolitan barbarians — educated, smart, and sophisticated, but savage, cruel, and superstitious.

The Hebrews and the messianic Judaic offshoot we now call Christianity were supposed to be better than that, so when they fall it recapitulates the story of the brightest, most beautiful, and best loved of the angels who became the darkest and most dangerous of God’s enemies.

An honest and noble enemy can be respected and admired even while we endeavor to destroy him for his evil ways. A friend who’s supposed to know better is held to a higher standard and therefore comes in for harsher criticism when he leaves the path of righteousness.

So it will be today when I call out the corrupt bastards who are handing over my country to my enemies.

I believe in individual liberty as did the men we call the Founding Fathers. When I read about the noble revolution they fought to free this continent from a mean, spiteful, and likely insane tyrant, my heart soars. Thomas Jefferson’s idealistic pragmatism in the Declaration of Independence hits my eyes like a rainbow and my ears like Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. The irreverent wit of Benjamin Franklin sets the tone for a style of skeptical humor handed down to us through Mark Twain and today the meat and potatoes of Vegas rooms and late-night TV. George Washington set a principled standard for leading a free people that we can only hope to duplicate; I doubt it can be surpassed. And it wasn’t just these three. Just listing the heroes and geniuses who crafted and fought history’s only libertarian revolution would turn this article into a book.

When I am critical of the Constitution of the United States it is not because my heart differs all that much from the men who engineered it as an experiment in foiling this low part of human nature that will warp any organization to steal their brothers’ hard-earned bread; it’s only because I see the failure of that experiment to cage the beast that I wonder whether a few centuries might have shown us the cracks in its foundation and offered us what Jefferson called “new guards.”

But I would happily live in the house the Framers built if only the damned roof wasn’t leaking buckets.

Seventy-four years after the Constitution was ratified, and the experiment in preserving American liberty had begun, a second American revolution variously called a civil war or a war between the states found a fissure in the Constitution, and ruptured it. It’s possible by the end of that second revolution the calendar days left for liberty on this continent were already numbered.

But nine decades later, when I was born, it was still generally believed that despite setbacks Americans enjoyed more liberty than anywhere else on planet earth — and if some Americans did not enjoy as much liberty as they used to, other Americans were winning liberties historically denied them.

If you read what I was writing only five years ago I still wrote that this was true. But if it is still true today the coming time when it will not be true can be measured in months, weeks, or even days.

Our country is made up of fifty states whose sovereignty is a whisper of what it used to be. As currently constituted no state — or county, city, or township within one — can resist the will of the federal government in any significant way. So the three branches of the federal government will now decide what liberties the American people do and don’t have.

We have a Supreme Court — the final arbiter of what is and is not allowed by the Constitution since Marbury v Madison in 1803 — that is on the verge of nullifying Article VI of the Constitution by making international law superior to the Constitution as the supreme law of the United States.

We have a Congress which passes laws with no constitutional authority to do so, and has usurped powers forbidden them by the Constitution.

We have an executive branch comprising departments having no constitutional authority, and that in conspiracy with Congress now seeks totalitarian control over the most personal aspects of our individual lives.

The Founding Fathers would have rebelled against this state of affairs long ago. Their spirits, if they still roam the earth and speak to us in our dreams, must wonder whether the American continent still has any Americans on it.

I do not blame the leadership of the Democratic Party for this degradation of my country. Since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt began in 1933 the Democratic Party’s objectives have been, openly and plainly, to reverse the principles of the American Revolution and smash the Constitutional limit on powers so that the federal government may enter into every sphere and realm of the American people’s lives. In this policy they are in union with much of the rest of the world which never understood or adopted the principle of individual sovereignty and limited agency which was the foundation of the American experiment; instead they would deliver America to the older principles that have governed the rest of the world — the principle that sovereignty rests with the State — whether monarchy, aristocracy, or plutocracy — and that the common man only has those privileges granted by his betters.

Communism, socialism, and fascism were democratically utopian in theory but in practice have always proved plutocratic, aristocratic, and technocratic. In the name of the common people dictators and their minions have acted with ruthless imperiousness that no Caesar or Khan ever surpassed.

Democrats are the party of returning America to the rest of the world, of sounding the death knell to the American Revolution, of making America Sunset-View Atlantic again.

The Republican Party, and the conservative movement that has fueled whatever political success it has ever achieved, often used the Founding Fathers’ libertarian language to distinguish themselves from the Democrats. Honest conservative Republicans such as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan meant it, too. But even Reagan did not understand how the conservative movement had been hijacked by persons whose principles were deaf to the American Revolution.

A few days ago when a Muslim Army Psychiatrist went on a murderous shooting spree on a domestic American army base, those who are called conservative pundits spent their air time and print space debating whether the shooter was a Muslim terrorist or merely a stressed-out whack-job. They did not ask why during the eight years of a conservative Republican administration — most of it following the worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history, and much of it when conservative Republicans also had a majority in Congress — never authorized members of the American military and their families to carry guns with them wherever they went on a daily basis to defend our country against terrorist attacks. It never crossed their minds that the disarmament of American soldiers — much less the citizen militia — would be the first issue the Founding Fathers would have addressed.

What was it that these conservatives were supposed to be conserving? Are they less concerned with American deaths than they are with containing Islam so Israel can last long enough for Jews to rebuild the Temple so the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can saddle up?

A year before that — when the nominee of the Republican Party in the 2008 election suspended his campaign to lobby his fellow senators — in cahoots with the Republican President of the United States — to bail out private bankers on the credit of the United States taxpayer — no major Republican governors, senators, mayors, or congressional representatives who called themselves conservatives considered this a breaking of faith sufficient enough to repudiate their support for the nominee.

Or — a few months before that — when the leadership of the Nevada Republican Party suspended their state party’s presidential nominating convention because they knew a complete count of the ballots would send a delegation pledged to a candidate who by his voting record had proved that he actually believed in the Constitution of the United States — no prominent conservative Republican spokesman protested.

Before that when the Republican President of the United States suspended habeas corpus, expanded Medicare, ballooned federal spending beyond all previous limits, and like so many previous Republican presidents levied war without seeking a Declaration from Congress — that Congress would have given him — conservatives remained loyal to the Republican Party.

Now, today, when the Congress of the United States passed a bill that would nationalize medicine and penalize American citizens for refusing to purchase a commercial product — Repubicans calling themselves conservatives spoke as if the worst aspect of this monstrous invasion of the lives of every American was that taxpayer money could be spent on abortion.

Abortion.

That word is not in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States.

One could be a Soviet commissar and oppose abortion on the grounds that the State needs more cannon fodder.

One could be a Pope who has no problem with a communist world economy and oppose abortion.

Yet today’s litmus test of whether or not one is a conservative is not whether one supports the individual liberty to which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, but whether or not one favors invading a hospital operating room with the drawn guns of a sheriff to usurp a woman’s conscientious moral decision as to whether ending gestation is violating God’s will.

It is not whether one believes that terrorism is best fought by arming the entire citizenry as the Founders told us to do, but by obsessing whether a criminal shooting up a military base of the United States is a committed enemy or just a madman.

I know Democrats have no use for the America handed down to us. They have been working for the better part of a century to undo it

But when that moment comes that this writer can no longer brag that Americans are freer than the citizens of any other country, it will not be the Democrats that this writer blames.

It will be those conservatives and Republicans who defrauded the American people into thinking they were any different, and who handed over this country’s liberty to its openly vocal enemies without so much as a whimper.

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The Nevada Republican Party’s 2008 Suicide Belt

As a 2008 member of the Nye County, Nevada Republican Central Committee and an elected Ron Paul delegate to the 2008 Nye County Republican Convention, the most exciting political moment for me last year was watching the September, 2008 national GOP convention on TV when three Nevada delegates committed to Ron Paul prevented the Republican National Convention’s unanimous voice acclamation for the presidential nomination of John McCain when the three Nevada delegates used bullhorns to shout their objections.

Oh, wait. Silly me. That never happened.

What did happen in reality was almost as dramatic.

The April, 2008 Nevada Republican Convention in Reno adjourned without ever finishing counting the ballots to find out which candidate’s delegates had been elected to be sent to the national convention in Minneapolis in September. According to a Wall Street Journal article published July 18, 2008, “Citing a lack of interest, the Nevada Republican Party has called off its state convention and will instead pick its delegates to the national convention by private conference call. The state party broke up its original convention in April when supporters of Ron Paul hijacked the proceedings and tried to elect delegates for their candidate to the national GOP convention in September. Party officials tried to reconvene on July 26, but they needed a quorum of 675 and received only 300 RSVPs…”

Ron Paul supporters “hijacked” the Nevada Republican Convention? What did they use? Box-cutters? Did they demand the convention land in Cuba?

Uh-uh.

The “hijacking” of the convention was the duly elected delegates committed to Ron Paul demanding all the ballots be counted. The Nevada Republican Party leadership refused to count half the ballots and adjourned the convention without counting them.

On November 1, 2009 — a year and a half too late to matter — I received the following email from Robert Terhune.

Dear Nevada Patriots,

As many of you may have already heard, the ballots from Congressional District 2, that were cast on April 26th, 2008, at the Nevada Republican State Convention, were finally counted last Friday. I traveled with National Committeewoman Heidi Smith to the Peppermill, where we retrieved the ballots out of the locked box in the cashier’s cage. Nancy Ernaut, acting State Party Chair, was also in attendance.

When we got back to the Republican HQ, local media (including two camera trucks, numerous photographers, and the local political writer for the Reno Gazette-Journal) had arrived, along with over twenty vote-count volunteers and interested spectators. They were all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the long lost ballots. With media cameras rolling, three of the original witnesses of the ballot lock-up examined the envelopes. They determined that the seals were unbroken and the envelopes did not appear to have been tampered with or damaged. Then all the volunteers were divided into groups of two, and the counting commenced. There were over 800 ballots to be counted, but even so, the winners were very apparent from the start.

Here’s the results:

Delegates:
#1: Robert Terhune, 288 votes
#2: Marla Criss, 283 votes
#3: Pat Kerby, 283 votes

Alternates:
#4: Dean Heller, 231 votes
#5: Brian Krolicki, 118 votes
#6: Mike Weber, 95 votes

#1, 2, 3 were “Ron Paul” delegates

Although the National Republican Convention is long since over and done, the results of this ballot count confirm what so many of us believed: that Nevada was very possibly, even probably, on the verge of sending a Ron Paul supporting delegation to Minneapolis. There is little doubt that party “officials” shared the same opinion, and they shut down the convention to prevent a Ron Paul slate.

Even though we can’t go back and change the results of the Republican National Convention, we have been vindicated, once again, by the results of this ballot count. Please read this report in the Reno Gazette-Journal to see some of the excellent media coverage we have received:
http://www.rgj.com/article/20091030/NEWS/91030046.

Thank you all for your support throughout this saga. Your emails of encouragement and thanks have meant a lot to me and my family.

Sincerely,

Wayne Terhune

P.S.- And congratulations to Robert Terhune, Marla Criss, and Pat Kerby, legally elected national delegates!!

As we know, not only did the Republican Party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominees John McCain and Sarah Palin go down to defeat at the hands of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but Republican loss of seats in both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives were so severe that the Democratic Party achieved a super-majority which may well have given the Democratic political agenda irresistible force on issues such as taxation and spending, government ownership of major industry, nullification of private contracts, 100% government-controlled health care, nullification of the Second Amendment, as well as national defense, homeland security, and U.S. economic sovereignty.

I asked one of the elected Nevada delegates, Pat Kerby, what he thought of Nevada’s Republican leadership denying him his seat at the GOP national convention.

Pat Kerby summed it up nicely: “What the Republican party did to Ron Paul was like a sinking ship shooting torpedoes at the rescue boat.”

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How They Ask the Question Tells You The Answer

My old mentor, Samuel Edward Konkin III, taught me early on that if you can get the other side to debate an issue as you frame it, you’ve already won.

When gun-control advocates convinced the major media only to report on cases where guns had been used by criminals, the insane, and the irresponsible to cause injury and mayhem, they’d already won their public-policy case to reduce the availability of guns in private hands. What rational person wants to arm violent sociopaths?

It was only when advocates of defensive rights hounded the media with both real-life cases and criminological studies showing that successful defensive gun uses far outnumbered gun misuse — that gun control was unilateral disarmament not of the predator but of the victim — that the public-policy tide shifted in favor of preserving the individual right to keep and bear arms.

A TV commercial when I was growing up asked me to debate the issue of whether cartoon rabbits had a right to eat sugary-coated dry cereals or whether “Trix is for kids.”

So the key question facing the voters of Maine in their referendum Tuesday — in which like every state that has put the question on the ballot they voted “Nay!” — was whether same-sex couples are a minority being denied a civil right to marry, or whether gay-marriage proponents are a special interest using legislatures and courts to overrule a popular consensus that marriage requires one-each penis and vagina.

I’m a libertarian. I don’t want government telling anyone past the age of consent whom they can love, with whom they can live, who is their family for legal purposes, or what they can do with their private parts. Individual liberty does not mean one only has the right to live as a hermit; it includes the right to form bonds with others.

But individual liberty also means the right to disagree.

Your freedom of speech doesn’t mean I have to listen to you. Your freedom of the press doesn’t mean I have to buy your newspaper. Your freedom of association doesn’t mean you have the right to be my friend. And your right to life doesn’t mean you have a claim check to make me feed you, take you into my home, or nurse you to health.

The greatness of the American Civil Rights movement was that it brought about a paradigm shift in how people looked at each other. Perhaps the most eloquent speech of the twentieth century was when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., told us, “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.”

The evil of the American Civil Rights movement was when it departed from the individualism in King’s speech, and instead embraced the very collectivism King opposed: judging people not by the content of their character but as special interests defined by their race, color, creed, national origin, gender, and gender preference.

It’s not an accident that this happened. Julius Caesar conquered France by getting the locals to distrust each other and trust only Rome. Politicians today are still using Caesar’s playbook of divide and conquer, setting the rich against the poor, management versus labor, the healthy against the sick, minorities versus majorities.

Listen to Jesse Connolly of the pro-gay-marriage group Protect Maine Equality after a majority of Maine voters overturned the state’s gay marriage law forced on them by Maine politicians: “”We’re in this for the long haul. For next week, and next month, and next year until all Maine families are treated equally.”

Jesse Connolly doesn’t care what the people of Maine think. To him, marriage is a civil right and he’s happy to thwart democracy to achieve it. Not being a proponent of democracy, myself, I am not entirely unsympathetic to Mr. Connolly’s point of view. Democracy has been described as the wolves giving the sheep a vote on what’s for dinner.

But as a libertarian who wants a society in which both my right to associate and the right to be left alone is respected, I have a problem when freedom is not on the menu.

If the only choice is between the power of the majority as expressed through democratic voting — or power blocs of special interests arrogantly overruling majorities by gaming the system — which side am I supposed to support?

Gay-rights advocates do well when they follow Dr. King’s lead and help us to see them not as stereotypes but as individuals.

But when gays make us see them as an arrogant special interest who think the straight majority are ignorant boobs that need to be conquered by political force, then they’re just one more damned lobby out for themselves.

That’s how to lose the debate.

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Five Modest Nonpartisan Suggestions for Making American Government Work

1. Require that every United States Senator and Member of the House of Representatives take an oath under penalty of perjury that s/he will not vote on any legislation that s/he has not read in full and understands the effects thereof, and be required to swear under oath what section of the Constitution of the United States authorizes Congress to enact such legislation. Require federal judges to conduct random surprise testing of all senators and representatives before selected votes, and a score of 80% correct in order to be present for a quorum. A score lower than 40% on three such tests is automatic expulsion from Congress.

2. Enact a twenty-year sunset for all currently existing federal departments, agencies, bureaus, military bases on foreign soil, taxes, tariffs, foreign treaties and federal regulations, and thereafter every federal department, agency, bureau, military base on foreign soil, tax, tariff, foreign treaty, and regulation shall automatically sunset every ten years.

3. Outlaw any privately owned entity or corporation from usurping a power granted by the Constitution of the United States to Congress or the President.

4. Require that every ten years the approval of a majority of state legislatures shall be required to renew the continuation of every federal department, military base on foreign soil, federal tax, and foreign treaty.

5. The attorney general of any state, as authorized by the state’s governor, legislature, or popular referendum, may sue the federal government to nullify any Act of Congress, federal regulation, or executive power, that violates any section of the Constitution of the United States, and such lawsuit shall be given an immediate hearing by the Supreme Court of the United States.

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