San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, March 27, 2015

Safety Is Overrated

I was driving down the road the other day when I passed a marquis outside a government school building.  The marquis ordered anyone who read it to, "Be safe and have a wonderful Spring break."  I was not on Spring break so I ignored the exhortation to be safe.  I was cleaning bathrooms at a warehouse district building in north Denver last month when I spotted a very familiar sign.  It said, "Safety First."  I have seen hundreds of those signs posted in places that I have cleaned over the years.  They are put there by the union stewards who work in those factories and represent the local unions who operate there.  I knew it did not apply to me because I had not paid any union dues.  I was preparing to walk out of Dunkin Donuts with a bag full of Munchkins a couple of weeks ago when the lady behind the counter who had just taken my money exhorted me to "be safe out there."  It was snowing at the time.  I managed to drive home without killing myself or any one else for that matter.   I was reading the Letter to the Editor section of the Denver Post this week when I came across a letter from a lady from Arvada about the decision of Colorado lawmakers to not require yoga teachers to be licensed by the state.  It was a rare breath of non-regulatory fresh air in my view.  She did not agree. She wrote, "It will strip consumer protection to those taking yoga teacher training, diminish the integrity of the yoga teacher training, and harm the students of yoga who count on a reliable process for yoga teachers that ensure their safety in classes."  Wow, I never knew yoga was so dangerous.
At this website I learned that, "The United Nations defines the Rights of a Child as “beyond basic Human Rights”,  including “…measures to protect the child from … physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect…”   In the Preamble of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989):  “…the child, by reason of physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care…”  Adults must be accountable for children’s right to be safe.  In crisis situations across the globe, research experts use an informative acronym, SAFE, to evaluate, prioritize and coordinate resources for children’s safety."  So "safety" is now a human right.  Who would have thunk it?  In a recent Ask Amy column, Amy gave this advice to a person who had asked her about the fact that his Asian granddaughter was being made fun of at school because of her Asian physical features, "I don’t often suggest this, but I think you should call a lawyer. The school has a duty to provide a ‍safe environment for your granddaughter."  Quick, call Frank Azar, he will fix it. 
While writing the above two paragraphs I saw a report on the Weather Channel informing me that "10 million people in Missouri are at risk" due to some severe weather conditions that currently exist there.  I guess the wind was blowing some trees down and folks were fearful the trees might fall on them.  Being "at risk" is essentially the same thing as being unsafe.  When I think about the concept of "at risk" I can recall hundreds of different groups that I am told fit into that category.  Recently released criminals are at risk of recidivism.  Thugs in poor neighborhoods are at risk of stealing things from local Kwik-E-Mart stores.   Heterophobic people, commonly known as homosexuals, are at risk for depression if I don't immediately run up to them when I see them and effusively affirm their lifestyle choices.  People in lower income groups are at risk of stealing from those in higher income groups while those in higher income groups are at risk of not having enough for their retirements.  The list goes on and on.  Everyone is at risk.  The popular response to all of this risk associated with life is to elevate "safety" to the highest point of prominence.  Everything we do must be done in the light of being safe.  Right?
What is wrong with everyone?  Can you imagine how economically, culturally, financially and personally retarded we would all be if "Safety First" had been the motto of our ancestors?  Nothing would ever have been done if people were not willing to assume some degree of risk.  The belief that all risk can be eliminated is a relatively new thing.  In the past people were smart and independent enough to know that anyone coming and promising total safety was more than likely looking for a secret entrance to their bank accounts and wallets.  They knew that absolute safety was a pipe dream that cannot be promised or guaranteed by anyone or anything.  They knew that a large part of the joy of life is doing things that are demonstrably unsafe, knowing that the payoff for success is much greater when risk is involved in the process. Perhaps most of all people realized that government cannot provide safety, no matter what career politicians and bureaucrats might profess to be able to do.
A career bureaucrat with the Colorado Department of Transportation has announced that she can make the roadways of Colorado so safe nobody will ever be killed in a traffic accident on a Colorado road again.  Read that story here.  Nobody has challenged her assertion!  Nobody!  How can a government employee get away with such outlandish claims?  Why has she not been ridiculed for the extreme stupidity evident in her claims?  It seems as if the state-addicted zombies who populate the land have come to the point where they actually believe what government tells them, no matter how outlandish the claim.  As long as safety is involved it seems to be the case that folks really and truly believe that government is capable of providing it for them.  Of course in exchange for that plenitude of safety is the total loss of freedom.  Apparently I am the only person who is disturbed by this turn of events.
To illustrate how extreme it has become, go back to the top and read the comment from the lady who believes attending yoga classes with an instructor who has not been certified by the government as qualified is an unsafe thing to do.  What is going to happen?  Are the students going to be perpetually stuck in the Lotus position?  Is everyone going to exit the class limping and with torn muscles and ligaments simply because the person calling out the various positions does not have the permission of the government to do so?  Are we really expected to ask a yoga instructor for her certification from the state prior to taking our place in class?  Have we all become so fearful that not one of us believes we are capable of taking a freelance yoga class without endangering our lives and livelihoods?  
I don't know about you but I have had enough.  I am going out this afternoon and riding my bike while not wearing a helmet.  In fact, I am going to ride my bike downhill and exceed 30 miles per hour without wearing a helmet.  Then I am going to take a walk on a forest path through known lion, bobcat and coyote territory.  I know I am taking my life into my own hands but it must be done.  Call me suicidal but after my walk I am going to drive to the local doughnut shop for a cream filled doughnut and not fasten my seat belt for the trip.  Then I am going to eat the doughnut while driving home.  If I had a cell phone I would text someone and tell them what I am doing.  In fact, now that I think about it, I am going to risk diabetes and heart disease and eat two of those cream filled doughnuts.  After finishing off the cream filled beauties I am going to go to the gym and work out without wearing a mask over my face and rubber gloves on my hands.  I know the flu is flying around the gym and every surface probably has infectious diseases just waiting to jump into my moist nostrils but I must do it.  I must cheat death once again.  
After my workout I will return home and take a shower in the shower stall that does not have safety handles installed in it.  Despite my advanced age I will stand on the wet floor of a shower stall without any way to keep myself from falling when the inevitably slip takes place.  After the shower I will towel off with a towel that has been washed with detergent filled with known toxins.  Undoubtedly those toxins will get into my skin and put me well on the pathway to some sort of toxic poisoning or another.  I will finish my evening by sitting out on the back porch, recently coated with a toxic waterproofing chemical, absorb the final cancer-causing rays from the sun, smoke a fine Cuban cigar filled with hundreds of deadly chemicals all slowly eating away at my brain and sip from a glass of fine Welsh whiskey.  I don't know if I will be back tomorrow but what a way to go.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Buffet's Bet

Warren Buffett has a message for public pensions, colleges and other institutions that invest large sums of money.....stop pouring money into expensive, high-end money managers.  Mr. Buffet is so convinced of his investment philosophy that he has made a rather large bet, by my standards, with a hedge fund manager.  Hedge funds, as you probably know, are essentially private mutual funds.  To invest in a hedge fund you need at least a half million dollars in losable money.  Hedge fund managers are famous for active trading, the opposite of Buffet's approach, as they seek to beat the market on a daily basis.  They charge high fees for their alleged trading expertise.  Most hedge fund managers charge an asset based fee of 2%/year plus an additional 20% of the profits realized on the portfolio in any year during which a profit is realized.  Despite these exorbitant fees many people and institutions continue to pour their money into hedge funds. I came across a story on CNBC.com that told me about Buffet's wager.  Here is an excerpt from that story.  The full story can be found here.  
"'The commission of the investment sins listed above is not limited to 'the little guy.' Huge institutional investors, viewed as a group, have long underperformed the unsophisticated index-fund investor who simply sits tight for decades,' Buffet wrote in his latest letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Buffett has long been a critic of so-called alternative investing, a category that includes hedge and private equity funds, among others. The reason is the cut they take for their services, which can make billions of dollars for the managers but far less for clients, according to the man sometimes called 'The Oracle of Omaha.' 'A major reason has been fees: Many institutions pay substantial sums to consultants who, in turn, recommend high-fee managers. And that is a fool's game,' Buffett wrote on underperformance. Institutional investors include pension funds, university endowments, foundations and sovereign wealth funds managed on behalf of countries.  Buffett already has his money where his mouth is. His famous 'Million-Dollar Bet' with the hedge fund-focused investment firm Protégé Partners is that a simple S & P 500 index fund managed by Vanguard would beat a mix of five funds of hedge funds over 10 years. Through seven years, Buffett's index fund is up 63.5 percent while the five funds of funds selected by Protégé are up an estimated average of 19.6 percent, according to a Fortune report in February."
With three years to go I am willing to wager that Buffet is going to win the bet.  I wonder if the hedge fund will pay up?  I doubt it.  As I was considering Mr. Buffet's wager it dawned on me that I own a couple of stock mutual funds myself.  I wonder how my portfolio would compare to his S & P 500 index fund?  The index fund is clearly beating the hedge funds, primarily because hedge fund managers persist in the amazingly stupid belief that it is possible to predict the future direction of the stock market, but would it beat my portfolio of stock mutual funds?  To find the answer to that question I went to Morningstar.com.  I took all of the stock funds that I presently own and I compared the ten year performance for each of my funds with the ten year average annual total return performance for the Morningstar index equivalent for each fund.  What did I discover?  Over the past ten years the stock funds I hold in my portfolio have outperformed their respective stock market indices by an average of 1.78%/year.  Now that is most interesting, don't you think?
If you are an investor you have no doubt become accustomed to hearing the mantra that managed stock funds do not outperform mutual funds that are little more than copies of stock market indices.  The reason given for the underperformance is the same reason Buffet is going to win his bet....the fees associated with managing an account.  But does it necessarily follow that all managed mutual funds must underperform index funds solely because of the fees charged by the managers?  Are there no managers who have been able to consistently outperform the indices so that after taking into account their fees the fund still does better than the indices?  Clearly the answer to that question is, Yes.  My portfolio is living proof that it can be done. 
The key to understanding what is going on here is that the stock mutual funds I hold in my portfolio are stock mutual funds that generally believe in a long term approach to the stock market.  Many of them have very low portfolio turnover percentages and many of them hold on to the stocks in the fund for years.  All of the funds in my portfolio are committed to being in the stock market 100% of the time.  None of the funds in my portfolio attempt to predict the future direction of the stock market and then make market timing moves into and out of the market to try and capitalize on those changes.  In other words, the fund managers I have hired do not believe they can, nor do they claim to be able to, predict the future.  They make stock selections based upon fundamental analysis and then hold on for the long term, just like Mr. Buffet.
My wife and I went out to breakfast earlier this week.  We were seated next to a booth where two men and an elderly woman were seated. They were talking loudly and it did not take long for me to figure out what was going on. The two men, seedy characters both of them, were making a sales pitch to the woman, who appeared to me to be a rich widow.  They were selling some sort of manufacturing machine that was expected to capitalize upon Colorado's legalization of marijuana and make anyone who invested in it rich beyond her wildest dreams.  One salesman said that it made no sense for the woman to be content with 10% returns on her investment in the stock market when she could realize 20% or 30% annual returns with an investment in their machine.  It sounded to me like they were asking her for a commitment of $1.2 million to the project.  We left before the deal was closed and I had to bite my tongue to keep from leaning over to the woman and exhorting her to run for her life. 
As I thought about that woman I realized how it is that so many people fall for investment scams.  The allure of high returns plus the equally ego-massaging prospect of investing into something so sophisticated the investor has no idea what it is, is usually enough to cause a fool to part with his money.  Several years ago I posted an article to this blog about an investment charlatan named David Mitchell.  I still hear his radio commercials on a regular basis, playing on the Christian radio stations.  He promises 20%/month returns from the stock market, with no negative months and in perpetuity.  All you have to do is go to one of his seminars.  At the seminar you will be pitched on his program of stock market prediction.  If you continue with the program you will pay him quite a bit of money to learn how to allegedly predict the future and become rich beyond your wildest dreams.  He is in Denver next week but I think I will stay home and watch the grass in my backyard turn green instead.
I received the first response to my blog that I had ever received after I put up that post.  The man who responded knew David Mitchell and told me that what he says is true.  Indeed, the man who responded told me he was a currency trader and that he too had the ability to predict the future.  He informed me that he had been quite successful in trading currencies because of his ability to know what was going to happen next.  So I issued him a challenge.  I revealed my 1, 5, and 10 year total returns on my portfolio, both weighted and tax adjusted, and asked him how his returns compared.  I never heard back from him.  You can read all about it here
There is one bet I am always willing to make with anyone dumb enough to take it.  I am willing to bet that you are incapable of predicting the future.  If you think you can predict the future, contact me and we can make a wager.  I predict that I will be taking your money from you sometime in the future.  That is one future prediction that is always true.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Colorado Bans Free Speech......Sort Of

I just learned something that created a state of shock and awe within my being.  No, I was not contemplating the amazing military might of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika's fighting forces.  Nor was I reading about the amazing physical abilities of the Welsh National Soccer Team.  No, I just learned that a law has been proposed for the State of Colorado that would create a new commission.  Now creating a new commission is not extraordinary.  The bureaucratic machine is constantly growing.  It is what this commission is commissioned to do that sent me into my hyperbolic state of being, if there is such a thing.  The new commission would exist for the purpose of reviewing and approving the names of all government school mascots within the depressing State of Colorado.
Apparently some nanny-state legislators down at the state house have decided that it is possible that someone somewhere might get their feelings hurt if they are some way related to a mascot title.  To hype up the proposed new law a group of Indians, feather not dot, gathered on the steps of the capitol building in support of the new law.  One Indian squaw was seen writing across the face of her child the sentence, "I am not a mascot."  How cute, I thought to myself.  Another little brave grabbed a microphone and, between hysterical sobs, told the story of how bad he feels about himself all the time because some school on the eastern plains has a mascot called the "Savages."  This new law will solve the terrible problem of little Indians feeling bad about themselves, or so the proponents of the law believe.
I was more interested in the law from the perspective of free speech.  The Third Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says,  "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."  Since the Bill of Rights is supposed to apply to all the citizens of the SDA, it should apply to the citizens of Colorado as well.  If that is true then it necessarily follows that the Colorado legislature shall "make no law abridging the freedom of speech."  And yet when I read my newspaper I am informed that precisely the opposite is taking place.  What is going on here?
A lot of very knowledgeable people like to say that the right to free speech is not absolute.  Although I will freely admit that I am considerably dumber than all of those scholars, I still have to say that they are wrong.  The right to free speech is absolute.  I can say whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want and there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it.  Now the simple fact that I have free speech does not mean that I am not morally culpable for the things that I say.  This is where all those smart people get confused.  Because it is possible to say things that will incur moral guilt on my part they come to believe that I am not free to say those things.  When they argue that way they are confusing my right with the consequences of exercising that right.  Those two things should never be confused.
The standard example of speech that is not free is the case of a person in a crowded theater standing up and yelling "fire" at the top of his lungs.  I am routinely informed that yelling "fire" in a crowded theater is illegal and an example of a type of speech that is not free.  That, however, is simply not true.  Think about it for a moment.  Why is it alleged that yelling "fire" in a crowded theater is illegal?  Is it not because it carries the potential to do physical harm to the patrons of the theater if they panic and trample one another on their way to the exits?  But the sin, or the tort if you wish, that has taken place here is the sin of lying about the conditions in the theater.  If I yell "fire" in a theater in which there is a fire I have committed no injustice.  Furthermore, if I yell "fire" in a theater in which there are only three other patrons and they can clearly see that I am a maniac, I have committed no sin against them.  It is bad manners to yell during the screening of a movie but it is hard to see how I have committed a crime.  No, the reason yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, however "crowded" is defined, is based upon the fact that someone is harmed as a result of the lie that I told.  The prohibition is therefore against lying, not against the speech itself.
The same is true for all examples of what are allegedly cases where free speech is not permitted.  All actual criminal examples of the exercise of the right of free speech do not have anything to do with the speech itself but, rather, they have everything to do with the consequences of that speech.  If I engage in a concerted program of libel and slander of your reputation you are free to press charges against me for libel and slander.  I was free to say what I wanted and you are free to sue me if you believe what I said caused you material or physical harm.  If you can prove your case you will be awarded a sum of my money.
The most important distinction to be made in the matter of free speech is that a tort, sin or crime is only committed if the exercise of free speech does harm of a financial or physical nature.  Although it often does, the law should not recognize "emotional damages."  The only damages that count are those that can be quantified.  I know when I yell "fire" in a crowded theater and you are killed in the stampede that happens as a result of my declaration that I should be found guilty of murder and executed.  But what do I know if I yell "you are a cheap Scotsman" in that same theater?  How am I to know if my words will be perceived by the Scots in the audience as sweet or harmful?  Some Scots would be pleased to be described as being cheap.  Others might take offense.  How can I possibly know in advance?  The inability to know or predict people's emotional reactions to the thousands of things we all do and say everyday is the precise reason why the law should not recognize a tort for the emotional impact of what we say.  And that, of course, was why the founding fathers had the foresight to establish the Third Amendment to the Constitution.
Despite what the government tries to tell us today, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  That old saying we all learned as children is true.  You can call me anything you want and the words coming out of your mouth as you exercise free speech will never do me harm.  Go ahead.  Call me a stupid Welshman.  Call me a cheating, lying, thieving, disgusting, foul-smelling, ugly Welshman.  All you will get back from me is a smile and a nod of the head acknowledging that most of what you just said is true.  Please, please name your school mascot after the Welsh.  I would suggest the Drunken Welshmen, the Mad Welshmen and, if you want to be historically accurate, the Church-going Welshmen.  And guess what?  Not a single Welshmen will be offended....well.....except for Ian.....he is offended by everything and we long ago learned to ignore him.
The point is that adults in this sad country used to recognize that the speech emanating from the mouth of another person told us far more about that person than it told us about ourselves, even when that person is talking about us.  When a person chose to swear we knew that he was ignorant, stupid and seeking attention for himself.  When a person chose to use words that had the potential to inflame the sensibilities of others we knew he was nothing more than a attention hog and a me-monster.  We would treat him exactly the opposite of what he wanted.  We would ignore him.  Civilized people developed ways to deal with each other and that applied to the free speech that came out of our mouths.  Today all of that has changed.  Everyone is a victim of what someone else said.  Everyone has the emotional constitution of a child, immediately breaking into uncontrollable sobs the moment someone says something to them they perceive to be uncomplimentary.  Get over it.  Grow up.  What a bunch of sissies we have become.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pull Your Head Out Of Your Aps

Last week I wrote about how the career politicians and the career bureaucrats who serve them declared that it is "doable" to eliminate all traffic fatalities in the State of Colorado.  You can find that post here.  You read that right.  They honestly believe that the right combination of laws, rules and attempts at behavior modification can guarantee that not one single person will die in a traffic accident on a Colorado road in the future.  Over the weekend I was introduced to one of the strategies they are using to accomplish this "doable" goal.  The state bureaucrats at the Department of Transportation have launched a new program that offended and disgusted me.  It is entitled "Pull Your Head Out of Your Aps."
It is not difficult to pick up the pun.  Several years ago the lawmakers in this sad state created a new law declaring it to be illegal to look at one's personal electronic device, or PED as I like to call them, while operating a motor vehicle.  I was unaffected by the new law because I do not carry a PED of any sort.  I did, however, observe a very noticeable impact of the new law.  Prior to the enactment of the new law it was a fairly common occurrence to see folks driving down the road while swerving wildly and changing speeds for no apparent reason whatsoever.  Those of us who spend any time on the road at all knew that those folks were texting.  I have made significant changes to the places I will ride my bike because I did not want to become a fatality statistic for the state that has now made it illegal to die on the highway.  A report out of Fort Collins informed me that, "The city’s bicycle-crash rate hit 12.1 per 10,000 people in 2012. That’s the highest yet and has been climbing since 2000, when the rate was 9.5 per 10,000, according to city data."  This study, produced by the National Highway Safety Administration, shows a steady rate of increase in fatalities among cyclists all around the country, when measured as a percentage of all automobile related fatalities.  I believe a major contributing factor to the greater number of cyclist deaths is the practice of texting while driving.  Still I do not believe that there should be a law preventing texting while driving.  Biblical law has a solution to the problem. 
Biblical law deals with violations after they take place.  Man-made law attempts to create a myriad of laws to keep any real violations of moral law from ever taking place.  Biblical law frees man to behave as a responsible moral agent.  Man-made law enslaves men to rules and regulations that never accomplish the stated goal of reducing actual violations of the moral law.  But because all men naturally hate both God and His perfect law, they voluntarily and oftentimes happily enslave themselves to the laws made by men.  One of those laws is the law prohibiting texting while driving.  According to biblical law anybody who killed a cyclist because of texting while driving would be immediately executed by the surviving members of the family in a public execution.  Needless to say, it would not take too many of those public executions before even the most air-headed teenage girl would figure out how to drive without texting.
As I said, I have seem some change in behavior as a result of the law against texting while driving.  Rather than texting while driving along many drivers are now attempting what I call "speed texting" during brief breaks in the traffic flow.  Stops signs, highway delays and especially red lights have all become prime opportunities to send the vitally important text to their friends asking them how they are doing and where they are going.  In the old days it was only the first person in line at a red light who would not respond when the light changed to green.  That person would be instantaneously raged by the person behind him, with the honking of the horn and waving of the hand maneuvers, while the rest of us waited to go forward. Today it seems as if every other car is stationary after the light changes.  I look forward into the stationary cars and see a procession of bowed heads.  I know these good folks are not praying.  It is not hard to figure out what is going on.  The end result of the new law is that many more opportunities now exist for Yuppie drivers to express their unmitigated rage at the person in front of them when a red light changes to green.
I was driving somewhere over the weekend when I was treated to the new behavior modification program being enforced upon us by the state.  All of the electronic road signs in the city were making the same declaration.  You know these signs.  They can be changed by some important bureaucrat who works in some smoke filled room in the bowels of a building of bureaucrats somewhere downtown.  Usually the signs are used to threaten us with severe sanctions for refusing to do something the government thinks we should be doing.  Comments about driving drunk, raging fellow drivers, and smoking marijuana with the windows down are routinely displayed on these signs.  Over the weekend I was given the order to keep my head out of my aps.  I did not appreciate that one bit.
Besides the fact that the expression that is being used is a pun on a highly offensive sentence routinely used by the ignorant and immoral in arguments with their enemies, I do not see why the state government needs to tell me what I should or should not be doing while I operate my car.  As I understand it an "ap" is simply a computer program that people put on their PEDs.  Popular aps include GPS programs that people use to help them navigate around the city.  So if the new law is to be enforced properly it will now be illegal to use a GPS while driving.  Where is the sense in that?  This is especially true for the burgeoning throngs of pitiful people who are so directionally challenged due to the continual use of their PED GPS programs they can barely find their way to the bathroom in the dark. 
That night the local television news had a report on how people are responding to the new propaganda campaign.  Every person interviewed thought it was a good idea.  Most of them found the slogan coined by the state to be outrageously funny or at least very clever.  Nobody was offended.  Nobody was enraged that they were being treated like children.  Indeed I heard nothing but praise for the state and the bureaucrats who are attempting to modify our behavior for our own good.  I was so enraged when I read the electronic sign that I began to swerve wildly while I was driving down the highway.  I almost ran over a bicyclist as a result of my wild swerving.  I braked suddenly to keep from hitting the cyclist and almost caused a chain reaction with the cars that were all closely tailgating me as I drove along doing the speed limit.  I have concluded that the new safety program being administered by the state is just too dangerous for me to obey.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Was The Iran Letter Unconstitutional?

Last Friday I posted a piece about Iran.  The main point of the post was to show that Iranians have good reason to believe that possessing nuclear weapons is the only sensible thing to do to prevent aggression against them by the vast military complex of the imperialistic Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  Why has the SDA military, the most powerful in the history of the universe, not invaded North Korea and brought about a regime change?  Why has the line of dictator tyrants who rule North Korea been permitted to continue with nary a word of criticism from career politicians in the SDA?  Why do neo-conservatives blather on and on about how Christians are being killed in Syria but ignore the even more serious case of Christian genocide in North Korea?  The answer to all of those questions is the same.  North Korea has a couple of nuclear weapons and would not hesitate to use them if the SDA invaded.  Our rulers are fully aware of that fact so they leave North Korea alone.  This reality has not escaped the perception of Iran.
Iran has the right to defend itself.  Republicans in the SDA Congress are wrong when they say that the treaty being negotiated with Iran should forbid Iran from ever having nuclear weapons of any sort.  That is not a treaty, that is SDA hegemony designed to keep Iran under SDA control.  Many career politicians in the SDA have been very outspoken about their desire to invade Iran and bring about another regime change.  Apparently the total disaster that is Iraq has had no impact upon their thinking.  Equally as apparent is that the total disaster that has been the history of Iran's political relations with western powers since WWII has also had no impact upon their thinking.  All they can think about is somebody somewhere might have a nuclear weapon and we are the only ones allowed to play with those toys.  So Iran must be stopped. 
In the course of making the above argument I mentioned that I believe the letter sent by a couple dozen Republican career politicians was unconstitutional.  A regular reader of this blog took exception to my characterization.  He wrote me and said, "I don't agree that the open letter to Iran's leadership was unconstitutional. The letter was not put into an envelope and sent, but an open letter. The letter was not passed/approved by the House. 46 citizens, despite their political position, should be able to compose and 'send' such a letter."  Here is the complete text of the letter:

"An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
    It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system.  Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution — the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices — which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.
    First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them.  In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote.  A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate).  Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
    Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.  As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then — perhaps decades.
    What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.  The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
     We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress."

I did not make the effort to actually read the letter prior to posting to my blog last week.  I should have.  I had several misconceptions about the letter.  Today I would like to clarify my position on this issue.
My anonymous critic is correct.  The letter was an "open letter," meaning it was not sent to anyone. He is also correct in that the writing and posting of the letter was not an official action of the House of Representatives of the SDA, although all of the signatories are members of the House.  I have searched the Internet in vain attempting to find out who the letter was actually sent to.  If it was not sent to Iran, who received it?  Somebody got a copy of it or we wouldn't know about it today.  Did any Iranians receive it?  If so, who?  I have no answers to any of these questions.  I am forced to conclude that I have been exposed for the charlatan I am, I am Welsh after all, and confess that my accusation of allegedly unconstitutional action on the part of 46 SDA Republican House members may be incorrect.  Notice that I wrote "may" be incorrect.  At this point I am just not sure what is going on.
The Constitution is very clear and simple about the matter of making treaties with foreign countries.  The President has the authority to negotiate treaties with foreign nations.  Congress has no such authority.  Once a treaty has been negotiated the President must present the document to the Senate which then has the power to either approve or reject it.  A 2/3rds majority is required to approve any treaty negotiated by the President.  In addition to these items, the Constitution says that the Senate may give "advice" to the President as he negotiates a treaty with a foreign power.  At no point in the process of negotiating and approving a treaty with a foreign country does the House of Representatives have even the slightest constitutional authority.  In light of the clear and obvious rules about treaty construction I am forced to see the House letter in a different light.
The first point made in the Republican's letter is incorrect.  They rightly declare that any treaty negotiated with a foreign power requires a 2/3rds endorsement by the Senate but then they go on to create an extra-Constitutional category called a "congressional-executive agreement" which allegedly requires House approval as well.  They then incorrectly conclude that "anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement."  That statement is false.  The Constitution is perfectly clear.  The President makes a treaty and if the Senate approves it it becomes official.  The House has nothing to do with it.  This extra category that they have created might actually exist in the real world of extra-Constitutional congressional actions but it is not right, proper or Constitutional. 
Although my anonymous critic is correct that the 46 House Republicans have the right to write a letter to anyone they want, just like any other citizen of the SDA, they abuse that right in their second point.  When they reference the fact that King Obama will be out of office in a few short years whereas all of them are entrenched career politicians they are clearly speaking in their capacity as members of the House and not merely as citizens of the SDA.  The statement is clearly a threat.  The threat is clearly intended to convey to Iran the understanding that those men who have signed the letter have political power and are going to use it.  But the Constitution does not give them any political power in the case of treaty construction and it is hard to see how their assertions are anything less than an abuse of the power they do have.
The conclusion which they draw that any agreement between Obama and Iran is nothing but an "Executive Agreement" is most interesting.  If it is indeed the case that Obama has no intention of presenting his negotiated treaty to the Senate for confirmation, they are correct.  It is not worth the paper it is printed on.  On the other hand, if the King does present his treaty for ratification the House has nothing to do with the matter.  In either case the entire issue is not the business of the 46 members of the House who signed the letter to no one.  In the final analysis I am forced to conclude that the entire affair is nothing more than political grandstanding, designed to garner votes to ensure their "career" status as politicians. 

UPDATE:  Later on today, March 23rd
Man is my face red.  Of course that is due to the fact that I have a naturally ruddy complexion, like all true Welshmen.  But not only that, my attempt to make things more accurate ended up only perpetrating additional inaccuracies.  No wonder nobody reads this blog.  It is full of material misstatements and biased generalizations.  Please note the following corrections:
1.  The letter was sent by 47 people, not 46.
2.  The people signing the letter were all Senators, not members of the House. Hence all of my scathing vitriol about how these stupid House members had no authority to write what they wrote is not true.  I still believe the Senators had no business saying anything to the leaders of a foreign country while they are engaging in treaty negotiations with the President and I still believe that they are clearly trying to threaten the Iranian leaders but I also have to admit that the Senators will be the ones who might ultimately be responsible for the ratification of the treaty, if it gets that far. 
Given the total inability on my part to get anything straight on this issue I am giving up, never to return to this topic again.  The Constitution is easy to understand. That is not the case with the machinations of our career politicians.