Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pelosi dishonors the First Amendment

Here is a column by Jonathan Turley about Nancy Pelosi and the First Amendment.

It is people like Pelosi, who have the power to do damage, that are dangerous, not offensive people who do not have and will not get power.
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House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has always displayed a rather fluid view of constitutional rights (though in fairness, that is not a major distinction from other politicians). However, this week Pelosi appeared to embrace content based discrimination in the area of free speech. Pelosi is demanding that the National Park Service reconsider a permit for what she called a “white supremacist rally” in San Francisco. In light of the violence in Charlottesville, Pelosi insists that “The NPS should reevaluate its decision and its capacity to protect the public during such a toxic rally.” The problem is leaving it to the government to declare what groups are toxic from Pelosi’s list of constructive banned viewpoints. I felt ill watching the torch march of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as white supremacists yelled disgusting anti-Semitic and racist chants. It reminded me of the Nazi rallies before World War II — before my father and so many others went off to fight fascism. However, despite that revulsion, I remain committed to the right of everyone to speak and protest regardless of the content of their views.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that the rally by the pro-Trump group Patriot Prayer is slated for Aug. 26 at San Francisco’s Crissy Field. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes parkland available to groups. Patriot Prayer obtained proper permits.

Pelosi is suggesting that the group should be denied a permit affordable to other groups based on their beliefs. That is the definition of government regulation of speech. Regardless of whether counter-demonstrators are drawn to the event, the group has a right to associate and to demonstrate. Anyone who engages in unlawful conduct on either side is subject to arrest.

As is so often case, Pelosi couched her remarks in an expressed fealty to free speech: “San Francisco takes great pride in being a city of peace which cherishes free speech and the right to public dissent.” Then comes that predictable “but” to not just qualify but nullify first amendment protections: “However, the National Park Service’s decision to permit a white supremacist rally at Crissy Field raises grave and ongoing concerns about public safety.” What does that mean? Does “concerns” over what might happen now justify a denial of the right to speak in public forums?

If that were the measure, no one could obtain a permit if they were widely unpopular. This approach has virtually banned some conservative speakers from colleges (as we discussed with regard to schools like DePaul in Chicago). Pelosi’s position would allow the government to bar groups on the basis that they present a public danger due to the expectation of counter-protesters. That would be a serious blow to free speech in this country. As I discuss in my recent Hill column, the first amendment generally views both sides as exercising free speech regardless of the content of their views. For that reason, the courts have largely rejected content-based government action as opposed to prosecution for specific criminal acts like property damage.

Jonathan Turley on Hate Crime and Terrorism Laws

Here is Jonathan Turley's comment. Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

JT is on target.

Keep in mind that the easier you make it for Government to "get" the people you don't like, the easier you make it for the Government to "get" you.

Far better to eliminate Hate Crime and Terrorism laws and focus on actions.
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In a rare moment of unity in our country, leaders of both major parties joined in their call for investigations and prosecutions following the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va. Officials have called for hate crime and terrorism charges against James Alex Fields Jr., 20, who is accused of mowing down counter-demonstrators and killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal.

It was a sickening act that came after a day of violence near the statue of Robert E. Lee. Fields is already charged with murder in Virginia, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved quickly to open an investigation for possible hate crime charges on the federal level. Such a charge could rekindle concerns over the expansion of both hate crime and terrorism laws, particularly in conflict with free speech principles.

Hate crime laws
The first challenge for a hate crime prosecution will be to determine if this was an act of specific hate from general rage. The hate crimes statute covers an attack that was motivated not by unfettered fury but particularized hatred of a victim’s race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. Fields may indeed have targeted people on that basis, but there would be serious questions over the applicability of the statute. There is no indication that he waited for particular people to enter the street, but mowed down everyone in his path.

While Fields is reportedly an admirer of Adolph Hitler and some of his victims were black, Heyer was white and the crowd was a mix of races and genders and religions. The Justice Department could argue that Heyer was killed in an act targeting blacks, but it will have to show that Fields was attacking counter-demonstrators generally. This is the long-standing objection of civil libertarians that hate crimes tend to be dangerously fluid and subjective — as opposed to the more concrete murder charges.

There is a more general provision under the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and Section 245 of Title 18 that makes it a federal crime to use force to willfully injure or intimidate any citizen “participating lawfully in speech or peaceful assembly” directed at opposing the denial of civil rights to other people. That provision, however, is more often directed at acts like the denial of voting rights. It has not been applied to a case like this.

There was violence on both sides of this demonstration with people showing up with shields, clubs and other weapons. Fields certainly seems to easily fulfill the hate aspect of a hate crime, but his prosecution could raise the question of whom or what he hated so much as to cause him to speed down a crowded street in Charlottesville.

Terrorism laws

National security adviser H.R. McMaster took the calls for prosecution into a different direction on ABC’s “This Week” and insisted that “anytime that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism.” As with the statement of Attorney General Sessions, the strong language from McMaster was commendable in assuring Americans that we will not stand for such acts of savagery in this nation. However, McMaster’s call to “extinguish” acts of hatred through terrorism laws triggers a predictable response for those of us in the civil liberties community.

While Fields cannot be charged with domestic terrorism under these facts, people, including CNN legal analyst Page Pate, have called for the expansion of the law. Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s homeland security adviser, echoed McMaster’s sentiments and said that “kind of violence, committed for seeming political ends, is the very definition of domestic terrorism.” The question again will be Fields’s “seeming political ends” in plowing his car into a crowd of people on a street.

Civil libertarians have objected for years over the expansion of terrorism laws after 9/11. Under the USA Patriot Act, a violation of federal or state criminal law qualifies as “domestic terrorism” if it is intended to coerce or intimidate a civilian population or to coerce the policy of the government. As with the hate crime provision, there are obvious concerns about the use of such a law in the context of a political demonstration.

The First Amendment sees no distinction based on viewpoints. They are all protesters and cloaked in the same constitutional protections — and subject to the same criminal laws for violence. Indeed, the demonstrators had recently succeeded in going to court to enjoin the denial of free speech by the Charlottesville City Council in refusing them a permit.

There are calls for the demonstration by white supremacists and nationalists to be investigated as part of the terroristic act (or under the Ku Klux Act). That raises the specter that violence by demonstrators would be subject to terrorism investigations more readily than the violence of counter-demonstrators. For example, the racist organizer of this event was assaulted the following day when trying to speak to the media. Was this terrorism by a person acting with “seeming political ends”?

Obviously, this is not the time when it is popular to raise such concerns. At a time of national rage, such constitutional concerns can appear precious or even disloyal. However, we have much to lose if we allow crimes like terrorism to expand dramatically into areas of unpopular but protected speech. What Fields allegedly did was not speech, it was murder. As we legitimately investigate a possible hate crime, we need to be careful not to lose that distinction.

About Markets

Don Boudreaux on markets.
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Many opponents of markets find the open quest for profits in market economies to be unethical or unaesthetic, and they blame markets. What these opponents miss is the fact that the self-interest that is typically – and even the greed that is sometimes – on display in markets is not created by commercial markets. Commercial markets are merely a forum in which individuals act on these motivations. One of most profound errors committed by market opponents is to suppose that when activities are transferred from commercial markets into the realm of politics human imperfections and self-interest are replaced by superhuman perfection and altruism. But as Buchanan argues, it’s naive to suppose that the mere shifting of activities from one resource-allocation forum to another changes the underlying human motivations. (And such shifting certainly does not change the underlying human cognitive limitations.)

So profit seeking occurs in political settings no less than in market settings. But the kinds of information and constraints in political settings differ greatly from those in market settings. Therefore, the kinds of actions taken in one setting, and the consequences of those actions, differ from the actions and consequences in the other setting. One important difference is that in markets, profits are earned only through voluntary payments while in politics profits are typically extracted by forcibly transferring property from the politically weak to the politically strong. The fact that such transfers are not overtly called “profit seeking” – and the fact that political activities are camouflaged with public-interest rhetoric – doesn’t change the underlying reality.

In summary, in the market Smith profits only by building a better mousetrap or by devising a process that reduces the amount of resources used to build a familiar mousetrap. (Smith might do so directly, as a mousetrap producer, or indirectly, as someone who secures the financing for a mousetrap producer.) In politics, Jones typically profits by confiscating mousetraps from Smith or from Smith’s customers, or by confiscating the inputs that Smith would otherwise use to make mousetraps.

Putting the KKK, Nazis, and White Supremacists in perspective

The KKK, Nazis, and White Supremacists hold unacceptable views, both economic and social.  If they got their way, they would probably kill a lot of people, regiment peoples’ lives, and make the economy inefficient.

Killing people speaks for itself.

Regimentation reduces freedom.

A less efficient economy would come about due to harmful regulation and excessive government control.  Both imply a lower standard of living and less freedom.  An inefficient economy implies fewer resources for the things we want, including health care.  Less effective health care implies a higher mortality rate.

Bernie Sanders and his followers hold unacceptable views, both economic and social.  If they got their way, they would not kill people, but would regiment peoples’ lives, and make the economy inefficient (Socialism is inefficient).

Regimentation reduces freedom.

A less efficient economy would come about due to harmful regulation and excessive government control.  Both imply a lower standard of living and less freedom.  An inefficient economy implies fewer resources for the things we want, including health care.  Less effective health care implies a higher mortality rate.

Who should we fear most?  Bernie Sanders and his followers.  Why?  Because they have political clout and may gain power.  The KKK, Nazis, and White Supremacists are so offensive that there is no risk of their gaining political clout and power.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The tendency of emotion to rule over intellect, and the failure to appreciate freedom

This is a test.

QUESTIONS
1.      Group A’s right to speak is protected under the First Amendment and this is desirable.
a.       True or false?
2.      Group B’s right to speak is protected under the First Amendment and this is desirable.
a.       True of false?
3.      Group A wants to hold a peaceful rally to “speak”.  Group A should be allowed to do so.
a.       True or false?
4.      Group B wants to protest peacefully at Group A’s rally.  Group B should be allowed to do so.
a.       True or false.
5.      The rally and protest go forward and neither group physically attacks the other.  This is the way it is supposed to be.
a.       True or false.
6.      The rally and protest go forward and Group A physically attacks Group B without physical provocation.  Group B acts defensively only.  Group A attackers have caused the violence, have committed a crime and should be prosecuted.  Group B defenders have not committed a crime and should not be prosecuted.
a.       True or false.
7.      The rally and protest go forward and Group B physically attacks Group A without physical provocation.  Group A acts defensively only.  Group B attackers have caused the violence, have committed a crime and should be prosecuted.  Group A defenders have not committed a crime and should not be prosecuted.
a.       True or false.
8.      The rally and protest go forward and Group A physically attacks Group B without physical provocation.  Group B acts defensively at first, but then attacks Group A when unnecessary for defensive purposes.  Group A and B attackers have caused the violence, have committed a crime and should be prosecuted.
a.       True or false.
9.      The rally and protest go forward and Group B physically attacks Group A without physical provocation.  Group A acts defensively at first, but then attacks Group B when unnecessary for defensive purposes.  Group A and B attackers have caused the violence, have committed a crime and should be prosecuted.
a.       True or false.
10.  Is it necessary to know what the two groups are to answer these questions?
a.       Yes or No.

ANSWERS
1.      True.
2.      True.
3.      True.
4.      True.
5.      True.
6.      True.
7.      True.
8.      True.
9.      True.
10.  No.


If you did not answer all these questions correctly, either you are emotional at the expense of your intellect or you do not appreciate freedom.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Anti-Gun Crowd: Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Figure

Here is a good, and unfortunately typical, example of how the anti-gun crowd plays loose with the truth presented by John Lott, of the Crime Prevention Research Center.

JL is on target.
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A frequent claim by gun control advocates is that the National Research Council (NRC) 2005 report, “Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review,” has “debunked,” “emphatically rejected,” “disproved,” or failed to support research showing that right-to-carry laws reduce crime.  It is not too surprising that gun control advocates and the media like to point to their interpretation of the NRC report because the studies that look at the data for the US normally find strong support for right-to-carry laws reducing violent crime.  Here are a couple such quotes by Professor John Donohue.  I was just given a copy of part of Donohue’s report from June this year.

“Despite some initial claims that RTC laws could actually reduce violent crime, the 2004 report of a special committee the National Research Council (“NRC”; with only one dissenter out of 16 committee members) emphatically rejected this conclusion based on the committee’s review of the then-current information with data through 2000″ (emphasis added). John Donohue, Expert Report in Flanagan v. Becerra, United States District Court (C.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:16-cv-06164-JAK-AS, June 1, 2017.  Donohue was an expert for the state of California.

“The National Academy of Sciences convened a panel of talented experts who spent two years looking at John Lott’s work, Gary Kleck’s work.  They came before the committee, testified, fifteen to one in that panel of sixteen, they concluded the scientific evidence does not support the more guns, less crime proposition. The lone dissenter was someone who was not an econometrician, who admitted in his dissent that he wished he knew more econometrics, and who had previously testified as an expert witness on behalf of the execrable NRA.” John Donohue, Intelligence Squared debate October 28, 2008 at the 38:00 minute mark.  The debate was carried nationally on National Public Radio.

In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the panel didn’t reach any conclusion on right-to-carry, just as it didn’t reach any conclusion on any of the other policies, and that they merely called for more research.

The conclusion of chapter 6 noted: “Thus, the committee concludes that with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates.” It ended with a call for more research: “If further headway is to be made on this question, new analytical approaches and data sets will need to be used.

What is ignored by gun control advocates in discussions of the NRC report is that the report studied over 100 different types of gun control proposal and that it didn’t reach a conclusion on any of them and only called for more research.  Yet, no gun control advocates would say that the NRC debunked their favorite gun control laws.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Government Regulation Set Up To Help Morphs Into Restrictions That Hurt

An excerpt from Milton Friedman's "Liberalism, Old Style".
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The Interstate Commerce Commission was established to protect the public against the railroads when railroads probably did have a large element of natural monopoly.  The development of highway and air transport has largely eliminated any natural monopoly element in railroads, yet instead of the abolition of the Interstate Commerce Commission, government control has been extended to these other transportation media.  The ICC has become a means of protecting the railroads from the competition of trucks instead of the public from the absence of competition . . . . . In practice, the claim of natural monopoly is more often an excuse for intervention desired on other grounds than a valid justification for intervention.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

It is Time For Rod Rosenstein to Recuse Himself

Here is Jonathan Turley's column on this topic. Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University

JT is on target.
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Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the growing need for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to recuse himself from the Special Counsel investigation. Rosenstein has alluded to the possible need for his recusal but continues to participate in an investigation that could have direct bearing on his own role and decision-making. If he has material evidence on obstruction, he should not delay his recusal until he receives a formal request to appear before a grand jury. His relevance to the obstruction investigation is obvious and he should not be determined questions of scope when his own conduct could fall within the jurisdiction of the Special Counsel.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is back in the news this week, with a Sunday show appearance discussing the evolving scope of the special counsel’s investigation. While the subject was hardly a surprise, the person discussing the investigation was. Rosenstein is not only the ultimate authority on the scope of the investigation, he is also clearly a witness.

There are times when multitasking is a talent, but playing the roles of investigator and witness is not one of them. Rosenstein continues to resist calls for his own recusal, despite reports that a grand jury in Washington is now pursuing the obstruction allegations against President Trump.

Reports also indicate that various FBI officials now believe that they will inevitably be called as witnesses before the grand jury investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is among those officials.

But on the top of this list must be the man whom the White House originally tagged with the decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey and the man who reportedly clashed with the White House over its public account: Rod Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s involvement and importance in the underlying facts are well established. The deputy attorney general’s failure to recuse himself is a glaring ethical omission in an investigation into a president’s alleged conflicts of interest in dealing with then-FBI Director James Comey. Rosenstein is now three months overdue.

I was skeptical about the appointment of a special counsel before the firing because such an appointment should be accompanied by an articulable criminal act — something missing in the vague references to “collusion” with the Russians.

My view changed after Trump fired Comey on May 9. At that point, I believed that Rosenstein was right about the need for a special counsel to assure the public that a full and independent investigation would be conducted. However, his choice of Robert Mueller was a mistake. Mueller interviewed for Comey’s job, and Trump presumably spoke to Mueller about his reasons for firing Comey.

Moreover, Mueller and Comey have a close prior professional history. Both men were involved in a historic moment during the George W. Bush administration where they stood side by side to oppose an unlawful surveillance program. It was a moment that would define the legacies of both men — and enjoin them in history.

Rosenstein magnified that error with a mandate for Mueller that is strikingly broad. Yet this week, Rosenstein assured the public that “Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation, and so no, it’s not a fishing expedition.” If so, that understanding has remained strangely unstated.

The special counsel provision found in 28 CFR 600 states that the attorney general (or in this case, the deputy attorney general) shall establish by jurisdiction of the special counsel “a specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated.”

The statement given to Robert Mueller was anything but specific. It simply stated that Mueller was to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

With such a sweeping mandate, the role of the deputy attorney general in the investigation is even higher than usual. Rosenstein is performing the role of the attorney general after Jeff Sessions correctly recused himself. Under the rules, Mueller is specifically allowed to investigate “any federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the special counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.”

If Mueller were to seek a broader jurisdiction to investigate new matters or “to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned,” he “shall consult with” Rosenstein, who this week referenced this power by saying that Mueller “needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time me, for permission to expand his investigation.”

It is not clear whether Mueller had such a discussion before bringing on a team of prosecutors focused on financial fraud and foreign bribery or pursuing previous Trump transactions and business deals. If Mueller is pursuing obstruction allegations, that course will take him right over the desk of his superior: Rosenstein.

Rosenstein was consulted about firing Comey and supported the decision with a memorandum shredding the former FBI director. Moreover, when the White House initially made it sound like Rosenstein was the reason that Comey was fired (despite the fact that Trump had already decided to do so before receiving Rosenstein’s memo in support of termination), Rosenstein reportedly demanded a correction.

Rosenstein will likely be a key witness on the obstruction issue. As someone who supported the firing, he may be as important to the defense as to the prosecution in showing the independent grounds for terminating Comey. He has much at stake professionally, as shown by his adamant response to the White House spin. The grand jury might want to know why Rosenstein did not act to protect Comey or why he did not confront Trump in any suggested desire to curtail the investigation.

It is a basic rule that prosecutor should immediately recuse himself from a matter where he may be a witness. In addition to the various grounds listed in the conflicts rule, recusal is appropriate in “circumstances other than those set forth in the regulation that would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the facts to question an employee’s impartiality.” Rosenstein, who has recognized his problem as a potential witness, should have recused himself long ago.

Rosenstein clearly agreed with the recusal of Sessions (as did most of us) to avoid even an appearance of a conflict. The deputy attorney general has more than an appearance of a conflict. Not only did Rosenstein appoint someone with close ties to the main accuser of President Trump, but he himself reportedly clashed with the White House on its post-firing account on Comey. Yet, Rosenstein is reaffirming that he will continue to make decisions on the scope and resources for the investigation.

This is a major investigation with passions running high on both sides. Citizens deserve an investigation without lingering questions of bias or personal interest. While it is too late to rethink or reverse the appointment of the special counsel, Rosenstein can remove one continuing and distracting conflict by removing himself. We are now more than 90 days and waiting.

The Insurance Compulsion

Here is a Washington Times article by Richard Rahn.

RR is on target.
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Venezuela is the latest global disaster caused by socialism. Over the last couple of hundred years, virtually every variety of socialism has been tried — from communism to national socialism (Nazism) and fascism, to various varieties of “democratic socialism” — with one common characteristic — they all failed. Despite the economic failures, loss of liberty and the tens of millions of deaths resulting from the socialist experiments, it has an enduring romantic attraction. Bernie Sanders and millions of his followers call themselves socialists, without embarrassment, claiming that next time they will get it right. Many countries still have socialist parties. How can so many be so ignorant of the never-ending misery socialism has brought?

Many of those who advocate socialism not only suffer from real or studied ignorance, but a fear of not being able to fend for themselves. They fear that they cannot make a living on their own or pay their own medical bills. They fear competition. When some political type says, “The state will take care of you and give you food, shelter and medical care,” for many it becomes easier to accept the words as truth without thinking through the history, costs and consequences of such promises.

Life is scary and uncertain. Children fear the loss of their parents to protect and care for them. Part of becoming an adult is taking on the responsibility for taking care of ourselves, which means insuring as much as possible against life’s risks. Responsible adults take certain actions, such as insuring against unemployment by deferring immediate gratification and spending time, effort and money to obtain more education and job skills. Responsible adults buy medical insurance, auto insurance and homeowners insurance to protect themselves, at least partially, against events they may not be able to control.

Insurance costs money, and it is human nature to prefer that someone else pay your bills. In essence, socialism is a system in which others are forced to pay your bills no matter how irresponsible you may be. Margaret Thatcher famously pointed out that socialism works until socialist governments run out of other people’s money.

Recognizing that many will be irresponsible and not buy adequate insurance, states require people to buy auto insurance as a condition of driving on public roads. Companies that provide mortgages require those who have a mortgage to buy homeowners insurance.

The first duty of government is to protect the citizens and their property — which requires a military, police and court system. This insurance has to be paid for — and citizens are required to pay taxes for these functions. Most people, not including anarchists, believe these are necessary functions of government. So most debate is about how much to spend on these functions, not whether or not it is desirable to insure against these risks.

The real debate is about how much insurance any individual should be required to pay for versus how much should be voluntary. The socialists promise to insure the individual against almost all of life’s risks, but to do so, they have to compel people to provide whatever share of their earnings necessary to pay for all of the benefits. The demand for more benefits is never-ending. The amount required to pay for the benefits becomes so high that most individual initiative, investment and work incentives are destroyed. State monopoly agencies to provide for all the benefits have little incentive for cost control, nor do the people working within the agencies have many incentives for good “customer” service. At some point, the situation becomes so bad that the people revolt — which explains why most countries that tried socialism have rejected it in all but name.

The Chinese Communist Party still calls itself socialist, despite having largely a free-market system. A few years back during one of my trips to China, I was in a discussion about the economy with a high-ranking Chinese government official. He had been defending the supremacy of the party. I noted that during the first 30 years of communist rule, the economy had been a disaster, but three decades ago, when they turned to a market economy, with some property rights, work and investment incentives, the economy boomed. His reply: “We originally thought that we could go directly from a poor agrarian society to communism, but then we realized that first we would need to build a rich capitalistic society, which might take 100 years, before going to communism.”

The current debate about the government role in health care insurance illustrates the muddled thinking among the political class. Under Obamacare, there is a requirement that people are compelled to buy insurance from selected providers or pay a fine. Many young people saw this correctly as a bad deal for them, so they chose to pay the fine to a coercive government. Many Republicans said they would take away the purchase requirement as an unjust infringement on personal liberty — but then many quite irrationally said they would cover pre-existing conditions — which destroys any incentive to purchase insurance until one is ill. This is not insurance, but socialist income redistribution, and will lead to a fiscal disaster.

A reason to severely limit government’s role in insuring against individual risk is that history shows free markets can provide insurance for most things more efficiently and without compulsion.

Blaming the Victim for the Consequences to the Perpetrator

Here is a link to an article by Abigail Hall about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It has the "the United States is never right" and the "Oh, I am so vulnerable and nobody should stress me out" theme that is so popular nowadays.

Essentially, AH argues that the US should not have bombed Japan because there was more loss of Japanese lives (especially civilians) than US lives that would have been lost by invading Japan.  She seems unaware that one might legitimately "price" US lives higher than Japanese lives if Japan is the aggressor.

To put this in perspective, imagine that three criminals attack you with knives intending to kill you and, in order to avoid being killed you shoot them and kill them.  To be consistent, AH must argue that the preferred outcome is your death rather than theirs.  AH might counter that her argument corresponds to your killing innocent bystanders instead of the attackers.  That ignores the role civilians play in war and that killing innocent bystanders in a civilian attack does not prevent your death.

If you want to question the need for the atomic bombing of Japan, why not be more imaginative and claim that the US should have informed the Japanese of the bomb and scheduling a demonstration in a sparsely populated area.

Here are some excerpts from the article.
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I remember the first time I learned about the dropping of the atomic bombs—likely because I thought I was in trouble.

I was six and in the first grade. I remember going to the school’s library and walking into the “big kid” section. While I thought myself too mature for the likes of Clifford the Big Red Dog and life lessons offered by the Bearenstain Bears, I was enticed by illustrations, which led me to a particular selection. The book was Hiroshima No Pika (which I believe translates to “The flash of Hiroshima) by Toshi Maruki.
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Disturbed by the book’s content, I took it to my mother. I had questions. Serious questions. Was this true? Did “we” (the United States) really do this to people like Mii and her family? As tactfully as she could, she explained that, indeed, the United States had dropped atomic bombs on Japan. People died, including children and (more upsetting to me as a child) their parents. True to nature, I asked a follow up question.

“Why?”

I remember my mother’s answer. She told me that the Japanese wouldn’t surrender and end the war. She said that dropping the bombs was the “only way” to get them to stop.
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I have not asked my mother as an adult if she believes that the bombs were the “only way” to get the Japanese to surrender. Regardless of her opinion, many people believe this to be true. Indeed, this is the dominant narrative surrounding the decisions to drop the atomic bombs. If the United States hadn’t dropped the bombs, so the story goes, the Japanese would have continued fighting and hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been killed when the U.S. invaded Japan, an event scheduled for November of 1945.

Others on this blog have rightfully doubted this justification. It was abundantly clear to all parties involved that Japan was losing the war. In fact, the Japanese were seriously considering surrender, but wanted to retain their emperor—which they ultimately did. (MacArthur actually used the emperor’s social importance to achieve his ends during the subsequent occupation of Japan. See Chris Coyne’s After War for a good discussion.)

The often-cited number of would-be American casualties is likely highly inflated. People often suggest that half a million servicemen would have died had the U.S. invaded Japan. While we will never know for sure, the government’s own estimates from the period show much smaller casualty estimates. Scholars believe an invasion would have resulted in anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 casualties.
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What is frequently absent from discussions of the bombings, issues of “necessity” and potential American casualties aside, is that most of those killed were not members of the Japanese military—but innocent civilians. By portraying the bombing as necessary to end the war, the U.S. government seeks to absolve itself from accepting the murder of thousands of men, women, and children. This article from Foreign Policy, written just last year, highlights the disconnect between the standard narrative regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the known reality.
Gen. Bonner Fellers, MacArthur’s chief advisor on psychological warfare, wrote in a June 17, 1945, internal memorandum that the air war on Japan was “one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all of history.” And Gen. Curtis Le May callously described the victims of the March air raid as being “scorched and boiled and baked to death.” Consider a few more statistics. The total number of U.S. military deaths in the Pacific war was slightly more than 106,000. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone killed roughly three times that number of civilian noncombatants.
By portraying the actions of the U.S. in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as necessary, even honorable, the U.S. government is able to effectively wash its hands of any wrongdoing. Americans are able to discuss the bombing without wanting to lower their voices, eyes, and faces. When I was taught about the events at the conclusion of WWII later in school, there was little to no mention of the civilian deaths, the nefarious impacts of radiation, or the fact that the Japanese were ready to surrender prior to the bombings. These lessons stood in stark contrast to the story of Mii I had read years before. In vibrant color and pithy language, it had taught me to remember what is often forgotten—or intentionally neglected—that war is nasty, brutal, and destructive at its core. Those who bear the consequences are not always those in uniform, on warships, or in tanks, but seven-year-old girls.

Girls like me.