Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Defense of Christ's Resurrection

Hope you all enjoyed your Easter. As it's Easter Sunday, I felt it was warranted to at least write a post that tackles the strawman arguments against Christ's resurrection. The further we get from his death, the more theories (devoid of evidence) seem to creep in and take hold in our secular society. Unfortunately, the Bible isn't a living, breathing document, so we need to do our best to defend the evidence as presented therein.

I was raised as a lazy Roman Catholic who attended church on major holidays, and went through the the major sacrements. My mother was also a lazy Catholic, my father an atheist who was bitter about losing friends in the Vietnam War, so obviously it was God's fault. Ok that's my opinion (in case he finds out I just let the cat out of the bag). Either way, my spiritual journey was something that I had to spearhead, since no one was going to going to lead this adventure for me. Any normal teenager will do a soul-searching in which they will question their religious upbringing and either come away with a stronger faith or devoid of faith, in which they will reject the church/temple/mosque doctrine they were taught and become a black-fingernail painting atheist/agnostic. I was no different. However, in each of my 'soul-searchings', I specifically asked myself the questions about Jesus and his resurrection that most skeptics ask - and each time I came back with the same answer - this guy did the unthinkable and actually rose from the dead! And He died on a cross for my sins! What a class act! And hear I am, complaining about my first-world problems like a worthless piece of shit. You probably do the same! So here's the deal - to question is completely normal. Don't feel like you are some heathen. As Jesus says in John 20:29 - “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We weren't alive then, so don't kick yourself for having your doubts. Just do your research with an open mind and the truth will set you free! Here's a list of common arguments against Christ's resurrection, and a correspondingly common sense refute of them so you can sleep easier tonight. Enjoy!

Argument One: "Jesus Didn't Die on the Cross, He Just Faked It"
I love this one. Overwhelming evidence in four gospels, but skeptics creep in and start to paint a picture of Jesus as a faker. The guy was whipped, scourged, beaten to a bloody pulp and then forced to carry a cross, at which point He was then crucified on it and still managed to live after pretending to die and then somehow removed a boulder from His own tomb, crawl out and, Monty Python-style exclaim, "I'm not dead yet." Yeah, great way to impress your disciples. The Son of God, one foot in the grave, acting like he barely survived an Evil Knievel stunt. Lee Strobel, a lawyer and former atheist, has written numerous best-sellers building the case for God, Jesus, Faith, and more. He interviewed  Dr. Alexander Metherell, a physician who extensively studied the historical, archaeological, and medical data concerning the death of Jesus of Nazareth. In the book, he listed diagnosis after diagnosis of ailments that Jesus was suffering from, and by the time he was put on the cross he was in critical condition. In fact, the word 'excruciating' (out of the cross') was coined as a result of His death. There's no way he could have survived, and I urge you to read the book The Case for Christ to deepen your understanding. These books blew away the misconceptions and screwy theories that seem to pop up around Easter.

Argument Two: "The Disciples Took His Dead Body"
The Roman centurions were pretty good at their jobs. Their goal was to inflict pain on criminals during scourgings, and were accountable for the incarceration of criminals and keeping watch over the jails. The theory that His 12 wussy Disciples (most of which ran and hid after Judas betrayed Him) suddenly grew a set and hatched a scheme to break into a tomb in front of armed guards is implausible. They would have had the smack laid down on them and retreated into the shadows to lick their wounds. Plus, the centurions would have been faced with death if Jesus was spirited away by the Disciples. It's bad enough that Jewish tradition forbade women from making claims in the absence of a man, and low and behold Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James were the first ones at the grave (Islamiscists heard of this tradition and were like, 'Jackpot!'). Matthew 28 captures the infamous scene where the tomb is found empty and women are greeted by an angel saying "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." So why would the Gospels knowingly back up women finding the empty tomb when they knew it would lead to outrage? Why would this stolen body theory gain traction? What would they do with the body? Why wouldn't it turn up somewhere? How would they organize the next steps forward when some of them doubted whether to continue Christ's ministry? Also, the grave clothes were left behind (see: newly re-dated Shroud of Turin that links it to 1st century AD Middle East locale) - so who steals a naked bloody/sweaty body and leaves the garments behind? Gotta think before you launch a bogus theory - remember, the onus is on the doubters to prove Christ's faked resurrection.

Argument Three: "He was never crucified - in fact, he married Mary Magdalene, traveled to France and lived happily ever after with his wife and kids."
To all of you Da Vinci Code fans (myself one of them), hate to burst your bubble. There is no evidence from the same period that collected the source documents for the New Testament that the two were married. All of the new age propaganda that has been shoved down our throats is at least 150 years after the fact, as opposed to the basic gospels, compiled within a generation of Christ's death. The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Judas, etc all materialized a few generations later, thus their exclusion from the Bible. When the final content was being agreed, the criteria called for the removal of any inconsistent gospels that were not corroborated by at least another source. What's good for a courtroom is good for the Bible. No conspiracy theories necessary. So naturally, Hollywood and the mainstream media get hold of a book threatening to blow the lid off of the Jesus story and run with it. Dan Brown is a great and talented author, but he's a cafeteria Christian with a wild imagination. Also, the popular book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln launched this thesis on Christ marrying and escaping to France to start the Merovingian bloodline. These authors based their interpretations on 1) a book written in another language that they didn't even speak let alone accurately translate and 2) the source book that they built their theory on was a known forgery to numerous historians in France. But why would that matter? Jesus could have had kids!!!! Think of the money they could make!!!!! Some say the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, and Freemasons hold the eternal secrets of what really happened with Jesus, but no one who has left those orders seems to spill the beans about the inner secrets. So it's all just speculation. Ask yourself - if you don't question Socrates' history, Plato's history, Alexander the Great's history, or Julius Caeser's history, which are all based on significantly LESS documentation, why do you then doubt the divinity of Jesus?

Other items to consider:
1) Why would the Disciples die for a lie? Did you know that 11 of the 12 Apostles died a horrid death because they believed in Jesus' resurrection? If I hung out with someone and doubted their divinity, I would grab the nearest microphone and expose them as a fraud. These guys were beheaded, crucified upside down, tortured, hung, bludgeoned and more. Why would you do that if you weren't a convinced follower?
2) Jesus was seen six times after his resurrection. He approached Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Paul (formerly Saul) was the Bill Maher/Richard Dawkins of Jesus-haters in his day. He had a religious experience and did a complete 180. Jesus also appeared to his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, his disciples, and to a party of 400 before his final ascension, to name a few. Wouldn't someone step in and throw a flag on the play if this was not true? Why didn't they?
3) If the accounts of the converted aren't enough, then look to the secular historians of the day. 1st century secular scholar Josephus wrote extensively of the time Jesus lived. Eighty years later, Pliny the Younger and Tacitus chronicled this Jesus character and the supposed miraculous events surrounding His life, death and resurrection. Even the Talmud makes vague references to Jesus being put to death for sorcery. Wouldn't these non-Christians expose the Jesus myth to advance their own causes? They merely reported what was said at the time in a neutral manner. This then leaves us with the actual text of the Bible to make an informed opinion.
4) Jesus fulfilled a ton of Old Testament prophecies. Some say no less than one hundred. Others, like the link below, list 351 signs fulfilled:

This is amazing stuff. All the way down to the casting of lots for his clothes, the fact that he didn't break a bone at His crucifixion, riding a donkey into Jerusalem, dying for our sins, etc. Something was special about this guy. The more you read about Him, the closer you get to Him. Keep that in mind as you deal with the emerging secular world that we now live in. Mentioning Jesus pisses people off, because he was grounded in moral principles and did supernatural things. I guess that's not cool in 2013. Oh by the way - you can't call yourself a Christian if you don't believe he's going to return at some point in human history. So laugh all you want about end of the world/tribulation/armageddon soothsayers. We are fast approaching the Great Tribulation called for in the Book of Revelation. Might be nice to get your ducks in a row spiritually before the shit hits the fan.

God bless and have a great week!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Navigating Various Types of Playground Parents

As it's now springtime, it warrants mentioning that it might be a good idea to take your kids to a playground once in awhile. It's not as cool as playing with an iPad/Wii/DS/iPhone but it is good old fashioned outdoor time and you feel like you've done your parenting job for the day. The kids leave out of breath, boogers dripping down their faces, and covered in dirt and gubment mulch. Brings a tear to my eye.

But as fun as it is for the children, if you're like me, in between playing 'grumpy old troll under the shaky bridge', you're taking mental notes on the other parents - their mannerisms, their attentiveness, and their FUPA's/receding hairlines. Here's a quick list of what you'll find if your kid just entered 'playground ready' status:

"Helicopter Harry and Shadow Sheila"

I'm breaking no new ground here. Y'all know who these people are. Arrive, disengage child leash from four year old, and proceed to follow little Johnny around a little too intensely. Child on lap on slides, always holding hands, shadowing during a simple game of tag, coaching child through every conversation with other kids, dictating the speed of group tilt-a-whirls while eight other kids mouth the words "Is this guy effin serious?" These people are over-involved in their kids' lives, run to first alongside their child when they make contact in baseball, run to the front of the stage during a recital to choreograph movements because little Mandy is two steps behind, call the teacher within an hour after a 2nd grade math test is administered. These people don't bother me for some reason, since we can all kinda relate. 

Annoyance Factor: 5 out of 10

"Gadget Gloria and Trendy Todd"

"OMG I'm at the park right now and like, my kid wants me to like, push them"

The most common type of parent (unfortunately) is the trendy parent that needs to be plugged in to the outside world during their hour long trip to the park. Smart phone always in hand. Texting their friends about fantasy football or plans for two weeks from now. Child wanders away and gets dropkicked by someone on a swing. Playing a new app while Betsy rocks on her little horsey spring toy. These people irk the shit out of me. I've said it a million times - I'm nothing special as a parent, but I at least try and bring my A game to the playground because kids love it. Put your effin device away before I stick it up your balloon knot. It also means I now have to babysit your sweaty kid, since your mind is elsewhere. He needs me to push him, which distracts me from MY kid, you doofus. My wife has been approached no less than five times in her life to push another person's kid because their mommy was busy on the cell phone. We need to hire snipers to pick off anyone operating a cell phone on playground property and put a dart in the neck of any perpitrator. Zero tolerance policy. 

Annoyance Factor: 9 out of 10

"Fast Friends Francine and Comfortable Curtis" 
Francine is new to the area and doesn't know anybody. She's coming off a rough breakup with her ex-boyfriend, and of course she has a kid and no one to turn to. You thought you could just sit on the bench and watch the kids run around, or push your youngest on the swing in peace. Nope. You need to hear about her alcoholic father, how her uncle molested her when she was ten, how she was raped when she was sixteen, how she got pregnant by her rapist-now-boyfriend when she was nineteen (go figure), and so on and so forth. You listen cause you don't want to be rude or heartless. Curtis starts talking about the perceived low-hanging fruit - sports, butts, and beer. Then he starts showing you pictures of the obese hispanic chick he met at the gym and 'oh by the way he's cheating on his wife with her'. He's a close-talker and reeks of stale cigarette butts, with breath that smells like Bigfoot's dick. Wants to grab a beer sometime since he's ALSO new to the area. "Have you considered going on a date with our methhead acquaintance, Francine, Curtis? Because you're both annoying the shit out of my wife and I." Did I mention you now know about the rash on little Gabriel's nutsack? Or how little Henrietta likes to watch her parents have sex from the crib eventhough she's eight? Thanks for all that information folks. I'm never visiting this playground again. 

Annoyance Factor: 0 out of 10 (WTF? Wasn't expecting THAT!)

"Vicarious Vicky and Wistful Wesley"
Every now and then you see the overly intense parents who have too much energy for their own good. Need to be the coolest ones at the playground, so every other kid sits back and says "I wish that was MY daddy!" They push the tilt-a-whirl at ludicrous speed so that children get launched/jettisoned fifty feet in the air and land in a heap on the pitcher's mound of the softball field. They push the swing so high that their child screams for their life.
They shove children climbing the ladder so that they don't get tagged, and while evading getting tagged, occasionally they fart out of excitement (ok I just wanted to add that for no reason). They sit slack-jawed on the see-saw waiting for a willing partner. They go down the twisty slide headfirst (also farting on the way down) and they pop back up covered in woodchips and go back for more. Love the energy, but this is not your chance to relive your glory days. Also, why the hell do I see goths at the playground? Why are they there? Go study or listen to Muse. I heard the gang-bang was rescheduled to the cemetery down the street. Leave our kids alone. And scrape the black nail polish off your fingernails. Rite-Aid will never hire you.

Annoyance Factor: 7 out of 10

"Fat Creeper/Chester The Molester"
25% of the time you'll see a gentleman on a bench or a swing, smiling idly as if he were midway through a bowel movement. But he doesn't seem to be there with anybody. You keep an eye on him because he has salsa stains on his white v-neck tshirt and he rode his bike there, so right off the bat you're suspicious. He also has a bulge in his black/navy blue Dickies pants anytime a child runs by. You've seen him around town in a beat-up half car/half truck from 1984 with no hubcaps, so he obviously did something sketchy during the Euro Pop era. He smells like dead leaves/mothballs/swamp-ass, so you keep your distance. You see him put his sweatshirt over his groin and put his hands underneath.....wait a minute.....ohhhhhh shit. He's playing with himself. Let's get the hell outta dodge. 

Annoyance/Call The Cops Factor: 10 out of 10

There's your basics. Try not to be any of those people. Your kids need to learn to be independent, fall and get hurt, and enjoy some fresh air and beautiful sunshine. Put your technology away. Sometimes its nice to sit back with your spouse and take it all in while the kids run around. Just don't get too relaxed or people will think you are the token playground creeper and call the cops on you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pre-Wedding and Pre-Baby Pamper-fest

Back to rant-worthy topics instead of doom and gloom economic panic. Let's just watch the Cyprus stuff unfold together, shall we? Don't think it can't happen in America, either. Subject of another post. Keep your eyes on the fallout, though, because the contagion will eventually make its way to across the Atlantic.

Tonight's post deals with the insane amount of parties we throw ourselves before a wedding and a baby's birth. I made a checklist of items and it's pretty extensive. I'm going to detail them just to give you some perspective on how two fairly common life events become a self-consumed wallet-drain.

Quick disclaimer - my wife and I are guilty of some of these, so don't run off and get all offended because I put a flashlight on it. Sometimes they are unavoidable, but you gotta play the game.

Marriage lead-up used to be three events: 1) Proposal 2) Bridal Shower and 3) Wedding. Give your guy a reality check about your biological clock, guilt the guy into proposing on your timetable, say 'Yes', have your Mom and sister throw you a bridal shower where you run around in brand new lingerie and granny panties, have phony conversations, play stupid games, and eat chicken satay kabobs. Then you get married in a pretty ceremony and go on your honeymoon and live happily ever after till you get divorced at 40. But WAIT!!!! That wasn't enough! We need to add more events!!

Event #1 - Engagement Party ($20-$40)
You can't just have a run-of-the-mill proposal and that's it. You need to throw yourself a damn party!!!! You're gonna be doing something that millions of people around the world do every year, but you're special! We got engaged in college and had a half-assed, low-key engagement party. Booze and some chips. That's all we needed. Everyone else was too busy ingesting morning-after pills and majoring in worthless liberal arts classes to even THINK about marriage. So we dealt with family and friends rolling their eyes about 'how young we were', got well-versed in giving people lip service, and didn't shove our engagement down other people's throats. Disingenuous congratulations, no gifts, and weekend plans were not disrupted. Just the way we wanted it. Cost to our friends - $0.

Event #2 - Bachelor/Bachelorette Incremental Add-ins ($800)
Bachelor/Bachelorette parties are awesome. Don't get it twisted. But they've gone from an overnight or two to a three or four day junket. Golf, bars, golf, bars, strippers, coke benders, more strippers, vomit, dead strippers, more vomit, sleeping in Brooks Brothers shirts.
Bachelorette's involve a smidgen less coke, male strippers, vomiting, baked goods shaped like veiny penises, blow up sex toys, real sex toys, vagina cupcakes, nipple cupcakes, dick cakes, embroidered shirts, token frumpy girls that don't fit in, and so on and so forth. When did it get so out of control and LENGTHY? Plus this shit is expensive!!!!

Event #3 - Engagement Photo Shoot ($200)
Now that you are getting married, you need to memorialize it, but it's too early for the wedding album. So you gotta frolic somewhere and have a photographer capture the moment!!! It needs to be black and white though. And on a beach. Sundress for the gal and unbuttoned shirt for the lad. Mission: Critical that the B&W photo shoot take place within two weeks of engagement, or else.......or else its just bad.

Event #4 - Mini-Moon ($1200-$1500)
It's not enough to make your husband-to-be take you on a nice vacation of no less than two weeks for the actual Honeymoon, but you need to pamper yourselves like two months before the big day too. It's your reward for.....getting married....and all the hard work and planning that.....your mother probably did for you.

Total new costs for wedding-related activities that totally didn't exist twenty years ago - $2200-$2500

Congrats! You're married, poorer, and so is everyone else in your life because of you. But guess what! You just found out you're preggers!!!!! More self-serving parties and new traditions coming right up!!!!

Event #1 - Gender Reveal ($100-$200)
It's the equivalent of the engagement party for pregnancy. No fundamental need for it, just an excuse to throw yourself a party. Invite 20+ guests, maybe they bring a gift? Get a cake at the bakery, and find out the gender in front of everybody because get it the center is either blue or pink?!?!? Yayyyy!!!!! What do you do if you are pregnant with a hermaphrodite? Green? Purple? What if it's triplets and you banged a black guy? Effin rainbow cake? Why is this event happening? Can't you just queef that thing out and let people be surprised? Do you need a party for yourself? Don't answer that question. Your shame is starting to build, isn't it?

Event #2 - Baby 'Sprinkle'/Pink Party ($200-$400)
A baby shower for your first born wasn't enough. You need to reaccumulate shit by making your friends throw you a pink party if you're having a girl, or a 'sprinkle' for your second, third, fourth children. More excuses to guilt people into buying you stuff, albeit in the newer model that Greico approves of. More mingling, dumb girl conversation, and dried out cake pops in the shape of baby rattles. Shoot me.

Event #3 - Babymoon ($1000-$2000)
It's also not enough to be pregnant for nine months. Cause tens of millions of women on Planet Earth go through this every year in worse conditions. You, on the other hand, need to be transported like the Queen of Sheeba carried on a wooden device with four slaves straining to hold you up. If you can fly, you do it to a warm locale. If you can't, a nice hotel in the city will do. You need to spend thousands of dollars that you
don't have for one last hurrah. Quarter of a million to raise them to 18 years old, so what's another $1-$2k? What happened to your water breaking in the middle of your lunch break? Why do you need to be served grapes and hershey bars and caviar whilst lounging by the pool as Otto the poolboy fans you down? Can't you take it like a man and tough it out (tongue in cheek, relax).

Event #4 - Push Present ($200-$300)
Last step before you pop - make your husband buy you something for carrying this life-form in your guts for nine months! You've demanded a trip, multiple parties, midnight Taco Bell runs, and now you need a new necklace!!!! Do I get a Plant Present for knocking you up? Where's my new Fossil watch for implanting you with my seed? Do you get a Pluck Present if you have a c-section? Help me out here!

Total new costs for baby-related activities that totally didn't exist twenty years ago - $1500-$3000

Honorable mention post-baby birth:
- baby with card next to head explaining how many months old they are
- B&W photo shoot of naked baby beach frolic/sleeping
- overpriced birth announcement mailing
- piercing ears against baby's will for vanity purposes
- selfies/texting from operating table

Next post - Different types of Playground Parents and what to look out for. Happy Easter!!!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weekly Fear-Mongoring: Death of an Empire Part IV

Crazy week so far with all this Cyprus stuff going on (hours ago they just agreed to NOT confiscate tax 10% of bank deposits). This means that the government will have to find $10 billion another way. HA! Good luck with that without firing up the printing press. The Euro was such a brilliant idea. Not. So they basically avoid civil unrest (for now), and have guaranteed a banking collapse in Cyprus. This has weakened the Euro and made the dollar marginally more attractive. Europe has basically been put on notice - the bankers can try to take your money. Act accordingly.

Dianne Frankenstein suffered a big loss today when Congress refused to move forward with her assault weapons ban. This does NOT make the administration happy. Predictably, something bad will happen in the next two months that will be blamed on some crazy veteran/conspiracy theorist/2nd amendment advocate/psychotropic user. I pray that it doesn't happen, but it will.

Well lookie here! Reports coming out of Syria stating that 30 people have been exposed to chemical weapons. Both Assad's government and the rebels are pointing fingers at each other. Conveniently Obama is in Israel to talk Syria and Iran this week. Expect military action vedddy vedddy soon as Syria has crossed one of these phony red lines.  

Now onto the last of my four part series on how we got into the global predicament we're in. We've blamed the Fed, Congress, and Wall Street so far. Guess who the fourth culprit is? Walk into the bathroom and stare into the mirror. It's YOU!!!!!! You stupid bastard!!!! YOU played a role in this!!!! What's your freaking problem? Do you need all those creature comforts? Those gadgets? Those $300 jeans? Trendy glasses? Kanye's sunglasses? The latest iPhone/iPad/iPod that offers marginal benefits from the previous one? Ohhhh but you don't have the money for it!!!! So you put it on credit card!!!! And never bothered to pay it off!!!! #microcosm (oh wait this isn't Facebook, I can actually elaborate).

Oooooh look at me in my trendy hipster jeans!!!

Here's the deal - just like Congress, John Q. Public has a tendency to want things NOW instead of earning, saving, and developing a budget and savings plan to pay for the things they want. You graduate from high school with useless classes under your belt, but no 'Reality 101' class. You don't know personal finance, you don't know basic accounting, you don't know how to manage a checkbook. All you do when you come out of high school is say a silent prayer that you didn't get pregnant or contract an STD (among other things). But at least you know how the hunter-gatherers got by during those frigid winters!!!! And how feudalism worked!!!! And how Charles Dickens could snooker publishers into paying him by the word for overrated shit!!! You get a credit card in college, to be used in emergencies only. My left nut it's for 'emergencies only'. You start to run up a tab on dumb things other than gas and stomach pumping. Your own parents add fuel to the flame and tell you, "Hey Lonnie and Hildagard, it's ok to have a credit card, cause you need to build up your credit so when you get a car you'll have a credit history."

Then when you're at college, you don't seek out majors that will sustain you when you go out into the world. You study what's easy, cause you're lazy. I won't name the joke majors since I'll lose half my friends, but YOU KNOW DAMN WELL that certain majors are a waste of time. You take out tens of thousands of dollars to finance your education, and stupidly don't study subjects that can actually propel you to high earning power. God bless those that don't go into the workforce expecting to get rich. I respect the shit out of you. That's why, as much as I hate unions, I don't pick on teachers because they are doing the Lord's work (its a phrase dummy, God isn't really allowed in schools). Just STFU about how overworked you are. Agreed? Cause we are too. 12 months a year. Let's recap - lots of money in debt, crappy liberal arts major that guarantees you are living with Mommy and Daddy until you're 30, and a constantly increasing credit card balance that you have no means or intention of paying off.

Then you start growing up, getting married, having kids, accumulating goods and wares, buying the latest technology to keep up with the Jones's, buying large HDTV screens, leasing cars, financing furniture, and blowing your tax refund on useless trips in lieu of paying down credit card debt. And guess what? Congress and the Fed have made it real easy to be a zero-down homeowner!!!! So you and your crappy credit can STILL get a house!!! Yayy!!!!! Hey, sign me up for an adjustable rate mortgage that looks really good at first because it seems manageable and then BOOM the rate goes up and you are starting to pit out of your shirt over your monthly mortgage payments. Then you get laid off. And its hard to get a job with a xxxxxxx major. So you stop paying your mortgage, eventually default and foreclose on your home. Back to an apartment for you. Oh, and you raid whatever meager 401k savings you had in the first place, taking a 10% early withdrawal penalty. Never reduced that credit card debt, did you, asshole? So you have no home equity, no 401k, and a mountain of credit card debt. YOU ARE THE AVERAGE AMERICAN!!!!! You did this to yourself! I don't want to hear it!!!! Position yourself to always land on your feet. Pretty easy advice that any 17 year old can embrace. And you didn't take that advice from that old aunt of yours. You weren't curious during the college years. You think stuff is owed to you because you are in debt over it.

And guess what? Every November these clueless souls march to their local polling center and vote for our leadership. Ever hear the phrase 'low information voter'? Yup, that's your average American voter. Doesn't matter which party they belong to. These are the people whose sole voting issue is student loans or save the whales or who likes abortion less or who pretends to promote women more. This past election cycle was embarassing. You heard short phrases and buzz words like bayonets, binders of women, Big Bird layoffs, Etch-A-Sketch, stupid rape definitions, and 'You didn't build that'. And we thought the overused but never verbalized 'I can see Russia from my house' and '57 states' from 2008 was bad. We are a nation of mouth-breathers who refuse to research issues before voting. We trash Congress and their 14% approval rating, but send 90% of them back for a second term!!!! How stupid does that sound? We deserve the government we get, because low information voters on both sides with economic baggage and cluelessness vote them back in!!!! How do we fix that when we don't know better?

Go J.O. to your parents' basement, you stupid turf major

Here's a clip from a recent Jimmy Kimmel show about the sequester. You know, the popular roving reporter asks relevant questions to Johnny on the Street. This is the epitome of the 'low information voter':

You know when the Kardashians are menstruating, but you don't know what the effin sequester is. "I ain't know what a sequester is, I just voted for 'eem cause he's black." This is ouuuuuur countryyyyyyyy.

So yeah, this is the end of my rant of all rants. Everybody has blood on their hands. We all need to use our brains so we can come out of this alive. Do your part at home, because you can't lecture government's spending problem when you refuse to address your own. Back to goofy posts real soon folks!!!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Weekly Fear-Mongoring: Death of an Empire Part III

Exciting times coming up as we elect a new/(final?) Pope this week (my money continues to be on Ghana Cardinal Peter Turkson, who will take the name Pope Pius XIII). We also waved goodbye to the cuddly and affable Hugo Chavez (Sean Penn must be drinking again). Finally, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues to vie for attention by screaming like a petulant little child about how he's going to pre-emptively attack the West Coast (whatever, less red ink. Earthquake's gonna get them anyway. I'm over it). And Obama is FINALLY off to Israel to discuss how to creatively pussy out of attacking his fellow Jew-haters in Iran. And the Dow is at 14k!!!! Celebration in the streets!!!

But first onto part III on the Death of an Empire. This week's guilty party? WALL STREET!!!!!

Part I of the 'common sense expose' fingered the Federal Reserve (more like the Federal Reserve fingered the printing press and she squirted out a worthless fiat currency to soon be worth as much as toilet paper). Disgusting play on words. But not as disgusting as hyperinflation by 2014. Part II blamed our awesome government (both sides). It's time to attack the third part of the triumvirate by implicating the globalist crooks that took TARP money from the tax payer and oh by the way still got a nice bonus out of the deal.

Due to the unmitigated ineptitude of the SEC and US government, megabanks and investment companies were able to reap outsized profits in the lead-up to the 2008 economic crisis from our previous bear market of 2000-2002. We slugged through the Enron, Arthur Andersen, and Healthsouth (among others) scandals, drew up legislation that mandates CEO sign-off on financial records - and we STILL have a near economic collapse five years later!!!! Wasn't this supposed to prevent financial fraud? The aforementioned housing bubble prompted the opportunity for banks to collateralize mortgages and market mortgage-backed securities consisting of no-money-down sub-prime loans. They also dabbled in credit default swaps, interest rate swaps, and other derivatives. The top nine banks have over $225 trillion of derivatives exposure. Estimates for ALL global derivatives are over $1 QUADRILLION!!!!! I can't even count that high. How the hell were these banks allowed to enter into these sketchy transactions? Who was minding the store? Who is regulating derivatives that five people on earth truly understand? In fact, I'm now GLAD I got a non-reimbursable grade in a grad school derivatives class - it validates the fact that NO ONE knows how the hell derivatives work!!!!!

Everybody hears the phrase 'TARP' bandied about ('Troubled Asset Relief Program') that banks were FORCED to adhere to and accept money by the US Treasury. In total, $418b was issued to troubled banks, and $405b has been paid back, with interest. But that interest doesn't go to paying down the debt, that would make too much sense. Then-Treasury secretary Hank Paulson threatened martial law if Congress didn't pass TARP since the system would undoubtedly crash (as we will find out for realz in the next 18-24 months). Basically, banks can do whatever the hell they want with their money and get bailed out for bad decisions. Remember when I mentioned in Part II about the lack of foresight of the Clinton administration? What? You didn't read it? Well put the Ben & Jerry's down and go read it. I'll wait.

Ok thanks for reading that. The reversal of the Glass-Steagall Act meant banks could take on 'moral hazard' risks and blend their commercial and investment operations. So risks that they didn't have to be accountable for since they knew they had a lifeline to the government. Kinda like the trust fund baby who has a drug habit and daddy always bails him out when his lifestyle gets a little wayward. The 2008 crisis claimed the lives of Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual and countless others due to toxic assets that careless executives kept on their balance sheets and marketed to investors. The Big Five banks (JPM, Goldman, BOA, Citi, Wells Fargo) had about $600 billion of potential derivatives LOSSES. Actual realized losses in the tens of billions. JPM realized a $6 billion loss in 2012 alone over another derivatives bet gone wrong. Realized losses are a big deal. JPM can handle it since they are backed by the global elites along with Goldman as the bankers of record. These banksters can do no wrong because no one in government and any relevant regulatory authority will take them to task. In fact, embattled Attorney General Eric Holder was quoted last week of saying the following - "I am concerned  that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy." Are you kidding me? Who says this? Imagine stealing money from your grandparents and then someone saying you can't be prosecuted because it might have a negative impact on other criminals. Our financial system is a joke.

Don't get me started on the lack of taxes hedge funds have to pay. Now, we can rail against evil corporations, but tax rates haven't changed for the average company in 25 years (30-40%, 0% if you are GE and have the best tax accounting team in the world). Hedge funds, while not evil either, are not subject to the high taxes of corporations . Instead, due to the carried-interest loophole, hedge fund managers are allowed to treat the money they receive from investors as capital gains, subject to a 15 percent tax rate. I'm fine with hedge fund managers like John Paulson, Phil Falcone, and George Soros earning billions on their investing genius, but please pay an equivalent corporate tax since chances are you don't have the same overhead as a company that actually manufactures things and pushes product out across the country/world. I'd also love it if Soros got hit by a truck and died an extremely painful death. But enough about me.

We also watched the same banks and corporations that received taxpayer bailout money give lavish bonuses to their top executives. Check out this chart from 2009 of the some of the top banks:

This continued into 2010-2011 before Congress finally stepped in to pretend to curb it. JPM and Goldman continue to thrive in this pretend economy despite receiving sizable bailouts. Oh, and don't expect the clowns who sold toxic assets to accredited investors to go to jail. Unless you ran a Ponzi Scheme, you are safe. Who cares if you pissed away billions of dollars? Look at Jon 'The Slime' Corzine, who pilfered client account funds to the tune of $700 million into its operating account to cover shortfalls. No ex-Goldman exec would unknowingly do that. No jailtime for this piece of shit either. This guy was an ex-NJ governor and potential Obama advisor and he gets away scott-free. What about the countless other hedge fund managers who made bad derivatives bets with other people's money? JPM, Goldman, HSBC, you name it. What about the LIBOR scandal where JPM, Barclay's, Bank of America and others manipulate the London Inter-bank Overnight Rate? Small fine and slap on the wrist, go about your business. No one will hold banks responsible, not now, not then, not ever.

Now we look at the markets, who have been pumped full of easy money from the Fed, banks and every other type of business are doing well right now since they are experiencing financial roid-rage to the highest degree as a result of $2 trillion being printed out of thin air. Of course the sheeple are celebrating. Life is good on Wall Street. We are approaching the same type of illusory exuberance as 2007, the pride before the fall. Well guess what - the bond bubble is about to burst and the dollar is about to crash.

So what can we expect in the next crisis? Well, my money is on a further consolidation of the big banks, with Citi and Morgan Stanley playing the role of Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch as the odd men out when the system collapses. Rumors abound that there is crack staff of 400 government accountants investigating the viability of a major investment institution that is likely to fall very soon. Expect JPM and Goldman Sachs to be the Big Two left standing. Maybe Bank of America stays alive too. All of the QE money is going straight to these banks, so in essence, the Fed owns your mortgage. You are Ben Bernanke's bitch. These large-scale banks can bet the good and the bad in the economy, so no matter what happens, they win. Read 'Why I Left Goldman Sachs' by former GS US equity derivatives head Greg Smith. Eye-opening accounts of high level scumbag activity. These companies are backed by the richest families in the world (subject of a future post, I've given high level info before though), an occultist group of old-money elitists bent on world domination. They also appoint ex-Goldman heads to the highest levels of the global banking hierarchy. And you thought the Bill Belichick coaching tree was impressive? These folks dominate EUROPE alone:

Not to mention the domestic influence of current CEO Lloyd Blankfein, former Treasury Secretaries Hank Paulson and Robert Rubin, ex-Merrill CEO John Thain (ran it into the ground with derivatives exposure), and the aforementioned Jon Corzine. These people pull a good portion of the strings behind the Federal Reserve and any administration that takes the White House. There's nothing we can do to stop them, but we keep our eyes open and diversify our assets as best as possible before the dollar crashes and the great banking consolidation begins. Wall Street most certainly is not looking out for you. Watch their moves in the coming weeks/months. Hundreds of bank execs (small and large) are slowly retiring early and moving out to the Midwest. Good spot to be once the derivatives crash/bond crash happens. That's enough for now.

Up next - Part IV of the blame-game. Guess who the last responsible party is? YOU!!!!!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Weekly Fear-Mongoring: Death of an Empire Part II

Part II of my expose on who gave America HIV - last week we identified P.E. #1 - The Federal Reserve. Closely behind it is this week's culprit - your United States government!!!!!!

Our government is front and center in the 'Biggest Loser' department, except there's no Jillian Michaels to whip them into shape. You hear the usual numbers - $16.7 trillion in debt, 7.9% unemployment, $220 trillion of unfunded liabilities. We have sequesters (and the bogus scare tactics behind them), fiscal cliffs, government stoppage at the end of March, May's debt ceiling debate, pork-barrel spending, sweetheart deals if you vote for certain legislation, disgusting amounts of waste........and that's just through February 2013!!!!! I finally saw the light and disassociated myself with those gutless GOP cowards in January and continue to despise the Democrat party with every fiber of my being. So how did these worthless, dickless, blowhards cause the mess we are in now? "The media tells me it was all George Bush's fault. I don't have time to research it, so I just spit out the same tired line at the water cooler." Well it behooves everybody to dig down a little bit to uncover some uncomfortable truths.

I already talked about how the Fed's easy money policy in the 1980's started things rolling on the way to a banner 25 year bull market, but it also set the stage for the biggest crisis since the Great Depression by encouraging an epic housing bubble. Government also played a role in it, but I wouldn't expect the media to give you a truthful explanation of how. Starting in the early 1990's, it became one of Bill Clinton's top priorities in his first term to grant every American the right to own a house, no matter how rich or poor. As is standard protocol, low income voters tend to gravitate to the democratic party for the handouts and gimme gimme gimme mentality that they foster (hope this offends my liberal readers because it's true). Now shared accountability here - Jimmy Carter had the idea first in the 1977 'Community Reinvestment Act' that brought loans to lower income folks. But they at least had some semblance of standards, which is why the program skated by for the first 15 years (and two republican administrations) without a 'bubble' of sorts, and the rising wave of lower mortgage rates certainly helped things. But when the Clinton administration took over, things were revamped and legislation modified to ensure anybody and everybody could join the picket fence club.

'Reckless Endangerment' by Gretchen Morgenson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter and columnist at The New York Times, and Joshua Rosner, an expert on housing finance blew the lid off what was already known in conservative circles - the democrats and government mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (big Clinton donors, especially ex-Fannie CEO James Johnson, formerly of Obama's advisory team) decided to lower the standards and launch the era of the 'nothing down, sub-prime loans here we come' housing boom. Clinton reaped the benefits of the 1990's tech boom, but remains blameless for the deregulation that untethered investments from any reasonable regulatory oversight. His administration rewrote the Community Investment Act to increase lending to lower income neighborhoods (and trick those bastards into sub-prime adjustable rate mortages). He also was heralded for the victory that was the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which REVERSED the necessary Glass-Steagall Act, requiring banks to separate investment and commecial banking activities, or "improper banking activity". Finally, he had an extreme lack of foresight by exempting credit default swaps (the financial instrument that blew up the economy in 2008) from regulation. But he escaped the throne in 2000, before the mild recession that Bush inherited and certainly before any housing bubble. Former House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank forced Fannie and Freddie to buy up risky mortgages and used his influence to push through legislation forcing affordable housing mandates. And he got his then-boyfriend a sweet gig in Fannie. And I don't mean a dick. Oh and we bailed out these agencies for hundreds of millions of dollars. But our government has your best interests at heart. And again, it's Bush's fault.

Now I realize republican Phil Gramm (whose name was attached to GLBA 1999) bears responsibility for not raising any eyebrows on the legislation and going along with this bipartisan bill, and republicans for the next ten years were unable to make enough of a stink to reverse policy, even when they had control of Congress in Bush's first term), and even when they raised the idea of an eventual housing crisis five times in the six years before the crisis. But its fun to blame George Bush cause he talks funny and is wildly inarticulate. And since the GOP is a bunch of spineless baboons, they didn't stick up for themselves and deny culpability (a noble trait yet a frustrating trait).

So that clears up the housing mess caused and facilitated by our worthless government. How about the deficit spending that began under Reagan (though manageable), but grew out of control starting in Bush's second term? The below chart shows the evolution of the debt since 2000. Blame who you will accordingly:

Date Dollar Amount
09/30/2005 7,932,709,661,723.50
09/30/2004 7,379,052,696,330.32
09/30/2003 6,783,231,062,743.62
09/30/2002 6,228,235,965,597.16
09/30/2001 5,807,463,412,200.06
09/30/2000 5,674,178,209,886.86

Something tells me the deficit money was spent on wasteful pork, entitlements, wars, entitlements, more wars, and more entitlements. This is your country in action. Both parties have failed you, and they continue to fail you today and will fail you for the foreseeable future. But you, the stupid voter, just want a two party system and you'll make fun of the libertarians, the undecided independents, the Ron Paul crowd. You'll call anyone that dislikes Obama 'racist' and you'll point the finger at the other guy when policies go south. Both parties have had their share of control over the years, and alas, we are here, at the end of the road for America. Remember ten years ago when all anyone could talk about was globalization and how awesome it was? Remember when Bill Clinton signed NAFTA in 1993? There goes 500,000 jobs (that's the most conservative figure out there. Other reports show as high as 10 million over the past twenty years!). Add another 3 million in net manufacturing jobs lost over his two terms. Bush didn't help things either by allowing about 4.5 million to leave the country. Both figures are disputed (to be fair), but the trend persists in the absence of an official answer.These jobs aren't coming back because the US worker is so effin expensive. Thanks, unions. Bloated salaries, pensions, healthcare, other liabilities, and a shitty by-product. Neither party can reign in the unions though, and we are seeing state after state go into the red because the cost of pensions are through the roof. We sure as hell don't want to drill offshore either! That would make too much sense! What about the Keystone Energy pipeline that would link Canada to Texas and create tens of thousands of jobs? No thanks. What about removing troops from countries that are not even in a state of war/conflict/unrest? No, we need to be there for some reason, which costs a lot of money. Not to mention the trillion or so spent in the Middle East (to be fair - that's on Bush and the military industrial complex). What about that bastion of uselessness, the United Nations? Nope, we need to keep giving our billions of dollars of dues to them, eventhough they do nothing in our interests.

So basically, whatever political theater you hear coming out of Washington, ignore it. Sequester will not fix our problems, nor will it destroy us. A little reported factoid is that between February 27th-28th, 2013, our overall debt increased by $80 billion. In one day, we wiped out most of any sequester savings over the year. IN ONE FRIGGIN DAY!!!!!! We will be ramping up defense spending soon enough to combat China, Russia, and commit more troops to the Middle East for World War III later this year, or 2014. They'll continue to kick the can on the entitlements problem, which is 67% of our annual budget!!!! Blame defense all you want, but that's 60% less than social security, medicare, and medicaid!!!! How about we cut back in areas that are wasteful? How about we slow entitlements, extend the retirement age, and means test social security recipients? How about we eat healthy and exercise more and thus need less 'lifestyle' based healthcare in our later years (oops - that belongs in Part IV - 'It's YOUR fault'). The deficit will continue to increase every year, more rich people will think of ways to pay less in taxes through tax shelters, the government ('democrats') will expand entitlements to stay in power, and the wussy republicans will find stupid things to spend money on even if they retain congressional power in 2014. Nothing is going to fix our spending problem. Obama will have a $22 trillion deficit on his hands when he leaves office in 2017. The system will have crashed by then, the dollar will be used as toilet paper, and we'll be doing the Chinese goosestep with Russian fur hats on. And Ron Paul would have been right...about EVERYTHING.

One more item - there now appears to be growing congressional support for the full confiscation of guns 401k and IRA accounts. Simply put - if government gets its hands on $19.4 trillion of YOUR retirement money that you EARNED, we can wipe out the debt. How do they do this? They thrust yet another Ponzi Scheme on us by forcing us to liquidate our existing allocations/investments in our retirement accounts and convert all cash to US treasuries as a 'stable' investment. The idea was first floated in 2007 (Bush administration), and though it keeps getting pushed off, support is starting to pick up in 2013. Once the money is in treasuries, government can spend it now on the 'promises' of tomorrow (ie - social security). The retirement money that you think is there will not be there in the same form as it is today when you retire 20-40 years from now. Keep this in mind over the next few months/years as things get worse domestically with our strawman economy and failing dollar. We need to watch both parties as they scramble to fix the growing debt problem that THEY created.  

Next culprit in Part III - Wall Street. Hope things are coming into view for you clueless, knuckle-dragging types!