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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fed in a $500B Pickle & why Billionaires are fleeing US markets

Since our last post where we celebrated the Italian elections for at least temporarily causing the market to drop, its gone up again as we fully expected it to..

The news says it was due to housing and confidence in Bernanke..

Uncle Ben says the Fed is not engaged in a currency war..

Shame we don't put people prison for life with no parole for lying...

What-ever..

The Fed is right now a swollen teat squirting out an endless supply of "free" milk and the rats will continue to fatten their dirty lil' bellies to the last drop, no matter the realities of this country or the rest of the global economy.

The corporate media can't say that so instead they attach a rising market to a bunch of lies and sell it as 'recovery'
We did find an interesting tidbit of info yesterday afternoon via Bloomberg which we're sure most people missed...

When Uncle Ben keeps interest rates at near zero to kill responsible savers and encourage everyday people to incur further debt, so the banks can have super-cheap money to invest in the stock market with...  well, he's keeping it low for a prolonged period for another reason..

"Bernanke’s efforts to rescue the economy could result in more than a half trillion dollars of paper losses on the central bank’s books if interest rates rise abruptly from recent levels."

That's over $500,000,000,000  ...  in losses
"That sum is the difference between the value of securities in the Fed’s portfolio on Dec. 31 and what they may fetch in three years, according to data compiled by MSCI Inc...

MSCI sees the market value of Fed holdings shrinking by $547 billion over three years under an adverse scenario that includes an economic contraction and rising inflation.

The potential losses are unprecedented in the Fed’s 100- year history."

So when you hear all this nonsense about long term low interest rates and indefinite QE because they want to see unemployment go down to under 6.5%, etc...  No..  its not that..

Its called mark-to-market, the event everyone in Wall St have been avoiding at all costs for many years where homes, stocks, etc are given accurate valuations based on reality, not conjecture, and many many Big & Powerful entities will take on sizable losses when it occurs.
Yes, the Fed is in quite a pickle thanks to its irresponsibility and doesn't know how the hell to get out without sustaining sizable losses over a very short period of time.

But people will say.. 'Oh, what do you know at A&G?!  I put my trust in CNBC and Jim Cramer and established media outlets,etc..'

Sure.. what do we know?

So let's find out what the billionaires are thinking & doing...

"Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful of billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast." (MoneyNews)
Oh that doesn't look good... please tell us more.. Why, certainly...

Let's start with Warren Buffett.. the "Oracle"

"In the latest filing for Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in “consumer product stocks” by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel."

Interesting, you say...
What about fellow billionaire John Paulson, who made a fortune betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown?  He's clearing out of U.S. stocks too.

"During the second quarter of the year, Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase. The fund also dumped its entire position in discount retailer Family Dollar and consumer-goods maker Sara Lee."

How about George Soros?

"Soros recently sold nearly all of his bank stocks, including shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Between the three banks, Soros sold more than a million shares."

So why are they doing this?
After all, the stock market is still in the midst of its supposed historic rally. And we've been told endlessly that real estate prices have finally leveled off, and for the first time in five years are actually rising in many locations. And how about the publicly accepted lie that the unemployment rate seems to have stabilized.

Professional investors are aware of specific research that points toward a massive market correction.  One such person publishing this research is Robert Wiedemer, an esteemed economist and author of the New York Times best-selling book Aftershock...

In 2006, Wiedemer and a team of economists accurately predicted the collapse of the U.S. housing market, equity markets, and consumer spending that almost sank the United States. They published their research in the book 'America’s Bubble Economy'."

His reasoning as to why a large drop of some sort is a virtual certainty which starts with the reckless strategy of the Federal Reserve to print a massive amount of money out of thin air in an attempt to stimulate the economy.
From MoneyNews: "“These funds haven’t made it into the markets and the economy yet. But it is a mathematical certainty that once the dam breaks, and this money passes through the reserves and hits the markets, inflation will surge,” said Wiedemer.

“Once you hit 10% inflation, 10-year Treasury bonds lose about half their value. And by 20%, any value is all but gone. Interest rates will increase dramatically at this point, and that will cause real estate values to collapse. And the stock market will collapse as a consequence of these other problems...

“Companies will be spending more money on borrowing costs than business expansion costs. That means lower profit margins, lower dividends, and less hiring. Plus, more layoffs.”"

Maybe he.. the billionaires.. maybe we're all wrong..

To our friends, we only want to protect you.. no other agenda.

And to those we don't like -- Please keep investing..

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cheers Italia- per un giorno (Cheers Italy- for one day)

Yesterday for dinner I cooked up some angel hair pasta and meatballs in tomato & burgundy wine sauce with some garlic rolls on the side.

It was quite a delish dish to be sure..

Of course, I did this not simply for the urge for an Italian meal last night, but to celebrate and toast them for their recent election results..

More specifically to symbolically say 'Thankyou' for making US investors feel jittery and causing the Dow to drop over 200 pts.

While it would be most lovely if this was the start of a continuing trend, we are just conditioned by Pavlov dogs by now to expect the market to perpetually, eternally rise with maybe a brief hiccup once in a blue moon.
Still, it was very refreshing to read the following:

"Italian voters look to have handed investors what they dreaded most: gridlock. As two days of parliamentary voting ended on Monday, exit polls suggested that former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s forces had picked up enough Senate seats to block Pier Luigi Bersani’s center-left coalition from maintaining the budgetary rigor of outgoing Premier Mario Monti...

“A hung parliament would be a guarantee of stillness,” analyst Annalisa Piazza of Newedge Group in London, said in an e-mail. “Such a scenario would be the worst-case outlook.”

Italian stocks and bonds... plunged on news of Berlusconi’s strong showing in the Senate. The euro currency erased early gains against the dollar, as markets worldwide anxiously awaited a final vote tally, which may not come until tomorrow.  The more the results come in, the more the fear grows that Italy will become ungovernable..."  (AP)

~ Stupendo!  (Wonderful)
Can't say it enough, so guess I will again:  The global markets are strengthening because of currency manipulation and a concerted, intentional effort to divert as much capital as humanly possible into the various global banks and stock trading floors.

The US is doing it.. Europe too.. Japan most certainly.. Everyone.

It is all to appease investors so their profits rise and to entice them to continue being inclined  into purchasing sovereign debts i.e. government bonds.  The populaces of the US, Europe, Japan, etc.. do not benefit at all from this..

The corporate media in collusion with Wall St. tell you different.

Here's a way to think of it:  Remember the diagram one was taught in elementary school as to how photosynthesis works?  Here, I have it below to refresh the memory...
And when we as human beings exhale or breathe out the clean oxygen, we create carbon dioxide which then gets absorbed back and made into fresh oxygen and so on..  

Its a continual cycle.

Now, let's say that could be diverted..  Let's say the sun wants that oxygen so instead of it going into the atmosphere where every living thing can benefit, a vast majority is being diverted and transported out of the planet toward the sun

What would happen?  We'd all be gasping and suffering all the ill-effects of oxygen depletion.   Would the sun care?  Not if it was personified to take the mindset of professional Investors..  The sun would say 'I am more important.. my needs come first and be lucky you're getting any air at all'

This is the current post-2008 crash global stock market.
Yes its always been corrupt and manipulative; full of greedy, soulless sociopaths who can not motivate themselves to wake up in the morning unless to make profit and take from others...

But at no time in human history has world governments in collusion worked so hard and efficiently to take from the people i.e. future debt to be repaid and give it to the markets & so openly.

Since 2008, the Fed has spent $4 Trillion.

This does not count the increased debt loads the government itself is taking on to run since it refuses to adequately raise taxes on the wealthy, Especially those who make their profit solely from stock dividends.

So its pretty messed up, yes...

And its why anything to cause a negative jolt to the market should be celebrated..  Its like rooting for a perpetually terrible sports team-- you take the little victories wherever you can.
I still expect the market to drop dramatically-- it won't take much either.  Perhaps some major corporation taking a bit too much profit from Wall St and starting a panic..  Or some other little jolt that triggers a margin call that investors big and small can't repay..

Or maybe Greece or Italy or Spain will have the guts to officially default and leave the euro... Or something happens to cause it all to unravel quicker than the global central banks can prop it up..

Who knows..

But I do know that cliches, maxims and old sayings are said for a reason..

'The taller the tree, the harder the fall'

'What goes up, Must come down'
So Italy... if you keep causing the markets to jitter and panic, and you succeed in causing the US & global markets to drop dramatically down to where it Should be based on a true barometer of the US economy, I will honor your nation by eating something I never have eaten before..

Calamari (yes.. squid)

But if you don't come through Italia, I'm cutting up all my Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti CDs..

So you can see-- the stakes really can't get much higher..  ~grins

Monday, February 25, 2013

Freedom of 'Choice' yet in NYC, no freedom to Choose

~ NYC Mayor Bloomberg: "It says in my book of faith.. Thou Shalt not drink more than 16oz sodas"

There's been a lot of goings-on in the news this weekend so we were told-- we're just not big TV watchers here at A&G..

We heard there was this big auto race somewhere in Florida.. a lot of cars going round n' round' on a oval track while wasting thousands of gallons of fuel to accomplish this feat.  All vehicles adorned chock full with ad logos from bumper to bumper and then to break up the race continuity, more advertisements..

We admit we wanted Danica Patrick to win..

We also find it funny how they all talk post-race..  "So tell us how the car ran today?" --  "Well the #00 Chuck-E-Cheese Pizzeria, Mr Pibb, Dole Bananas, Quaker State oil, Little Debbie snack cakes car ran pretty well..."
So there was that...

And some movie awards show.. Oscars?  Something like that.. Hard to remember them all since only 24hours prior there was another awards show called the Spirits awards on Saturday night which honored all the same people as Sunday night..

Then there's a constant barrage of awards presentations from the Golden Globes to the present dredge.  There's the BAFTAs (British version of Oscars) and NY Film Critics and LA film Critics and this 'Award' and that..

So much pomp and pretension over a bunch of shit movies most people won't bother to see once all this hype is over.. Anyone rented or purposely watched "The Artist" in the last month?  Didn't think so..

But thank goodness all this hullabaloo doesn't cause these performers and directors to develop swelled heads to match the swelled fake breasts of the actresses.  May Hollywood always continue to be a beacon of humility, decency and the highest morals..

Oh, they're not?  Sorry, yes we Did literally just get back from Mars...
~ Red carpet interviewer: "Tell me about your look tonite".. Actress: "Well I want to thank Vera Wang for the dress, Estee Lauder for the cosmetics and special thanks for letting me wear all these diamonds to blah-blah..."

So there was that too...

But of all the news-printable events the one that we found most galling and cringe-worthy happened in that rot of a city we all know and some love called New York...

Seems the mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg doesn't seem to like the fact all those minions who live and breathe and work and pay taxes in his dominion actually have some freedom of choice in their mostly skulldrudgery lives.

Bloomberg's ban prohibits 2-liter soda with your pizza and some nightclub mixers -- "Nanny Bloomberg unleashes his ban on large sodas on March 12 — and there are some nasty surprises lurking for hardworking families.

Say goodbye to that 2-liter bottle of Coke with your pizza delivery, pitchers of soft drinks at your kid’s birthday party and some bottle-service mixers at your favorite nightclub.  They’d violate Mayor Bloomberg’s new rules, which prohibit eateries from serving or selling sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.

Bloomberg’s soda smackdown follows his attacks on salt, sugar, trans fat, smoking and even baby formula." (NY Post)
~ Michael Jordan seems to think 2-liters are OK and I want to "Be Like Mike" so.. what to do... what to do..

Seems "choice" is passionately and violently protected when its something like the right to abort a baby um.. fetus..  but sodas... ehh.. not so much...

Each business that didn't comply would get a $200 fine per infraction.

And amazingly like the sheep that Americans are, businesses are responding furiously..  um.. well, furiously complying that is-- taking away the pitchers and ordering smaller sized glasses for customers..   Just don't expect the cost to buy a soda with your meal or popcorn to lessen..  that would just be Too un-American.

"Typically, a pizzeria charges $3 for a 2-liter bottle of Coke. But under the ban, customers would have to buy six 12-ounce cans at a total cost of $7.50 to get an equivalent amount of soda."

Personally, we'd rather drink toilet water than ever give any business $2.75 to $3 for a 2-liter bottle of soda especially when the brand name drinks are around $1.50 at the local supermarket.
But people-- who knows... they just don't think or care about Anything... only the immediate gratification of the moment which is why people happily buy popcorn at the movies or watered-down beer at a sporting event while paying 3-4x what they should..

Oh sure, the Mayor will say its a health issue.. combating obesity and the like..   Um.. sure..  and where's the accompanying ban on fried, greasy foods that clog the arteries?  And where's the restriction on how many cakes, pies and/or containers of ice creme one can purchase in a week?  Or restrict cigarette purchases to packs only-- no cartons...

Who knows.. Maybe the bastard can evoke a law making 30min of daily exercise mandatory or you will face fines, jail and loss of taxicab privileges...

We don't live in NYC thank God but if we did, here's how we'd fight it...
Even if it meant a drive into New Jersey, Connecticut or New York state, we would find a supermarket, and stock up with as many 2-liter bottles as we wanted.. enough for a month.. maybe a 3 month supply..   Probably pay less than we would have in the city anyways where everything is ultra-expensive and sales tax ends up being over 9%

And every time we opened up a 2-liter bottle and had a big ole' drink, we'd be symbolically middle-fingering that bastard mayor.

And we'd cut back how often we went out to eat so we could try to purposely hurt the restaurant business as best we could for complying so sheepishly...  And if we did eat out, it would be To Go.

The more we as people tolerate, the more our leaders will take from us..
~ Oh what a terrible man-- he's drinking an X-Treme Gulp..  hisss.. boo!

They take away our money i.e. higher taxes for fewer services and social benefits because we really believe we're represented by our leaders...   They take away our Constitutional freedoms like Patriot Act under the guise of protecting us and the elites hungrily want to take away our right to bear arms..

And every chance they get, they take away our rights to the most basic of personal freedoms... like soda quantity in a container..

But don't worry-- as we said before, abortions still protected.

Wheww~

This is how 'Ants' think -- If denied the ability to get something from 'A', they will go to 'B'.. if that's blocked, they will go to 'C' and 'D' and all the way to 'ZZ' if need be... Nothing.. No one stops them

And this is how the 'Grasshopper' thinks -- If denied the ability to get something from 'A' they will go to 'B' and if that's blocked, then...  then...  'Oh, its no big deal.. Not going to bother-- sure they had a good reason'

And don't smugly think we are a nation of 'Ants' because if so the law would be halted before going into effect and Mayor Bloomberg would be hung (in effigy) for daring to pass a law so draconian..
~ 'Any last words?'   --  'Yes.. I did it for my people..and the health insurance industry'

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The more people Hope a line moves, the more people Accept that it does not

We haven't paid much attention to finance news in the last week or so.. Too busy writing on things of consequence we suppose..  But its a blistery cold, overcast day in our neck of the woods, so lets take a gander at what's going on...

Let's see... Reuters is writing "More Americans than expected filed new claims for jobless aid last week and consumer prices were flat in January, supporting the argument for the Federal Reserve to maintain its very accommodative monetary policy stance"

Well let's break that down:

1) Should be no surprise to anyone with a brain that joblessness would rise considering Congress and the President have done absolutely Nothing... not even a single piece of symbolic legislation to at least show people one party vs the other cares...

2)  Of course consumption was flat..  What do you expect people who have no nest egg and a mountain of debts to spend with--  wampum?

3)  The conclusion Reuters draws is absolute BS but one should never be surprised by the solutions corporate media believe in to solve the nation's woes.
Currently between QE 3 and 4, $85 billion/month ($1 Trillion/year)is being spent to prop the stock market and push forward the big Lie that ultimately this will lead to increased hiring and economic stability...

Well it hasn't..  So, what to do... Perhaps try a different strategy?

Not if the following Yahoo Financial headline is an indicator:

"QE5 Is Right Around the Corner as Recession Risk Rises"

Could have sworn we are in one... as in a 6year and counting one..   We know.. the 'experts' said it ended many years ago...  Guess all those millions up people desperately hunting for work and those other millions so despondent they quit looking are all 'Debby Downers', yes?

What's the saying -- Chin up and join the cheer, or take it outside...
Then there's all these empty threats by the President, Congress and the Pentagon of job-losses galore if agreement isn't met on budgetary cuts by March 1st..

How lovely.. Oh yes, how does the story of "Peter and the Wolf" go?

Its so soap-operatic in falsity, it stirs up the gastric juices to the throat... We all know what will happen next..  No need for a Bachelor's Degree in Nostradamus Studies to figure it out..

Some "magic" last-minute agreement will be met by agreeing to just enough to avoid all the economic cuts baked into the cake if nothing is done by March 1st..  This will of course kick the can and delay substantive budgetary talks for another few months (the dead of summer when no one pays attention?)..

And the politicians will pat themselves on their backs and butts.. and the people will rejoice.. and doves will appear from the rainbow glistened sky...
Its funny.. politicians run for office promising they will do X and Y and will never compromise on Z...  If all of them had to take truth serum during a campaign, we think they'd say something like the following...

"I promise if (re)elected as your (fill in the blank) that I will take all my beliefs and values and put them aside so that watered-down legislation is passed which benefit very few..  I also promise that my decisions will be made based on political expediency and a desire to never take any position or vote in any way to alienate independent voters--  They are Far more important than my core base."

Isn't Truth just refreshing?

Let's see.. what else...
Oh here's something missed from last week since it was reported conveniently on Friday evening at 4:45p -- Facebook received tax breaks from the government... Multi-billion dollars in breaks:

"It hasn’t drawn much attention, but Facebook’s first annual earnings report contains an accounting gem: a multibillion-dollar tax deduction for the cost of executive stock options and share awards.

Even though Facebook (FB) reported $1.1 billion in pre-tax profits from U.S. operations in 2012, it will probably pay zero federal and state taxes—and even receive a federal tax refund of about $429 million—according to a Feb. 14 statement from Citizens for Tax Justice." -- Bloomberg, Feb 15th

Gotta love it..  We know..  we know..  "Life is short... Not going to get stressed or tense over it... No going to let it ruin my day"

Yep..  you're Marvelous...
OK so..hmm.. what else is going on today?

The Dow is down today...  good..    13,900 as of 10a.. 100pts below that nauseating 14k mark..  nice..  We'd much prefer seeing the Dow at around 7500 which would accurately represent this nation's economic picture..  No worries--  we're patient

We know the Fed will never allow the natural gravity of real economics to tamper with their current manipulations, so it will ultimately come from elsewhere..

Maybe Greece finally getting some machismo or 'balls' and defaulting on their debt..  Then again their cowardly people seem to still think sporadic 24hr strikes will do the trick... been working brilliantly thus far hasn't it..
Or maybe Spain or Portugal... normally you'd think 21% unemployment (50% among young adults) would cause civil unrest and the provocation of civil war...  Don't know--  maybe the threat of a disruption to their soccer/football league La Liga if such action was taken is too scary a thought...

Could be Japan?  They're in such a horrific shape economically, they're devaluing their currency 3x as quickly as last year but we have a feeling the bigger fish will keep this guppy in line with the goal of a 'safe' and coordinated global currency devaluation.

Heck.. its getting to the point where we are almost rooting for North Korea!
Well.. no, not really... but then again..  This fake 'recovery' has got to stop!!

One of two things need to occur-- either legislation and other real Action is taken to create jobs and allow people the means and ability to lead productive lives, or things need to get much worse Specifically so the lazy masses wake up from their couch-potato stupor and Demand action...

Right now, its merely one long continuous holding pattern...  One long continuous sit-down in the figurative airplane as it can't decide whether to taxi or or head back to the terminal...

And if there's one thing about people-- they really do put up with a lot of nonsense as long as there's the mere hope of some movement. (complimentary pretzel bags don't hurt either)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Choice, Consumption and Control

Choice is something we all seem to treasure..

Particularly shopping... especially choosing among a selection...

Do we buy the Tide detergent in the cheery orange bottle? or Cheer in the depressing dark blue container? Or Era in the ripe-red packaging?  Maybe we try this new Gain in the pastel green bottle with the new apple scent?

Or which winter or springtime jacket do we purchase-- the one made by Nautica or from North Face? Or Timberland?  And while at it, a new pair of jeans might be nice--  Those Lee brand relaxed fit look nice... Oh but so do those Wranglers.. And Rustler is very inexpensive.. maybe that's the pair to buy...

And which shoulder-strapped travel bag to buy?? The one from Jansport or Eastpak?  The one from Eagle Creek sure looks nice...

And we make our selections, pay at the register, snugly wrap our hands around the store bags, and smile as we feel the glowing warmth and exhilaration of Freedom while walking to our cars.

Take that Communist Soviet Russia, with your long lines for toilet paper!
But we're not conscious of the fact that all four laundry detergent brands are made by Proctor & Gamble so really your money is going to the same place.   And if you've ever spent 15min staring at the fabric softener sheet boxes to decide between Bounce and Downy, well..  um..  same company..

And we're certainly not expected to know off the top of our heads that every single clothing brand mentioned above is owned by the same company-- VF Brands.   And that the Lee jeans which cost double the price of Wrangler is made of the exact same materials on the same machines at the same plant...

In Mexico...

And oh yes, the three choices in travel bags... all VF Brands too...

Now this is no slight or indictment on these corporations... it just goes to show how easy it is to dupe people into believing they have freedom and choice when its really quite minimal when you progress through all the branding..

A funny side note...  In economics, the term 'consumption' means the using up of goods and services.  The more traditional definition is that of a disease; specifically a progressive wasting away of the body especially from pulmonary tuberculosis..

Kinda interesting, yes?
~ Val Kilmer as "Doc Holliday" -- making consumption look super-cool

But really in this world... this late 20th to present early 21st century existence, its the only freedom we seem to be allowed left--  freedom to consume.

Date night at home-- Do we cozy up for a romantic comedy..  Perhaps rent an exciting thriller with car chases and guns galore?  Or a silly comedy to unwind with?

Chances are the same movie studio made all three films.

So what did freedom mean before all this technology and the cultivation and perfection of the art of advertising i.e. creating 'need' and 'want' where otherwise it didn't exist?

Freedom meant something religious.. to practice one's faith even if different from the majority.  It meant to choose where to live, even if that meant packing up the ole' Conestoga wagon and trekking through two-thousand miles of danger; dust, dirt and desertion...

Freedom meant thinking as one wished.. Expressing as one wished.. No fear of arrest.. or fines.. or job loss..  And freedom meant to pursue whatever dreams of a better future one may have inspired in them...  To create a product or a service... To leave a destiny...
Freedom meant to fail then get up, dust off.. try again.. and if failed again, well.. get up again re-dust off and try once more...

A lot of that is lost today..  its hard to pinpoint who took it..  The 'Man' is as good a scapegoat as any...

But its also our fault.. our parents.. their parents...

Technology breeds convenience... Why venture off in the pursuit of food, learn the skill of killing an animal for its meat and skin to make clothing from, etc, when everything one needs can be found within a short convenient drive to your local Supercenter.

Just go to college.. that's the answer of course.. Problem solved..

Can't honestly say which is better... Certainly can admit if all modern convenience suddenly went Kaput! then the vast majority of us would all be seriously Fucked!

And here's the devil of it all:  Technology may breed convenience but that breeds boredom...  So we went from a society in colonial and pioneer days singularly focused on survival to one singularly focused on boredom-killing...

And few outlets serve that purpose than shopping...
And what do you need to make shopping Truly enjoyable? (Besides money or credit cards that is)...  Selection

20 different brands of detergent... Does it really matter to the shopper that 4 corporations are combined responsible?  Not really...

We contently are oblivious to the fact that our two political parties are owned by the same 'company' much like Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell are all owned by the same conglomerate...  Real choice would be too difficult..

The perception of choice is quite enough, thank you...

To feel free.. truly free in this life we live, we really only demand one thing:  That when we go to the store, there is a blue bottle, and a red one..and orange..and green and white..and teal... and we select what we wish, and merrily push that cart...

Savoring democracy... the freedom of choice.

Well after such a lengthy post we all here are ready to do some mall shopping..  Think a visit to The Gap would be fun... Or stop by Banana Republic...  Then again Old Navy has some really super stuff... Or go online to check out one of those newer clothing retailers like Peperlime or Athleta..

Oh.. wait!  All owned by Gap Brands, Inc.

Shit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

John Tyler: Underrated President & Man Needed Today

We wanted to use today's post to continue on a theme discussed yesterday-- US Presidents.  But instead of focusing on the agreed 'great' leaders or one who was without doubt the most overrated, let's take a moment to focus on one of our most underrated...

Our 10th President --  John Tyler

Um, Who?!   Huh?!

Yes Yes, we just read your thoughts and No No, we're not possessed with any special clairvoyance...  And no worries-- it not your fault you know absolutely nothing about this man.

All the blame goes to your high school US history teachers, or should we say the assistant football and basketball coaches Hired as history teachers in order to be allowed to do the task they were solely capable of-- teaching children to shoot round balls into hoops..

So its completely understandable.

Then again, we bet you heard this phrase at some point in your life:

"Tippacanoe and Tyler too!"

What does it mean?  Heh Heh..  Not a clue?  Ha Ha...Does it refer to a boat?  Haw Haw!.. Smiles~ Its always good to chuckle when we don't know the answer to things..  (Tippecanoe was a battle in Indiana in 1811 where Harrison defeated the Indian chief Tecumseh)

The above mentioned is a political slogan for the 1840 Presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison and his VP running-mate, Mr. Tyler of Virginia.

The two men had absolutely nothing in common.  Harrison was a professional soldier who successfully pushed the Indians out of the Ohio-Michigan region while Tyler was an academic, acquiring a law degree at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg then moving up the Virginia political ranks to US Senator. (Back then Senators were appointed by state Governors and approved by the legislature-- today, we vote directly)

~ Interesting trivia tidbit: Tyler was the 3rd President out of our first 10 to attend William & Mary-- Jefferson and James Monroe (#5) being the others
Continuing.. Politically, the two men were as different as night and day with Harrison being a Whig which was the predecessor to the Republican party and Tyler being a Democrat.   But since Harrison was northern and Tyler was southern, and VP's had zero importance, he was selected to balance the ticket.

So the Harrison/Tyler ticket won... Yay!   And what happened next?

You remember this from history class we're sure --  Harrison decided on a very cold, rainy Inauguration day to give an extremely long-winded speech and cleverly did so without any covering or hat..  Most non-shockingly, he contracted pneumonia and died 30 days later, on April 6th, 1841.

OK, so we're finally at Tyler's Presidency which lasted just one month short of one full term (neither party backed him for re-election)..  What is it about this man pretty much no one's heard of that makes him worthy of writing?

We'll give brief bullet-points..
*  Before Tyler, there was no concrete process for establishing a successor once a President passes away or is otherwise removed from office.  Originally, it was thought Tyler would hold the title briefly, acting as a 'regency' until a new one could be elected via a hastily arranged election.

Tyler stood his ground-- he said HE is now President.  It didn't matter that others called him merely 'Acting' President... or his political opponents would send correspondence to the White House addressed as such or to the "Vice President".   Tyler had all such mail returned unopened.

Now we take the line of succession for granted.

*  Following the Panic of 1837 (triggered by restrictive lending by British bankers and speculative land purchases by greedy Americans among other things), Senator Henry Clay tried twice to push forth a national Bank of the United States, something Andrew Jackson spent most of his administration two decades prior successfully fighting to dissolve.
Think of the Bank as a precursor to the Federal Reserve, a most EVIL institution run and controlled by the banking elite for their own nefarious purposes which controls our money supply...

Thankfully, on two occasions Tyler vetoed the bill, infuriated many of the pro-Wall Street, pro banking Whigs who remained in Tyler's cabinet after Harrison's death... In protest, all but one resigned their positions.

In addition, the Whig Party officially threw Tyler out of their party, the Whig newpapers scolded him and he received many death threats by many money-hungry, enraged loons...   Tyler didn't care--he possessed what few to no politicians possess today.. Absolute Conviction and Total Fearlessness.

*  At the beginning of Tyler's administration, the US public deficit was at $11 million, which by today's standards seems paltry and laughably low.  Yet in 1841 it was a concern.
The Whig controlled congress refused to raise taxes above 20%  Tyler was insistent, it needed to be raised or the deficit would continue to grow.  Tyler once again stuck to his guns and ultimately a Tariff Act was passed which increased revenue collecting over that 20% threshhold

~ Are you seeing the difference between Tyler and the crop of crap Presidents this nation has produced over the last few decades?  Tyler was a man making decisions with no thought to re-election, political legacy or other self-aggrandizement...

He was the President-- it was his job to lead and he did.

Continuing...

* During his administration, he told Britain in no uncertain terms to stay out of the Hawaiian Islands, eventually beginning annexation.  He expanded US trade, particularly to China and the Pacific as well as Germany.  Tyler ended the bloody Second Seminole War with the Florida Indian tribe then ultimately signed into law Florida becoming a US state.
Most importantly when it came to foreign affairs, a couple months before leaving office, he had the guts to address the hot potato political issue of whether or not Texas should be part of the US or not?

Tyler signed a law annexing the state and thanks to him, it propelled a Mexican War that saw the US expand its territory beyond Texas into modern Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada...etc...

~ Another interesting tidbit: Tyler annexed Texas in 1845, which provoked the Mexican war which ended in 1849.  Guess when gold was discovered in California?  Yes-- 1849.

So all that gold which was mined and dramatically propelled the US economy in the 1850s and beyond... Imagine if Tyler had not annexed Texas and no war..  Mexico would have had the gold and who knows-- millions of Caucasian Americans would be possibly fleeing for a better life south of the border...

Think about that a moment..
So that was the most concise and easy-to-understand summary we could present on John Tyler's Presidency..  He stood up to Congress, the entire Whig party, and told Wall St to go to Hell where they belong.. Name one person today who could have that Courage?

People say they want strong leadership... They want a President with courage, conviction, fearlessness, and fight...  Someone who won't back down.. won't be bought.. or swayed.. or held hostage by political expediency or egotism of more political or economic reward down the line..

No they don't.

Otherwise, we'd all elect far better men..

And we wouldn't think of John Tyler with a 'Huhh?... Who?'

Monday, February 18, 2013

President's Day's Meaningless and the Lincoln Myth

Today is Presidents' Day, which in the US means to people...

Umm...

No banking.. no mail.. sales on linen.. and..

Umm..

Oh yes, honoring our Presidents.  Of course prior to the 1980s, there was no such thing as President's Day--  Lincoln's birthday was observed on Feb 12th and this day today was to honor Washington who was born Feb 22nd..

But because 'Obviously' Martin Luther King Jr is Far more important to celebrate than 'ole George and Honest Abe (really-- its not like those two 'bozos' did anything for the betterment of this nation is it?), the politically correct powers that be squished all Presidents under one literal 'roof'..

This means today we now get to celebrate the corruption of Nixon, the utter incompetence of US Grant and the deviousness of Warren G Harding...
Sings:  "And I'm proud to be an American.. where at least I am free.. To revise history and holidays, all for political expediency.."

So.. who are the greatest Presidents in US History?

Pretty much all historians and everyday folk agree in the following six, though may differ in order of ranking:   Washington, Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and FDR.

For the most part we agree though one of them we believe is Far, Far overrated... we won't say which but you can guess...

But that still leaves 39 others who have or currently sit in the Oval Office..  Certainly we have had others who've shined and served with distinction?

Well if you're Republican, you put Reagan on the list..  If you're Democrat, you put LBJ for his social programs...   Truman?  He's gained respect over the years, helped in large part by historian David McCullough's fine biography.  We certainly give him credit for dropping the bomb twice..
But overall its difficult to judge modern Presidents-- too much emotional baggage and blind loyalty clouds the mental corpuscles.

Take JFK for instance-- forever canonized because he was assassinated..  More specifically, because it was the first time people ever visually witnessed such an occurrence who weren't actually there at the moment...

So it took people's breath away, and certainly not in a positive... And policy decisions and party ideologies didn't matter -- he became a symbol.  And its just too difficult to judge Presidents with any lack of bias when a person is exalted to the status of angel or saint.

In the 19th century, people did that with Lincoln.. and God did they distort that man's Presidency!!  Almost 150 years later and myths are still taught as fact..

Oopsie, I guess we gave away which of our previous list of ''greatest' Presidents we deem very over-rated.
Quick trivia Q:  Guess which President once said the following:

"I  will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races -- that I am not, nor have ever been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negros, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which prevents them from living together on terms of social and political equality.

And inasmuch as they can not so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race"

Yep..  The Great Emancipator during the 2nd Lincoln-Douglas debate when he was running for Senator in Illinois, August 27, 1858.
Funny, they don't teach that in government-run public education... Guess it doesn't fit the narrative of him as a great guy..  And yet he's loved by people who need symbol in their lives more than substance...

Yes we know.. Washington & Jefferson had slaves.. yawn

Neither man fought a needless war costing over 600,000 deaths while using a race of people actually despised as mere political and moral cover to force a shotgun-marriage between a booming industrial sector Desperate for southern textiles and an economically stable agrarian sector who was able to generate greater profits exporting abroad...

And neither man suspended habeus corpus and threw political dissenters into jail without trial, set fire to opposition newspapers and ignored completely the Supreme Court when ruling such actions were unconstitutional...

Washington and Jefferson were Presidents..  Lincoln was a politician..  in every connotation that word sludges...
~ Caption underneath: "The Death of the Martyr President Abraham Lincoln" --  See folks-- propaganda isn't merely a 20th century invention..

And do we find fault with Lincoln?   Nope.. 'Ends justify the Means'.  Blessed be the ability to rationalize...

Oh well.. people believe what they will.. history as its taught today-- its all emotional comfort food.  So utterly dumbed down with simplification and hero/villian narrative.  And the History channel-- the epitome of spoon-fed, sugar coated shit.. the 'nourishment' of candy corn..all fed to a deeply short attention spanned public
~  Gee, which sketch is the accurate depiction?  Both?  How about Neither..

But that's just how things are..  And we need our heroes to be just that.. We need and want to admire on our terms.. on our agendas.. And if we find them not to be who we believed or were taught, then..  Ehh'....

An educated person self-educates.  An educated society motivates others to question.. to delve in..  to research..  to sift through the fables and tall-tales..

We're nowhere close to being an educated society..

But thank goodness we still have motivated individuals.
Happy President's Day..  and Happy Shopping!