Republicans have officially gone too far

It’s been a long time since I have posted here but something has happen that demands comment. Something terribly hostile to the Constitution.

Last month, Chuck Todd was interviewing Paul Ryan on Meet the Press and he asked Ryan if Congress has the right to invite a foreign head of state to speak to Congress without consulting the president first. Ryan said the legislative and executive branches were separate but equal. He completely ignored the significance of separation of powers and focused on “equal” as if the two branches held the same authorities. This is obviously not true. The three branches of Government are separated for the purpose of separating their authorities with the intent of preventing tyranny. Paul Ryan did not give Chuck Todd “a lesson in the Constitution”, only a lesson in Ryan’s willingness to misrepresent it to support his own agenda. Conservatives, however, took a victory lap and an opportunity to denigrate liberals:

He could have stopped with “look at the Constitution.” Libs stop listening after that anyway.

This is, of course, completely wrong. Article 2 section 3 of the Constitution assigns responsibility for receiving ambassadors and other foreign dignitaries to the President.

he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers;

There is no such authority for the legislative branch. The Senate has “advise and consent” (Article 2 section 2) authority, but that refers to interacting with the President. It does NOT include initiating contact with foreign governments and interfering with Executive Branch negotiations. It was done this way so that the United States would speak with one voice, with the idea that a monolithic nation would command more respect than a divided one.

Because this failure to respect the Constitution’s separation of powers has been bounced around the conservative echo chamber as a good thing, this raises the question of whether the conservatives in general, and Republicans in particular, have read and understood the constitution.

The Framers were quite concerned about foreign influence infecting our government and they put several conditions in the Constitution to thwart the possibility. The invitation of the Republicans to bring a foreign leader into Congress to lecture Congress about foreign policy is an arrogant and unforgivable violation of the Constitution. It is throwing the Constitution out the window and openly inviting the very foreign influence that the Framers wanted to prohibit. There is no question that they operated in collusion with Netanyahu to manipulate domestic politics.

Their disregard for the sovereignty of other nations has spilled over into disregard for our own sovereignty.

This comes on top of four years of trying to micromanage the separate and equal executive branch through the purse strings, putting ideology ahead of the country and their oaths of office by using manufactured crises to leverage more political power than allotted them by the voters.

And they’re not done yet…

Josh Rogin of BloombergView reports that:

A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama’s administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

And what was the response to this letter?

Fallout Seen Worldwide From Republicans’ Letter to Iran

In Iran, Tehran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) criticized Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s “insulting” address to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.


IRNA accused Cotton of trying to “humiliate” Zarif by posting a Farsi version of his letter and by tweeting directly to Zarif: This is the translation of the letter if necessary.

“Now it is clear that Cotton does not know that the Iranian foreign minister has been a U.S. educated figure since young age and he knows English language and the U.S. power structure better than Cotton,” IRNA reported.

On Monday, Zarif’s initial response was to describe the letter as a “publicity ploy” that “contradicts international law.”

And the Tehran Times reported that Zarif said the U.S. senators were “ignorant of international law.”


In London, foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told members of parliament Tuesday that the Republican letter could throw “a spanner in the works” at the negotiations and will have an “unpredictable effect” on the government in Tehran.

The Guardian’s Julian Border wondered if Republican intervention in Iran nuclear negotiations would confirm Iranian suspicions about the West and make it easier for Tehran to blame Washington if talks fail.

“The ‘spanner’ effect was on display in the Iranian capital where the hardline press splashed news of the letter across its front pages. The moderate media focused instead of Zarif’s rebuke. But what really counts is the impact on one person, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. His judgment will be critical in determining whether there is an agreement at all, and he is famously suspicious of the West’s motives towards Iran,” Border wrote.

In Israel, the Jerusalem Post wrote an editorial that said, “The subtext of the GOP letter to the Iranians is: Think twice before signing a deal with a lame-duck president.”

Israel Hayom, a newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson, an American billionaire who has supported several Republican presidential candidates, used wire and staff reports under the headline: Republicans warn Iran nuclear deal with Obama may not last.

Monday’s open letter from 47 Republican senators marked an unusually public and aggressive attempt to undermine Obama and the five world powers as negotiators try to strike an initial deal by the end of March to limit Iran’s nuclear programs.

The Republicans have announced to the world that we are now a weak and divided nation, and that our agreements cannot be trusted. Even the Iranians no longer respect the Republicans. And because they control Congress, the Supreme Court, and a majority of the States, they have completely undermined our authority on the world stage.

Top Republicans have once again diminished us as a nation. To hardline conservatives, they are patriots.

They have gone from attacking the President, to attacking the Office itself. Even one of our closest allies is openly showing disrespect – with the encouragement of the Republicans.

Anyone thinking of running for Prez, on both sides, should sign on to the letter to make clear that Iran is negotiating w/ lame duck Prez.

— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) March 10, 2015

Oath of Office for Senators:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.


: to secretly try to ruin or destroy a government, political system, etc.

: to make (something) weaker or less effective


: incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority


1 : violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence : treason

2 : an act of perfidy or treason


1 : one who betrays another’s trust or is false to an obligation or duty

2 : one who commits treason

These are the names of the 47. They represent the iron fist of tyranny, and the military-industrial-political complex.

  1. Tom Cotton, R-AR
  2. Orrin Hatch, R-UT
  3. Charles Grassley, R-IA
  4. Mitch McConnell, R-KY
  5. Richard Shelby, R-AL
  6. John McCain, R-AZ
  7. James Inhofe, R-OK
  8. Pat Roberts, R-KS
  9. Jeff Sessions, R-AL
  10. Michael Enzi, R-WY
  11. Michael Crapo, R-ID
  12. Lindsey Graham, R-SC
  13. John Cornyn, R-TX
  14. Richard Burr, R-NC
  15. John Thune, R-SD
  16. Johnny Isakson, R-GA
  17. David Vitter, R-LA
  18. John A. Barrasso, R-WY
  19. Roger Wicker, R-MS
  20. Jim Risch, R-ID
  21. Mark Kirk, R-IL
  22. Roy Blunt, R-MO
  23. Jerry Moran, R-KS
  24. Rob Portman, R-OH
  25. John Boozman, R-AR
  26. Pat Toomey, R-PA
  27. John Hoeven, R-ND
  28. Marco Rubio, R-FL
  29. Ron Johnson, R-WI
  30. Rand Paul, R-KY
  31. Mike Lee, R-UT
  32. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH
  33. Dean Heller, R-NV
  34. Tim Scott, R-SC
  35. Ted Cruz, R-TX
  36. Deb Fischer, R-NE
  37. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV
  38. Bill Cassidy, R-LA
  39. Cory Gardner, R-CO
  40. James Lankford, R-OK
  41. Steve Daines, R-MT
  42. Mike Rounds, R-SD
  43. David Perdue, R-GA
  44. Thom Tillis, R-NC
  45. Joni Ernst, R-IA
  46. Ben Sasse, R-NE
  47. Dan Sullivan, R-AK

Republicans Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum have also expressed their support of this train wreck.

A complete failure of critical thinking and due diligence. In short – rubber-stamping/malfeasance:

It’s like they care more about image and posturing than about the Constitution and how it was intended to work.

Tweets are now in Aisle 2

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Every once in awhile I go to a store in a chain that is not my usual haunt, and find that the store is laid out very differently. It can be disorienting when you don’t know where to find what you’re looking for.

It can even happen in my usual store when I haven’t been there for a while and they have rearranged everything in my absence. They don’t do this to confuse their customers, they do it to make periodic changes. If they replace carpeting or make some other physical changes, they have to move things out of the way before they remodel – and it’s cheaper to move it once.

Twitter does not really have this excuse. They have moved the main attraction, the tweets, from the left to the right of center. Why is this a big deal? English is read from left to right. This is the natural direction that the eye tracks for those of us who read and write English. In the new layout, the eye has to skip over the extras to locate the tweets. This is more an annoyance than a difficulty, but it is an unnecessary difficulty.

It is bad ergonomics.

Not only does it seem backwards, but once you get beyond the first screen it seems like the tweets are hanging in mid-air. It feels off-balance, like driving on the wrong side of the road.

When it annoys me enough and I have the time, I can fix it with Stylish. I still have to wonder about their GUI design process though.

The usability problem for me is that they shuffled the controls around and changed how things work. My rudimentary understanding of how Twitter works is now useless, and I don’t have the time to figure out how it works this week. Thanks, Twitter.

#McDStories, McDonald’s Twitter Hashtag Promotion, Goes Horribly Wrong

I remember when the McDonalds sign said “1 million served”. I liked their burgers for a long time. Even working there and eating it every day did little to change my mind.

But then I got food poisoning and bone in the meat a couple of times, and that was it.

After that, Burger King became my favorite. That lasted until I started getting a string of greasy, disgusting­ly tasteless burgers. Eventually­, I discovered that company policy had changed and they started using microwaves religiousl­y, for the sake of efficiency­. Microwaves undo the carameliza­tion of the bun (which is the point of toasting the bun), and draws the remaining grease out of the meat, making it soggy and tasteless. The worst thing you can do to prepare a hamburger is microwave it.

I cook my own hamburgers these days.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

English: McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast san...
Egg McMuffin

I think their “it’s the McMuffin of…” ad campaign is also pretty stupid. They’re trying to manufacture a catch-phrase out of something that makes no sense beyond the wild biz-zarre imagination of an ad executive.

A New Year In Search of a New Tradition

A year ago I woke up to discover that ESPN had bought the rights to my New Year’s tradition of watching college bowl games, and moved them to where I can no longer watch them, so I switched to the NFL games that turned up to fill the void. To be honest, the downhill slide probably started when they opened up the Rose Bowl to other conferences. The big draw for me was that the Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of the Big Ten season, and the linchpin of the New Year’s Day bowl games. It was the prize for winning the Big Ten championship.

This year, there are three NFL games scheduled on broadcast TV, though the teams are not yet decided. With overlap, my TV schedule is still open.

But this year there are new choices in the mix, two television networks new to my market.

This TV

This TV logo

This TV shows a variety of classic movies, some more current movies, and TV shows from the 50s and 60s. On New Year’s Day they are showing a lot of Marx Brothers movies, a couple of Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “road” movies, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and stuff I don’t recognize.


MeTV logo
Image via Wikipedia

Memorable Entertainment TV shows a LOT of classic TV shows from the 50s and 60s. Every show I watched as a kid (except the ones showing on ThisTV), the ones I missed, and some that were before my time. New Year’s Day they are running a “That Girl” marathon, starting with the first episode.

Of the current shows on TV, the ones I like the most start with a creative premise. An important part of the attraction is that they stimulate the imagination instead of appealing to the familiar. There is one I want to highlight now because on New Year’s Day there is an opportunity for new viewers to catch up on the story to date.

Once Upon A TimeSeveral of the new shows this year fall into my “creative premise” category. Some have been disappointing, most have been entertaining, but Once Upon a Time (ABC) has truly exceeded my expectations. It matches fairy tales with stories in a contemporary setting, with the former defining the conflicts in the latter. The stories are fascinating, the costumes and settings on the fairy tale side are spectacular, and the acting makes “suspension of disbelief” very easy. On January 1st, ABC will air six of the first seven episodes in a marathon broken only by the news. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend watching, or recording and watching later.

However you spend the day, have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Black Friday goes to the Dark Side

Thanksgiving at the TrollsBusiness competition is frequently cutthroat behind the scenes, and positive within public view. In the current seasonal advertising, this seems to have changed.

Commercials have always been biased to a greater or lesser degree, that’s just the nature of mass advertising. “Our stuff is better than their stuff” is also a standard part of the game. But I have noticed Christmas ads this season that take a darker tone.

T. J. Maxx has an ad campaign that actually tells people to leave the mall. “It doesn’t matter if you’re naughty or nice. Get the same gifts at a better price.” What kind of message is that?

There is a Kohl’s ad where a woman pilfers something from someone else’s shopping cart while singing the praises of the store.

Acura has an ad where Chef Ramsey tears into a chef during a private dinner. WTF??? To sell a car? Seriously?

These are ads that glamorize bad behavior. They are not in the spirit of the season.

As consumers with disposable income become a scarce resource, companies have had to work harder to get their attention – and their business. Black Friday has become a tradition because it is the first business day after Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day itself was traditionally preserved as a family holiday. Businesses have become desperate enough to violate the sanctity of Thanksgiving and open their doors on a day that is no longer reserved for family. Anything to get an edge over the competition.

They do not do this in a vacuum. There are customers who like the idea. Who are willing to give up some family time for discounts.

So what is my point?

  1. The desperation of the businesses and the willingness of some consumers to trade family life for savings are indications of a distressed economy, which we are already aware of.
  2. The growing importance of the Christmas Season to the profitability of so many businesses is an indication that a specific class of consumption has become too concentrated in one part of the calendar.
  3. The economy is having a negative impact on the family unit.
  4. Morality in advertising is declining.

ABC is promoting another cycle of The Bachelor by showing a woman crying her eyes out.

Why Is DOJ Sealing Evidence in the Google Case?

Personal honor varies from individual to individual­, and is reflected more in small businesses than large ones. But there seems to be a profit threshold, beyond which honor and profits become inversely proportion­al. Perhaps this is why, in the early days of our country, incorporat­ions were made for limited duration and purpose.

The liability protection­s afforded corporatio­ns, once necessary to encourage risk-takin­g, have been perverted into a shield against moral hazard and even justice itself.

Monetary penalties have lost their deterrence­, becoming an item on a balance sheet, taken from the investors who had no part in the crime.

As they grow, so does their ability to do harm – and so grows the need for regulation­, and the government to impose it.

If you want less regulation­, reduce the liability protection­s for corporate management­. Resurrect personal responsibi­lity in corporate management­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

NYPD Arrests Elderly ‘Hoarder’ Who Threatened Window-Washer With Gun In Flatiron District

This guy sounds more like a shut-in than a hoarder, which would mean that he has become so disenfranc­hised with society that he is now afraid to interact with it. A hoarder is a compulsive collector, but a shut-in could appear like a hoarder for different reasons. He may cling to the familiar because his self-impos­ed isolation does not permit him to add new things to his world. He may simply let things lay where they are because he is depressed or lacks the self-estee­m to pick up after himself or take proper care of himself.

He may have panicked at the sight of a stranger messing with his window, but I think that treating him like a potential sniper/ser­ial killer says more about the decline of our society than anything else.

Personal responsibility has considerable virtue, but people are not machines. Nor are they produced with optimum effectiveness. A free society will always have its misfits and independent outliers. It is the nature of a community of individuals that one size does not fit all. There are many who have not found a place in society, have fallen through the cracks – or worse, have been banished to the fringes.

Ignoring the problems of society comes at a price, whether it is higher crime, higher health care costs, lower property values, or some other consequence. Domestic tranquility requires us to deal with these problems because the alternative is social unrest.

The real question is not if but how: positively and proactively, or negatively, piecemeal, and more expensively?

We incarcerate more of our population than any other country, and people keep coming up with more reasons to lock someone up. One need only look at California to see that we cannot continue to sweep problems under the “rug” we call the prison system. The skyrocketing cost of health care certainly tells us that we need to focus on the ounce of prevention because we cannot long afford the pound of cure.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost