The Most Libertarian Movie Ever?

I’ve been writing about the Alongside Night Movie for over five years, starting when I was still trying to put together casting and financing to get it made. I’ve sold it hard on the libertarian content in the movie and how I believe a feature-length narrative film can be effective in approaching people — especially young people — to consider libertarian principles and comparing libertarian approaches with far-more-popular government-reliant policies.

The Alongside Night Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack just hit the market. We just started running the first radio commercial, beginning on Art Bell’s return to radio, Midnight in the Desert.

I’ve dedicated my career to the belief that storytelling can convey complex ideas to large audiences.. I became a libertarian because I read stories by Robert Heinlein. Many libertarians started with Ayn Rand.

This approach is called show-and-tell or to use an older term, a parable. History’s most effective teachers — Buddha, Jesus, Aesop, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert A. Heinlein, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ayn Rand — have taught by storytelling.

Masters of totalitarian propaganda including Goebbels, Lenin, Stalin, and FDR all understood that movies have been essential in mass communication.

Libertarians, Agorists, Voluntaryists, lend me your ears — and eyes.

Watch these clips from Alongside Night.

–J. Neil Schulman, who wrote the novel and made the movie

Most Libertarian CardMost Libertarian Icon
The Most Libertarian Sequence in Any Movie Ever!

Libertarian Rally CardLibertarian Rally Icon
The Most Libertarian Rally in any Movie!

Economics in One Minute CardEconomics in One Minute Icon
“Economics in One Minute”

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“Legal Tender Deniers”

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Meeting the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre

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Free Talk Live in Alongside Night

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“Magnesium!” — An Action Sequence in Alongside Night

Dr. Ron Paul in Alongside Night CardDr. Ron Paul in Alongside Night Icon
Dr. Ron Paul in Alongside Night

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The Alongside Night Teaser Trailer

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The Alongside Night 60 Second Radio Commercial

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Grief as a Pointed Gun

Let’s start with the plot from the most recent episode of the TNT series Proof, a paranormal drama about researchers attempting by scientific means to prove or disprove the reality of life after death.

In Season 1 Episode 6 “Private Matters” (July 21, 2015) one of the researchers — reminiscent of the 1983 movie Brainstorm — dies while wearing equipment recording his brainwaves and sophisticated computer algorithms record not only life memories but imagery suggesting transmissions from the afterlife. But when the researcher’s grieving widow is brought into the lab to separate memory imagery from possible afterlife imagery she freaks out that her late husband’s brainwave recordings of their life together is violating her privacy and sues to destroy the recordings.

I was immediately reminded of how — in a tabloid campaign reminiscent of The Banner‘s campaign against Howard Roark’s architecture for Enright House in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead or real-world yellow-paper campaigns conducted by Pulitzer or Hearst or Murdoch-owned newspapers — FNC’s Bill O’Reilly has been exploiting the grief from family members of murder-victim Kate Steinle to promote a new law cracking down on serial violators of U.S. immigration law.

O'reilly Factor July 13 2015
Bill O’Reilly interviews Kate Steinle’s parents, James Steinle and Elizabeth Sullivan

This vile use of grief as a weapon is nothing new. Inflaming public passion by parading grieving family is business-as-usual for proponents of all sorts of more restrictive statism. After the Empire of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor hysteria about Americans of Japanese ancestry — with nothing other than race linking them to the enemy — led to American citizens’ property being seized while they were imprisoned in American concentration camps.

Every time a perp uses a gun to cause havoc gun-ban advocates parade out victims’ family members and use their tears as weapons to promote their totalitarian civilian-disarmament agenda.

If the perp can be associated with a foreign faction such as in the case of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez who on July 17, 2015 committed a multiple-fatality shooting of Marine and Naval personnel in Chattanooga, TN, military officials will be brought on camera to express their teary-eyed rage.

The agenda is always the same: to take a criminal and his vile acts and — instead of focusing on how the public can arm themselves against future attacks — to inflame public outrage against some larger class of despised outsiders by recruiting the tears of family, friends, and co-workers as weapons stockpiled in the cause of tyranny.

No doubt there were some actual Russians who died at the hand of Ukrainians to justify Stalin’s mass starvation Holodomor and Nazis who were murdered by actual Jews used by Hitler to justify deporting Jews to Dachau and Auschwitz.

Letting one’s grief be the reason one becomes the pawn of master manipulators is understandable. They get you, like any other heartless con man does, when you’re at your most vulnerable.

But those in the media who use grieving to get ratings or, worse, to gain more power for their puppet masters, have no excuse. They are the very devil.

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Cowards, Heroes, and Servers

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Like the Hero Oscar Gordon in Robert A. Heinlein’s 1963 epic fantasy novel Glory Road, I’m a coward. Whenever possible. That doesn’t mean I’m not trained in arms and will use them to defend my cowardly life if necessary to remain alive and cowardly. I’m just too old to run away anymore.

The Cowardly Lion

I’m not a supporter of Donald Trump, or any other political candidate for that matter. I’m not only a coward but I’m an anarchist. Most people, even a lot of fellow anarchists, don’t know what the word means. It doesn’t mean not respecting the rights of other people and favoring chaos. That would be the nihilists. I mean that I’ve studied governments, empires, and statism and concluded the human race could do far better if affairs were organized in free marketplaces and other organization that doesn’t start with someone threatening someone else with violence or killing someone as an example to scare others into non-resistant compliance.

But I agree with Trump’s initial statement about John McCain. John McCain is no hero to me.

That doesn’t mean McCain isn’t brave and endured hellish conditions as a Vietnam War POW he chose not to escape for the sake of his fellow captured Americans. It does mean I don’t consider the job John McCain was doing as a soldier in an ultimately useless war that ended in the enemy’s victory was in any way service to the American people. McCain followed the orders of poltroons and by the trial standards established at Nuremberg his “just following orders” was no escape from moral turpitude. Certainly there is little virtue in McCain’s suspending his presidential run to lobby fellow senators to give unearned taxpayer billions to still unindicted financial criminals.

But even by the standards legendarily preached by General George Patton, there’s no “E for Effort” in warfare. Patton, like Trump, preferred winners. Alvin York in World War I and Audie Murphy in World War II — both Congressional Medal of Honor winners — are by the rules of warfare more entitled to be called heroes than service members who got captured and spent their service as prisoners. That’s not the opinion of this cowardly anarchist who never spent a day serving in the military. (If you don’t count the year I spent at age 14 wearing the United States Air Force uniform as a cadet information officer in the Massachusetts Civil Air Patrol, the Air Force Auxiliary.) That’s how the American government itself hands out ratings for military heroism.

My dad was found 4F and never recruited when he reported for duty after his World War II draft notice but if my dad had been accepted he likely would have played violin in Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band — Dave Schwartz, my dad’s roommate at the Curtis Institute of Music who played viola in that band, would have arranged for Colonel Miller to request him. Instead, my dad toured military bases in the U.S. as a solo violinist and played in war bond concerts. Does that make my dad’s “service” less worthy than my uncle Murray who spent the war as a U.S. army med tech in New Guinea? I don’t think so.

One of my first jobs was as a uniformed security guard for Holmes Security in New York City. Somewhere I can’t find it easily is a photo my dad took of me in my guard uniform, which if you didn’t know better could swear was the uniform of a Nazi SS officer. On one occasion I was assigned to join U.S. Secret Service, Israeli Mossad and New York City police as the protection detail for Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, on a visit to New York. I was the guy who was detailed to look for bombs. Does my working in the private sector mean I wasn’t “serving”? Does that make me a hero? I don’t think so.

There is a mythology of Service applied only to those who serve the State that questioning their heroism or service is unpatriotic. Donald Trump tripped that wire and that makes him briefly worthwhile to the libertarian cause. Someone’s job description is always up for rational analysis and there are no protective halos — not for soldiers, not for a president, not even for a Saint Mother Teresa or a Pope Francis.

Robert A. Heinlein graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served on a peacetime U.S. destroyer; during World War II he was a civilian worker in high-tech (for its time) defense work.

Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein

None of this is anywhere near as important service as Heinlein’s work as a science-fiction writer (author of the pro-military novels Starship Troopers and Space Cadet, if that matters to you) whose work on the movie Destination Moon helped inspire the Apollo moon landings.

Or my dad’s work as a concert violinist.

Or, to be hoped, this cowardly anarchist’s work as a writer, publisher, activist, and filmmaker.

This desperate statist veneration of its armed forces and police as somehow being more valuable to a free society than civilians in a host of other jobs — and on this point I disagree with Heinlein — puts the world out of balance and leads to needless destruction.

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Alongside Night and Libertarian Movies

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

Anthem Film Festival

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

Alongside Night Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Las Vegas Weekly article by Josh Bell

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

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

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

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

Official Alongside Night Movie Website

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

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

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

Freedomfest Speaker suggestions

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

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

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

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

Postscript July 18, 2015:

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

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Flag Banning

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

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

Dukes of Hazzard General Lee
Dukes of Hazzard General Lee

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

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

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

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

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

Abandon your past and you condemn your future.

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

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The Nobeus News Report — June 22, 2015

My first Nobeus News Report since November 12, 2011.

News for Adults and News for Infants

President Barack Obama with Marc Maron
President Barack Obama with Marc Maron

Today, June 22, 2015, only the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and CNN played the segment of President Barack Obama’s interview with podcaster Marc Maron without bleeping out the President’s use of the word “nigger.” NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, and cable news channels Fox News Channel and MSNBC — unprecedented in the history of radio and television news transmission — censored a presidential interview. NBC Nightly News explicitly said they were bleeping the word out of “sensitivity” to its viewers.

Now we know which news operations consider their viewers to be adults and which have a Nanny view which considers their audience to be incapable of ingesting uncensored news.

This is a horrendous precedent for the video news business in general. Fox News, NBC/MSNBC, and Disney/ABC News are to be condemned for this break with broadcast news history. CBS News and CNN have upheld the standard for newscasting and a public interested in being treated as adults should preference those news outlets.


The Vicar of “Christ!”

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Back in May 2014 when Pope Francis pontificated favoring government redistributing wealth, I posted — then deleted — a blog article titled “The Vicar of Another Man” in which I told the Pope to shut his pie-hole. I was not being specifically anti-Roman Catholic or even, more generally, anti-Christian. I was invoking the principle that being a religious leader with multitudes of followers does not automatically grace one with infallible knowledge, especially when he is not even claiming to speak with a pontiff’s ex cathedra authority.

When atheist Bill Maher is having a love affair with the head of the Roman Catholic Church because the Pope’s sounding like a Democratic presidential candidate, Rush Limbaugh is telling his listeners how Protestant he is out of the same political perception, and Roman Catholic former presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan refers to Pope Francis as an “Argentinian Jesuit Socialist,” you know the Pope is making waves.

The discussion of planetary global warming is not scientific; it’s political. The for-and-against on this issue divides along lines from partisan left to right. I consider that anyone who regards as a “pollutant” the all-important exchange gas between chlorophyll-breathing plant life and oxygen-breathing animal life — carbon dioxide — is either a stealth agent of invading extraterrestrials intent on terraforming this planet to their own ecological needs or is manipulating this issue for other brands of world domination.

The Pope heads up a tiny state but his church has 1.2 billion worldwide followers. With the threat of excommunication always held in reserve — and for the faithful this means the possibility of spending an eternity in hell if one dies without church-monopolized absolution of sin — a papal encyclical is a powerful psychological weapon. Issued on matters of science, industry, or economics, it can determine the selection of governments and policy.

When the head of the Roman Catholic Church is a messenger of Keynes, Gore, and the Brady Campaign, it’s time for Jesus Christ to send him a pink slip. To quote George Burns in the movie Oh God!, “Every time I turn around he’s spreading the word – my word – only my words he ran out of years ago. Take these to Rev. Big Mouth and say that God says he’s a phony. If he wants to get rich, tell him to sell Earth shoes. But personally tell him I’d like him to shut up.”


Defending the Church

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC

Under South Carolina law the holder of a license to carry a concealed firearm may not carry the concealed handgun into a “church or other established religious sanctuary unless express permission is given by the appropriate church official or governing body.”

So, once again, the murder of nine innocents was in a politically-mandated gun-free zone because someone in authority gave a monopoly on gun possession to the devil.

The opposition to self-defense is not a Democratic-only position, though President Obama and Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton have used this incident to resume calls for more gun restrictions. Former New York Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg is as anti-gun as they come; and speaking to FNC’s Chris Wallace yesterday Karl Rove suggested the only way to eliminate “gun violence” is to repeal the Second Amendment and remove guns from society.

Even my friend Brad Linaweaver suggested to me that without a focus on identifying and opposing evil the gun-rights movement will finds its political coalition decaying because talking about shooting back is not a good enough argument.

Of course a stand for good and against evil must be made, and not just from pulpits. No culture can survive, much less thrive, when a theory of natural law leading to the Rights of Man (and yes, this includes females as well as sapient anthropoids, cetaceans, avians, ET’s, and AI’s who can pass a Turing Test), is not the base of culture.

But I don’t see angels around me; I see men. And there enough of those men who are evil and mad that to protect the innocent I want even prayer meetings to be able to shoot back against the invader.


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Absolute Paranoia

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

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

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
–Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It can’t be helped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now we get to Iran and Obama.

Muammar Gaddafi

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

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

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

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

The United States speaks with a forked tongue.

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

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Encrypted Prayers: The Music Videos

Crisis Man
upon the world
Not Degrees
but Absolutes

Encrypted prayers
though resolute
Agnostic dreams
But interwoved.

I tell my tales
though spoken for
In hellish scenes
through heaven’s spore

I wish the best
But fear the worst
Can dreams survive
This manic burst?

I get the get
I got the got
It’s not the nought.

Hello old friends
Good bye to foes
Triumphant glee?
God only knows.

Encrypted Prayers

Music by Chris McGraw
Lyrics by J. Neil Schulman
Performed by Sleep Rebellion
Video by J. Neil Schulman

Music and Videos Copyright © 2015 by J. Neil Schulman and Chris McGraw
All rights reserved.

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Schooling the Academics

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

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

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

Back to School poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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