Thanks to @Marius Hancu and @Dan Bron, I modified my previous web searches and found what I was looking for: E-Prime, aka "English Prime": the English language without the verb "to be". D. David Bourland, Jr. described it in a 1965 essay entitled A Linguistic Note: Writing in E-Prime.
As presented in Wikipedia:
E-prime does not allow the conjugations of to be—be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being— the archaic forms of to be (e.g. art, wast, wert), or the contractions of to be—'m, 's, 're (e.g. I'm, he's, she's, they're).
Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing. For example, the sentence "the film was good" could not be expressed under the rules of E-Prime, and the speaker might instead say "I liked the film" or "the film made me laugh". The E-Prime versions communicate the speaker's experience rather than judgment, making it harder for the writer or reader to confuse opinion with fact.
See more at Working with E-Prime: Some Practical Notes by Kellogg and Bourland. E.g.:
E-Prime automatically eliminates the "is-dependent," overdefining of situations
in which we confuse one aspect, or point of view, of an experience
with a much more complex totality....
This overdefining occurs chiefly in sentences using the "is of identity" (e .g .,
"John is a scientist") and the "is of predication" (e.g ., "The leaf is green")....
E-Prime can also enhance creativity in problem solving, by transforming
premature judgment statements such as "There is no solution to this problem"
into more strictly accurate versions such as "I don't see how to solve
this problem (yet)"
We see the misuse and overuse of the verb "to be" by English speakers
as a kind of linguistic addiction. It allows us to play God using the omniscient
"Deity mode" of speech, as when we say, "That is the truth.' It allows
even the most ignorant to transform their opinions magically into god-like
pronouncements on the nature of things. Its overuse allows one to communicate
sloppily without unduly taxing the brain by trying to come up
with more appropriate verbs.
Now I want to find useful tools for highlighting my own uses of the Deity mode and helping me switch to alternatives.