Thursday, September 29, 2016
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!!!!!
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
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
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
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. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/367682/
For those who made it this far, thank you for the kindness you have shown!
Sunday, September 25, 2016
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.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
At one time in my life I had decided I wanted to be a writer. We are talking 7th grade here. I even launched a novel or two, God only knows what they were about or what land fill they came to reside in. They got what they deserved, I assure you. In recent years I have engaged in Facebook editorials and email epistles. Some folks have rather enjoyed my writing. Humorous and insightful, if you like it. Not so much if you don't. As my Mom would say about certain dishes and other food items, "It's good if you like it." My Dad was a bit more prosaic. As he would say, "Pass the ketchup." My Mom once made the observation Dad would eat anything with enough Ketchup on it.
The subject of this blog is pretty much anything I want it to be. What I find interesting. What I find funny. That which makes me angry. Things that make me happy. It is apt to be political, maybe even religious. Who knows? I have no master plan here. I tend to be silly, but I can be very serious. You may want to bring your own ketchup.
As to the name of this, well, that is somewhat of a story. Bubba is what my Dad was called by his family. I have no idea where Bubba came from. I never asked and he never said. We called him Dad, Grandmother called him Bubba as did most everyone else on that side of the family. Dad was actually a writer, having published one book. His book, Bubba Revisited, was autobiographical in nature. Basically a series of stories of happenings in his life. It was self published, yes, but it was well received. A copy resides at the home town library and at least one local historical society. He was offered a publishing contract to put the book out in paperback, which he refused. I am not sure why, I think he was genuinely uninterested. It was about that time when I came to him with the idea of a possum ranch.
My original idea for a name was Colonel Briarbritches' Possum ranch. A place where wealthy Atlantans could come and be taken on a possum safari where they would be taught the finer arts and necessary skills of possum hunting. How to assemble a world class possum blind, how to pick up a possum and throw it in a burlap sack, and how to prepare your possum for cooking. Of course a possum ranch would not be complete without a souvenir store. Just imagine shelves filled with possum memorabilia, canned possum meat, possum chili, bags of crunchy fried possum feet..... A veritable wealth generating machine.
Dad loved the idea. He wanted to write it up as a story. He never did, but we had a lot of fun talking about it. Crunchy fried possum feet, sounds pretty good, right?
So, now you know the story behind Bubba's Possum Ranch.