Guest Commentary by Renard Blanc: Revisions for U.S. History Course Curriculum in Jeffco School District

Renard Blanc is a Colorado resident who has worked in college libraries and the computer industry.

Dear Jeffco Board of Education Members,

With regard to the current controversy concerning emphasizing patriotism and minimizing civil disobedience in the teaching of History classes in the Jeffco School District, may I first state that I totally support you in your understanding that patriotism is an integral and very important part of teaching United States History.

However, you are very incorrect attempting to down-play the importance of civil disobedience by either minimizing or not teaching it at all as a part of the curriculum of classes on American History.

Denver school board refuses to drop curriculum review that promotes patriotism
Denver school board refuses to drop curriculum review that promotes patriotism

Why does the curriculum of American History classes have to include either patriotism or civil disobedience, exclusive of one another? Both patriotism and civil disobedience are critical aspects of the history of the United States, and both are inherent in our freedoms as documented in the Constitution.

May I remind you, since you seem to have forgotten, if it wasn’t for civil disobedience, which led to the Declaration of Independence and ultimately the American Revolution, the quintessential acts of civil disobedience to this day, we wouldn’t be the United States of America but still subjects of the monarch of Great Britain. You cannot teach the tenets of the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, and the Constitution of the United States, without fully addressing the importance of these acts of civil disobedience as being ultimate acts of patriotism, up to and including giving our lives for the right to live free.

Being a patriot must include the right of protest and civil disobedience. You cannot have one without the other. To minimize teaching the historical and present acts of civil disobedience in the United States is to be profoundly unpatriotic. To imply that civil disobedience is un-American and unpatriotic is not only plainly and simply wrong, it is a complete misunderstanding of what the founding fathers intended for the newly formed United States and its continued health as a free nation, ensuring the rights of individual freedoms of its citizens going into the future in perpetuity.

Attached is a copy of the Declaration of Independence which I suggest you re-read (assuming you have read it since you claim to be patriots) as a reminder of what a patriot really is and how civil disobedience was the very first patriotic act in the formation of the United States of America.

An additional “reminder” for you with regard to civil disobedience is the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights (emphasis mine):

Amendment 1 (Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Bill of Rights

Just a little bit of research will turn up mountains of evidence on the importance of civil disobedience that led to our independence from Great Britain, and our continued struggle as a nation to retain and maintain our rights to freedom and to protest, here and now, today, in the United States of America. Without civil disobedience, would we have had the landmark decisions to have equal educational opportunities available to all races, creeds, and religions, for both men and women?

You obviously see the protest of the students and teachers against changing the history curriculum as a consequence of the current curriculum of promoting liberal ideology, brainwashing and indoctrination in the classroom. And, I would have to agree with you that these influences are definitely present here and that the protestors are seeing only the part that supports their agenda of what they want to be taught in history classes. But, even though I agree that teaching a liberal agenda which emphasizes civil disobedience and minimizes patriotism, or doesn’t teach patriotism at all in history classes, is wrong, the opposite is equally egregious. You must teach both in their proper context, emphasizing neither, or you are simply promoting an alternative political agenda and not teaching the truth of our freedoms and what it means to be a patriot in our country.

Your current curriculum change to minimize (replace?) teaching about civil disobedience and emphasize (replace it) instead with teaching about patriotism due to your claiming to be patriots belies your true intent. You do not intend nor desire to teach the truth in your history classes on the United States, nor of current events. You intend to propagandize a political agenda. Politics should only be taught in history classes to bring to light all the differing aspects, philosophies and attitudes of the different parties throughout our history and present day, most importantly, without presenting a bias towards one or another or propagandizing for or against one or another. To do otherwise is a political agenda which has no place in the classroom.

Our founding fathers are turning in their graves over your decision. I accuse you of being just what you claim to be against. You are the ones who are unpatriotic!

Thank you for your attention and hopefully, consideration, of these thoughts.

To True Patriotism…

Renard Blanc

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Guest Commentary by Brad Linaweaver: Things That Make No Sense

Few libertarians have as many noteworthy accomplishments as my friend Brad Linaweaver, or as many other admirers who have granted him iconic praise. His first novel, Moon of Ice, carries endorsements from Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and William F. Buckley, Jr.

Ronald Reagan once devoted an entire radio show praising one of Brad’s articles written when Brad was a college student.

Brad’s published credits as a short-story writer, film commentator, novelist, journalist, essayist, interviewer, and screenwriter would take up pages. That doesn’t even list his work as a magazine editor and publisher (Mondo Cult), public speaker, and film professional. And I can’t tell you how many times Brad’s informal analysis of politics and world affairs is far more penetrating than any talking heads you’ll find on cable-news or talk radio.

Brad Linaweaver is the man behind The Silicon Assassin.


With Silicon Assassin writer/producer Brad Linaweaver from photo left: Vicki Marie Taylor as Lady Twilight, Victoria Plumb as Deadly Tween, and Paula Labaredas as Bubble Blonde Girl

Earlier today Brad called to say how impressed he is with Kurdistan’s offer to do the boots on the ground solution to ISIS if we give them the military equipment.

Quoting Linaweaver: “Neil, you and I want the United States to offer diplomatic recognition to Kurdistan. The time has come. The Kurds will not abandon what America gives them on the battlefield. But if the lawyers won’t allow a deal with the Kurds, my little article suggests other solutions than sending American troops back into the same old mess.”

–J. Neil Schulman

I always like to celebrate surviving another birthday (9-1) by thinking about something that makes no sense.

So, I’m a year older. The year is 2014, and the current example of nonsense has to do with ISIS (or ISIL, or the Islamic State).

Not only frantic Republicans, but a fair smattering of Democrats and nervous Brits insist that this latest tentacle of Radical Islam is the whole octopus.

It’s here at last, an existential threat.

Maybe even a metaphysical threat.

It is the beginning of the dread Caliphate!!!!

The Prime Minister of the UK talks about it as a greater threat than Hitler’s Nazis, Stalinist Commies, Imperial Japanese, eternal China, pedophile priests and Injuns on the warpath.

He also gives the impression that ISIS may be worse than cancer, yellow fever, tuberculosis, Ebola, and the Black Plague, combined.

Meanwhile, in the exception that is America, our pathetic President Obama (curses be upon his golf clubs) is lazy, crazy (as in psychological problems), and doing nothing about ISIS, despite the explosives he seems to be exploding in the desert areas where ISIS seems to be festering.

Most Americans would not know that the USA is killing ISIS members if not for the censored terrorist videos where the killer complains about American policy right before he decapitates captured American correspondents.

You’d think from Fox News and talk radio that Obama is an agent of ISIS. Since the President refuses to use the powers he has from the two Patriot Acts to silence his lying critics (which he could do even without a declaration of war) many Americans believe the President is doing nothing.

Obama sucks at being a dictator. FDR would be ashamed of him.

But it’s not just the Tea Party lunatics boiling in America who are ill informed.

Many right wing Israelis also believe any old nonsense spewed out about Obama.

Which brings me to an obvious point.

If ISIS is truly an existential threat, then it does more than threaten, say, Londoners and New Yorkers. It is a more immediate threat to Israel. Look at a map.

Israel must have a few weapons left over after its incursion (i.e., lopsided war) into/with Gaza. Israeli casualties were low, especially considering the civilians protected by Iron Dome, provided by the always popular Obama administration.

If ISIS is only 17,000 killers (give or take a few thou) then why doesn’t Israel act in concert with the USA? It’s just not that many people to kill in a military situation.

ISIS, the greatest threat of all time, couldn’t hold onto that one dam in Mosul which would have actually constituted a lasting threat. I believe the Turks helped rescue the dam.

What I’m trying to say is that the usual arguments ring hollow about the need for Israeli non-engagement in this peculiar situation.

The tiredest argument is that Israel will make Arabs, Turks, Persians, genies out of magic lamps, and other members of the unchosen unite against the Jews.

Not this time.

Not when ISIS is hated by Al Qaeda, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the lovable leader of Syria, the generals in Egypt, and maybe Allah Himself.

Not all Sunnis love ISIS. Shocking, but true.

Then there’s the idea that Israel cannot act without permission of the United States. Been hearing that cliché for years.

Israel just acted in Gaza without American permission. They act without American permission a lot. Remember Lebanon?

There is only one pertinent question:

Is Israel a real country, or a pretend country?

If right wing assholes are telling the truth about ISIS, then it is potentially a greater threat to Israel than Hamas.

Why does Israel seem more reticent than Obama to take on ISIS?

(Another mystery is why any member of Likud cares if Americans hate Hamas as much as ISIS. Seems like a waste of everyone’s time.)

Israel just made a bad impression on the world stage. But many critics would downplay Gaza if Israel publicly took on ISIS in a big way.

Spy stuff (always valuable) to one side, it did not take a lot of courage to pull off what Israel did in Gaza. American soldiers took greater risks to limit civilian casualties, fighting block to block in Iraq, then Israeli soldiers did with their blockbusting tactics in Gaza.

Israel looked bad.

Normal humans might start thinking, “Have we been exaggerating the martial courage of Israel in recent times? Perhaps their brave days are behind them?”

There is a simple way to defend the honor of Israel, of course. It is simply to agree with Obama that ISIS is not an existential threat. ISIS can be destroyed without a war.

But how can that be true? That would mean we’re being lied to by the King of Saudi Arabia, as well as retired military blowhards on every American cable news channel.

There you have my radical thought for 2014.

Either we’re being fed a bucket of camel shit, or Israel has lost its nerve. The latter seems unlikely.

Prediction:

Next year, around this time, the new threat will be OSIRIS.

— Brad Linaweaver

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America’s Timeless Revolution

I wrote this on Facebook as a summation of a series of tweets I sent out today and copied to my Facebook wall — including links to both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

J. Neil Schulman @jneilschulman

Edward Snowden is mistaken. He did not break the law because unconstitutional acts or policies are void ab initio.

Snowden needs immunity to testify against his superiors who engaged in criminal violations of the American people’s constitutional rights.

The American people need not fear that opposing the government will lead to either anarchy or tyranny. We did this already and remember.

If you’re an American fearing for our country it’s time to re-read our founding document: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

If you’re an American needing to decide between the government and Edward Snowden read our Bill of Rights: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

Free Edward Snowden
Free Edward Snowden

This one is too long to begin on Twitter.

The United States of America was founded by revolutionaries. They were different from any revolutionaries that came after them — not as vengeful or bloodthirsty as the French revolutionaries that overthrew their monarchy only a few years later; not guided by junk economics as were the revolutionaries in Russia in 1917 nor those Marxist revolutionaries that followed in China, Cuba, Vietnam, and elsewhere; not the deluded revolutionaries that pledged absolute loyalty to the mad Adolf Hitler and his legions of human demons.

The American Revolution, despite its failures, was the only one based on the principle of the sanctity of the individual human life. It makes all the difference in the world.

We are faced today with government that abuses the people’s rights and liberties, makes promises it is inherently incapable of keeping, and which exercises despotic powers never granted to them by any fundamental document.

The founders attempted to provide safeguards for the people’s individual rights and liberties. Those have degraded over the centuries. One can look back and find the reasons why this experiment in republican government failed — the seeds of these failures were not a secret even at the time of the founding: slavery at the top of the list, subjugation of women following closely — willingness to abandon principle for utilitarian perceptions of advantage providing a centuries-long slippery slope — and finally counterrevolution by those who worship only empire and wealth.

The people’s house — Congress — was supposed to make sure bureaucracy did not make law. They failed.

The federal courts were supposed to keep government within its enumerated powers and protect the people’s rights. They failed.

The executive branch — the Presidency — was supposed to act only to protect the people’s individual rights and liberties. They instead substituted security and safety nets for liberty and violated the very job description to which they pledged their oaths.

This is not the first time on this continent that government has failed the people. The British monarch and parliament were once the government over the colonists — and when the people decided their rights were being trampled by their own government, they declared an intention not to allow that to continue.

John Trumbull's painting, Declaration of Independence
John Trumbull’s painting, Declaration of Independence

The specifics of despotism do overlap with the causes stated in the Declaration of Independence but there are grievances that differ from those of 1776. The specifics aren’t as important as the same pattern of abuse.

I am a libertarian pledged to the Zero Aggression Principle and even in defense I do not advocate violence as the needful strategy to re-secure our liberties. I advocate non-compliance with evil laws and building resilient new institutions that can survive violent attacks by those despots who claim legitimacy drawn from founding documents they ignore and betray. No power not derived from those documents has moral authority and no power even based on a compact made by the dead can bind the living when the result is legalized murder, robbery, and replacement of decency with dictate.

Do not fear for the future of the American Dream. Though Americans have struggled over and over again to fulfill the promise of our founding principles, those principles are the universal Rights which those of conscious mind and right of independent action derive from our common nature — however that nature came to exist.

We have stood up against tyrants, criminals, and bullies for a long time now. Anyone who thinks we’ve forgotten — and some of us have — need to realize how simple and quick it is to remind the next generation the legacy left in their care … and why nothing they seek will make them happy if their liberty isn’t preserved first.

–J. Neil Schulman

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Kevin Sorbo talks about his movie Alongside Night with Ed Morrissey

Alongside Night star and executive producer, Kevin Sorbo, talks with Hot Air talk show host Ed Morrissey about Alongside Night.

“This is a movie that hopefully will wake up a few people. Once again I hope it’s not just preaching to the choir. I hope people go there and try to have an open mind and look at it and have a discussion open up after they do it.”
Alongside Night star and executive producer, Kevin Sorbo
The Ed Morrissey Show, May 22, 2014

Kevin Sorbo on Ed Morrissey Show
Kevin Sorbo on Ed Morrissey Show

Note:

The “Low Budget” Alongside Night Movie has:

Executive Producer and star Kevin Sorbo, (“Dr. Martin Vreeland”) star of the #1 worldwide TV series for seven years, Hercules the Legendary Journeys; star of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda (five-year-run and #1 in first-run syndications); star of the 2014 opening week #3 domestic box office movie hit (top 5 for 6 weeks and top 10 for 9 weeks and still in theaters at 11 weeks), God’s Not Dead; and real-life wife, actress, talk-show-host & author, Sam Sorbo, as Dr. Vreeland’s wife, Cathryn Vreeland.

Jake Busey (“President Charles Crane”), star of Contact opposite Jodie Foster and star of Starship Troopers opposite Neil Patrick Harris.

Said Faraj (“FEMA Agent Sam Shalhoub”) previous film appearance opposite Matt Damon in Green Zone; The Seige; Ghost; TV includes NCIS: Los Angeles, 24.

Tim Russ (“General Jack Guerdon”), previous film appearances in Live Free or Die Hard opposite Bruce Willis, Spaceballs opposite Mel Brooks; Star Trek: Generations; on TV star of Star Trek: Voyager (“Tuvok”) and Samantha Who? opposite Christina Applegate.

Garrett Wang (“Major Benjamin Franklin Chin”) Star Trek: Voyager (“Ensign Harry Kim”)

Gary Graham (“FEMA Director Lawrence Powers”) previously starring as Detective Matthew Sikes in five Fox Network TV films Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy; Alien Nation: The Enemy Within; Alien Nation: Millennium; Alien Nation: Body and Soul; Alien Nation: Dark Horizon; and Fox TV series, Alien Nation; Star Trek Enterprise (“Ambassador Soval”); plus episodes of numerous other network series.

Mara Marini (“Sgt. Eve Kropotkin AKA ‘Candy’”) previous film Lady Magdalene’s (“Nurse Gretchen”) opposite Nichelle Nichols; recurring on Parks & Recreation as “Brandi Maxxxx” opposite Amy Poehler and Rob Lowe.

Valence Thomas (“Major Benjamin Harper AKA ‘The Tzigane’”) Men in Black 3; Notorious; Cadillac Records; TV appearances include Blue Bloods and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Appearing as themselves: Dr. Ron Paul; Adam Kokesh; Jordan Page; Dr. David D. Friedman as the King of Sweden

Produced, Written, and Directed by J. Neil Schulman, author of 12 books with endorsements from Nobel-laureate Milton Friedman, Anthony Burgess, Dr. Ron Paul, Glenn Beck, Michael Medved (Alongside Night, 1979); Charlton Heston, Dennis Prager (Stopping Power, 1994); Robert A. Heinlein, Colin Wilson, Gregory Benford, Michael Medved (The Rainbow Cadenza, 1983); David Brin, Colin Wilson (Escape from Heaven, 2002); screenwriter of 1986 CBS Twilight Zone episode “Profile in Silver”); producer/writer/director of 2008 triple- film-festival award-winning independent feature film Lady Magdalene’s starring Nichelle Nichols; Schulman’s articles and essays have appeared in magazines and newspapers including Reader’s Digest, National Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page, Cult Movies, Locus, Reason Magazine, Mondo Cult, Liberty, Prometheus, and OC Weekly. Not counting the many reviews of his books, Mr. Schulman has been written about in magazines and newspapers including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, and the New York Times.

Musical film score by Daniel May with composing and performing credits in Saving Mr. Banks, Mr. Poppers Penguins, Midnight in Paris, Limitless, MacGruber, The Blind Side, Fast & Furious, Alvin and the Chipmunks, American Gangster, Borat, and many more feature films and TV series.

Film score recorded by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in Kiev, Ukraine, conducted by Daniel May.

CGI/VFX by Chris Dawson, previous film credits include Her, Green Lantern, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Alice in Wonderland, Titanic, and many more feature films and TV series

CGI/VFX by Thomas R. Dickens, previous film credits include 300, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, The Chronicles of Riddick, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, Cast Away, Stargate, Army of Darkness and many more feature films and TV series

Aerial Cinematography Unit:
A helicopter and two-remote-control-drone aerial cinematography unit used for action sequences filmed at Front Sight, Nevada and rally sequence filmed at Clark County Regional Justice Center

Live Nighttime Las Vegas Chase Sequence:
A three-vehicle nighttime chase sequence on the live-traffic streets of Las Vegas, NV

Live Fire and Action Sequences:
Live-fire pistol, tunnel, climbing, rope, and commando action sequences filmed at Front Sight, Nevada and full-auto firing range sequence filmed at The Gun Store, Nevada

Real Las Vegas Public School location
Classroom sequence, hallways, office, and exteriors filmed at Las Vegas Academy using student actors from the acting and film programs

Real shopping mall location
Underground shopping center sequences filmed at closed-off section of Boulevard Mall, Las Vegas

Live outdoor rally sequence with aerial unit
A rally sequence with 200 extras and volunteers filmed at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, NV

Fremont Street Experience live action sequence
Nighttime action sequence with dialogue and multiple extras filmed at Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas, NV

Expansive Exteriors at Homeland Security Facility
“Al Gore /Utopia Prison” live vehicle and actor sequences filmed at the Southern Nevada Water Treatment Facility

Country Club used for Kevin Sorbo speech
Kevin Sorbo speech as Dr. Vreeland filmed at DragonRidge Country Club

Real bookstore used
Rabelais Bookstore sequence filmed at Dead Poets Books, Las Vegas

Organizations providing props, footage, and other promotional consideration include AntiWar.com, The Advocates for Self Government, The Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute, Reason.TV

Full credits and thanks at http://www.dujpepperman.com/jesulu/alongsidenight/AN_Credits.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Encrypted Prayers


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
Infinity
It’s not the nought.

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

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The Trap of Politics


Barack Obama spoke of teachable moments. Libertarians who imagine their beliefs can gain political traction have just had a teachable moment. It remains to be seen whether the lesson will be learned.

Jan Brewer Vetoes
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Vetoes SB 1062

Arizona Senate Bill 1062 that Governor Brewer just vetoed purported to reverse that aspect of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination against persons a commercial business — such as for example, a lunch counter in a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina — did not want to serve. The newer reasoning — this time not with blacks in its sights — was that if the Bible labelled homosexuality an abomination a believing Christian operating such a lunch counter could invoke religious belief as a legal excuse not to serve a same-sex couple.

This controversy comes up in weeks following the legal case of a wedding cake designer in Colorado who refused to craft a wedding cake for a same-sex couple — declining on religious grounds — who has now been court-ordered to make wedding cakes for all comers.

On the pages of The Libertarian Enterprise L. Neil Smith has written in an article titled The Auction Block Comes to Colorado that “It is precisely as if some judge tried to force me, a lifelong libertarian, to write essays in support of gun control or Marxism.”

Neil is correct. Once legal compulsion is established in principle to be used in compelling a private business to serve any customer regardless of the proprietor’s beliefs, ethics, or esthetics — any request for service where there is no right of refusal makes the proprietor a slave to the customer.

But here’s the other thing. Decent people who object to the right of refusal being invoked on the basis of various bigotries — skin color, ethnic origin, religion, or sexual preference — would rather live in a legal and political system that outlaws certain rights of refusal rather than working against such bigotry relying completely on the tortoise-slow uphill climb of argument, picketing, boycott, and writing novels, plays, and movies that combat bigotry with mind and heart.

Political involvement on behalf of an abstract principle of protecting a private right is a trap for libertarians, because when we invoke our standards on behalf of the scum of the earth we make ourselves the targets of decent outrage — and discredit our principles among those who see only short-term gain and not the long-term loss that undercutting principle enables.

The grandstanding statist always wins these arguments because principles are invisible and have no sex appeal.

If there’s a lesson here for the libertarian, it’s that principle is a black-market commodity. The State’s ripping away the right of discrimination makes discrimination piratical — but we must remember also to discriminate against scumbags — kick their miserable asses back to the State — when we practice our liberty in our clandestine agoras.

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Who’s Not Behind Alongside Night?


Since I got my Netflix subscription two months ago I’ve been immersing myself in documentaries. I’ve watched documentaries suggesting a partisan Republican agenda Rupert Murdoch allegedly has for Fox News (Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism), two documentaries on Sarah Palin — one pro, one con (The Undefeated, Sarah Palin: You Betcha!)– one looking at the late Andrew Breitbart (Hating Breitbart), one on Wikileaks (We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks), and — right now — one called The Billionaires’ Tea Party, suggesting that the Tea Party movement is “Astroturf” — recruiting dupes unknowingly to support the financial interests of the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David.

Charles and David Koch
Photo from his vorpal sword

My old friend and mentor, Samuel Edward Konkin III, was hostile to the Koch brothers because they promoted the Libertarian Party, which Sam — an anti-political movementist — opposed. He invented the term “Kochtopus” to attack the Kochs for what he saw as their politicization of the anti-political libertarian movement, decades before segments of the American left decided on the Koch brothers as their nemesis.

I appreciate Sam’s reasons for purist anti-politics, but I never agreed with him that participation in politics as a form of harm-minimization is always counter-productive. I often cited Lysander Spooner’s arguments in No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority that participation in politics could be a form of self-defense, and later reversed the anti-political argument that ballots were just another form of bullets to argue that if I could carry a gun in self defense I could mark a ballot in self defense.

Sam and I used to have long discussions in which he would invoke the strategy of encouraging crisis as a form of catalyzing revolution, and Taylor Caldwell’s 1952 novel, The Devil’s Advocate, often came up in these discussions, since in that novel conscious acceleration of totalitarian controls beyond the rate a public could be convinced to accept is a conscious strategy of fomenting rebellion. I guess, compared to my old friend, I’m just a wuss when it comes to revolution. I want merely to convince people using sweet reason and exposing villainy, not manipulate people by fomenting outrage and fear. I want to shock the conscience, not the adrenal glands.

The Billionaires’ Tea Party, if accurate at all, shows Koch money being invested in many foundations, think tanks, and political action groups that would not have thrived or been as effective without their money. I can’t see how this is evil. I have never received a dime of Koch money yet I agree with them that the so-called scientific “consensus” that anthropogenic global warming is a worldwide crisis-in-making is a politically-cobbled megafraud at the level of Soviet Lamarckism or Nazi racial theories. So if Koch Oil is funding political opposition to this fraud because policies based on this horseshit impacts their business negatively, I agree with the Kochs not because they’re paying me to agree but because this poor artist thinks the oil billionaires are correct.

I wrote my novel, Alongside Night, in the 1970′s and it was published in 1979. The only financing I got from anyone other than my parents was a $300 gift from family friends, Herman and Molly Geller, which paid my Long Beach, California rent for the three months I needed to complete my first-draft manuscript. To the best of my knowledge the Gellers were communists — whether or not “card carrying” I never knew. But I do know that historically communists have supported novelists, musicians, and filmmakers a lot more than conservatives and libertarians. David Koch, who provided millions of dollars to refurbish New York City’s performing-arts mecca, Lincoln Center, is a high-profile exception.

Over the past three years I wrote, produced, and directed my feature-film adaptation of my novel Alongside Night and it’s now available for play in American movie theaters. The movie was mostly financed by Patrick A. Heller, an ideological libertarian who heads up Liberty Coin Service.

Before I ran into Pat Heller I separately asked both of the Koch brothers, Charles and David, for financing to make the movie; Charles ignored my email and David turned me down.

Neither has any of the institutions shown in a chart in The Billionaires’ Tea Party supported the production or so-far the distribution of my movie. I’ve sent out emails to Matt Kibbe at FreedomWorks and Joel Cheatwood at Glenn-Beck’s TheBlaze asking for strategic marketing partnerships between their organizations and my pro-liberty movie and I’ve been ignored. I’ve gotten nowhere with the Campaign for Liberty and its youth wing, Young Americans for Liberty; nor with Students for Liberty. I thought — and still think — that Alongside Night is uniquely focused in dramatizing a pro-freedom worldview that these organizations say they also hold, so the empty echoes of my own voice asking to join forces is surprising to me.

But then why do I also have to listen to voices to my left that class me with a right-wing that evidently wants nothing to do with me either?

Is being a truly anti-political libertarian so far off out of the Talking Points War between conservatives and liberals that there’s no place for my voice?

This is not a theoretical question for me. It’s a pressing matter of whether there is any organization out there that will embrace Alongside Night as a means of coalescing a vibrant libertarian movement in the future.

But in the meantime, at least know that if you think I made Alongside Night to advance a profit agenda of some oil billionaires, the oil billionaires aren’t having any of it.

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The Leno Factor


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

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

In that article I wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Goodbye Jay Leno — Goodbye Television?


Next month — February 6th, to be precise — the NBC television network is forcing the retirement of their number one late night star — Tonight Show host Jay Leno — in favor of the talented but Tonight Show-ratings untested Jimmy Fallon, who currently follows Leno with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. With rare exception, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has held first place in the 11:35 PM ET/PT late-night time slot ratings since 1995, winning the late-night war for NBC against competition such as David Letterman on CBS, Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, and currently syndicated reruns on Fox.

In a 60 Minutes interview Sunday night Leno said he understood NBC’s decision to replace him with a younger host because Leno’s prime demographic is Baby-Boomers (including me, born in 1953) whereas Fallon’s prime demographic is Millennials — the age-demographic including my college-age daughter. According to Leno, NBC is worried that Fallon would jump ship to another network (most likely Fox) if they don’t give him The Tonight Show now. Apparently they are less worried that Jay’s loyal demographic — people closer to my age — will jump ship to watching David Letterman on CBS, a network known for programming to the Baby-Boomer demo in both prime-time and late night.

Jay LenoJimmy Fallon
Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon

I haven’t run the late-night numbers. But NBC programmers don’t have a crystal ball that assures The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon will have a viewership anywhere near as good as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has established. We do know that in 2009 when Leno was originally replaced with Conan O’Brien the ratings for The Tonight Show plummeted so badly NBC begged Leno to come back to The Tonight Show from the disastrous 10:00 PM ET/PT weeknights time slot they tried The Jay Leno Show in, to keep Jay from jumping to another network’s late-night time slot.

I also haven’t run commercial-revenue comparisons between Baby-Boomers and Millennials. But I can’t see how late-night ad revenues could come out with higher commercial buy rates by preferentially advertising to Millennials. Not to put too fine a point on it but even with the drop in 401(K)’s, home equity losses, and worsening fixed-income-to-inflation ratios, Baby-Boomers tend to have a lot more disposal income than Millennials who are having a hard time getting a job, paying off student loans, and — if not living in the old bedroom in their parents’ house — struggling to afford groceries. Is NBC figuring on maintaining ad-rates replacing sponsors such as BMW and Kay Jewelers with Thunderbird and Cup Noodles? Or are they counting on future advertising from pot dispensaries?

Anecdotally, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has been regularly programmed into my DVR because I enjoy his monologue, like his bits “Headlines” and “Jaywalking,” and — even though David Letterman is frequently hilarious — Jay isn’t an-anti-right-to-keep-and-bear-arms New York intellectual like Letterman and, being a gearhead, Jay doesn’t piss me off as often.

I watch Late Night with Jimmy Fallon only when he has a guest I want to see, because Fallon’s stand-ups are often repetitive and less polished, he wastes valuable airtime playing games with his guests instead of asking them anything penetrating (this is where Letterman is even better than Leno), and — if I’m to be honest when making a marginal-utility calculation regarding who gets the second hour of my late-night attention span — the funniest person to me on late-night week nights is Craig Ferguson, who follows Letterman on CBS.

All other things being equal, NBC’s decision to lose their lock on late-night for an untested 11:35 PM show with a less-rich viewership just doesn’t make sense.

Unless — as Louie C.K. says — “But maybe…”

But maybe the most important thing about Jimmy Fallon is that his bits frequently become worldwide trending hashtag topics on Twitter.

But maybe NBC is looking a few years down the line when the late-night time-slot wars are over because a lot more people will get their programming directly from web-based services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, viewed either on smart phones and tablets, or connected to their big-screen monitors through Roku boxes and gaming consoles.

I may be a Baby Boomer but my Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions — connected with a Roku box to my living-room plasma screen — are already cutting the time I spend on my DirecTV channel line-up by half.

In the last 24 hours my daughter, away at college, didn’t ask me for a new TV set, like I might have asked my parents for at her age.

She asked to piggyback on my Netflix subscription.

The future, right there.

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