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Dan Miller

Dan Miller graduated from Yale University in 1963 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He retired from the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has lived in a rural area in Panama since 2002.
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Hugo Chávez at Mass

Friday, April 6th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Having returned on April 4th from his second round of Cuban radiation therapy for cancer of an unspecified type, Venezuelan el Presidente Chávez

wept and asked God to spare his life during a pre-Easter Mass after returning from his latest session of cancer treatment in Cuba.

. . . .

He says the latest surgery was successful, that he is recovering well and will be fit to win a new six-year term at an election in October. Yet big questions remain about his future, and on Thursday the strain appeared to show.

In a televised speech to the Catholic service in his home state of Barinas Thursday, Chavez cried and his voice broke as he eulogized Jesus, revolutionary fighter Ernesto “Che” Guevara and South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

“Never forget that we are the children of giants … I could not avoid some tears,” the former soldier said, his parents and other relatives looking on from the church rows.

“Give me your crown, Jesus. Give me your cross, your thorns so that I may bleed. But give me life, because I have more to do to for this country and these people. Do not take me yet,” Chavez added, standing below an image of Jesus with the Crucifix.

Rumors have been circulating that

Chávez had to be hospitalized in the Center of Medical Surgical Research after suffering severe intestinal pain.

“I was able to confirm with people in Cuba that Chávez was not well and that he was hospitalized as an emergency at the Center because he had very severe abdominal pain,” Marquina said. That pain, according to Marquina, could have been provoked by the external burns caused by the radiation sessions.

The procedure may have also damaged the vascular microcirculation that nurtures the colon, Marquina said.

It has also been rumored that he will go to Brazil to remedy the mess made in Cuba.

the Brazilian daily O Globo reporteda rumor from Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda that Chávez could be headed to the hospital Sirio e Libanês in Sao Paulo.“People close to Chavez fear that it is too late for a new treatment here in Brazil, which could have started long ago with the offer made by President (Ignacío Lula da Silva)  and President Dilma (Rousseff) ,” O Globo reporter Merval Pereira wrote.

Chávez refused treatment in Brazil due to the Brazilian hospital not being able to provide the level of security and privacy he wanted, including blocking off hospital doors and searching all hospital visitors while Chávez was interred.

What a guy!


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The Remarkable President Obama

Saturday, February 18th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

According to Maya Angelou, President Obama

has critics and doubters. Angelou, the sage of black America, now 83, has no time for them. “I think he has done a remarkable job, knowing how much he has been opposed,” she says. “Every suggestion he makes, the Republicans en masse fight against him or don’t vote at all.” It’s about him being a Democrat and being the first black president, she says.

How dare anyone criticize or doubt President Obama, who has already done so much?  Regardless of  having to deal since January of 2011 with a Congress his party does not control, President Obama has led the nation into a remarkably unprecedented state of dependency on government, has ignored the Constitution when it has imposed inconvenient obstacles to implementing his agendas, has continued to weaken the nation internationally and has racked up an historic national debt along with massive and still increasing federal spending.  All of these accomplishments have certainly been remarkable, particularly for an American President.  Now, he seeks an additional four years to do even more remarkable things and would most likely prefer to do them with a Democrat controlled Congress and probably without an inconvenient Constitution.

He has accomplished these remarkable things, and plans to accomplish many more, mainly to promote his conception of “fairness” (poor vs. “rich,” Black vs. White, other politically favored classes vs. other politically unfavored classes) while stimulating the creation of the most divided America in a very long time.

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Obviously a racist, Representative West has characterized government “handouts” as slavery.  Heh.  What does he understand about slavery or, for that matter about Blacks, anyone or anything else, that President Obama doesn’t understand, smarter and better? Representative West had best do a quick reset and get with the program.

The rest of the article is at my blog, here.

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The U.S. Constitution, Contraception and Abortion

Monday, February 13th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

There have been many articles on the contraception-abortion-health care disputes arising from President Obama’s announcement that churches and religiously affiliated entities must directly or indirectly subsidize or otherwise facilitate access to contraception and some abortion methods regardless of their long standing doctrinal objections to them.  Despite many ad hominem references some have been interesting.  However, I have seen no analysis of the origins of our various rights, including any obligation I may have to pay for your exercise of yours .

The Second Amendment provides,

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

There is no constitutional requirement that those who do not voluntarily “keep and bear Arms” pay for the arms of those who do, beyond paying lawfully imposed taxes.

The First Amendment provides,

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.

Leaving religious matters aside, I am aware of no constitutional requirement that I pay for another person’s exercise of free speech, of the press, to assemble or to petition the Government, beyond paying lawfully imposed taxes. Why, therefore, should everyone, including those who oppose such things, be required by law to pay for them (beyond paying taxes)?

This article at my blog examines these matters in greater detail.

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Republicans need to stop bashing each other

Sunday, February 5th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Roger L. Simon was right in claiming that we need to get behind Governor Romney. I don’t much like Governor Romney and wish there were a better candidate likely to win against President Obama; I wish for lots of things that won’t and don’t happen.

Some dead White guy with long hair said back in 1776: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” His words are no less perceptive and true now than they were then. They were also quite simple and easy to understand. Simplicity allied with truth is good.

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Anthroprogenic Global Warming Gave us President Obama.

Saturday, February 4th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

This article at PJ Tatler has links to many events attributed to global warming.  Through a possible oversight, it does not include the 2008 election of President Obama and a Democrat controlled Congress. However, the problem may simply be that no such attribution has been demonstrated.  My very own rigorously absurd scientific study demonstrates that and more.

President Obama halted the monster of global warming and thereby caused the seas to cease their rise. Now that global warming is returning with a vengeance, we must give him another four years and a compliant Congress to do our his bidding.  Otherwise, there will no longer be any suitable habitat for humanity left.

Surely, the simplest high school student can understand these inconvenient truths.
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So must the rest of us.

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Is Governor Romney an Edsel?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Even though the Edsel had a two-tone paint job, lots of chrome and an unfortunate distraction in front, rather like the Republican Party we know and love,  the Edsel in no manner resembles either the Republican party of today or its favored candidate; perish any such heretical conservative thoughts lest you be deemed a Tea Party Terrorist.  Governor Romney, like the Edsel, has been chosen by our betters and must be respected as the leader of the Republican Party and as our next President.  Here’s why.

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The Murder of the Fogels in Israel is again in the news

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Remember the Fogel family in Israel, righteously murdered by some peace-loving Palestinian freedom fighters?  It’s back in the news. The jailed Palestinian martyrs are heroes!  We know that because Palestinian TV tells us.

As best we know, those heroes did not urinate on the corpses of the vile Fogel family and doing that sort of thing would be far beneath them.

Peace be upon them.

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From Governor Palin’s Facebook Page

Friday, January 27th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Here is what she says and it’s well worth reading.  The post begins,

We have witnessed something very disturbing this week. The Republican establishment which fought Ronald Reagan in the 1970s and which continues to fight the grassroots Tea Party movement today has adopted the tactics of the left in using the media and the politics of personal destruction to attack an opponent.

It goes on from there. Please read it. Don’t weep, just read it and act accordingly.

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President Obama’s SOTU address was beyond all expectations

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Although I wasn’t able to watch it, I have read many commentaries on President Obama’s marvelous State of the Union Address. Based on that, it was truly an excitingly dull non-political campaign speech passionately proclaiming with little vigor the urgency of rebuilding the consensus American Dream — fair poverty redistribution by taxing rich capitalist leeches and a robust, growing economy without further obstruction by the Republicans who infest the Congress.

Four More Years!

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Humanity compells us to reelect President Obama

Monday, January 23rd, 2012 - by Dan Miller

This bit of attempted satire explains why we should all vote for President Obama. He is not only the best singer ever to attain the presidency but has other lesser albeit great attributes as well.


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Young Circumnavigatrix Succeeds

Saturday, January 21st, 2012 - by Dan Miller

About a year ago, I wrote this article at PJ Media about a young Dutch teenager who wanted to sail solo around the world. She was finally permitted to try and today, just about a year later, she succeeded. I wrote about that here, at my blog.

Congratulations, Laura, I wish there were millions like you.


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We need a Reasonable Everything Board (REB)

Thursday, January 19th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Six reasonable Democrats in the House (please excuse the redundancy) want a Reasonable Profits Board (RPB) to impose additional taxes on sellers of oil and gas.

Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” to control gas profits.

The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

This is an excellent idea whose time has come and which will be far more effective than price controls, so successful in delightful and prosperous Venezuela. Unfortunately, it is only one small step and does not go far enough.

“Reasonable” is universally good, just as “unreasonable” is universally bad. That’s why we need instead a Reasonable Everything Board (REB). Unreasonable (i.e., all) opposition to our beloved savior President Obama and therefore to his policies is bad, unreasonable, irreligious, racist and must therefore be eliminated. Reasonable (i.e., all) support for him is good, reasonable, religious, post-racial, necessary for our national survival and must therefore become obligatory. No statutory guidance is needed to define “reasonable” because all reasonable people know what it means and President Obama, as has been his consistent practice, will appoint only reasonable members to the REB.

The REB will decide which ideas, policies, statements, groups, blogs, other news and entertainment sources, opinions, political organizations, religions, foods, sexual practices, financial practices, pets, clothing, jewelry, nations, household expenditures and everything else are reasonable (good) and which are unreasonable (bad). These decisions will not be reviewable by any court because courts can be unreasonable. It will enforce its decisions by reasonable taxes of between fifty and one hundred percent or more as the REB see fit, also not reviewable by any court. This is necessary because the Federal Government, fettered by unreasonable voters and the unreasonable opposition members they sent, unreasonably, to Congress has been thwarted in its reasonable attempts make life in the world at large and even in the United States reasonable; it’s a hard job and therefore only the Federal Government can do it to for us.

As with the proposed but miniscule RPB, the far bigger and more powerful — as befits our great and powerful nation — REB will have complete latitude (as well as longitude) to decide what is “reasonable” without statutory guidance from an obstructionist and therefore unreasonable Congress. This is necessary in order to achieve its unquestionably reasonable goals. It will, of course, create and save money as well as jobs by consolidating countless federal agencies and departments including the EPA, SEC, FDA, FCC, DOD, DOT and many others. Determining which agencies will be consolidated, and therefor the resultant financial savings and jobs created or saved, will be within the province of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (PCEA) and it is therefore premature to speculate about the tremendous savings and creations certain to result.

This proposal will be opposed, unreasonably, but we must fight all the way for it.
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Enlightened Self-Interest

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Bertrand Russell, one of my favorite writers and thinkers, had some good ideas and some terrible ones.  In his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he urged enlightened self-interest as a path to a better world.

Among the problems with that thesis is that we don’t understand what many nations — or their people with whom we also have to deal — view as in their own self-interests. Accordingly, we often have problems in deciding what to do about them in our own self-interest. Commonly, they have even less adequate understandings of the nature of our interests.  Sometimes we appear to encourage their wrong-headed notions.

With inadequate understandings, how can we deal with them effectively in our own best interests?  This article attempts to explore the question.

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The Urinating Marines and Political Correctness

Monday, January 16th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

A video of some Marines urinating on the Corps corpses of dead Taliban “martyrs” has caused an international stir and ranking Government officials have condemned the suspect Marines. “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the incident was ‘incompatible with American values,’ while Leon Panetta, the defence secretary, said it was ‘utterly deplorable.’”  A NATO spokesman characterized their actions as despicable and said that “those responsible will be held accountable.” (Emphasis added.)

Pondered a bit, those statements are themselves “incompatible with American values,” “utterly deplorable” and “despicable.”  Our military justice system should not become a victim of foreign policy or of political correctness.

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Italian Cruise Ship “Runs Aground”

Saturday, January 14th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

It has been widely reported that the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia “slammed into shallow water off Italy’s western coast.”

Authorities are looking at why the ship didn’t hail a mayday during the accident near the Italian island of Giglio on Friday night, officials said.

“At the moment we can’t exclude that the ship had some kind of technical problem, and for this reason moved towards the coast in order to save the passengers, the crew and the ship. But they didn’t send a mayday. The ship got in contact with us once the evacuation procedures were already ongoing,” Del Santo said.

According to Business week,

Cabin steward Deodato Ordona told the British Broadcasting Corp. there was a “roaring sound” before the ship began to tilt. He said the vessel tilted to the left and then the right before the captain announced an order to abandon ship.

There were 3,200 passengers on the ship, comprising 1,000 Italians, 500 Germans, 160 French and 250 from the U.S., Costa Corciere said on its website. Emergency procedures started immediately though were impeded by the ship’s listing, it said in a statement. The cause of the incident cannot be confirmed, it said.

Initial reports of such events are usually sketchy and raise many questions.  One of mine is how in the world a modern cruise ship, presumably with more sophisticated electronic gear that was available on my sailboat nearly a decade ago, could have got so dangerously close to land without correcting course to avoid running aground.

I have no way to verify this January 14th story from Four Winds and thus far have seen no similar account elsewhere. Still, it seems worth posting anyway.  It says:

A “flash” message received in the Kremlin today from the Northern Fleet Command, whose Russian Navy flotilla is in the Mediterranean Sea after having just left their Syrian port of call, reports that the anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko has detected the firing of a torpedo having the “unmistakable signature” of one fired from a kilo-class submarine near Isola del Giglio a popular vacation island about 18 miles off the Italian Tuscan coast.

Within 10 minutes from the detection of this torpedo being fired, this “flash” message continues, a distress call was received from a cruise ship nearing the port of Isola del Giglio Costa named Costa Concordia [photo of sinking top left], and owned by owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises, stating that it had been “attacked” and was in “immediate danger of capsizing.”

Reports from the London Telegraph about this attack state that the Costa Concordia’s passengers’ dinner was “interrupted by a loud boom around 8 pm local time” with an initial announcement claiming that the ship was suffering an electrical failure, ordering everyone onboard to don life-jackets, and appearing to confirm this “flash” message of it being an attack.

The Northern Fleet Command further states that after the initial distress call from Costa Concordia it was ordered by the US Naval Air Station Sigonella (located in Sicily and known as “The Hub of the Med”) to cease open broadcasts and, instead, use NATO encrypted communications only. [Note:Due to past attacks on cruise liners carrying international passengers, all Western ships of this type are required to carry NATO encrypted radios.]

Most disturbing about this “flash” message, however, is its stating that the only known submarine currently suspected to be in the Mediterranean Sea is one, or possibly two, possessing kilo-class torpedoes belong to the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN).

If accurate, the story suggests that our troubles with Iran get a tad worse.

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El Presidente Chávez and President Obama

Thursday, January 12th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

President Obama is no el Presidente Chávez. It may be extreme to suggest that if reelected and given Democrat majorities in both houses of the Congress he might morph in that direction. However, the U.S. Constitution seems of little importance to him when it gets in his way. Having Venezuela’s Constitution amended to suit his purposes has been easier for Chávez although he also ignores it when convenient.  Amending the U.S. Constitution is a difficult task requiring a substantial consensus. Simply ignoring it when it suits President Obama’s purposes has been much easier.

Chávez proceeded slowly at first to change Venezuela. Maybe he had heard the story of the frog put into a pleasantly warm but slowly heating pot of water. The frog failed to realize until too late that he was being boiled for dinner. Chávez had turned up the heat slowly at first, until the frog became unable to jump out of the pot. President Obama, flush with victory and perhaps not having heard the frog story, turned up the heat quickly at first.  As a result, starting in January of last year, President Obama’s dinner was delayed by an uncooperative House of Representatives.  The frog survived for a while longer.   If reelected and given a compliant Congress, he seems likely to turn the heat. We are the frog.

This long article looks at the prospects and suggests a number of worrisome parallels.

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Should we change the Republican candidate debates?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

An article about debates among candidates for election as Venezuela’s president made me wonder whether this is a good idea:

This week Globovision started a new series of shows, with a real debate that is not a debate. In short: they taped on the same day the 6 candidates with more or less the same questions and without the other ones knowing what the heck they replied. And they are playing these shows every night at 8 PM starting last night with Diego Arria. I suppose the format is better in that you do get to see the candidate more in depth than the previous “debates” . . . .

That couldn’t be much worse than our current debates; even having them moderated by stars of Daily Kos and Team Obama might be an improvement — at least they might feel a need to seem objective.  Strike that; they wouldn’t.  In any event, the Globovision format could be an improvement over the absurd ways in which our presidential candidate debates have generally been conducted.

Globovision has long been anti-Chávez and has, therefore, been under heavy fire from the regime to the point of nearly being put out of business.  That may yet happen and it seems unlikely that the folks asking the questions will be head over heels in love with el Presidente. It does seem likely that the candidates will be given roughly the same amounts of time to respond to the questions.  In addition, the need for the candidates to answer the same questions in a vacuum, unable to make debating points by distorting the responses of the others, would be refreshing.

What have we got to lose by trying it?

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Don’t base a vote for or against Romney on his Mormon Religion.

Monday, January 9th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

An opinion piece in the Washington Post authored by Ken Starr, formerly a special prosecutor and now the president of Baylor University, asked “Can I vote for a Mormon?” Were Mr. Starr a Mormon, the question might have to be rephrased: Can I not vote for a Mormon?

I am the Fourth Best President!

There are good and sufficient reasons, transcending his Mormon religion, to vote for or not to vote for Governor Romney. I consider him a RINO and should he become the Republican nominee, as seems increasingly likely, will vote for him because he seems a bit better than the alternative. Fortunately, since I vote via absentee ballot from Panamá, I will be able to vote for him while holding my nose in the privacy of my home.

Here is an article at my blog addressing the implications of Governor Romney’s religion and why it should not matter.

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Supreme Court, EPA and Overreach.

Monday, January 9th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Oral arguments were heard at the Supreme Court today in Sackett, et al., v. EPA, challenging actions by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep Michael and Chantell Sackett from building their home on land belatedly declared damp by the agency.

Construction screeched to a halt upon the order of three agents of the Environmental Protection Agency. The property was a federally protected “wetlands,” the Sacketts were told, and they were served with a compliance order to immediately restore the property to its prior condition.

In fact, the EPA compliance order went even further. Relying on authority it claimed to have received under the Clean Water Act, EPA officials prescribed a set of conditions that went beyond the prior condition of the property when the Sacketts purchased it.

The Sacketts were ordered to plant “native scrub-shrub, broad-leaved deciduous wetlands plants and [have the property] seeded with native herbaceous plants.” Further, they were ordered to fence the property and monitor plant growth for three years.

All of this came as quite a shock to the Sacketts because their sliver of land was located in a platted residential subdivision with water and sewer hook-ups, and was bordered by roads on the front and rear and existing homes on either side.

There wasn’t any natural running or standing water on the property. None of the surrounding homes in the community were designated as having occupied wetlands.

According to a report at SCOTUS BLOG,

With a federal government lawyer conceding almost every criticism leveled at the way the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compels landowners to avoid polluting the nation’s waterways, the Supreme Court on Monday seemed well on its way toward finding some way to curb that agency’s enforcement powers. Their task was made easier as Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart stopped just short of saying that EPA was just as heavy-handed as its adversaries — and several of the Justices — were saying.

Perhaps the most telling example: when several of the Justices expressed alarm that a homeowner targeted by EPA’s efforts might face a penalty of as much as $37,500 each day of alleged violation, Stewart made it clear that the fine actually might be doubled, to $75,000 a day, although he tried to recover by saying that was only “theoretical,” and that he did not think that EPA had ever taken that step.

It is sometimes a fool’s game to try to guess about final results on the basis of oral argument. This just might be an exception that proves the rule. The SCOTUS BLOG article is well worth reading.

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad graces Latin America with his Presence.

Saturday, January 7th, 2012 - by Dan Miller

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will land in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday to visit el Presidente Chávez and then proceed to Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador to work whatever mischief he can. A lengthy article at my blog looks at his trip, the situation in Latin America and suggests that the United States no longer has sufficient dominance there to do much of anything in her own interests.

Here is an analogy:

Herds of horses have leaders. They establish dominance by fighting all comers and by protecting the lesser horses within the herd. Eventually, fighting ceases to be necessary. A hard stare, the baring of teeth or even a kicking gesture become sufficient. Only when the dominant horse weakens or a new horse is introduced into the herd and tries to assert dominance is actual combat necessary. The winner becomes and remains the new leader until another horse asserts and establishes dominance. Relations among nations are much the same.

Under President Obama we have become a weak horse, apparently unable or unwilling to resist other nations. Nations that desire to dominate can rely upon this perception to convince others that we will do nothing about it when they attempt to get what they want, inconsistent with what we want.

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What do Conservatives Want?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012 - by Dan Miller

I just posted a perhaps too lengthy article (3,652 words) at my blog looking at some of the basic agreements and disagreements among conservatives and at the impacts they may have on the elections this November.

There are more substantive agreements than disagreements but at least a few of the disagreements are deeply rooted and could affect adversely the outcome of a close election. I hope they won’t. As noted in the article,

There currently appear to be only a few substantive issues as to which there is enough dissension to ease President Obama’s way to reelection. None of those issues are sufficiently crucial to the well being of the nation to justify that result. Many of us desire many things but are unlikely to get them all. I would like to be healthy, happy, well to do and twenty years younger with no loss beyond the detriments of age of what I now enjoy. If required to choose, I would prefer happiness first, good health second and a bit of material wealth third; I would concede that riches and finding the fountain of youth are highly unlikely and settle for only the first three in moderation. We have to make similar choices in politics and the Bill Buckley rule is a good one: select, support and vote for the most conservative candidate who is likely to win. Even a modest conservative resurgence will be far better than continuing on the present steeply downward trajectory.

The most important thing is to get started halting the mess creation that has long continued and then to roll it back.

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Previous Psychiatrist Pens Presidential Pardon Petition.

Friday, December 30th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

No, not for trying to help Chávez appear to be sane, something Chávez has rarely if ever managed.

Instead, it was reported here that

CARACAS – Psychiatrist and former university chancellor Edmundo Chirinos, who says that President Hugo Chavez was his patient, asked the Venezuelan head of state for a pardon to avoid serving the rest of a 20-year prison sentence for homicide.

“I’ve been detained for more than a year in Yare III (prison), in a cell unusually inadequate for a person of 77, very sick,” wrote Chirinos in an open letter to Chavez and Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz.

The well-known psychiatrist and academic, who was also a presidential candidate in the 1988 elections, was sentenced on Sept. 29, 2010, for the July murder of one of his patients, 19-year-old college student Roxana Vargas.

“Open letter?”  Seeking public sympathy to move el Thugo? Well, elections are coming soon.

One must wonder what beans el Doctor Chirinos could spill if given the requested pardon and permitted to blab about Chávez’ state of mind. Or, maybe better, why he didn’t off Chavez.  In jail, there seems to be little chance of either. Out of jail as well, for that matter.

Still, it could be even more interesting than what Chávez’ cat or former mistress(es) might have to say.

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The Kim is Dead. Long Live the Kim.

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

North Korean despot Kim Jong-il died (according to official reports) on the morning of December 17th. Following a period of mourning, his funeral was held today and was part of the process to ensure the succession of his young son, Kim Jong-un, to apparent power. As I noted here, his succession to power will probably be more apparent than real and he will likely be controlled behind the scenes by a regency.

The Religion of Kim has, over the years, become the dominant religion in North Korea. In this piece at my blog, I have examined some of the religious trappings in which the regime has been enveloped.

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The Civil War and the Present

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

The first shots in the United States Civil War were fired during an attack on Fort Sumter a century and a half ago on April 12, 1861, not long after President Lincoln’s election on November 6, 1860 and about five weeks after he assumed office on March 4, 1861.

As summarized by Wikipedia,

As Lincoln’s election became evident, secessionists made clear their intent to leave the Union before he took office the next March.[123] On December 20, 1860, South Carolina took the lead by adopting an ordinance of secession; by February 1, 1861, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed.[124][125] Six of these states then adopted a constitution and declared themselves to be a sovereign nation, the Confederate States of America.[124] The upper South and border states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas) listened to, but initially rejected, the secessionist appeal.[126] President Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy, declaring secession illegal.[127] The Confederacy selected Jefferson Davis as their provisional President on February 9, 1861.[128]

The war still stirs “a trove of memories.” Some are of glory, others of misery and despair. A few have suggested that we are now engaged in another “civil war” of sorts, although not an armed conflict. The prospect of armed conflict over various issues, including illegal immigration and infringements of the Constitutional right to bear arms, has been raised. I occasionally come across comments at various blogs contending that the reelection of President Obama could precipitate another civil war. To have another would be horrific and could easily destroy or at best emasculate what’s left of our Constitution. That happened during and after the Civil War and would happen again now.

This article at my blog examines the Constitution as it existed from 1861 until the end of the war in 1865 to suggest that, despite the evils of slavery, the South may well have been correct in viewing the conflict as one to preserve states’ rights and thereby the Constitution. President Lincoln on April 17, 1859, shortly before he became the President, said that

I think Slavery is wrong, morally, and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union.

I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists, because the constitution forbids it, and the general welfare does not require us to do so.

We must prevent the revival of the African slave trade and the enacting by Congress of a territorial slave code. (Emphasis added)

According to the National Endowment for the Humanities,

While the Civil War began as a war to restore the Union, not to end slavery, by 1862 President Abraham Lincoln came to believe that he could save the Union only by broadening the goals of the war. The Emancipation Proclamation [of 1864] is generally regarded as marking this sharp change in the goals of Lincoln’s war policy. (Insert added)

One of the sticky wickets was Article IV of the Constitution which required the return of fugitive slaves who escaped to “free” states.

Section 2: No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

In 1850, the Federal Fugitive Slave Act was enacted, not to repeal but to ensure implementation of Article IV, Section 2. It was bitterly opposed in the North and was essentially nullified when the Civil War began.

There are now issues that generate almost as much heat. Corruption is endemic, the Holder Department of inJustice twists provisions of  some laws and declines to enforce others; both our domestic and foreign policies are in shambles. Unless President Obama is soundly defeated next year, we may face the prospect of another uncivil war. We cannot permit that to happen.

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We need to consider the cultures and histories of our enemies.

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 - by Dan Miller

The recent death of North Korea’s Dear Leader, and some reactions to it, have reemphasized the need to have adequate understandings of the facts on the ground and to interpret them in light of the culture and history of our enemies. We have not generally done that very well and our reactions to Kim Jong-il’s death are the most recent example. There have been many others.

According to a statement from the White House, the United States

has “no new concerns” about North Korea’s leadership after the death of dictator Kim Jong-il, but a spokesman for President Obama said he is “closely monitoring events.”

“I don’t think we have any additional concerns,” said presidential spokesman Jay Carney. “The issue here isn’t about personalities, it’s about the actions of the government. President Obama has been regularly briefed on the situation.” (Emphasis added)

Yeah, right. Except that as suggested in this article published today at my blog, in North Korea it is mainly about personalities, their interplay and how those in and outside the regency now in place for Kim Jong-un will seek to maintain and augment their personal power and statures. That’s the way the government in North Korea operates; to ignore that is to rely instead upon unreality.

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Declare victory and end the war on street drugs

Sunday, December 18th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

The war on street drugs has not gone well since President Nixon declared it forty years ago and it has cost about one trillion dollars. It’s time to reevaluate our situation and change to a different tack.

Here are some suggestions for dealing with most now illegal street drugs in ways that would permit the individual states to do pretty much as they please while permitting the Federal and state governments to tax their sale in states where no longer prohibited. Some of the suggestions are perhaps more workable than others and I hope there will be some comments to push the discussion along.

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Christopher Hitchens and Conservative Blogs

Friday, December 16th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

Much has already been written about the death of Christopher Hitchens, much of it by those who knew him. I did not have that privilege. Hence, I find myself able to write about little more than what others have written on the sad occasion of his death. Those writings, far from sad, are energizing because they celebrate Mr. Hitchens’ life and once again show conservative appreciation of intellect, wit and charm and, of no less significance, eagerness to understand often different views and their bases.

Here are some thoughts based on what other conservative bloggers have written. The piece concludes,

There is great diversity of thought because conservatives are rarely hesitant to follow where their own minds lead them. That is one of the greatest strengths of conservatism. Unless guided principally by our own minds and therefore free to consider and to accept, reject or modify ideas on their own merits rather than based on dogma or the biases of others, we would be lost in the woods and unable to find our various and often different ways.


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A proper green approach to naval waste

Monday, December 12th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

The Navy is wasting tons of money and, worse, green stuff instead of using old and reliable oil to fuel its engines of war. This must stop. The funds and green stuff thereby wasted should instead be used to provide healthy vegetarian meals to hungry innocents, such as the Occupy Wall Street protestors and other kindred spirits. Here are some very serious suggestions for solving this problem, doubtless one of the most crucial of the decade.

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SCOTUS to review Arizona Immigration Law Case

Monday, December 12th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

Today, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from the Ninth Circuit decision of April 11th holding the then new Arizona immigration statutes unconstitutional due to federal preemption. Of some interest,

Justice Elena Kagan will not take part in the Arizona case, presumably because of her work on the issue when she served in the Justice Department.

Arguments probably will take place in late April, which would give the court roughly two months to decide the case.

Among the principal issues before the Court is whether federal immigration laws, which the Arizona statutes sought among other things to enforce, were preempted by those federal laws making the Arizona statutes unconstitutional. As noted here, Judge Bea of the Ninth Circuit

wrote a well-deserved acerbic concurring, but in reality dissenting, opinion. He quoted Lewis Carroll’s word master Humpty Dumpty and compared the court majority to him:

The majority has apparently mastered its Lewis Carroll:
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t –
till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knockdown argument,’ ” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful
tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

According to Judge Bea, the majority’s strained interpretation of legislative intent attributed to the Congress the intent of those later charged with enforcing federal immigration laws, as though the Congress had presciently divined and approved the subsequent interpretations of the enforcers. Judge Bea quite correctly observed:

It is Congress’s intent we must value and apply, not the intent of the Executive Department, the Department of Justice, or the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Moreover, it is the enforcement of immigration laws that this case is about, not whether a state can decree who can come into the country, what an alien may do while here, or how long an alien can stay in this country. (emphasis in original)

With Justice Kagan not participating, there may be a decent chance that the Supreme Court will disagree with the Ninth Circuit majority.

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Merry Christmas from Venezuela

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

Merry Chavezmas

Hugo Chávez, the savior of Venezuela if not the entire world, was prominently featured in a Nativity display in Caracas.

A figurine of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (C) is seen in a recreation of a Nativity scene in Caracas December 8, 2011. The Nativity scene in Caracas showing the socialist president standing before the traditional crib-in-a-manger has stirred up a pre-Christmas controversy in the politically polarized country. Picture taken December 8, 2011

Isn’t He just too precious!

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Do we rely too much on experts?

Friday, December 9th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

On December 6th in Williams v. Illinois, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on expert witness issues. As noted at SCOTUS Blog,

Plain English Issue: Whether a court violates a criminal defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause [Sixth Amendment] by allowing an expert witness to testify about the results of DNA testing conducted by another analyst who has not appeared as a witness at the trial. (Insert added)

Leaving aside the criminal context, we probably rely excessively on “experts,” many of whom are actually inexpert and/or partial to whatever cause or ideology suits them. The principal purveyors of editorial opinion, masquerading as presenters of “news,” often present as news their own opinions and the opinions of those “experts” with whom they agree. There is also an industry of experts, anxious to sell their services to whomever will pay for them. If consistent with the views of our media mavens, their “expert” opinions are widely touted and garner unwarranted credibility.

This article at my blog explores the use of experts primarily in a non-criminal but still judicial context. The things that happen there also happen in the media and in other contexts where judicial safeguards are absent.  Those safeguards, principally the right of cross examination, are important.

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The Media Morphing Continues

Thursday, December 1st, 2011 - by Dan Miller

One of the tidbits of news to come out today was this, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Upon analyzing records of the seventy text messages between Herman Cain and Ginger White during the period October 22 – November 18 of this year, it found that

Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 18, there were 70 text messages between White’s cellphone and Cain’s cellphone. Some were as early as 4:54 a.m., and some came late into the night.

Gosh! That’s horrible of Mr. Cain. How could the beast stoop so low? However,

A review of the records by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows Cain sent 17 [of the 70] text messages to White, almost always responding to messages from her. (Insert added)

Aside from that one article, I’ve seen nothing about the October 22 – November 18 text messages.

There have been lots of reports about sixty-one calls and messages during an earlier four month period, first reported as to and from Mr. Cain. Reports soon morphed — with no analysis whatever — into sixty-one calls and texts from Mr. Cain to Ms. White, indicating that he had made all of the calls and sent all of the messages. Similarly,  Mr. Cain’s acknowledgment that he had “been attempting to help her financially” quickly morphed into such headlines as “Cain admits paying woman” or words to similar effect.

I have attempted in an article entitled The Cain Campaign and Media-Morphing to dig into these things a bit deeper and to suggest what Mr. Cain should do if he is to regain his candidacy and to salvage his reputation.

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The Herman Cain Problem

Saturday, November 26th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

Herman Cain has many problems. Although he probably knows how many states there are and that Hawaii is not in Asia, it has been claimed that he doesn’t realize that Spanish is spoken in Cuba. Does he know that “Idiota” is a Spanish word for “idiotic?” Spin placed upon what he has said in various contexts has damaged his candidacy not, I hope, beyond repair.

Maybe it’s time for a fresh look at Mr. Cain, his world view, his somewhat old fashioned charm and at the many other ways in which he is almost exactly unlike President Obama. Might he be as effective an antidote to the Obama Era as President Reagan was to the Carter Era? I think so, for the reasons explained here.

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Arab Spring and Changing Times.

Friday, November 25th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

This video raises questions about how much change Arab Spring is bringing.

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The Cain and Letterman Show

Sunday, November 20th, 2011 - by Dan Miller

Here is a 24 minute video of Mr. Cain’s November 18th appearance on the Dave Letterman Show.
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Contrary to the opinion expressed here, in an American Thinker Blog piece entitled “Cain steps into Letterman’s lion’s den and gets devoured,” I thought Mr. Cain did very well. It was a humorous interview, was obviously structured as such and his sense of humor was clear and refreshing. There were a few serious moments and during them he spoke well and substantively to make his points, using to best advantage the quite limited time he was given.

In October of 2009, I wrote an article at PJ Media entitled  “The U.S. is losing its Sense of Humor,” noting that

True, comedians still exist and some make lots of money. The jokes about Governor Palin during the recent presidential campaign produced laughter, and those about former President Bush and Vice President Cheney did as well. However, they and the laughter they produced were largely grounded in — and promoted — bitterness and the associated hatred. The few jokes directed at President Obama were much the same; there were then and there are now very few, because of the racism charges almost certain to be thrown at those making and laughing at them. Those accused, even wrongly, of racism are generally punished severely. “Code words” are found, and even unspoken and unintended words are heard subliminally and apologies must be forthcoming, even though they are not generally accepted.

Mr. Cain’s sense of humor, as displayed during the Letterman show, evidenced none of the bitterness mentioned there. That’s good.  He dealt humorously with a question about the campaign spot showing his campaign manager, Mr. Block, puffing on a cigarette.  It was not a politically correct spot, his response to the question was not PC and that’s good. Neither was his answer to the question about the differences between him and Donald Trump PC — he’s White and I’m Black.

If having Mr. Cain as our President were to accomplish nothing else, and I think it would, at the very least he could help to restore our sense of humor.  After years of drought we need it.

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