Counter Terrorism


I’m only surprised it took this long.

In a 1999 article I wrote:

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

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

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

Finsbury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, “What goes around, comes around.”

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

Told you I’d be obvious and trite.

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

I’ll say it in three sentences:

Only individuals exist.

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

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

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Why Jeff Bezos is a Billionaire and I’m Broke

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Mr. Bezos,

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

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

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

Book Publishing in the 21st Century

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

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

Reply from Amazon.com:

Subject: Kindle Direct Publishing – Executive Customer Relations
Date: Wed, 10 May 2017 20:49:15 +0000
From: Amazon.com [email protected]
Reply-To: [email protected]
To: J. Neil Schulman

Hello Mr. Schulman,

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

Regards,

Abbey Washington
Executive Customer Relations
Kindle Direct Publishing

http://kdp.amazon.com

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JNeilCare


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

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

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

No drug laws.

No Drug War.

No requirements for drug prescriptions.

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

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

No restrictions on the importation of pharmaceuticals.

No Drug Enforcement Agency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t.

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

It’s my point One in the list below.

Caduceus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a conservative or Minarchist solution.

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

Here then is a nonlibertarian proposal for JNeilCare:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Violon Chinois


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mongolian Horse-head Fiddle

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

J Neil Schulman

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

Julius Schulman: Life With a Violin

Julius Schulman Violin Hero

Julius Schulman YouTube Channel

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War with the North

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, back to my epiphany.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad Linaweaver
Brad Linaweaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yes, Bill Maher, There Is A Planet B


Today, Earth Day 2017, thousands of people without a clue about what the scientific method is are “Marching for Science!” with picket signs reading, “THERE IS NO PLANET B.”

The Washington Post Health and Science: Why people are marching for science: ‘There is no Planet B’

It’s a clever pun on “Plan B” — a back-up plan.

Earthrise
Earthrise

These signs are being carried by people who are aware of an obvious truth and a less-obvious lie.

Here’s the obvious truth: Earth is a wonderful planet, home to the human race.

Here’s the less-obvious lie: Earth is both the cradle and the grave of the human race.

“There is no Planet B” is a phrase that could only be uttered by a “mundane” too flat-headed even to have taken seriously an episode of Star Trek, much less have read a science-fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, or Isaac Asimov.

It’s a political slogan engineered by plutocratic liars (who won’t even admit that Pluto is a planet) to promote the pseudo-science of man-made climate change to scam people who don’t understand that the ecology of Planet Earth is based on carbon dioxide being converted by chlorophyll-based plant life into oxygen breathed by animals, who then exhale carbon-dioxide that goes back to the plants.

And around and around and around she goes.

These scientific-illiterates call carbon dioxide “pollution” and spread the propaganda that carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas” — which would only be true if earth was a greenhouse without chlorophyll-based plant life like our neighboring planet, Venus.

Not a Greenhouse
Not A Greenhouse

On yesterday’s Real Time With Bill Maher the scientifically illiterate / imagination-challenged Bill Maher did a rant against those visionary businessmen who want to establish a human colony on Mars. “Fuck Mars!” the scientifically-illiterate / imagination-challenged Bill Maher said to wild applause from the scientifically-illiterate imagination-challenged mundanes in his studio audience.

Here’s a word for you, Bill Maher: terraforming. I won’t make you go to the brain-straining effort of looking it up in a dictionary. It means “earth shaping.” This is a word long-known to people who read books — you know, smart people. Terraforming means using science and engineering to take someplace dead and unfriendly to life and making it alive and friendly to life — literally making more Earths.

Here’s another word for you, Bill Maher: Panspermia. It’s the hypothesis that life didn’t originate on Earth but is widespread throughout the universe and came here from somewhere else.

Maybe even Mars.

But it doesn’t stop there. If Bill Maher has ever read a book written by anyone who can see farther than their own hood he’d have learned that scientists and engineers — people he’s never read nor apparently ever talked to — consider it not only possible but necessary to create space-based human habitats and industry to gather additional resources — including minerals and solar energy unfiltered by the earth’s atmosphere — to maintain the long-term ecological health of the Earth and preserve its life.

Wikipedia: “physicist Gerard K. O’Neill in his 1976 book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space proposed the colonization of space for the 21st century, using materials extracted from the Moon and later from asteroids.”

O'Neill Colony
O’Neill Colony

You might start your education with Jerry Pournelle, PhD’s book A Step Farther Out.

A Step Farther Out

There’s not only a “Planet B” but an alphabet soup of planets, not just in this solar system but around stars just being looked at for the first time by telescopes scientists and engineers have launched to look from orbits above the earth’s atmosphere … and by probes that have taken closer looks at the other planets, moons, asteroids, and comets in our own solar system.

You live in Beverly Hills, Bill Maher. That’s a short drive to Caltech/NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. You might have the show you produce Vice take you on a visit.

Or you might just take a look at the lovely photo of Planet Earth that accompanies this article. It was taken by humans who flew a rocket to outer space.

Note: I have just purchased the domains PlanetBSociety — org, com, net, and info as a site to encourage human exploration, colonization, and industrialization outside the Earth’s atmosphere, including a near-future human homestake on Mars.

I’m looking to hand the creation of the Planet B Society and development and management of these domains to someone robustly committed to this goal, and in particular as a repudiation to those mundane custardheads demonstrating today for this planet, as wonderful as it is, to be the cemetery for the human species.

J Neil Schulman

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Con Air — Treating Commercial Airline Passengers As Criminals


Remember 1997′s movie Con Air, about a prisoner-transport flight?

A few years later after 9/11 all commercial airlines became prisoner transport flights.

Con Air Poster

I once was offered a free travel voucher for a future flight to give up my confirmed seat. I pocketed the voucher and took my existing ticket to another airline and was in the air within two hours.

That said, we have to stop acting as if an airline ticket is any sort of “contract.” It isn’t. There’s no such thing as a contract where one party has rights and the other party has none. What exists today in the commercial airline industry, pretending to be contracts, are weasel words written by lawyers that promise precisely nothing. Airline ticket boilerplate language is adapted from railroad ticket boilerplate which also promised absolutely nothing. These non-contracts are enforced by government at all levels, capriciously arresting any passenger who asserts his rights.

United Airlines doesn’t have a leg to stand on even by its own convoluted rules. See United Airlines’ Contract of Carriage Document. It turns out that the United flight wasn’t “oversold” as originally claimed and that United’s own procedures do not include mandatory disembarkation of already boarded passengers but only apply to ticketed passengers denied boarding on oversold flights — neither condition applying in the case of a seated passenger violently assaulted by rent-a-cops at the demand of United employees.

United employees and their goons, whether government cops or rent-a-cops, need to go to prison for aggravated assault on and false arrest of Dr. David Dao.

So let’s recognize how United and other commercial airlines treat paying passengers for what it is: corporate-statist horseshit meant to dominate the passenger who has zero legal rights.

The commercial airlines are not operating in a free market but are a restricted-trade cartel with the FAA, the TSA, and municipal airports enforcing the mercantilist rules. No free-market entity would be able to oversell the seats for a flight — competitors would immediately appear to sell tickets to the overflow and a market equilibrium would appear with flights departing under 100% capacity.

Airlines would have to compete for passengers not only with discounts but also more spacious seating, better food and beverage service, comfortable rest rooms, Internet access, electric power, and in-flight entertainment.

But airlines don’t have to compete for passengers because the competition is locked out. The FAA is in collusion with the commercial airlines to restrict competition:

FAA Grounds ‘Uber for Planes’

Back in the 1960′s when I started flying an economy seat on a Boeing 747 had more spacious seats, gave access to a passenger lounge, and served meals and snacks superior to First Class service today.

Screw the commercial airlines. Screw any government-guaranteed mercantilist cartel.

Here are a couple of outfits that want to do to the commercial airline cartel what Uber and Lyft did to the medallion taxicabs:

The Uber for Air Travel? Meet ImagineAir

‘Air Uber’ seeks to take off

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The Paranoid Thriller

This article is adapted from an Amazon reader’s review I wrote in June 2010 of Glenn Beck’s novel The Overton Window. A lot of people who are not Beck fans likely didn’t read it so I’ve decided to publish it as a stand-alone essay. — JNS

It’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s read my books, but I’m a long-time fan of what might best be called the Paranoid Thriller.

“Paranoid Thriller” isn’t a book publishing category. You won’t find such a classification in the Library of Congress, or in the shelving system of Barnes and Noble. Amazon.com has the most cross-referenced indexing system of any bookseller I can think of and even it doesn’t seem to have that as a sub-category of fiction.

Technically — because these stories are often set in the “near future” or “the day after tomorrow” or sometimes in an alternate history — the Paranoid Thriller is a sub-genre of science fiction. But usually, beyond the element of political speculation, there are none of the usual tropes of science fiction — extraterrestrials, space, time, or dimensional travel, artificial intelligence, biological engineering, new inventions, scientists as action heroes, virtual realities, and so forth.

I’m sure even this list shows how outdated I am when it comes to what’s being published as science-fiction these days, which within the publishing genre has abandoned all those cardinal literary virtues of clarity, kindness to the reader, and just good storytelling in favor of all those fractal fetishes that previously made much of “mainstream” fiction garbage unworthy of reading: dysfunctional characters, an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair, and of course hatred of anything ever accomplished to better the entire human race by old dead European-extraction white men.

The Paranoid Thriller is an atavistic throwback to earlier forms of literature. There are suspense plots, adventure, a focus on characters driven to make decisions by intellect rather than addiction, and — God bless them! — often enough a happy ending after you’ve ploughed through the wreckage caused by the miserable wretches who actually make life decisions based on the gulf oil sludge that passes for literature in those committees who for the last few decades have been passing out once-worthy awards to writers who if they tried to tell a story around a campfire would soon find themselves alone, talking to the coyotes.

And with some poetic justice eaten by them.

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Paranoid Thriller is not actually based on any emotion, much less fear. The Paranoid Thriller is specifically a type of intellectual libertarian literature, the purpose of which is to sound a clarion call to wake up the sleepwalkers among us who have been hypnotized by government-run schools, socialist-dominated universities, misanthropic organs of popular culture, and cynical destroyers of all sense of public honor or decorum for fun, profit, and sick love of power.

The Paranoid Thriller is the literature of liberation — and often enough, the cinema of liberation as well.

The Paranoid Thriller is step-brother to the Dystopian novel, such as Yvgeny Zamyatin’s We, Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s Nineteen-eighty-four, and brother to the espionage novel — everything from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels to John Le Carre and Tom Clancy’s spy novels; and at least kissing cousin to alternate history thrillers like Brad Linaweaver’s 1988 Prometheus Award-winning novel, Moon of Ice, about a Cold War not between the United States and the Soviet Union but between a non-interventionist libertarian United States and a victorious Nazi Germany.

Some good examples of the Paranoid Thriller?

In books, let’s start with Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, the story of an American president who rises to power by enforcing a Mussolini-type fascism in America, published three years after the movie Gabriel Over the White House enthusiastically endorsed such a presidency, well into the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who did it for real, and a year after Adolf Hitler became the Führer of Germany.

Three years before Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers was serialized in Colliers, Robert A. Heinlein’s 1951 Doubleday hardcover novel, The Puppet Masters crossed genre between futuristic science-fiction and the Paranoid Thriller — in effect creating an entire new genre of Paranoid Science-Fiction Horror — in which unlike H.G. Wells’ invaders from Mars in The War of the Worlds who had the decency to exterminate you, the alien invaders instead jumped onto your back and controlled your brain making you their zombie.

But then again, Heinlein had already created the Ultimate Paranoid Thrillers in his 1941 short story “They” and 1942 novella “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” — over a-half-century before The Wachowski Brothers’ 1999 movie The Matrix — in which the entire world is a vast conspiracy to convince one man of its reality.

Jumping two decades forward I’ll use as my next example Ayn Rand’s 1957 epic Atlas Shrugged, in which the Soviet-refugee author warned how the United States — by following the path of a kindler, gentler socialism — could end up as the fetid garbage dump that had devolved from her once European-bound Mother Russia.

The Cold War gave us several classic Paranoid Thrillers about either attempts at — or successful — Soviet communist takeovers of the United States.

We had Richard Condon’s 1959 brilliantly ironic novel — adapted into a wonderful movie in 1962 — The Manchurian Candidate, about a Soviet agent who controls both her son — a brainwashed assassin — and her husband, an anti-Communist United States Senator loosely based on Joseph McCarthy who comes close to securing his party’s nomination for president.

Less well known were the pseudonymous Oliver Lange’s 1971 novel Vandenberg, about a Soviet takeover of the United States, or In the Heat of the Night author John Ball’s 1973 Soviet takeover novel, The First Team, in which a single undetected American nuclear submarine holds the hope for forcing the Soviets out of their occupation of America.

Likewise, fears of appeasement of the Soviet Union led to Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II’s 1962 novel, Seven Days in May, about a Pentagon General’s attempt to overthrow the President — which two years later Rod Serling adapted into a Burt Lancaster/ Kirk Douglas movie directed by John Frankenheimer, who two years earlier had directed Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate.

Television gave us the classic Patrick McGoohan 1967-1968 paranoid thriller TV series, The Prisoner, granddaddy to all the knock-offs of people kidnapped by mysterious forces and transported to gilded cages and danger-filled islands.

Movies gave us:

  • The Parallax View (1974)
  • Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977)
  • Rollover (1981)
  • Red Dawn (1984)
  • JFK (1991)
  • Absolute Power (1997)
  • Wag the Dog (1997)
  • Murder at 1600 (1997)
  • The Siege (1998)
  • Arlington Road (1999)
  • Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Yes, Josie and the Pussycats — though played as a comedy — eminently qualifies for the genre.

I could go on and on — Wired-magazine-founder Louis Rosetto, Jr.’s pre-Watergate-written Paranoid Thriller novel of President Nixon’s coup d’etats, Takeover — published in January 1974 just six months before Nixon was forced from office; John Ross’s 1996 post-Waco/post Oklahoma City bombing novel Unintended Consequences.

In that sub-genre of the Economic Paranoid Thriller we have financial writer Paul E. Erdman’s 1976 Paranoid Thriller The Crash of ’79 (Erdman had good reason to be paranoid — he’d served time in a Swiss prison for financial fraud); and Nixon-administration economic mavens Herbert Stein and his son Benjamin Stein’s 1977 novel of America suffering from hyperinflation, On the Brink.

My own 1979 novel, Alongside Night, just misses being in the Paranoid Thriller category only because hyperinflation and government conspiracy is only the launching point for a novel which is mostly an exploration of how the principles of the Declaration of Independence might be implemented by a “new guard” other than re-upping the Constitution of the United States after its failure to maintain a limited government — as is the endgame of Atlas Shrugged.

Let me start by saying everything the mainstream critics say about a novel in this genre is usually true. They’re talky. Critics use the words “preachy” and “didactic” a lot. There are long speeches — even by the villains, who like many destructive people are disappointed idealists. Events of the novel often seem to have been picked not because they advance the plot but because they’re popular topics in the news. Characters and the narrator often quote the Founding Fathers as if they’d written the Bible.

Screw these critics all to hell. These are what make a novel worth reading.

Why in the name of God would anyone waste a moment of their precious reading time on a novel that doesn’t have ideas, doesn’t have characters who are capable of making coherent speeches, doesn’t have an author who thinks he knows something worthwhile and has a passion to gift you with them?

What the mainstream literary critics use to condemn novels in this genre are the very virtues that makes them literature.

Think I’m sounding defensive here?

No, I’m on the offense, and have been ever since these same bogus standards were used by uncreative drones to make lame attacks on my novels, decades ago.

Here’s how I answered them in my article “There Are Two Sides to Every Review” published August 10, 1980 in the Los Angeles Times Book Review:

1. “The writing is heavy-handed.”

The author says things explicitly.

2. “The story is melodramatic.”

The book is strongly plotted.

3. “The plot is contrived.”

The plot is original and intricately logical.

4. “The novel is polemical.”

The novel has a discernible theme.

5. “The novel is preachy.”

The theme phrases a moral proposition.

6. “The book’s intent is didactic.”

The plot demonstrates practical consequences of the theme.

7. “The author manipulates characters.”

The characters do things that fit into the plot.

8. “The characters are two-dimensional.”

The characters are only shown doing things that fit into the plot.

9. “The book is Pollyannish.”

The author finds things in life that make it worth living.

10. “The story depends upon coincidence.”

Events in the story logically coincide.

11. “The book is a roman à clef.”

The characters are so realistically drawn, they can be confused with real people.

12. “The characters are unrealistic.”

The characters are shown being heroic, moral and intelligent, while the critic views his own character as cowardly, amoral and stupid.

13. “The author has no feeling for his subject.”

The author portrays things differently from what the critic thinks they are.

14. “The characters give speeches.”

The characters are capable of expressing a coherent viewpoint.

15. “This character is the author’s mouthpiece.”

This character makes more sense than the others.

16. “The book is utopian.”

The author thinks things can get better.

17. “The book is an exercise in paranoia.”

The author thinks things can get worse.

I find myself here — as both a novelist myself and a critic — having to be didactic, myself. I have to teach you the very standards that need to be used when criticizing a work of literature. I have to arm you with the very tools necessary to understand what it is that critics are trying to steer you away from — and why.

Critics who are not themselves practitioners of the art they are writing about are — with rare exceptions, caused by a dedication to reason and honesty above all else — the enemies of art. Without the ability to create it themselves, they are wannabes sitting on the sidelines envious, spiteful, and on a mission to destroy that which they, themselves, do not have the power to create.

The failed artists — the one who gave up — tend to be the most dangerous of all.

Adolf Hitler was a failed painter. His hatred of Jews likely started because a Jewish art teacher had the strength of character to point out his failings.

Saddam Hussein was a failed novelist. As dictator of Iraq he self-published his novels and his minions forced people to buy them.

The Roman Emperor Nero played the lyre while Rome burned.

And Bill Clinton was either a failed saxophonist or someone who didn’t have the perseverance to find out if he could spend his life supporting himself doing it.

The critics who were never artists and the critics who are failed artists don’t like art that clearly communicates. They thrive on murk and obscurity. They shrink from any sort of standards. They hide behind a doctrine they’ve invented called deconstructionism, which when you strip away the academic veneer of respectability means that a work of art has no objective meaning at all, but means only what an audience member imagines it means.

Sonny boy, I did not go through eight drafts of my first novel — and more recently fourteen cuts of my first movie — because I don’t think I am capable of refining what I’m trying to communicate to my audience down to the subatomic level. Screw Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle when it comes to the business I have chosen to be in.

If my art does not communicate precisely and absolutely what I intend it to mean, either I have failed as an artist or I have failed to find an audience worthy of me.

My father did not practice the violin for hours every day for over half a century because he was satisfied with being sloppy in front of an audience without an ear to tell the difference. He heard the difference — and on that day when his strength and agility and hearing had failed him and he could no longer perform to the lofty standards he had set for himself, on that day he began to die.

Ayn Rand told her readers that an author’s job is to present facts instead of predigested conclusions, and let the reader make up their own minds.

I’ve given you my standards for judging a work of literature.

Use them, or don’t use them, to make up your own mind.

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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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