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August 2020

WTMWD #30: Are Immigration Restrictions Libertarian? With Todd Seavey




I speak with long-time libertarian writer Todd Seavey, about whether libertarians should support restrictions on immigration, what "defund the police" doesn't mean... and Rod Serling's contribution to liberty.

Todd's recent article on immigration restrictions can be found here.

His earlier immigration article can be found here.

And his article on the "Defund the Police" movement is here.

His book, "Libertarianism for Beginners" is here. I recommend buying multiple copies, before Amazon realizes what it's about and discontinues it.

And you can find Todd on Twitter



Shock Report! "Fact Checkers" Remove Article Detailing Bill Gates' Funding of Fact Checkers


PD newspaper business


Writes Neil Miller:

"Last night, I posted on FB information that Robert Kennedy Jr. had written on Instagram summarizing an article about Bill Gates, how his organization paid more than $250 million to control global journalism and "fact-checkers." My post was shared more than 1000 times and was still climbing. This morning, FB "fact-checkers" removed my post saying it was a potential threat to health. Apparently, investigating Bill Gates and/or exposing the "fact-checkers" is not allowed. Here is what I posted (along with a picture of Bill Gates and another of RFK Jr.)":

According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an investigative report by Columbia Journalism Review has revealed that Bill Gates controls the media and so-called “independent fact-checkers” through multi-million dollar grants and subgrants. Here is what RFK Jr. posted earlier today:
A Columbia Journalism Review exposé reveals that, to control global journalism, Bill Gates has steered over $250 million to the BBC, NPR, NBC, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, National Journal, The Guardian, The New York Times, Univision, Medium, the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, Gannett, Washington Monthly, Le Monde, Center for Investigative Reporting, Pulitzer Center, National Press Foundation, International Center for Journalists, and a host of other groups. To conceal his influence, Gates also funneled unknown sums via subgrants for contracts to other press outlets.

His press bribes have paid off. During the pandemic, bought & brain-dead news outlets have treated Bill Gates as a public health expert—despite his lack of medical training or regulatory experience.

Gates also funds an army of independent fact checkers including the Poynter Institute and Gannett —which use their fact-checking platforms to “silence detractors” and to “debunk” as ‘false conspiracy theories’ and ‘misinformation,’” charges that Gates has championed and invested in biometric chips, vaccine IDS, satellite surveillance, and Covid vaccines.

Gates media gifts, says CJR author Tim Schwab, mean that “critical reporting about the Gates Foundation is rare.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declined multiple interview requests from CJR and refused to disclose how much money it has funneled to journalists.


The article Miller refers to appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, can be found here, and is well worth reading in its entirety. On fact-checking specifically:

...in 2015 Gates gave $383,000 to the Poynter Institute, a widely cited authority on journalism ethics (and an occasional partner of CJR’s), earmarking the funds “to improve the accuracy in worldwide media of claims related to global health and development.”

Poynter senior vice president Kelly McBride said Gates’s money was passed on to media fact-checking sites, including Africa Check, and noted that she is “absolutely confident” that no bias or blind spots emerged from the work, though she acknowledged that she has not reviewed it herself. 

I found sixteen examples of Africa Check examining media claims related to Gates. This body of work overwhelmingly seems to support or defend Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation, which has spent billions of dollars on development efforts in Africa. The only example I found of Africa Check even remotely challenging its patron was when a foundation employee tweeted an incorrect statistic—that a child dies of malaria every 60 seconds, instead of every 108. 

Africa Check says it went on to receive an additional $1.5 million from Gates in 2017 and 2019. 

“Our funders or supporters have no influence over the claims we fact-check…and the conclusions we reach in our reports,” said Noko Makgato, executive director of Africa Check, in a statement to CJR. “With all fact-checks involving our funders, we include a disclosure note to inform the reader.” 


Some earlier reporting on Gates' influence on the media can be found here and here.



Facebook: Some Bullying & Harassment is OK!


You may remember Sara Brady, the Idaho mom who was arrested for being on a playground. What you may not know is that there is an entire group on Facebook dedicated to harrassing her. Here is a screenshot:

Idaho against Sara Brady - no hate speech or bullying copy

Note that there is "no hate speech or bullying" allowed in a group the express purpose of which is to encourage hate speech and bullying directed against Sara Brady and people like her.

A number of people reported this group for what a reasonable person might think was a violation of its Community Standards.

Here is how Facebook responded:

FB reply to Against Sara Brady group report


If you're left wondering just what those Community Standards do entail, especially given the ease with which the social-media giant pulls down content that in any way conflicts with the positions of the WHO and the CDC for example... you are not alone.




A Shameless Plug - but Also Not


Back-cover-annabel copy


This is a shameless plug... but it's also not.
I really do believe that the most important thing right now, at this moment in time (and also always) the thing that is most missing right now, the thing that civilization itself depends upon, is independent thinking.
That's what my book, Annabel Pickering & the Sky Pirates - the Fantastical Contraption, is all about. I don't think I'm at all preachy about it, and if I've done a good job of it then you won't come away saying "well that was one fantastic book about independent thought! I'll have to recommend it to all the parents I know!" You'll come away saying "wow! What a great adventure story with pirates and air ships and anarchy and a plucky young schoolgirl! I can't wait to find out what happens in the next one!"
...but it's really about independent thinking.
You be the judge though.

16 Children's Books You Didn't Know Were Anti-Authoritarian


Alice and Queen 1


I wrote this list for FEE.org back in December, but I realize that it has never been more appropriate or more necessary than right now. Enjoy:




Kids solving problems and getting out of predicaments on their own without the help of adults (indeed, often with their hindrance) is a common theme in children's literature. But some books go even farther, diving straight into outright anti-authoritarianism. Good for them—if you're going to impart moral lessons in children's literature (not always a good idea), why not impart the ones that are most sorely neglected in the real world?

Here are sixteen that stand out:


1. Snow Treasure

The kids are the heroes in this thrilling WWII story, based on real events. Nazi troops have occupied a small Norwegian village. The townspeople fear that they will steal all of their savings—nine million dollars worth of gold—but they have no way of getting it to safety . . . except for a bunch of kids on sleds. An action-packed look at finding creative ways to work around official control and theft.


2. The Toothpaste Millionaire

Young entrepreneurs figure out how to make a better, cheaper, toothpaste, and become wildly successful. They also learn about corporate malfeasance when one of the big players doesn't like the competition. Fun for the whole family! (Unless you're a corrupt toothpaste dynasty family.)


3. Pippi Longstocking

Beloved Pippi is a nine-year-old girl with extraordinary strength and no parents, which is "…of course very nice because there was no one to tell her to go to bed just when she was having the most fun…" When the police come to take Pippi away to a children's home, she tells them she already has one, and then plays tag with them, traps them on her roof, and sends them away with cookies.


4. Charlotte's Web

Just because something is in print doesn't mean it's true. And controlling what people believe is one of the greatest tools of every authoritarian. Even a little spider knows that.


5. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has come under the control of the Ministry of Magic, and students are prohibited from learning the magical skills they will need to defend themselves against evil.

Harry Potter and his friends decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a secret group and teaching each other the skills they need. This volume contains one of the best ever depictions of a petty, vindictive, authoritarian personality, in the deliciously detestable Dolores Umbridge.


...read the rest of the list here.




WTMWD #29: Ryan McMaken on Covid-19 Fearmongering & Why it's Essential to Have a Beer with Friends





I speak with Mises Institute Senior Editor, Ryan McMaken, about the media's fact-free assault on Sweden and other fearmongering about Covid-19. We also talk about why it might be more important than you think to go out and get a beer with friends.

You can find Ryan's writing here.

His article "The Media's Jihad Against Sweden's No-Lockdown Policy Ignores Key Facts" is here.

His article "The COVID Panic Is a Lesson in Using Statistics to Get Your Way in Politics" is here.

The article we mention about the South Korean healthcare system is here.



Mere Anarchy Loosed Upon the World



“We would do well to disabuse ourselves of the notion that institutionalized violence creates order. It does not.”

This is a piece I wrote back in 2011. It is more relevant than ever now:

As I write this, my son is running around the house naked, even though I’ve asked him twice to put his clothes on. I can hear the bathroom sink swooshing on and off as he makes a swimming pool for his zoo animals. I weigh getting up and possibly waking his baby sister, who is sleeping on my chest, against the lesser likelihood that he will catch a cold from running around the house naked and wet. I decide to stay put. The swooshing continues.

I wonder how a man named Scott Oglesby would deal with my son’s exuberance, his lack of “respect for authority,” his occasional noisiness. Last December, Oglesby, a police officer, was at Stevenson Elementary School in Bloomington, Illinois, when he heard a seven-year-old special-needs boy having a seizure. Oglesby ran into the room where the boy was being restrained by a school psychologist, shouted “you’re giving me a headache!” and grabbed the boy by the throat, holding him up in the air until he turned red, before throwing him down in a chair. Oglesby is now on “restricted duty,” but no criminal charges will be filed against him.

I’d like to think that cases like Oglesby’s are rare exceptions. But every week there seems to be another story about someone being shot with a taser over a traffic violation, or for not responding the way the officer wanted them to. There was the paralyzed man thrown from his wheelchair by an officer in a Florida jail; the New York City cop who stopped a woman from driving her dying daughter to the hospital; the mentally handicapped teenager who was tasered to death after waving a stick around; and, in May of 2010, in another increasingly common militarized raid on a family’s home, the shooting death of seven-year-old Aiyana Jones as she lay sleeping next to her grandmother. (There is little doubt as to what happened because the 20 officers who burst into the girl’s home had brought with them a camera crew for a reality-TV show.)

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

When I first read Yeats’ “The Second Coming,” years ago, I saw in the first stanza a lament about the loss of a central authority, of political authority. Now I think he meant something else.

I have to believe that there was a time when people would have responded to the likes of Officer Oglesby by unceremoniously dipping him in tar, tossing a bucket of feathers over his head and casting him out from civilized society. Today he and his ilk are given “administrative leave” at best, and are soon back on the streets to endanger the rest of us. At the same time, more than half a million Americans sit in prison for the crime of using or selling substances the government disapproves of. Our nation has the highest per-capita prison population in the world by a very wide margin. Yet people like Officer Oglesby and the officers who killed Aiyana Jones do not count among the incarcerated. We are told that it is a punishable crime to ingest certain prohibited substances, a bigger crime to sell them. But, it is not a crime to shoot a seven-year-old girl in the head while she lies sleeping next to her grandmother. We have become deeply confused as to who the criminals are.


You can read the rest here.

And please check out "Why Peace?" the collection in which this essay first appeared. 




Are We in a Pandemic? Or a "Casedemic"? Ivor Cummins Explains the Difference


"You will always find viruses and virus fragments when you go looking. That's the point," says Ivor Cummins, who put together the handy little graphs in the video. You can follow him on Twitter, and see some of his other work and interviews, and sign up for his newsletter here.

Says Cummins: "You must understand that our epidemic has waned - and has been replaced with an irrational, unscientific Casedemic."

This is very well presented. Also short. Please watch:





How Many of the Covid-19 Deaths Were in Fact Caused by Politicians?




From an AP article titled "New York's True Nursing Home Death Toll Cloaked in Secrecy", August 11th:


"New York’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, already among the highest in the nation, could actually be a significant undercount. Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there.

"That statistic could add thousands to the state’s official care home death toll of just over 6,600. But so far the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to divulge the number, leading to speculation the state is manipulating the figures to make it appear it is doing better than other states and to make a tragic situation less dire."

If the toll turns out to be significantly higher than previously thought (will we ever know?), this could have tremendous implications for the "outside-of-nursing-homes-CFR."
In case anyone isn't clear about why that matters:
No, it's not because I "don't care about old people", or I "don't care about people in nursing homes." (My father was in a rehab facility just before he passed away, so the accusation would be absurd.)
Here's why it matters:
We already know that Covid-19 is not much of a threat to anyone who is not either elderly, immune-compromised, or suffering from pre-existing conditions like diabetes, etc.
We also know that a very large percentage (40-60% in some states) of Covid-19 deaths occurred in nursing homes or other care facilities.
We also know that in some states, those facilities were forced to take in residents who were infected with Covid-19. This fact turned those facilities into death machines.
So what happens when we remove from the statistics, those deaths that were caused by the actions of politicians? The case-fatality rate for the population as a whole - including for the elderly and immune compromised, etc. - goes down even further.
(Yes, to be more accurate, we wouldn't just remove all of the deaths that occurred in nursing homes from Covid-19, but all "excess deaths" that occurred in nursing homes, from all "excess deaths" for the population as a whole.)
I don't know what that number is, obviously. We don't even have an accurate count for the number of people who died in (or, were about to die and were whisked away to hospitals) nursing homes and other facilities.
But it is becoming increasingly clear that a huge portion of the deaths due to Covid-19 in the US were in fact caused by the actions of politicians.
I'd like to know what the CFR is for the population as a whole, and for the elderly and at-risk, when we take those numbers out.

WTMWD #28: Daniel McAdams: What does totalitarian rule really look like?







I speak with the director of the Ron Paul Institute, Daniel McAdams, about his time spent in Hungary when it was still part of the former Soviet Union. He has some valuable insights about what life under a totalitarian state is really like, and how we can recover society one human interaction at a time.

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Reporting on the protests in Berlin



WTMWD #27: Celeste McGovern: Why we should be very concerned about a Covid-19 vaccine




I speak with writer Celeste McGovern about the efforts to create a vaccine for Covid-19. McGovern has been writing about vaccines for many years and recently wrote a piece outlining some of the major problems we should expect to see - and in some cases have already seen - with the coming Covid-19 vaccines.

Celeste's article is here.

What Doctors Don't Tell You is here.

Some of the groups Celeste mentions:

Vaccine Choice Canada

Children's Health Defense

Also: the Informed Consent Action Network

WTMWD #26: Sheriff Mack: What to Do About Tyrants







I speak with Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, about the unprecedented tyranny that we are now living under, and what we can do to fight it. Sheriff Mack explains how county sheriffs may be our best defense against tyrannical authorities at city, state and federal levels, and what each of us can do to help build this defense.

You can learn more about Sheriff Mack's organization, and donate to support this critical work, here:

Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

His book, "The Victory for State Sovereignty" can be purchased here.



WTMWD #25: Why is the Attorney for Freedom so Optimistic?





My guest in this episode is not just any old guest. He was a student of my dad's, many years ago, and the way he tells it, my dad had a transformative influence on him and on the direction his life has taken. He is now (and has been for many years) a full-time liberty advocate, through his law firm "Attorneys for Freedom", and also through numerous other projects he has developed over the years. His latest being the "Live and Let Live" movement.

I talk with Marc Victor about my dad's influence on his thinking and his life, some of his latest lawsuits against tyrants, the Live and Let Live movement... and why he is optimistic about the future.

Live and Let Live.org

The website dedicated to my dad: ButlerShaffer.com

Marc's lawfirm: Attorneys for Freedom.


The Pharmaceutical Narrative is Failing - and a Group of Doctors is Helping Push it Over the Edge



Image: Public domain.


From my latest piece on LewRockwell.com:


So now we don’t have to listen to what those doctors said in front of the US Supreme Court, because it turns out that one of them has some whacky beliefs about sex with demons causing reproductive disorders. What a relief.

I’m not going to pretend that the things Dr. Stella Immanuel has said don’t sound just a little  crazy to me. They do. But I’ve been observing this game long enough to have a pretty good idea of how this works:

Someone says something that contradicts the dominant narrative (in this case, the narrative about medical science), and the machine that supports that narrative goes into overdrive to discredit them, with whatever information they can dig up–as long as it doesn’t involve discussing the actual substance of what the person has said.

I understand that for some people, maybe even for a great many, that is the end of the conversation. So for everyone who is satisfied with the “fringe doctors promoting hydroxychloroquine also believe demon sex causes fybroids” narrative–please, stop here. Your ride is over, and you may go on believing that this group of doctors and other professionals has been thoroughly discredited by these statements.

For everyone else, if you are at all interested in why such a coordinated effort has been launched to silence and discredit this group, why–even before the sex demon stuff was uncovered–videos of the group’s press conference were quickly yanked from YouTube, and why their own website was taken down without warning by its host, SquareSpace, (their new website can now be found here) then please keep reading...


Read the rest here.

Data in Support of, and Against, the Use of Hydroxychloroquine to Treat Covid-19


This is where I am putting all of the studies and other data that I have found on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. I don't claim that this is a complete list, and I welcome additional information. I am also not vouching for the quality of any of these. This is obviously a huge topic, and this post is not meant to be an analysis, but just a starting point for those who want to look at the research that has been done so far. I am aiming to make this as comprehensive a list as possible, while highlighting those studies that have either had the most impact or are the most valuable, and providing links to critiques of studies where they exist. I do NOT plan to update this ongoingly, although if something incredibly significant happens, or if I've left out something important (which I probably have), I may add it here. For a more updated accounting of studies that have been done, see this list, which I also mention below.


I. Studies showing that hydroxychloroquine is NOT effective (or is dangerous) against Covid-19:

1. Notably, the study (published in the Lancet) that has perhaps had the most impact on research, treatment protocols, and public perception, was retracted after independent researchers found that it was based on data that did not appear to exist

2. The VA study, from April, that found "...no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine, either with or without azithromycin, reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with Covid-19. An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone." (For Didier Raoult's critique of this study, see here.)

3. This study, which did NOT look at hydroxychloroquine, but at chloroquine (which is known to be more toxic than hydroxychloroquine), but which I am including here as some may bring this up as an argument against hydroxychloroquine. It is not.

4.  The Oxford Recovery trial, which has been widely criticized for using doses of HCQ that were dangerously high.

5. The Solidarity trial, conducted by the World Health Organization "and partners", which like the Recovery trial, used excessively high dosing.

6. The Remap trial, which, like both Recovery and Solidarity, used excessively high dosing.


II. Lists of studies showing that it IS effective (including collections of studies showing both positive and negative outcomes):

1. This is probably the most comprehensive listing of studies, and is being continuously updated. As of August 6, it lists 67 studies, 75% showing positive results (100% of the studies that examined HCQ given early in the course of illness, showed positive results.)

2. Another good list: Sequential CQ / HCQ Research Papers and Reports January to April 20, 2020.  Executive summary:

"The HCQ-AZ combination, when started immediately after diagnosis, appears to be a safe and efficient treatment for COVID-19, with a mortality rate of 0.5%, in elderly patients. It avoids worsening and clears virus persistence and contagious infectivity in most cases."

3. The White Paper from Dr. Simone Gold, discussing both safety studies and efficacy studies in support of HCQ to treat Covid-19.

4. The paper by Dr. James Todaro and Gregory Rigano on March 13, 2020, "An Effective Treatment for Coronavirus (COVID-19)", which was taken down by Google Docs (and later put back up), in support of HCQ to treat Covid-19.

5. A paper from May 27, by Yale epidemiologist Harvey Risch, analyzing five studies and finding "clear-cut and significant benefits to treated patients." Risch's paper also examined studies showing HCQ's safety.


III. Some of the more notable studies showing positive results (by notable, I don't mean that I am endorsing any of the studies or their results, only that they are some that have received the most attention):

1. Study by Didier Raoult et al: Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open- label non-randomized clinical trial. I believe this was the first study on the treatment to hit the news, and it was conducted by a team led by Didier Raoult, one of the world's foremost experts on communicable diseases (listed here as the number one expert worldwide.) 

Raoult has continued to treat Covid-19 patients at his institute with HCQ, and continues to report on the results, here. And DAILY updates on their numbers are published here.

2. The Zelenko study. This was a retrospective study involving 141 patients, looking at early treatment with the triple therapy of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and azithromycin. The study found that this therapy was associated with "...significantly less hospitalizations and 5 times less all-cause deaths."

3. Chinese study, April 10 2020. "Efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19: results of a randomized clinical trial." This randomized study, involving 62 patients, found that HCQ could "significantly" improve outcomes.


III. Country data:

1. From this piece in Newsweek, by Yale epidemiologist Harvey Risch:

"...we have seen what happens in large populations when these drugs are used. These have been "natural experiments." In the northern Brazil state of Pará, COVID-19 deaths were increasing exponentially. On April 6, the public hospital network purchased 75,000 doses of azithromycin and 90,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine. Over the next few weeks, authorities began distributing these medications to infected individuals. Even though new cases continued to occur, on May 22 the death rate started to plummet and is now about one-eighth what it was at the peak.

"A reverse natural experiment happened in Switzerland. On May 27, the Swiss national government banned outpatient use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. Around June 10, COVID-19 deaths increased four-fold and remained elevated. On June 11, the Swiss government revoked the ban, and on June 23 the death rate reverted to what it had been beforehand. People who die from COVID-19 live about three to five weeks from the start of symptoms, which makes the evidence of a causal relation in these experiments strong. Both episodes suggest that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and its companion medications reduces mortality and should be immediately adopted as the new standard of care in high-risk patients."

2. Related to what Risch says above, there is this: 

Switzerland before and after ban


3. Near the end of this very long piece, which is also very much worth reading, by Filipe Rafaeli, is a rundown of the experiences of several countries and states that have used HCQ widely, including: Malaysia, Russia, Turkey, UAE, South Dakota, New Brunswick CA, Costa Rica, Morocco, India and Kazakhstan. 

The segment finishes with this graph:

Country comparison 2


IV. Some of the best people & organizations to follow for Covid-19 and hydroxychloroquine analysis:

On Twitter:

Gummi Bear

Ethical Skeptic

Alex Berenson

Kyle Lamb

AIER  (for policy analysis.)




Rhyming with Hiroshima: Not the First Time Doctors Have Fought Medical Censorship


This is not the first time doctors have had to fight official censorship of medical information in order to do what they believe is right. From my 2011 piece on Kenzaburo Oe's "Hiroshima Notes":
"Today, we take for granted knowledge about the deadly effects of nuclear weapons. In fact, this knowledge was hard-won, and not with the aid of government grants and oversight but quite the opposite. Doctors and researchers had to fight the official keepers of public opinion in order to first discover and then reveal the truth about the effects of these weapons.
"In the fall of 1945, the U.S. Army Surgeons Investigation Team declared that all people who were expected to die from radiation effects of the bomb had already died and that no new cases would be acknowledged. Hospitals put out optimistic reports, downplaying the concerns of survivors, and telling pregnant women not to worry about any ill effects on their unborn babies. Doctors like Dr. Fumio Shigeto, the director of the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, surrounded by a society that seemed hell-bent on denying the effects of the bombs, worked to document the controversial connection between bomb exposure and leukemia. Even after the ban on discussing such things had been lifted, these doctors came under harsh criticism from the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission for making their concerns public.
"The story of those who cared for the bomb’s victims is emphatically a story of people, not institutions: “The leading role in A-bomb medical care,” writes Oe, “was not taken by the national government; quite the opposite, it was started with virtually no initial resources through the energy and efforts of the unbowing, persevering local people who had to contend with reluctant national authorities every step of the way.” The A-Bomb Hospital which Dr. Shigeto also ran, says Oe, ..”.was not built by, nor is it maintained by, the national government. It was built with proceeds from the New Year’s postal lottery.”
"Dr. Shigeto – a man with “neither too little nor too much hope” – had arrived in Hiroshima only a week before the bombing. Following the blast, he worked tirelessly to understand its effects on his patients:"


Hiroshima and Nagasaki: If We Rationalize Mass Murder, We Allow it to Happen Again



Image: Public domain.


Here are some of my writings on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I try to post them every year on this date, if only to counter the flood of "yeah it was terrible how we ("we") eviscerated all those women and children but it was really their own fault because their government did bad things and besides it was the only way to save the lives of the American soldiers who were about to invade them."

And yes, there is more to the arguments than that (I go into that in the articles below.) But at their core, the arguments in favor of the bombings - or indeed, of the catastrophic fire bombings of nearly the entire country - boil down to nothing more than rationalizations for unrestrained power. What does that mean? Here, read this.

I wrote this piece six years ago, and seeing where we are today, how the powers of the state where I live have been expanded - practically overnight - to a degree I would have thought unimaginable back then... I sometimes feel as hopeless as the Peace Marchers at the World Conference in this piece. And yet we have to keep marching...

In the summer of 1963, Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe was asked to go to Hiroshima to write about the Ninth World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. Oe covered the conference and also met with some of the bomb’s surviving victims and the doctors who worked to treat them. The result of this and subsequent trips over the next couple of years, became the essays that make up Hiroshima Notes published in 1965.

It was a pivotal time in Oe’s own life: His first son had just been born with a large growth on his head that would have to be removed if he were to survive. The doctors warned that the surgery would most likely leave the boy severely disabled and barely able to function. They encouraged the couple to let the boy die. As he embarked for Hiroshima, Oe and his wife had not yet decided what they would do.

It was eighteen years after the bombs had been dropped, but only twelve since the lifting of an officially enforced silence about their effects. Following the Japanese defeat, the Allied Occupation government had issued a press code that prohibited public discussion or publication of any information related to damages from the A-bomb – including information about medical treatment. This press code remained in place until 1951.


Of course, someone wrote in after this piece was published, to argue that the bombings were "necessary." From my reply.

There is never only one way to resolve a conflict. Ask yourself, if Truman had declared that the only way to end the war was to nuke Toledo, would you have accepted his reasoning so readily? Those who make these decisions don't look for other options, because they don't have to. They do not face the same consequences the rest of us do for our actions. As long as the state has a monopoly on justice, and on determining who gets to use violence and under what circumstances, it cannot be held accountable in any real sense. And it therefore cannot be effectively prevented from inflicting horrors like the rape of Nanjing and the bombing of Hiroshima on the rest of us.

Upon re-reading this article, I am embarrassed to see that I mis-used "beg the question" here. Mea culpa.

Finally, I posted this mention, back in 2011, of "Floating Lantern", a collection of stories and drawings by some of the survivors of the bombings. As I said in my post, if you support these acts of unrestrained brutality, you should at the very least take a close look at what it is you are endorsing.

Maybe one day we can rid ourselves of the insane notion that crimes such as mass murder are no longer crimes when they are committed by the institution of the state. If not, then look forward to even more memorials, more Peace Marches to commemorate future atrocities, and more literary collections of the memories of those who were fortunate enough to have survived the future horrors humanity will inflict upon itself because of this stupid, stupid belief.




Does Anyone Have the Right to be Obese?


According to CNN, the "US obesity epidemic could undermine effectiveness of a Covid-19 vaccine."

Says the article: 

"...scientists in the emerging field of immunometabolism are finding obesity also interferes with the body's immune response, putting obese people at greater risk of infection from pathogens such as influenza and the novel coronavirus.
In the case of influenza, obesity has emerged as a factor making it more difficult to vaccinate adults against infection. The question is whether that will hold true for Covid-19."

So let me get this straight:
Obesity can interfere with a person's immune response, meaning that people who are obese are more susceptible to infection - including Covid-19 infection. This means that:
a) They are more likely to use hospital resources, including ICUs, than others, and;
b) They are potentially more likely to be more prolific *spreaders* of infection, if their systems are better breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria.
Does this mean "we" get to mandate healthy diets? Mandate exercise? Or should hospital workers refuse care to obese people because they don't approve of their life choices that "put others at risk"?
Isn't that all "what we owe each other"? And what we owe "the herd"?
How's that collectivist healthcare ideology sounding now?




Are We Living Through a Re-run of Dallas Buyers Club?




I wrote this piece back in 2014, about the film "Dallas Buyer's Club", and thought I'd repost it here. (It originally appeared on Economic Policy Journal on April 8, 2014.) There is nothing new about what is happening now with hydroxychloroquine. And as long as government continues to have control over medical treatments and medication, it will continue to happen. At great cost to us all.


Dallas Buyers Club Nails the FDA

Libertarians are raving about Dallas Buyers Club and with good reason. One of our biggest frustrations is the near-universal tendency of human beings to form political opinions not through a rational examination of the facts and theories, but through emotional attachments. Many of these attachments are derived from stories and mythology that no amount of scholarly journal articles or sound arguments can ever successfully refute.

So it is exciting when someone comes along and distills all of the work that has been tirelessly cranked out for years by free-market analysts, and turns it into a compelling story about the indisputable evil that is the FDA.

The film is based (with a few liberties) on the life of Ron Woodroof, an electrician and rodeo enthusiast who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985. In the film, he spends most of his time drinking, snorting coke and engaging in unprotected sex. He has no visible aspirations or humanitarian sentiments, he’s interested in nothing more than his hedonistic pursuits, and is kind of a jerk.

None of that changes when he is diagnosed with AIDS and is given approximately 30 days to live. After clarifying with the medical staff that he “…ain’t no faggot!”, Woodroof storms off into a booze and coke-filled orgy of denial. Only as the 30-day deadline approaches does he admit to himself that he is sick and decide to do something about it. He begins by bribing a hospital employee to get him a supply of AZT, then learns that the FDA-approved-for-trials drug is actually harming patients more than helping them, and ultimately finds out about some unapproved treatments that seem to be helping.

As Woodroof then struggles to first get these unapproved treatments into the US from other countries, and out to paying customers, something changes. He is transformed. Not into something warm and cuddly, but into something more believable and in a way, more moving. He is still rough and crude, still a jerk to those around him, including his transgendered business partner. He is still kind of an asshole. But he’s an asshole on a mission, and there is something beautiful about that.

Throughout, the film is clear about who the bad guys are: The FDA and its agents who forcibly prevent people from having access to treatments they believe may help them. This is something libertarians have been screaming about for decades – mostly to deaf ears.

The Independent Institute, for example, has done great work analyzing the costs vs. the benefits of the FDA. The Institute’s Daniel B. Klein offers empirical examples to demonstrate that the agency is entirely unnecessary, that drug quality and safety could easily be provided through voluntary institutions and the tort system. He writes:

“How is safety assured in other industries? In electronics, manufacturers submit products to Underwriters’ Laboratories, a private organization that grants its safety mark to products that pass its inspection. The process is voluntary: manufacturers may sell without the UL mark. But retailers and distributors usually prefer the products with it.

“Suppose someone proposed a new government agency that forbade manufacturers from making any electronic product until approved by the agency. We would think the proposal to be totalitarian and crazy. But that is the system we have in drugs…”


“The FDA was much less powerful before 1962. The historical record-decades of a relatively free market up to 1962—shows that free-market institutions and the tort system succeeded in keeping unsafe drugs to a minimum. The Elixir Sulfanilamide tragedy (107 killed) was the worst in those decades. (Thalidomide was never approved for sale in the United States.) The economists Sam Peltzman and Dale Gieringer have made the grisly comparison: the victims of Sulfanilamide and other small tragedies prior to 1962 are insignificant compared to the death toll of the post-1962 FDA.”

That death toll is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. According to drug regulation expert Dale Gieringer, “The benefits of FDA regulation relative to that in foreign countries could reasonably be put at some 5,000 casualties per decade or 10,000 per decade for worst-case scenarios. In comparison … the cost of FDA delay can be estimated at anywhere from 21,000 to 120,000 lives per decade.”

It is astounding to think that the FDA is not widely recognized as the threat to public health that it is. What is so wonderful about Dallas Buyers Club is not that it expresses what so many of us already knew, but that it turns reams of policy analysis into a compelling story line with characters we care about in a way that might actually get the message through to a wider audience – including many who aren’t the least bit interested in reading policy papers.

The film also articulates the more central point about drug regulation: That nobody has the right to dictate to anyone else (with obvious exceptions such as children) what they may or may not put into their own bodies. And in one brief statement, the protagonist is able to sum up the corrupt relationship between the regulatory agency and the pharmaceutical companies it purports to regulate. Says Ron Woodroof in the film:

“Oh I’m a drug dealer? No, you’re the f***ing drug dealers! I mean goddam, people are dying. And y’all are all up there afraid that we’re gonna find an alternative without you! See, the pharma companies pay the FDA to push their product. So f*** no, they don’t want to see my research! I don’t have enough cash in my pocket to make it worth their while!”

There is another point to the film, one that was likely exaggerated for dramatic effect but is nonetheless valid. In the film, Ron Woodroof did not create the Dallas Buyers Club in order to help other AIDS victims, he created it to help himself, and in the process also ended up helping a great many other people with AIDS. The story brings to life the critical point made so long ago by Adam Smith: That one need not be motivated by a love of one’s fellow humans or concern for their welfare in order to benefit them, that free markets enable people to make each others’ lives better regardless of whether they care about each other or of what they think of each other. It is a point that those who insist that promoting liberty and free markets is “not enough” would do well to take to heart.