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Monday, March 31, 2014

MLB Economic Quiz in honor of Opening Day

~ Woodrow Wilson, this nation's worst ever President throwing out symbolic 'first pitch' to start 1916 season

Today for most of America is baseball's Opening Day..

Yes, Yes we know a game was played last night and in fact two official games were played over a week ago in Australia but you're so ruining the buzz..


Opening Day baseball is an exciting moment where practically every fan outside of Houston believes they have a realistic shot of making the playoffs and possibly even greater glory if all the pieces just fall into place..

So we thought in the spirit of the grand ol' past-time, we'd have a MLB themed economic quiz..

1)  What is the projected payroll of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2014 season?
A - $137.5 million

B - $158.5 million

C - $236 million

D - $310 million

Answer: C  It will be the highest in the league, even surpassing the Yankees

2)  What is the projected payroll of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 2014 season?
A - $55.3 million

B - $74.4 million

C - $104.5 million

D - $109.1 million
Answer: B   2013 is first time the Pirates made the playoffs in 20 yrs

3)  What is the projected payroll of the Miami Marlins for 2014?
A - $43.2 million

B - $57.8 million

C - $184 million

D - $192.7 million
Answer: A

4) On March 28th, very talented Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout signed a contract extension to stay with the ball club..   What were the terms of that deal?
A - 4 years, $24 million  ($6 mil ave)

B - 3 years, $41 million  ($13.6 mil ave)

C - 7 years, $92 million ($13.4 mil ave)

D - 6 years, $144.5 million ($24.08 mil ave)
Answer:  D    Trout will be paid annually by the Angels more than 50% of the total player salary expenditure of the Miami Marlins.

5)  This off-season the Yankees signed highly touted Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka who was undefeated in Japan the previous year but has yet to pitch an inning of regular season MLB baseball..  How much did the Yankees sign him for?

A - 2 years, $30 million  ($15 mil ave)

B - 5 years, $100 million ($20 mil ave) 

C - 7 years, $155 million ($22.14 mil ave)

D - 9 years, $270 million ($30 mil ave)
Answer:  C  If Tanaka starts 30 games this season, it comes out to $738,000 per start

6)  On average, how much should a baseball fan expect to pay for a cold frothy beer at a MLB ballpark?
A - $4.75

B - $6.50

C - $8.00

D - $10.25
Answer:  C   That's for one cup or bottle;  A six-pack of domestic beer at your local supermarket is about $7

7)  According to USA Today, how much on average does it cost a family of 4 to attend a Red Sox game including non-premium tickets, parking, etc..?
A - $200

B - $250

C - $337

D - $352
Answer:  C   Guess it pays to win the World Series

8)  Ten years ago, Citizens Bank Park was opened where the Philadelphia Phillies play..  How much did that ballpark cost to build?
A - $367 million

B - $468 million

C - $502 million

D - $798 million
Answer:  B   The whole stadium cost a mere 2x the 2014 Dodgers payroll

9)  What is the absolute minimum a professional baseball team in 2014 is allowed to pay a veteran player annually?
A - $150k

B - $175k

C - $460k

D - $500k
Answer:  D   Over a 162 game season that comes out to $3,086 per game

10)  Final Q:  Last year the Houston Astros had a MLB low payroll of just under $25 million..   How many players during the 2013 season made more than the entire Astros team combined?
A - 16 players

B - 20 players

C - 31 players

D - 38 players
Answer:  B

Was that not fun or what?  Whew..

Time to relax now and enjoy first pitch..  Have a good Mon..

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Final Round: Final Four to Numero Uno

So it comes down to this..

44 Presidents..  40 combatants..

We excused Presidents Washington and Jefferson from competition due to the fact they are probably this nation's two most important, William Henry Harrison because he died 30 days into office and merged Grover Cleveland's two separate Presidencies (22nd & 24th) into one...

And now we're down to four..
Who will win.. Who will be the biggest failure ever?

Let's delve in..

In the battle between James Buchanan v Woodrow Wilson you couldn't ask for two more different and distinct personalities..  Buchanan was an absolute do-nothing while Wilson not only went out of his way to micro-manage US governance but wanted to dictate terms to Europe as well after WWI

Buchanan was dealing with the very real possibility of open civil war on many fronts from South Carolina to Kansas to Arizona while with few exceptions the US was so whipped into a passion of patriotism and destiny, Wilson could have led his people to their deaths in Antarctica and they still would have cheerily sang "Over There!"
We spent a lot of time writing on these two and without writing endless paragraphs restating how terrible each was, we're going to cut to the chase and declare Wilson the winner..

There are some wars which a sane person can rationally justify America participating in such as our war for Independence and World War II..    Other wars one can look at today as foolish but understand the "why" at the time like the Mexican War..

There honestly was no good reason for the United States to be involved in World War I.

We did not fight for democracy or liberty..  We did not liberate anyone from bondage or tyranny..  We were sent over after re-election promises we wouldn't be in order to protect US bankers' interests and to get a foothold into Europe to wield our political stick and new industrial muscle.

Nothing else..
~ 1916 Wilson Re-election flyer

Every American who fought in WWI and survived has now passed away due to the march of time..

And while you have countless movies like 'Saving Private Ryan' and the like to depict WWII and still some veterans of that war to ask directly what was it like,  with WWI the cupboard is pretty bare.

As we wrote before, 2.8 million men were drafted into war and sent over into Europe to start actual fighting in the Spring of 1918 with 116,000 Americans dying  in basically 200 days of combat
That adds up to 580 Americans dead per day.

Then there's the extremeness of the War Powers he used to stifle free speech of dissent even kicking immigrant Americans with citizenship papers back to their country of origin for speaking out (Espionage Act).

And his Fourteen Points plan at the Treaty of Versailles which was pure audacity and hubris with zero charm

And his signing of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913..
On and on..

This battle is not even close..  Wilson moves to the finals.

Next is Hoover v Obama..

You have two Presidents who dealt with or currently dealing with depressions where people are economically suffering daily and whom neither really give a shit about the survival of the everyday person.

There are differences of course, mainly marked by the period of time both lived/live in..
For instance all the social safety nets which are currently in place all people not to actually directly see poverty and struggle i.e. welfare, food stamps, social security, etc are in place today thanks to FDR..

Otherwise, we'd be seeing the bread lines and soup kitchens and tent cities.. the "Hoovervilles" which were so prevalent to the eye back then,

Today you can be flat broke and barely making it but keep dignity by simply using a government issued debit card to buy milk and cheese..and anything else one could want outside of cigs, beer and warm pre-cooked food..

And of course both eras had massive visual and auditory distraction from reality..  All those Hollywood movies of the 1930s where everyone is wearing tuxedos, formal gowns and draped with endless gems while the audiences sat mesmerized in their drab shades of brown.
And today its movies and TV and internet and commercials and music and even literature.. All one big illusion that 2014 is as good or better than its ever been and the 'Dream' is so obtainable for everyone..

Just.. reach..  a little..  harder...

The media today absolutely refuses to show people homeless; living in their cars or on the street because of job loss, bankruptcy and home foreclosure..  It just didn't mesh with the narrative that 'All is Well so visit your local Audi dealer today.."

So to decide this battle we have to look not at failure but accomplishment..
~ "I'm so excited..  Uhh..  And I just can't hide it..

In Obama's corner we will say for sake of argument "Obamacare" turns out to be a great success and benefits a great many even though half the country hate it..

So that's one 'achievement'.. what else..

Let's also say for sake of argument that Obama gets full credit for finding Osama Bin Laden and taking him out..
Um.. OK.. that's two.. um.. what else..

He did win a Nobel Peace Price, right?

Anyways. what if anything positive did Hoover do as President?

Hoover pushed forth the construction of Hoover Dam (same name-- what a coincidence, eh?) and signed into law the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which increased the income tax of the top income bracket from 25% to 63% and increased corporate taxes..

Ironic a Republican President would do that while a current Democrat would agree to make the Bush tax cuts permanent..

Hoover supported prohibition which if you like to drink, of course makes Hoover a baddie while Obama has publicly supported the legalization of marijuana nationally which means if you like to get stoned, the President is ultra-cool..

Hoover also started what is officially known today as America's Good Neighbor Policy by withdrawing troops from Haiti and Nicaragua and mediated a territorial dispute between Chile and Peru

We're not really sure too many nations around the globe would call us a 'good neighbor' today..

So when all is said and done, we believe Hoover as terrible as he was, was still a better President than Obama currently..
There's still a little over two years left in his Administration for him to start acting like a Real true-blue Democrat and sincerely give a F' about more than himself, his family and his 'coolness' factor.

There's still time to roll up his sleeves, fight the corporations and Wall Street with sincere, long-lasting reforms and truly re-build our status overseas..

We doubt any positive change will occur but tick-tock, there is still some time..

Obama goes to the finals.
So now the biggest battle of them all.. Obama v Wilson to see who is the worst President ever..

We know there are many who absolutely can not stand the President at all and want him to be the winner of this un-esteemed competition..

And we've made no secret here and often before that we find Obama horrid and a Deep disappointment vs all that slick-talking bullshit of the 2008 campaign..

But we can not and will not put the President as all-time worst based on emotion...

What Woodrow Wilson did as President was Far Far worse than Obama because Wilson established precedents..
We can not minimize how significant and deadly it was to the economic autonomy of this nation, the creation of the Federal Reserve.

Prior to 1913, a person possessed specie i.e. gold, silver.. a tangible monetary unit with its own value along with paper currency.   After the Federal Reserve took over, we have "notes" that hold values of debt.

The beginnings of what is the current 'New World Order' of globalism,  inter-continental banking/finance, outsourcing of jobs, industries and technologies..  Everything which global finance is predicated has its source of origin in the Federal Reserve Act.

They say the US President is the leader of the free world but it is the Federal Reserve chair who is the true Leader of the economic world as what was displayed so openly by the previous chair Ben Bernanke..
After the 2008 Crash, the Fed took it upon itself to not only seek to stabilize the US economy but that of Europe, Asia and South America with series of overt and covert loans and cash injections to stabilize nations' markets and get the flow of credit and borrowing moving again..

Who else in the entire world has that power to manipulate and control the entire economic apparatus of the globe in such a manner??

Wilson also established the precedent of meddling in other nations' affairs in a grand scale.  

We had involved ourselves with other nations before on a smaller scale particularly in Central and South America and Teddy Roosevelt received a Nobel Prize for brokering a truce between Japan and Russia in their Russo-Japanese War..
~ 1916 re-election campaign button

But the belief that America is to be policeman to the world has its origins with Wilson and his Fourteen Points which he attempted to shove down Britain and France's throat in 1919.

In short, Wilson had decided what should happen to France, Russia, Belgium, Austria-Hungary, and the rest of the continent in terms of territorial division and establishment of a League of Nations, the prelude to the United Nations.. And because we were a growing power, everyone should agree to our demands..

Honestly.. What gall!

And we are not being sarcastic..  What gall for a nation who suffered so few casualties and economic destruction in comparison to others to be dictating terms..
~ Wilson at far right with British PM Lloyd George (left) and French PM Clemenceau (center) at Versailles - 1919

And as the UN has proved time and time again, it does not preserve peace and settle squabbles from turning into military actions..   Rather the UN gives legitimacy and a forum for some of the most ruthless and cold blooded killers and true evil entities to have a public voice and to make symbolic 'votes' to extenuate historical grievances..

Meanwhile the fighting of that needless war cost the US $22.6 billion dollars in 1918 money meaning by today's value, that cost the Treasury $354.3 Billion..  That's for twelve months of war including mobilization and 6 mths of Actual combat abroad
~ American hospital for WWI soldiers

We could go on. but we think the winner i.e. Loser is clear..

Maybe by 2016, Obama will continue doing nothing or start us on a literal war with Russia or open us to terror attacks domestically..  Who really knows..  We're not Nostradamus..

We do know at this moment in time the worst US President ever is..

Thomas Woodrow Wilson
~ Pres. Obama and others honoring World War I dead at cemetery in Flanders, Belgium earlier this week..

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Round 4: From Not-So-Great Eight to Final Four of Failure

~ click to enlarge

Well its round four and finally getting to the point where the Final Four failure Presidents get their just due.

We know the last two posts were a bit long but you try covering 230-something years of the US Presidency and condensing accomplishments and failures into something more succinct..  Not so easy a task..

Good news is today's read will be a tiny bit shorter for we already expressed for the most part who these men are for better and mostly for worse.  It doesn't make the task to analyze the battles any easier..

So let's begin..
Its hard to truly evaluate a President who has only been out of office a mere five years and to do so objectively..  Later on it will be even harder to do so to a sitting President but we'll do our darnedest..

A couple criteria we've used in evaluating the Presidents is the economy when in office and how many lives (if any) were needlessly lost due to that President's foreign or domestic policies.

What makes this battle between Buchanan and Bush so difficult to figure is both were in office during severe financial crisis.

For Buchanan, the economy collapsed in the Panic of 1857 meaning his entire term was that of financial suffering and it took until the Civil War to get out of the small-d depression (war has a way of doing that)
~ artwork depicting runs on banks  - 1857

With Bush, it was mostly policies of the Fed i.e. extremely low interest rates that encouraged speculative lending and those parasites known as home-flippers and only in the last few months of his Presidency did it all finally come to bite him in the bum.

But in truth it was not Buchanan's fault for the Panic.   Explaining as concise as possible, when the Supreme Court passed the Dred Scott decision stating that black slaves taken into free states were still property of their masters, it absolutely freaked out the silver miners in Arizona who now feared southerners would migrate west with their slaves, open mines of their own and undercut them...

So these miners in a panic dumped their silver in the open market in such mass quantities so they could recoup its value, they ultimately devalued the entire US currency where you could no longer value paper to the metal.
~ Dred Scott

So now we go to lives lost..   Yes it is true a couple thousand US soldiers' lives have been lost in Afghanistan and Iraq but to be fair and non-revisionist, Afghanistan was hugely popular war when we entered.. Bush was still carrying 90% approval at the time..  And most Americans supported invading Iraq to get rid of Saddam..

Only when it got messy and become a prolonged nation-building did the public opinion turn..

But without sounding cold, these were men and women who volunteered to serve.. they did know there would be risk..

With Buchanan however, many people needlessly died in Kansas and Nebraska because he lacked the strength or courage to decide which state would enter as slave or free to maintain the vital 50/50 balance in the Senate..
By weakening to Sen. Stephen Douglas' lead and allowing the territories to determine for themselves, you have literal Civil War in both areas where neighbor killed neighbor and kin killed kin.

Because of Bloody Kansas, the utter impotence and cowardice to take a stand one way or another on secession and his need to appease at every turn, Buchanan is a worse President than W. Bush and he moves on to the Final Four of Failure...

As for Harding vs Wilson, this is an easier decision..  

One President was surrounded with unscrupulous, unethical individuals who tried to milk the system for every penny of profit they could squeeze (Harding) and the the other President was an unscrupulous, unethical man who outright lied to his people about a war he knew the nation would ultimately get involved in so he could win a re-election (Wilson)
~ Newspaper lying about the 'good' to come from Wilson signing the Fed Reserve Act of 1913

And beyond that and being the viper responsible for giving the Federal Reserve a legal foothold in the nation, his personal war on the First Amendment during wartime made Lincoln's suspension of Habeus Corpus look like a walk in the park as the expression goes..

Wilson felt during the Civil War, Lincoln did not go far enough to quash citizens who spoke up against him and his policies so Wilson wasn't going to make the same mistake.  
Any US citizen who spoke out or demonstrated against the war involvement in any way was jailed, many without trial.  If you were foreign born, you were arrested then deported back to your birth nation against your will..

There was zero tolerance of dissent of any kind..  Our first true-blue Fascist President..

So Wilson advances to the Final Four.. just where he belongs..
Next is Calvin Coolidge v Herbert Hoover..  

We've said repeatedly that Coolidge only has moved on in the tourney as far as he has because his competition have been far greater men who did more for this nation than he.  So by mere luck of the draw where he was seeded (all Presidents were literally picked from a hat initially), Coolidge has moved farther than he rightfully should..

As for Hoover, we said before that he wasn't a deeply terrible or vile man..   But when you are President, there's a major crisis and your economic policies are either not improving the situation or making things worse, you Must possess the ability to adapt to the circumstances and try new approaches..
Staying the course is unacceptable..

Hoover also in our opinion gets the blame for the lives lost when police fired upon the Bonus Army  (World War I veterans) killing two who congregated peacefully upon Washington DC in the summer of 1932 to request pensions promised them in the distant future be given sooner due to their severe economic hardships..

After hearing of their deaths, Hoover ordered the army to clear the veterans' campsite. Six tanks were used to push out the Bonus Army marchers along with their wives and children while their shelters and belongings were burned.
So its pretty easy for us to declare Hoover a bastard who is well deserving of entering the Final Four

Lastly Obama v Nixon..

This is by far the most difficult battle to analyze and no-doubt the most controversial no matter which way we end up..  Its so easy to detest both leaders when putting down the partisan political goggles..

For Nixon, there's Watergate, a stagnant economy for two full terms, and the taking the US dollar off the gold standard thus allowing for the beginnings of endless money printing our government employs today 
Then there was the continual involvement in Vietnam along with the illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia under the silly "Peace with Honor" banner even though Nixon had campaigned in 1968 that if elected, he'd quickly end the war.. which he did 5 full years later in early 1973.

There's also the famous trip to China that we call a negative because it ultimately put the US in a position of economic and political subservience and working through the CIA to establish a coup in Chile when we didn't like a Marxist winning a democratic free election there..

Just a terrible President..
For Obama.. an absolute economic do-nothing.  A good talker and little else..  

In the meanwhile, the national debt has increased from $10 Trillion during W Bush's last year in office to over $17 Trillion in a mere 5 years in office and Obama is the first President to have yearly running deficits (spending more than all annual tax revenue)

And yet while pledging he wouldn't in 2008, he voted to make the Bush tax cuts permanent which only help the wealthy and has openly encouraged the Fed to conduct their massive endless QE money printing to bail out the banks and pad investor pockets.

We call him 'Black Bush' because if you closed your eyes you'd think Bush 43 was still running the nation both economically and on military/foreign decisions..
Gitmo is still open (not that we care but he did pledge to close it), troops are in Afghanistan and Iraq still to this day and the US military are sending drones to kill civilians in over a dozen countries under the guise of a war on terror..

Obama also tried to pick a war with Syria that would have ended quite bloody if not for Putin interceding and now Ignorantly is picking a fight with Russia and disrespecting a democratic election in Crimea  as if there's some burning itch to re-start the Cold War.

And lest we forget, not a single person responsible for the crash of 2008 is in jail or had even been arrested by the President's Justice department.. 
It was decided to go after them would put the pretend "recovery" at risk and affect market confidence..

The current President treats our allies like enemies or lapdogs (Israel, Britain..) and many of our enemies abroad with apathy (Iran)

To be fair, Nixon did the same..  In fact both Presidents often sought to bully their supposed only friend in the Middle East by withholding their foreign aid to Israel unless the state agreed to get in line even when going against their national security interests..  

And while under Obama, NSA expanded its spying of citizens to include every conceivable method to acquire information on the populace  (Of course, the US Senate had no problems with this until uh-oh.. NSA was spying on them too!)  Nixon sure loved spying too... he just used the aged J Edgar Hooer at the FBI to do it..

So.. who gets the victory..  Both are just.. yukkk...

When Nixon was President, many individuals were able to take home enough salary to provide for a family of four with a general middle-class comfort.  And most women worked because they wanted to..

Today those days are virtually gone.. Women now work because they have to and in some families, one or both spouses hold down second jobs as well..
In 1970, attending Harvard cost $4,070, which was less than half of the median family income, then $9,870.  Today it costs just about $55k for one year while median income today is $47k and thereabouts (tuition today is now is 117% of median income)

Unemployment during Nixon was consistently around 4.9-5.8%   Real unemployment currently when counting those given up is about 16%..  Some estimate its even a higher percentage..

And while Obama can't be blamed alone for this continual downgrade in the quality of life of the everyday American and their increased financial hardships, he can be blamed for not enacting any serious job creating legislation or conducting a job hiring policy similar to FDR that forced private businesses to raise wages...

He just trumpets 'recovery' and tells us to look at the rising Dow and Hope and Believe..
And quite frankly we're sick of it..  

And we do blame the President for continuing the policy of urging young people to go to college and accrue tens upon tens of thousands of dollars in non-dischargeable student loan Debt before they reach legal age to drink a beer without any concern that their futures are Fucked the moment they sign the loan papers..

Nixon for all his failings as a President and person is gone.. he's passed on..  And with the exception of those wounded Vietnam Vets who still suffer today because he needlessly prolonged the war, all Nixon's illegalities and lack of ethics and scruples belongs in the pages of history..
When competing against a current President during difficult times for many, the rules of evaluation are different.. What one does or doesn't do today means more than what one did or didn't do 44 years ago..

So for all that we've expressed, Obama is a worse President than Nixon..

Perhaps once his Presidency is over and enough time has passed he will be evaluated under a different set of criteria, but for the present, the day to day life we all live and whose policies and decisions we're all affected by (in many cases adversely), Obama goes to the Final Four...

So here's the Final Four of Failure.

So James Buchanan, our 15th President (1857-61) will be duking it out with Woodrow Wilson, our 28th (1913-21) in one bracket and Herbert Hoover, our 31st President (1929-1933) will be going up head to head vs the current Commander in Chief Obama (44th) 

Then the winners will enter the tar pit to see who is truly the #1 Worst President in US history according to us at 'Ants & Grasshoppers'

The next Round will be the final posting in this series and cover the Final Four of Failure to conclusion..  We should have that sometime this weekend to Monday at very latest..