Monday, December 26, 2016

A Trump Victory? How did THAT happen! Part 1.

There is one clear and undeniable conclusion about the 2016 presidential election everyone, regardless of political stripes or polka dots, should agree on. The media and political minded pundits and experts will be debating what happened and more importantly why it happened for years to come. I am no expert, but I do have some ideas. I may even have insights. I actually did do actual research. I read. I crunched statistics. I consulted tea leaves and mediums. In short, I left no turn unstoned.

I found the above graph in an article from the Washington Post. Of all such graphs, charts, and tea leave cup residue I looked at, this was the most informative and compelling. I have added US census data concerning the number of house holds in each income bracket, but beyond that what you see is exactly what WAPO published.

This graphic is really fairly easy to read and understand, but I will go over it anyway. Consider those with a house hold income more than $200,00.00. In 2004 Republicans, under GW Bush, Republicans received nearly 30% more votes than Democrats. Another way of saying that is Republicans won nearly 80% of those votes. In 2008, Obama moved that demographic hugely, going from losing by just under 30% to winning by just over 5%. That is a huge movement within this demographic, a turnaround of 35%. This is the biggest change in a single voting demographic on a percentage basis in four election cycles. Romney reversed that in 2012 winning by 10%. Trump lost ground with this demographic when compared to Romney, winning by under 2%.

The more than $200,00.00 income demographic represents just 5.6% of house holds in the US. When you are talking about winning 30% of a 5.6% demographic that would roughly correspond to 1.7% of all votes. That would be the true significance of this demographic. Critical only in a close election.

Far more significant to the 2008 election were the gains Obama made in the three lowest income brackets compared to 2004. 2008 saw shifts of about 13% in demographics representing nearly 75% of US house holds. That roughly translates to about 9.7% of all votes. Round that to 10% for ease of thinking. This is truly significant.. Such a shift turns a 50/50 draw into a 40/60 blow out. 

Fast forward to 2016. While 2008 represented a high water mark for democrats in all demographics, those gains over the 2004 results stayed in place for the most part, dissipating somewhat in three demographics and actually increasing in one, except for one crucial demographic. The under $30,000.00 a year demographic, under Trump, represented a complete reversal of the Obama 2008 gains to the point Democrats lost support overall. Trump out performed GW Bush in 2004 by nearly 4%, out performed Romney by about 15%, and out performed Obama's 2008 total by about 19%.

The 2008 shift was significant on every level, in every income demographic. If the 2016 election cycle can be viewed as a referendum on the Obama years, democrats did achieve lasting gains for all income groups over $49,000. However, they were unable to tip the scales on the upper income groups and more importantly they actually lost ground with Americans in the lowest income bracket.

That loss of support in low income Americans is the most significant and the most surprising result of the 2016 election. It dwarfs any shift on either a percentage of demographic basis or on the basis of total numbers of voters when compared with any other statistic. Nothing compares to it. Not race, sex, income level, or any other means of parsing votes into little blocks. The most significant change in the minds of voters came from low income voters.

This result is pretty ironic when you consider the messaging the Democratic party has been throwing out over the past eight years. Rich people are not paying their fair share. The system is rigged to favor the 1%. White people are the root of all evil and are unfairly advantaged by "white privilege". America is racist. Yet, the Obama years represent a net loss for Democrats among low income voters. The very people such messaging targets. How can this be?

I will leave you to consider that in light of what I have just shown. I will take up speculating on the why's of it in A Trump Victory? How did that happen! Part 2.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Of Scooby Doo and Pocahontas with a Side of Hillary

Now that all the post election brouhaha, spin, and gyration is over and we now know what we knew to be true over a month ago, it is time now to think about the future. Specifically, assuming Trump goes for term #2, who do we want the democrats to run for Prez in 2020? I know it seems a bit early to be thinking about such things. You are probably thinking I should be thinking about what Trump is going to do come January 20th. Actually, no. That would really just be rehashing old thoughts. I supported Trump. I voted for him both in the general election and in the primaries. I did so because I believed he would do a creditable job, because I support major parts of what he was saying, and because I thought he would win against Hillary. Actually, I thought candidate wise, Hillary was pretty much a turd sandwich. That does sound a little harsh, but I would remind you of just one little fact. Millions of Democratic voters thought the same thing.
I was convinced early on Hillary would win the Democratic nomination despite being such a turd sandwich. Most people knew that I think. Well, except for Bernie supports. I think most people now know that particular turd sandwich was the preordained turd sandwich Democrats would be voting for in 2016. That choice was prepared for you starting back in 2008, when she was named Secretary of state. They were writing the script. She was supposed to preside over 8 years of success. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Re-ending the cold war by resetting relations with Russia. Eight years later Russia is now our foe numero uno. The war in Afghanistan is still going strong and not very well. Not only is the war in Iraq not over, it has expanded into something that will be going on for years to come. Plus we now have the Syrian crisis and ISIS is running rampant in 28 countries around the world. Europe is reeling from one terror attack after another. Libya has collapsed into anarchy.  And Hillary didn't even make it through the eight years. She bailed after four. Could have been health related, could have been Benghazi related, could have been a mix of both and more. However that really worked out, and we never really know those things for sure, she did not make through the eight year script. That should have been a clue for the makers of scripts. 
Speaking of scripts, the Republicans were supposed to run a turd sandwich of their own. I am talking about Jeb. Jeb was our anointed turd sandwich. What were they thinking? Then again, they did give us McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012.....turd sandwiches both. What am I thinking? And it would have worked too if it wasn't for those darned....sorry, I just had a Scooby Doo moment.
The Democrats had their own version of Scooby Doo and the gang in 2016, but unlike Trump, Bernie Doo was unable to pull off the upset. Personally I think Bernie was also a turd sandwich, but he was not the anointed turd sandwich. That is a big distinction. Bernie would not have won either. If he had gotten the nomination he would have upset the Democratic party elite's apple cart. It would have perhaps changed the Democrat party. They would still have lost in 2016 but it would have perhaps set them up to choose a decent candidate for 2020. As it is, since the party will continue living in a Pelosi / Feinstein / Boxer cloud they will no doubt proffer yet another turd sandwich in 2020.
I want that horrible candidate, that turd sandwich, to be Elizabeth Warren.
Now you could be all cynical on me. You could assume I am hoping they will select another highly unlikeable, sour sounding woman. You could assume I am being analytical. Elizabeth Warren is yet another Democrat who is very popular with the party base. Yet, she is very unpopular with people who are not Democrats. She could very well represent another bubble candidate. By bubble I refer to the echo chamber the Democrats have with the media. The same one that had them convinced a Hillary presidency was a fait accompli. You would be wrong on all counts.
I just want to hear Trump call Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas for a year and a half. I think it would be the most hilarious election of my life time.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Memories

Christmas time is almost here, and as I sit here before our Christmas tree in this house with my wife of fifteen months, with my 18 old daughter just coming home from her first job, I begin to reflect. Christmas has changed so much. It isn't what it once was. Time has marched on. Rust never sleeps.

Long ago my father used to drive us around looking at Christmas lights. We used to go to a Grandmother's house or an Uncle and Aunts house and celebrate. We used to go caroling. We used to go to candle light services at our church.

So many memories, it is hard to even list them all. It is the last one, the church services at our old home town church, I want to talk about.

Ours was one of the largest churches in our hometown. It was home to a wonderful choir and some really good amateur singers. The services they did at Christmas were simply amazing. More people would show up for them than would attend Sunday services. By a large margin. They were that good. For the most part. There was, however, one part. It was a yearly ritual, a tradition. There was an elderly lady named Betty who was a musical fixture in our church, who sang solo whenever there was a musical performance. Year after year, season after season, she sang. Everyone talked about how amazing she was. Men would shout out "Amen!" when she was done. Me, I was tempted to shout out "Praise the Lord!!!", not because of how her performance had moved me. Because she was finally done. Because it was over. I guess enough time has passed, enough people have passed, that I can finally admit it. She was a lousy singer.

Oh, I am sure when she was young, like maybe back in the 50's or something, she was a fine singer. In the back then days when I heard her sing, I believe those days were long past gone. Her voice was......irritating, grating, just awful. There was a friend of mine back then I confided in about this I told him her voice sounded like someone playing a trumpet that had a big piece of aluminum foil wrapped over the end. Kind of like one of those old electric football games with a metal field that vibrated and the little players would buzz around in circles. It was the sound of bumble bees buzzing around trapped in coke cans. It grated like fingernails on blackboards. It was two chucks of styrofoam being rubbed together by a malicious demon possessed toddler. It was awful.

Every Christmas she sang the exact same song. Sweet little Jesus boy. Sunday nights she would sing songs such as "the world treat you bad, he treat you good". The same songs over and over again. And always, always, the men would shout out "amen!" when she was done. I wondered. Was it just me? Did no one else hear what I was hearing? My father, who was often merciless in talking about stuff, never complained. Not once.

No, it wasn't just me. Others felt and thought the same. Several people I knew and talked with on the sly said the same thing. The fact of the matter is this lady, who I am sure was really very talented and as I said was probably a fine singer when young, just never entertained the notion of stepping aside to let younger more able singers carry on. She had been torturing the faithful for years, long before I and my family landed there. I guess no one had the nerve to say "hey, maybe we should let someone else take a shot at that". It was a tradition after all. And maybe those older guys shouting out "amen!" despite how awful it was understood what hearing those shouted amens meant to her. Maybe they understood how as long as the song director heard guys shouting out "amen!" he was unlikely to bring her church solo singing career to an end.

Maybe having the best singer up there singing wasn't really the point. Maybe my enjoying or not enjoying the performance wasn't really the point either. Sometimes, when someone loves what they are doing so much, you just have to let them keep doing it. Even when they can no longer do it as well as they once did or when there are others who can do it better. Because you really should respect people, especially older people. And after all, a few minutes of musical torture isn't all that big a price to pay if it makes someone really, really happy.

I guess it is a good thing that was all up to folks who were both older and wiser than I was. I, placing entertainment above compassion, would have certainly made the wrong call.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fly Me Courageous

I was just reading an older article by a favorite writer of mine about flying and being afraid of flying. It was a pretty good read. I have flown a fair number of times. A lot of people have, so there isn't anything that special about it. Early on in my flying career I was really frightened about the entire thing. I do not like heights, they are not my thing. But after so many flights I started learning how to relax. Later on I actually got to where I enjoyed the flying part ...almost as much as the landing has just ended part. I never really got around to liking the trudging through the parking lot part though.

You see nothing really bad ever happened. Obviously. I am still here. I got to thinking. What was my worst, most scariest experience flying? That one is easy. It was the time I flew into Atlanta from Bristol. There was this huge summer thunderstorm sitting right on Hartsfield. We circled the airport for what felt like hours, bouncing over thermals and banking ominously through the suddenly dark spaces created by dense clouds of rain, waiting for the wind to generate enough static electricity to create a massive lightning bolt and blow us from the sky. At least that is how it looked to me.
I was really doing reasonably okay until I decided to get brave and look out the window. You couldn't see the ground for all the grey clouds and for the moment we were in bright sunlight away from higher thunder clouds. That was when I made my mistake. For some reason I imagined Wile E Coyote falling through the clouds, cutting a Wile E Coyote silhouette where he passed, just like all those cartoons. That was really all it took. I was done after that.

Well, it was my favorite landing anyway.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Of Outhouses and New Fangled Things

On a certain level this is a story of plumbing or rather the lack there of, but it is much more than that. It is a story of origins, of family, of where I came from. It is a story about my father, of his life, and of his humor. To understand, to fully appreciate what I am about to tell, you need the historical context. My parents were born into a world that is much different than the one we live in today. The years of their origination and development that lead them to who they were and the lives they lead in their roles as parents were a mystery to me. They grew up during the Great Depression. The 1940's saw my Dad enlisted in the army and sailing on a liberty ship to an uncertain future in Italy and later Germany in the last days of World War II. Meanwhile my mother went to work at Bell Aircraft as a secretary. I have a general, text book knowledge of those years, but that doesn't really tell you what life was like. One thing I do have are stories. Those things Mom and Dad would tell us over the years. Memories of memories is really all they are. But they are precious to me and I cherish all I can remember.
My parents were born in south Georgia not so very far from each other. Dad in Richland, Mom in Fort Valley. I have never been to Richland. I really should go. I have been to Fort Valley. I have also been to Americus where family on my father's side lived and live to this day. The last time through Fort Valley was with my Mom. Things had not changed so very much. It is little more than a crossing of roads that run straight as a plumb line through endless lines of fields past wooden frame farm houses. Everywhere you look you see red clay. Red clay dirt roads, red clay in the fields, red clay showing through sparse grass surrounding cemeteries beside wood frame churches.

Among the handful of stories of those days is one my Dad told me more than once. I even prompted him to tell it again while we were playing golf. One of the things that was a common feature to both my parents childhoods was the outhouse. Now I have used an outhouse on occasion. One of the things that got me about that was the fact that some are single user affairs while other are two seaters. Not typically the most elegant place to do one's business either. Especially among the dirt poor.
I would imagine, as with other things, some folks had better facilities. According to what I have read having a two seater was a sign of relative affluence.
Obviously having an opulent outdoor crapper isn't something the neighbors would fail to notice. In those days a brick shit house must have been something of a wonder and the source of much gossip down at the local barbershop.
Which leads me to my story. No matter how poor a community is there are always things that separate the haves from the have nots. Having and not having is a relative thing. That has not changed and no matter what, I think it will never change. In rural Georgia of the 1930's one of those things appears to be plumbing. In the Richland Georgia of my Dad's childhood there was one family that people looked upon as being rich. So when it was announced this family was having a bathroom installed, complete with running water and a toilet, in the house it became a point of much conversation and excitement.

While I am sure gossip was practiced where ever two or more would gather, in Richland the local nexus of masculine gossip was the local barbershop. It was there my Dad as a young boy learned about the entire affair as he listened to talk about this wondrous happening. As Dad said most folks spoke of this in terms of amazement, wonder, and perhaps more than just a little envy. But not everyone. As talk began to spiral out of control one of the older men spoke as a man making a pronouncement would. As reported to me this is what this elderly gentleman had to say.

"Well, I don't know about you but that is the nastiest thing I ever heard. I don't care how much money I had, I would never take a shit in the house."

Which just goes to show there is always more than one way of looking at a thing.

How to construct the perfect Possum Blind

One of the most frequent questions we get here at Bubba's possum Ranch is "how do you make a possum blind?" This is a question I have not addressed hitherto for the simple reason every time I hear it I immediately think "are you kidding?" Usually followed by a seriously dismissive snort. If you have not heard one of those you should. You will definitely want to add that to your debate repertoire. It can be quite effective when used properly. But then I realized something. Not everyone has had the benefit of a good Southern upbringing. Especially one under the wise and practical tutelage of an accomplished possum angler such as the afore mentioned and much venerated Bubba. Y'all have missed out and I am sorry for that. I can't fix that short coming in your education completely, but I can bring you up to speed in this small but essential area.

This is by no means the only-est way to construct a possum blind. It is, however, the only-est way to construct the perfect possum blind. The key to the perfect possum blind, like baking a cake, is in the ingredients. Each element is essential and must be chosen with care. Placement is important but not critical. I will not cover common sensical considerations, such as ensuring you have a clear shot from the front porch, as if you can't figure that one out you really have no business owning a fine possum blind anyway. Oh yeah, do not place your possum blind between the front porch and your neighbor's trailer. Shooting into someone's domicile is generally considered a social faux pas.

The first element of a world class possum blind is the trailer. Some folks call this a mobile home but that is a real misnomer as we all know moving one twice is almost never worth the expense. It certainly isn't worth the effort. The right kind of trailer, once positioned, will settle in so to speak. It will conform itself to the topography until it achieves a state of harmonious perfection. Empty beer bottles, when dropped on the kitchen floor, naturally migrate over to the trash can on their own. The primary consideration when selecting your possum blind when it comes to a trailer is color. Green is king. Not too bright though. So faded green would be perfect. Rust works very well too.

Next comes the abandoned car. Experts will differ on this. The biggest divide runs along Chevy versus Ford lines. The choice here is really up to you but I highly recommend you stay with my afore mentioned color scheme. I like a good Ford Pinto. No doors is generally best but failing that no trunk lid and missing windows is certainly a very good choice.


There is no way I can over stress the importance of the choice of trash cans. Plastic just does not work. Many will disagree but theys wrong. They have to be galvanized and rusted to here and back. As to how many the rule of thumb is less is not more. More is more better. At least one needs to have the bottom rusted out completely. Lay that one on its side.

You are almost there, so stay with me. All you need now is the bait. There are any number of schools of thought here and you are certainly free to consult local experts. Any angler would be wise to consult the local experts, if you can find them and if you can get them to talk. That can be a real challenge. Once again I am here to impart and disseminate. Just about any trash will do but for the best results you need two main ingredients in large quantity. Empty beer cans and greasy chicken buckets filled with chicken bones. For the former I firmly believe nothing, and I mean nothing, beats Pabst blue ribbon. As a matter of fact, until I was old enough to go into a store by myself I didn't know there was any other kind. As for the latter, the choice of franchise and variety is clear. You want KFC original recipe. It has to be the bucket too. Quick snack boxes, two or three piece meals, and even the occasional Mrs. Winters will kind of work okay in an absolute pinch, but I refuse to recommend it. The bottom line, though, is extra crispy won't slick up the bottom of the bucket near as much as original recipe. Besides, possum hunting is all about tradition. There is a reason they call it original recipe. Colonel, if you a listening, God bless you for that. For best effect save the lid and put it back on before you place the bait. You want maximum over the bait time, so make 'em work for it.

There you go. As I said placement and location are really up to you. Most of you will not have the advantage of living in prime possum hunting locations, such as LA (Lower Alabama) or Fort Valley Georgia. Still, if you live in possum country, if you include these essential elements, you should do just fine. If nothing else you will have a grand time accumulating sufficient bait.

Good luck and good hunting!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Climate Change and Beer

When it comes to climate change I am not a skeptic. Nor am I a denier. I am an I call bullshitter. I thought it might be wise to just go ahead it get that out of the way right up front. No sense beating around the bush. Not that climate change isn't a thing. It actually is. It just isn't a new thing. As a species we have actually documented dramatic climate change going way back. I mean way back. I am pretty much an expert on this stuff. I took ancient history in high school. I have read the Bible many times. I have watched Cecil B. Demille. Yule Brenner made one heck of a Pharaoh by the way. Climate change pretty much drove the nation of Israel to go hang with Yule Brenner. They left home in the first place because of an insanely long drought. After hanging around in Egypt at least long enough for Charlton Heston to grow up, then wandering around the desert long enough for the Golden Calf generation to die out, they finally came back to the old neighborhood. You know, the land flowing with milk and honey.

Now, of course, much of that cool place is as dead as the Dead Sea. Climate change baby, it pretty much bites.

As a student of those times I can state with some certainty climate was a real pain in the camel hump for those ancient peoples hanging out in the fertile crescent. It ain't looking all that fertile nowadays either. Life in those times seemed to consistent of periods of drought and really bad floods. People were always starving or drowning. It's a wonder people were able to invent civilization in such a place. I assume it got better from time to time. Good enough that Alexander the great went to all the trouble to leave the grapes of Greece and go conquer it.

Which brings us to what is arguably the greatest thing ever to come out of that entire area. Beer.

According to archeologists, historians, and people like me who read a bunch of stuff, the earliest reference to beer is a 3900 year old Sumerian poem. I haven't read it but it honors the Sumerian Goddess Ninkasi and also contains a recipe for beer. This beer was made from barley and bread. Hey, you work with what you got. So we know beer is at least 3900 old. What no one knew, though, was how beer was invented in the first place. Until now.

Beer wasn't actually invented. Not like Bell invented the telephone. It was really more or less discovered. By accident. Remember how I mentioned how that entire area was nothing but a series of droughts and floods? It was during one of those drought periods a Sumerian man by the name of Nim-Becile lived. He was more fortunate than his neighbors in that he had plenty of barley, wheat, a little salt, and loads of honey. Fearing someone would steal his stash he hid it in a dry hole in the ground. Unfortunately the hole was only dry because of the massive drought. Perhaps he should have thought of that. Though Nim-Becile played a key role in discovering beer he wasn't actually the one who discovered it. That honor fell to a man named Shasham-Libat. It was shortly after the next flood receded that Shasham-Libat was wondering around looking for his house when he fell into a hole. Nim-Becile's hole. And the rest is, as they say, history. Imbibing of a cold brew is known as a Libation to this very day.

The art of brewing beer would reach it's peak many years later in ancient Egypt under the steady hand of Imanhoptech. Which also might explain why the Jewish people decided to go to Egypt instead of someplace where Yule Brenner, who was a real bad ass, wasn't.

I hope we have cleared this entire climate change business up for you. It isn't a new thing and it isn't necessarily bad either.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The great Roe V Wade lie

Watching the portion of the debate between Trump and Hillary concerning abortion last night I was struck by one thing. Most of us never actually read laws or court rulings. We rely upon the media or people like Hillary to tell us what the law says. The sad fact is much of what you hear is not factual. They twist, leave out key details, and flat out lie. Thus our laws and the rulings of our courts devolve into propaganda. Over and over again you hear as Hillary repeated last night that Roe V Wade established abortion as a constitutional right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Roe V Wade did affirm a woman's right to privacy and did strike down laws which criminalized abortion in particular circumstances. What they are not telling you is Roe V Wade actually affirmed life begins in the womb and the state has a compelling interest in protecting the life of the unborn.

Remember folks, these are lawyers and with lawyers words really do matter. Ideally, legal wording should make things crystal clear so there is no ambiguity. That is one of the aspects of this decision which I find very interesting. In so far as women's rights only two are mentioned. The right to privacy is one. The right to privacy is actually well defined by the 4th amendment. Roe V Wade struck down criminal abortion laws because they "....violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy."

While the constitution does not specifically call out privacy as one of the enumerated rights the 4th amendment does provide protection against unreasonable searches or seizures. That at least implies a right to privacy. Further, the constitution wisely does not attempt to list every single right we as people have. It specifically states this and mot importantly ascribes ownership of those rights not specifically enumerated to the people and the states. With respect to a right to privacy in general Roe V Wade is rock solid.

What is not so clear is the second right Roe V Wade appears to have created, which is "a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy". The wording indicates this right exists as a consequence of the right to privacy. This appears to be a pretty big leap. It is certainly not a conclusion that everyone would find to be logical. The key to understanding this lies in the legal terminology used, specifically the finding abortion is a qualified right. What exactly is a qualified right?

The usage of this terminology is well considered because there are legal definitions that apply. Those definitions are essential to understanding what is being said. There are actually three different types of rights. In order to place what Roe V Wade is actually saying in its proper scope and perspective you must understand how these different types of rights are defined legally.

  • An absolute right is one that can not be infringed upon under any circumstance.
  • A qualified right is one the state can interfere with under certain circumstances.
  • A restricted right is one that can be restricted or revoked by law. For example, the right to own a gun is restricted as it can be revoked if an individual commits a violent felony.

What should immediately become clear here is Roe V Wade absolutely did not create an absolute right to have an abortion. That is clearly contradicted by the ruling itself. Remember, words and wording matter in law. 

Roe V Wade did not actually create a qualified right to have an abortion either. Remember, the founding principle of our republic has always been our rights exist, period. Granted by God, an endowment from our creator, by virtue of our humanity, because we exist.....pick you favorite. It doesn't matter, what does matter is our rights are not created by the state and are not endowed to us by the state. What Roe V Wade actually did was affirm, as far as the state is concerned, we all have the right to do what ever we wish without interference from the state unless the state has a compelling reason to interfere. This is a critical distinction and a very important principle. For this reason it appears obvious to me no one is going to "do away" with Roe V Wade much less place it in the "dust bin of history". More on that in a moment.

Roe V Wade defined two compelling reasons for the state to interfere with a woman's right to privacy and by extension to interfere with the qualified right to an abortion. Those two reasons are to protect the health of the pregnant woman and to protect the life developing inside the pregnant woman. This is so important. Roe V Wade defines protecting the life of the child developing in the womb as being of compelling interest to the state. That is a crucial point.

In this respect I am in complete agreement with the ruling. What I disagree with is the arbitrary definition of when life begins which ostensibly was predicated upon the state of knowledge back in the day.

When you hear people like Hillary Clinton refer to a woman's constitutional right to get an abortion I believe you are actually hearing propaganda. The idea being to change the culture, to change people's morals in fact, by repeating this mantra over and over until it becomes ingrained. Until it just becomes assumed a woman has an absolute constitutional right to have an abortion. One obvious desire is to shut down debate. It is also indisputable a lot of people would like to over turn the protection of the life of an unborn child Roe V Wade actually created. I believe most people fail to comprehend this is really the case.

The truth is Roe V Wade stands upon three distinct and equal pillars. Those pillars being a woman's right to privacy, the state's compelling interesting in protecting the health of pregnant women, and the state's compelling interest in protecting the life of the unborn child. The problem is no one ever talks about the third pillar or even acknowledges it exists. As I said before, Hillary is a lawyer. A lawyer should understand this. The fact of the matter is I really don't know what Hillary's personal view on abortion is. It could be she is truly passionate in her belief that abortion on demand, without restriction, is an absolute right. However, as a lawyer, as someone who aspires to be a leader, she should be truthful with the American people with respect to what this ruling really says on all points, not just those points that support her agenda or her ambitions. I suspect the real truth is abortion to her is a tool, a means to secure votes.

Below are references for your information:

The 4th Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Roe Vs Wade

    3) State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman's health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a "compelling" point at various stages of the woman's approach to term. Pp. 147-164.
    (a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. Pp. 163, 164.
    (b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163, 164.
    (c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164-165.

    The text of the 14th amendment

    Amendment XIV

    Section 1.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Section 2.

    Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

    Section 3.

    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

    Section 4.

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

    Section 5.

    The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

In this brave new world of information what most people hear is blah blah blah

I remember how the world was back in the days before Google, before smart phones, before anyone even had a computer in their home. It was the world BC. Before cable. A world where there were three channels on TV that did the news three times a day. A world where we read newspapers in the morning to see what happened yesterday. Many people read magazines. That was it. Three networks, one newspaper, and magazines. And the magazines more often than not were read at the doctor's office, or at the dentists. You did have magazines at the barber shop, but those were usually Outdoor Life, Boys Life, or Popular Mechanics. Walter Cronkite told you what was going on and that was pretty much that.

Now, there is a veritable explosion of people talking and writing. The supply of opinions, speculations, facts, or maybe not quite facts seems limitless. What we have now is a cacophony, a veritable informational highway of babble. So many voices, so many pulpits. Yet, it seems to me no one really listens. Not really. Now I am wondering, did people actually listen back in the dark ages, back before Google and Youtube? It seems to me they did.

Back in the day it was more quiet. People weren't in such a rush. If you didn't catch the 6:00 or the 11:00 news you missed it. Listening was what people did. You listened to your parents, your teacher, your preacher. You listened when the President addressed the nation. You listened to Walter Cronkite. Because you trusted in authority. You listened to authority. That is no longer true. The past 30, 40, even 50 years has been an accelerating process of losing trust in authority and authority figures that has grown in tandem with the explosion of information technology. These things go hand in hand. Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, the oil embargo, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, the great recession, the bailouts, Iraq, and now Iran, ISIS, and the explosion of world wide terror. Not only do we have more sources of information, but they often conflict each other wildly. We no longer trust our government or the media. We no longer have an authority to appeal to, we have a plethora of authorities to choose from. We choose those that reinforce what we want to believe.

This is why we no longer listen. Because we already know. We have already decided and that is it. When we hear anyone say anything we typically listen only far enough to decide do we agree or disagree. If we disagree we stop listening as we formulate a rebuttal. If we agree we stop listening as we congratulate ourselves on being so wise or pity those who are too foolish to get it. On those rare occasions we hear something we have not already decided upon most of the time we only listen long enough to decide we care. Only rarely do we stop, admit that we may not know, and then give what has been said serious thought.

You have only to look so far as the Vice Presidential "debate", and I use that term very loosely, to see this in application. Trust me, if you start talking before the other guy is finished you are not listening.

I am not saying we were wise to trust authority as much as we did when we really didn't have a choice. I think time has shown that it is wise to hold a healthy skepticism. I am not saying that choice is bad either. Information should never be a monopoly. I am saying to choose wisely, not based upon what makes you feel comfortable or superior. Seek truth over comfort. Above all, learn again how to listen. Debate ideally is not a contest to be won or lost. Debate should be as much listening as talking. Debate should strengthen understanding, should unify purpose, and it should result in greater insights. We do not have debates in politics. We have competing sales pitches and slander.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Musicish Video Posted

I have posted another video to YouTube. Again featuring RC, the rubber chicken, but with new characters. This one does feature me doing a serious jam, not meaning it is like this really awesome jam though. I just mean I am being serious. Not the same thing at all. Anyway, here is the link to the video. I hope people will enjoy it.

Go to my video...if you dare! Muah ha ha ha ha!!!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Of Halloween, Football, and Brussel Sprouts

Today is Saturday and it is the first day,officially, of Halloween. Okay, it is the first day of October, but I am a total Horror junkie. Books, movies, stories, and the Monster Mash. You name it. My life long love affair with all things spooky began long ago. Watching the Friday Night Frights on channel 17. I remember being super excited when The House of Frankenstein was going to be shown. It was going to be awesome! It had all the great monsters in it! The fact The House of Frankenstein was not very good, and I gave up in complete disappointment before it was through, did not diminish my love of Horror.

The temperatures outside have dropped considerably and night time carries that hint of something more than just cool coming. The leaves have begun to turn and fall in an undeniable fashion if not quite in earnest yet. Soon the mountains north of here will burst into cool flame. The sorghum has already come in and we have laid in our supply for the year. We didn't forget the honey either, we are well supplied with local grown, raw sourwood gold from North Georgia. It won't be very long now until it is cool enough for burning and the air is going to be filled with the smell of burning leaves.

For all these things and more I am glad to see October 1st. Of course, fall also means football. Yes, football really started a while back. In the summer. While that is football, it really isn't football. For one thing I never watch exhibition games. What's the point? Nothing is at stake and a lot of the players you see then won't make the cut. Besides, as far as I am concerned, other than the Falcons, pro football just isn't that exciting until the wild card games begin. Wild card games are always the best of the year. It typically goes down hill from there until you finally get to the Stupor Bowl. I do love college football. Especially those games that have real meaning regardless of rankings. Ohio vs. Ohio State. Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. For me, football really begins when the night time air gets really cool, almost crisp. Maybe that is because so many of my best memories of high school come from going to cold games, wearing fall clothes, feeling the swirl of cold wind. Or playing tag football with friends with the crunch of leaves under foot. That, to me, is football.

One other thing Fall means to me is food. When cooler weather comes it is time to say goodbye to summer eats. Time to savor the last of the local grown tomatoes, banana peppers, and other fresh veggies. It is time to start thinking about squashes, pumpkin pie, chili, soups, and all those things best eaten piping hot on cold days. Time to start thinking comfort food.

So, now we finally get to brussel sprouts. From time to time I make up my own recipes, usually based upon things I have seen. I throw things together and see what happens. This is one of those times. It really does look and smell delicious. What you see here is the trial batch. We have an upcoming spaghetti dinner at my in laws house. I intend to make this in a larger version for the occasion. It is a very special occasion for me. I get to see my step grandson for the very first time. For this reason, plus the fact I love my in laws very much, I want to make something unique, something special, something that is my own creation.
If you are interested in trying this, here is the recipe.
  • About two dozen brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed, and halved
  • 6 to 8 artichoke hearts, canned or fresh, halved
  • One dozen or so roasted garlic cloves
  • A generous amount of salt
  • Balsamic honey glaze
  • Grated parmesan cheese
I arranged the artichoke hearts around a 12" pie pan, then filled with the brussel sprouts. Scatter the roasted garlic over the top, salt generously, then pore the glaze over everything. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or so. Make sure the sprout get done. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. The balsamic glaze is about 1/ 2 cup of vinegar, 1/8 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup of honey. Mix and simmer over low heat until reduced in volume by half.
You can reduce the baking time by parboiling the sprouts for five minutes or so before hand.
The roasted garlic is also easy to make and is really delicious by itself. I separated the cloves, pealed the paper like shell off, sealed in aluminum foil with olive oil. Bake at 350° to 400° for about 30 minutes. After they cool off the shell is easily pealed off. Eat whole or use in other dishes whole or crushed. The garlic does caramelize and has a sweet and smokey taste.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My First Music Video

So. I actually do play music. I am a guitar and keyboard player. I also have a rubber chicken. It means a lot to me. No, really. Any way, here is my very first music video. My wife and I had loads of fun putting this together. It literally took long, hard minutes....wait....oh, just watch the video!!!!!


Of Cow Flop, Hillary, Me, My Dad, and Mister Smith

This article is, I think, essentially correct. It does have it's short comings. It ignores the ineptitude, greed, and fraud of the investment bankers, realty companies, and yes, realtors. It ignores the gullibility of average people who were fooled by the lie that real estate values could just keep on rising. It also ignores the fact that Bill was President, not Hillary. Still, it is mostly correct.

Sorry Hillary, tax cuts did not cause the financial collapse

I posted on this very subject here at the Possum Ranch. I did not go into the why's of how this situation came to pass as this article does. That was not the point of my post. Yes, hearing Hillary blowing cow flop did anger me. It angered me for many reasons. Mostly because she knows she is lying. She is playing the blame game to get elected. Because that is all she cares about obviously. One thing Hillary is not is stupid. No one who actually cares about this country, America, should make that mistake. But, first and foremost, I wanted to share a story that talked about my life. I wanted to talk about what it was like to enter the work force with a college degree, as I did, back in 1990. About how I went about making the American dream come to pass. By working a second job to save money for a house. By living frugally, by not spending beyond my means, by paying cash for everything, and by investing through hard work. If I didn’t have the money for it, I didn’t buy it. Period. In fact, buying the house was the first loan I had ever taken, it was the first thing I ever purchased that I did not pay cash for. It would be many years before I ever took out my first car loan or bought anything on credit.

And I did work hard for everything I had. When we bought our first house I was working a salaried job. That means a standard 48 hour work week, which often really meant 70 hours a week, with no over time. I received the same pay regardless of how many hours I worked. As I always said, I had free unlimited over time. My commute consumed a minimum of 10 hours every week if I was lucky. That is two hours a day, every day, if the traffic gods cooperated.

We did buy a fixer upper opportunity. The selling price on our first house was $49,900. It was a rental home and it was in rugged shape. I remodeled the house. It was a process that literally took years. I tore out a kitchen wall, enclosed part of the carport, built a new utility room, tore out and replaced all the kitchen cabinets, installed new cabinets in the utility room, removed all the carpet, and refinished the underlying hardwood floors. I repainted the entire house inside and out. By the way, I never bought a single cabinet at Lowes or Home Depot. I built every single cabinet I installed, mostly recycling the older cabinets because I couldn’t afford to buy the materials. In fact, I recycled nearly every single piece of wood I tore out for that very same reason. Early on we were still living at the condo. Saturdays would find me at the new house before sunrise where I would work until nearly midnight, only to turn around Sunday morning to do it again. I remember the only items in the house would be hand me down tools, building materials, and a Black and Decker coffee pot. I would make a full 12 cup pot at least twice a day. I think I lived off coffee.

In this respect I am very much like my father. I have lived my life, mostly unconsciously, by his model. I even spent nearly 25 years working in the same place he spent the last 18 working years of his life. My parents grew up through the great depression and came to adulthood through that crucible known as World War II. They knew poverty, desperation, and adversity intimately. My Mom would tell us from time to time how they lived for months on end eating little more than biscuits and streak o’ lean. How a good Christmas was getting an orange in their stocking. My Dad would tell stories of growing up in a small South Georgia town. About the first family in town, the rich family, to get indoor plumbing. About washing up on a cold winter morning standing behind the coal stove in the kitchen using a basin of water warmed on that same stove and a wash cloth. As I grow older, as I continue to build my life towards retirement, I am becoming more and more aware of these things. I become more and more appreciative. I begin to understand.

As I sit here in this house, which is paid for by the way, I have come to know and understand none of this would have come to be without my Mom and Dad, yes, but mostly because of Dad. If this is my white privilege then I will take it both proudly and with as much humility as I can muster. The degree of separation between me and the Great Depression is nothing more than my parents.

However, if I am going to be honest I will have to acknowledge as great a man as my Father was, he would not have achieved what he did except for a man I know only as Mister Smith. Mister Smith created a business that would become famous for something which now seems simple and common place. A lawn mower. A Snapper lawn mower in fact. I never met Mister Smith, but I have heard a lot about him and I have seen firsthand what he built. Dad was a very smart and hardworking man, and he did leave his mark. Snapper would not have been the same without my Dad. Yet, for all his brilliance, Snapper would probably have been just as successful without him. Snapper needed Dad, yes, but Dad needed Snapper more. He needed the opportunity to use his brilliance and to achieve that success. Could he have created this on his own? Maybe, yes, but probably not. Dad needed Mister Smith and all who have ever benefitted from my Father owe Mister Smith a debt of gratitude for that opportunity.

People like Hillary honestly don’t have a clue. She talks about her father, about how he worked for his family, and made opportunity for them. Doesn’t she realize if he were to open his shop today, if Mister Smith were to set about creating Snapper today, they would have to face huge obstacles? Obstacles that probably would make what they achieved impossible. Regulations, taxes, volumes of tax codes, and to call it what it is, bullshit. Doesn’t she understand we needed Mister Smith for a hell of a lot more than the taxes he paid? What is so hard to understand about how an environment that encourages or drives jobs to go to other countries would not also prevent people like Mister Smith from creating jobs here?  When you ask Trump about how do you create jobs here that is what he talks about. He understands that is exactly what we must talk about. Hillary? Her response is to talk about a BS label democrats tried to take down Ronald Reagan with, attempt to tie her candidacy to lingering anti G W Bush sentiment through blatant falsehoods, and to completely ignore the incredibly negative unforeseen impacts of her own husband’s and other democrats’ actions.

This is where the real meat of the debate lies, everything else is pure distraction. Hillary and the rest of the politicians, including every Bush who has ever been or ever might be President, has and will fail to put our economy where it needs to be because they do not understand it and because all they really want to do is get elected. Haven’t the Clintons and others like them cashed in enough yet?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Awful Album Covers Made More Awfuller.....

When it comes to really bad album covers, especially the unintentionally creepy kind, you really can't beat old timey gospel. I know there are plenty of others out there, but when I found these, well, I just couldn't help...embellishing a tad. Here are a few before and afters.

I just think this one is somehow, more realish.

As for this one, well, I really don't see how anyone could possibly add any creepy. They's plenty enough already. If I were Sal, I would have had to bury that thing in a safe. At the bottom of the ocean. Sometime after the exorcism.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jihadi of the Living Dead

One of the questions that really got me during last night's debate was the "what do you do about home grown terrorists" question. Certain things in the answers just didn't register right with me. It really gets me when people talked about these folks getting radicalized. The Chelsea bomber, Ahmad Rahami, is a prime example. Apparently he traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, got married, and then got "radicalized". As if radical Islam were a virus created in some Al Qaeda lab funded by rich Saudis (yeah, I am really reaching here). Obviously this lab is being run by those who would use this noble religion for their nefarious purposes. So poor Ahmad, who is innocently running around over there on a bride hunt, happens to run into a jihadi of the living dead, gets bit, and then turns.
Because becoming a radical Muslim is more than something that just happens to you, it is something that is done to you. You get radicalized, you don't just radicalize. The one is arson. The other would be spontaneous human combustion.

Even worse, I picture a bunch of tech savvy jihadi operators hanging around in secret internet versions of a telemarketing call center spamming the holy crap out of Muslim dudes all over Europe and the United States. Instead of hacking their Facebook accounts and posting porn, these guys trick poor Muslim guys like Ahmad into clicking the link.....the link that installs the mind altering software on their computers, smart phones, and tablets. The digital version of being bitten by a jihadi zombie. 

Pretty much a Brainscan of the Prophet kind of thing. Yes, that is an obscure 90's movie reference of dubious value.

Sounds pretty damn stupid when you put it like that, doesn't it? Because it is stupid. These guys are not just hanging out at the mall being all regular American or French dude-ish when suddenly, wham! They get radicalized by some bearded Muslim internet hack posting their junk. They go looking for it. Because it is something they want to do. Could be influence from the parents or other relatives. Could be some radical Muslim hanging out at the local Mosque insidiously spreading poison. They could self radicalize just by watching the news and reading the Koran. Hey, it could happen. My contention is these guys radicalize themselves. They choose. Is the concept of choice really so hard to accept? Because the idea that ISIS is spontaneously radicalizing Muslims by internet messaging just doesn't hold up, unless, like I said before they have a bunch of Osama Bin Hackers diving for Muslim contact lists. And the ability to produce mind altering software.

One more thing. If you immigrate to the US, then go blow people up, you are not home grown my friend.

You are imported.

The Biggest Lie of the Inaugural 2016 Presidential Debate Few People Noticed

The biggest Lie of the inaugural 2016 Presidential Debate Few People Noticed


Now that is a pretty good teaser, isn’t it? Someone, to be named in a moment, told a huge, or YUGE lie, and no one noticed. Well, I did hear one commentator call it out today. However at the actual debate the lie floated there completely unchallenged. Personally, I had to choke down a vicious expulsion. The thing about this lie is the liar didn’t come up with it. It isn’t even a second hand lie, or even a third hand lie. It is literally a joke made by a liberal comedian, who happened to have a very low opinion of politicians and government in general, made at the expense of a Republican president who was seeking to spur the economy by means of a massive stimulus package paid for, no doubt, by the extremely high taxes paid by the wealthy of that time. Needless to say that stimulus package succeeded just as well as the most recent ones seen in our country. More on that in a moment.

So, do I have your interest? Are you dying to know? Well here you go.

“Trickledown economics caused the financial crisis!” Hillary Clinton, September 26, 2016.

Uh…….no. That is complete BS of the purest sort. We all know the housing bubble collapse is what drove the Great Recession. That and the resulting waves that passed through the world financial markets and institutions who to that point had been cashing in. No, I am not going to go into this huge discussion on subprime loans and investments, hedge funds, and other things which are to me extremely opaque. I will say I was very much alive at the time, I was a home owner, and I have a very good memory. Tax cuts did not cause the crash folks. In fact, the economy was spinning along fairly well. As I remember it, unemployment after the Bush tax cuts had fallen to a point most economists said could not be improved upon. It was very close to 2%. Common wisdom at the time stated that at least 1% of the population was essentially unemployable.

As to why the housing bubble burst, well, you have to look at what caused it. I think I can give you some personal insights. First, let me give you a little background. At that time I was in my early 30’s, married, and the sole provider for my family. I was working at Redacted Inc., a manufacturer of lawn products. I was making $28,000 a year and living in a condo paying $375 a month for rent. I wanted to own a home, of course. So I went to work nights on a contract job programing CNC punch presses. I was paid $15.00 an hour for this work, and I did it for many months until I had enough money saved for a down payment on a house. Mind you, I had a one hour commute to work, meaning I had to leave before 6:00 am to make it by 7:00 am. Because my wife at the time had special needs, I often had to take care of her before I left, so I set my alarm for 4:30 every morning. My morning commute was not so bad, really, because traffic is pretty light before the sun rises. However, my evening commute could stretch out to two or even three hours. By the time I was in a position to buy a house I was pretty stretched out. As Grizzard (a great American) would say, I was “tard”. So began the long, painful, yet ultimately successful search for a home.

We ended up buying a trashed out rental home, for which I paid $49,900. Well actually, the bank paid that, minus my down payment of course. The bank, or at least bank number four, is still getting paid for that house. This all went according to my plan to buy a fixer upper. I figured to raise the value of my investment through “sweat equity”, as I really didn’t have the money to buy a really nice house.  Or so I thought, the Realtors had really different ideas.

For some odd reason the Realtors all thought I could afford a house far more expensive than I thought I could. We are talking $180,000 to $250,000. I thought they were insane. “No, no, no!” they said, “you can afford it! Let me show you how!” See, they were pushing adjustable rate mortgages, that would only cost 3% to maybe 5%, and you only need to pay interest for the first however many years. I didn’t even need my down payment! Well, except for the earnest money that is. “You can buy it now, and in a few years sell it for big money! Prices are just going up and up! Everyone is doing it! On your next house you will be looking at half a million dollar houses!”

This did not sit well with me, it just didn’t make sense. For one thing the $180,000 to $250,000 houses they were showing me weren’t very nice. They were not worth that kind of cash. No freaking way. Besides, how could the prices just keep going up and up? How the hell could people afford that? Unless wages were going to get a hell of a lot better, which I wasn’t seeing, where the hell was all that money going to come from? As far as I could see the banks would have to run out of money at some point if “everybody” was doing it. Besides which, I did something apparently few people did. I read the fine print and it scared the hell out of me. No, and, well, just no. I had worked too hard get that far. No way was I going to wake up one day with payments ballooned to the point I couldn’t handle it and lose everything. Yet, that is what people were doing. As I said, I thought they were all certifiably insane.

So it looks to me the crash was pretty much inevitable. I wonder why others didn’t see it. It was a pyramid scheme. How much stupid is there in the world?

Back to trickledown economics, though. The phrase came into existence when Will Rodgers was making fun of Hubert Hoover during the great depression. Seriously, could you make this stuff up? And yes, that stimulus package failed to halt the great depression, just the same as Roosevelt’s new deal failed to do so. In fact the depression would linger on until after World War II. Later on Democrats copted the phrase to ridicule Ronald Reagan, who favored lowering taxes and reducing the size of government. Reagan never referred to his plan as “trickle down” anyway, as far as I can remember. The actual term was supply side economics. The idea is really pretty simple. You allow people to invest, to work, to invent, to innovate, and most importantly to keep the fruits of their labor with minimal government intervention. Government should be small and efficient. We certainly don’t have that do we?

I really have one last point to make on the Great Recession and the collapse of the housing bubble. We purchased our home in the early 90's. I really don’t remember the exact year. I am pretty sure Clinton was President at the time, though it could have been Bush the elder. I don’t think so, but really “what difference, at this point, does it make?” The point is the housing bubble was in full, destructive swing long before GW came to office. Whatever lingering Reagan era economic policies had pretty much evaporated under Bush the elder. Remember "Read My Lips, no new taxes!"? A pledge just as worthless as "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan...". No, the housing bubble was there, fermenting through nearly the entire Clinton presidency, just waiting to burst as it inevitably had to, as surely as water seeps through a bad foundation.  


I do want to post a link to one of the many sources I reviewed before penning this rather long posting. It is, I think, very much to the point.


For those who made it this far, thank you for the kindness you have shown!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Biscuit Rocks, the Torture of the Squirrels

Most of my friends know I have culinary aspirations. It is true, I can cook. Often times well. I have been cooking a long time and most things are more than merely edible. I have made many things wonderful and most of my disasters are in the past. A wise man learns from his mistakes. I do too.

My career in cooking began back in high school after my Mom went through chemo. She was really too ill to cook and that really bothered her. She did not take forced idleness very well. However, there is a distinct possibility what really bothered here the most was the idea of Dad in the kitchen. She was a very wise woman.

For most Southerners of my generation, and earlier ones I imagine, the kitchen was really the heart of family life. Mom did all the cooking, unless they decided to have breakfast for dinner. Then Dad would man the waffle iron. Thinking about it now, Dad's cooking authority in the kitchen was pretty much limited to waffles and toast. Beyond that, kitchening was really a complex dance between Mom and Dad. Not a battle, really, more a series of minor skirmishes. Periodically Dad would invade the kitchen and Mom would hover and flutter in not quite panic. Especially if he decided to go cleaning. Unable to take a leading role in cooking, ill content with the occasional waffle or piece of burnt toast, Dad would assuage his deep desire to DO SOMETHING by deciding to clean. The resulting turmoil would last a good part of Saturday morning, after which Mom would quietly put things back to rights over the next day or so. Such times always left me with a feeling of unease, which would also fade as normal returned.

Which isn't to say Mom was one of those amazing, Southern cooks as so many old fashioned Moms were. Quite the opposite. Most things were at least edible and were often quite good, but we did go through a lot of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Mom was remembered, and actually beloved, more for her disasters than for her spectacular successes. There were the rock pecan pies which were like big chunks of brown rock candy, covered with pecan chunks, and encased in crust. There was the cinder block chocolate cake which the revivalist who ate Sunday dinner with us was unable to saw through with a steak knife. There was the couple who came for a spaghetti dinner when we were very young who preferred to eat their spaghetti plain - sans the awful homemade sauce. I could really go on and on and on.....

The most famous incident, and the one which I remember with the most fondness because it is absolutely true, is that of the biscuit  rocks. Mom made a lot of biscuits, but this time something was strange to our experience. When pulled out of the oven they were, well, tall. I was later informed that is called rising. They were also the wrong color. I was familiar with white biscuits, even black ones. These were an appealing golden brown. The smell was pure heaven too. What came out of my Mom's oven was an even dozen perfectly baked biscuits. We were of course all ready to split these boys open, smother them in lumpy, which is what we called the gravy Mom made, and have at. Well, reality was not so kind. I don't remember what became of the lumpy. I do know none of it ever touched those biscuits. The visually perfect pucks of some flour based substance proved to be impregnable to any culinary implement man has ever invented. They were biscuit rocks and there was literally nothing we could do. They sat for days on our kitchen table in pristine and completely inedible beauty. Finally Dad took them outside and placed them on a stump underneath the bird feeder, where they would stay intact for a good month. One afternoon shortly there after I was outside when I heard this thunk and noticed one of the biscuit rocks had fallen out of a tree. As I watched, mister squirrel scurried down the tree, grabbed the same biscuit, and headed back up. A few minutes later.....thunk! Here it came again. Bless his little, flighty, rapidly beating heart, that poor squirrel was trying to bust that biscuit rock open. No doubt trying to get to some soft, edible goodness that surely must be inside. It was not to be. Despite their best efforts not one squirrel was able to get so much as a decent bite. Knowing squirrels, I imagine this tortured them no end. Squirrels are persistent little things after all.

Ultimately, the biscuit rocks were placed in a garbage back and sent to the landfill where I imagine they wait to this day to bewilder some future archaeologist.

Now, I know what you are thinking. I began this talking about the beginning of my cooking career. I am getting to that, but some background information was really necessary. Context is, after all, extremely important in these things. You see, after Mom became ill, after all the food the ladies from our church brought had been consumed, Dad once again invaded the kitchen. This time to cook. Que the Jaws theme music......  After about two weeks of that I decided one of us needed to learn how to cook or we were all going to die.

That is how it all started. And I did get better at it. Eventually.