Friday, October 31, 2008

Change (Real Change)

We have had several very progressive events happen under our last two Democrat presidents. First Carter, who gave away the Panama Canal to Panama, then allowed a bunch of outlaw Shiites capture our diplomats and incarcerate them right up to the inauguration of President Reagan, whom they knew had the balls to take them out if they didn't release our people.

Shifting to President Clinton, most remember him for the affairs he had. What was much worse, were the bribes writ large that he took from the Chinese which resulted in two major events. One, was when he closed down the Long Beach Naval Station and leased it to a Chinese corporation that was solely owned by the Chinese Army/Navy. The second was when he stood still and allowed Panama to sub-lease the operation of the Panama Canal to yet another corporation owned by the Chinese Army/Navy. For those of you that are going to the knee jerk and say, "but it's their country," go back to your history books. We created Panama out of a part of what was Columbia. We built the canal and operated it for the benefit of all nations, at tremendous expense in both money and lives.

One can only wonder what damage another Democrat will do to our country, if elected. The electorate itself, you and I are to blame really, by not paying attention to the important issues. That Clinton was impeached for lying under oath was peanuts compared to the campaign contributions that poured into his coffers with a quid pro quo being control of the canal and a base on our own soil.Selling out our country is commonly called Treason.

As far as local political office is concerned, we do need balance between the two parties,a balance that we do not presently enjoy. When I lived over on the coast, in Washington State, I witnessed a solidly Democrat county government in both Pierce and King Counties. That corruption occurred is of record. The same happens anywhere that one party, whether the Democrats or Republicans hold absolute power, or as Lord Acton, echoed by Ronald Reagan said, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Such would be the case with an extreme liberal in the White House and control of both houses of congress. Turning a 180 degree course the other way is no way to run our country. If anyone is curious as to some of my votes this time around, here are the following:

President, McCain
Senator, Risch
Congress, Minnick
Kootenai Cty Commissioners, Curry and Tondee
Timberlake Fire District, Debbie Schissler

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time Flies

Anyone who has lived for 70 or more years can remember much that the current crop takes for granted. When I was born in 1938, we were still flying bi-planes, Ford Tri-motors and the like. At ten years old, I was experiencing "Give 'en hell, Harry Truman." Harry was a guy I really admired, mostly for his forthrightness. He had a temper too, as has been described of John McCain.Sometimes getting "mad as hell," isn't a bad thing, as long as in the process you don't lose control.

Since I started flying in 1959, most planes haven't any propellers anymore and jets are being replaced with rockets. My first several aircraft were tail draggers.The cell phones most people have nowadays were a Buck Rogers thing. Sci-fi. When growing up, we didn't sit in front of the black and white TV except for special programs. We never missed the Milton Beryl hour. There were no electronic toys, new math, wi-fi. We entertained our selves outside for the most part, or at card games, such as pinochle. Unlike the current crop of people, I read books as my principle entertainment. I have so many books in my house that I don't remember how most of them came out, and as a result can enjoy re-reading many of them.

I thought I'd seen everything there was to see, until Barack Obama. Now without playing the race card, and isn't it disappointing to have to disclaim so that you can even discuss race? I never thought I'd ever see a black man run for president, especially with a Muslim name. Times have indeed changed, and in a hurry. More young people that haven't the anchor of maturity are flocking to this man's banner, as if he were the new messiah. The most severe change in politics happened with the advent of television. Now suddenly, instead of following voting records, or staring the candidate in the face, like news programing, politics has become a form of show business.Here we have a charismatic young man in his first term as a senator. An empty vessel with nothing but platitudes and generalities to offer. Whether he would make a good president is like throwing dice.

In this world we find our selves in, we have perhaps more challenges than even the forties with WW11 in progress. Back then, heavy industry bailed us out of the depression as well as World War 11. We no longer have heavy industry. Our economy in in the tank and for many reasons. Free trade that isn't free, and isn't trade, unless countries like China also buy in large quantity from us. We have one war and another occupation that we are fighting, with uneasy situations in many parts of the globe. We may have been safer when our only enemy was the Soviet Union.

While I won't vote straight ticket, I can't see Obama as president. Not because he's black or young or even because he has a Muslim name. No, I will not vote for him because notwithstanding the fact that McCain isn't charismatic and isn't a great speaker, he has dedicated his life to this country from birth. First in the Navy, then after reaching the grade of Captain, retiring and entering politics. He doesn't bow down to the Bush doctrine, whatever that is, nor does he fight with the left just because he is a Republican. He is a unifier and a man that can stand with members of both parties to find common ground solutions to horribly complex problems. He has the benefit of living a long life, gathering experience and knowledge from many places and people. We KNOW who John McCain is. I can't say the same about Obama. He is an unknown with questionable friends and from the Daley controlled Chicago area, where politicians are taught to campaign in graveyards. Hiring Kids to run the country should only be in a classroom mock election, not the real thing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I recently posted a picture of a cat perched on top of a fish tank there not for the fish, but simply for a drink. Some of the other animals on the place were also interesting, as well as the story that will go with them in the December issue of the River Journal.

Pictured above are Maggie Mae, the Zebra and Bear,the Pomeranian,sharing a meal.

Other interesting animals in the area are three camels a couple of miles away, some Yaks, dwarf goats and some Llamas. Oh, and the occasional horse as well.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Unbelievable Stuff

Lately, I have been writing about what if stuff regarding our economy. While that may be of some value, there are other subjects beyond the economy and the Gawdawful length of the election cycle.

One such subject was in the course of chasing down a story, I ran across a family that has a Zebra, several horses and other assorted pets. O.K. that isn't much different that the camel lady, or the folks raising Llamas, Yaks and other notable non-residents.

Two rather understated pets actually got most of my attention. One a dog, the other, a cat. While these may be ho hum everyday pets to some, these were not. For instance, the Cocker Spaniel named Azalea. Azalea never strayed off on her own.She knew her yard and stuck to it. Then something weird happened. The neighbor lady next door had a stroke. Suddenly, Azelea started spending nights at the neighbor's home and even days, when her husband had to work. Sleeping on the victim's pillow every night, Azelea has not abandoned her patient. Still coming home for dinner and a visit,her charge still safe under her watch.

Then there is Daisy May. Daisy May is a Siamese Cat. for those that are familiar with cats, they know that Siamese are not quite cats and not quite human, but somewhere in between. Such is the case with this one. When she wants a drink, she climbs up onto the large fish tank in the dining room. Most at this point would shudder in horror. The cat is going to eat the exotic fish! Not so with this one. She passes up a perfectly clean water bowl to drink out of the fish tank, as pictured. Go figure. Incidentally, the story of the Zebra and other strange phenomenon will appear in the December 1st issue of River Journal Magazine.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Economic Meltdown

A reader recently criticized me for shouting "gloom & doom" from the rooftops. Perhaps he or she is right, perhaps not. I look at the situation this way. My readership varies but hangs around 60 to 70 visits per day. I am not going to, with that small audience create chaos by being negative. What I might do however, is convince someone out there that the head in the sand trick don't make it better. It just hides reality from you. My thirty years in Mortgage and consumer fiance gives me some background. The seventy years that I have lived gives me history and perspective.

This is unlike those, not all, certainly, but those that are young, say 40 and younger that haven't actually experienced bad times in their lifetime. This tends to sway people into thinking that because it didn't happen in my lifetime, then it won't. Well, Mt. St. Helens hadn't erupted in our lifetime either, but it still did. I grew up hearing my parents talk about the "Great Depression." It started only 99 years ago and lasted about ten years, with World War 11 and the rearming of our military and naval forces creating a resurgence in the manufacturing field.

There are several reasons why I think that if we do enter a depression, it will be much worse.First, we have exported most of our heavy industry. Big steel is no longer. Our auto industry is teetering on the brink. Confidence in our financial markets is at a historic low. Our dollar is not backed by anything anymore. When we switched from the gold and silver standard to a GNP based value system faith was the only thing left to back the buck. The worst part though, is that in 1929 through 1938, a large majority of our population either lived on farms, or had acreage that could and did support most of them. The pictures of hobo camps and bums asking for handouts were an overstatement since many if not most farms were paid off and were owned free & clear. Most of the unemployed were those that were previously employed in industry which had shut down. When my parents lost their horse in 1937, it was a tragedy, not just the loss of an old friend. That horse was a Percheron that pulled a plow and other farm implements that allowed them to survive the depression. They had to sell the farm when that happened. Now people use tractors. Unfortunately, tractors do not feed themselves, but require fuel.

Today, much has changed. People don't have the survival skills that Americans did 100 years ago. Most don't have land that they can raise livestock or a garden. Those that do haven't the skills necessary to preserve the harvest, nor enough food in storage to last long enough to create their own supply. I have lived on a subsistence farm. During WW11, we, along with most of our neighbors, had acreage, a family cow, hogs, chickens etc. We also raised our own food for the most part. Why? Because WW11 rationing was in effect, money was scarce and most importantly,my folks having lived through the great depression, knew how.

In writing these articles, I realize that it can be construed as alarmist. When a fire has started, it is sometimes useful for someone to sound the alarm. The "experts" that say everything is going to be alright have an ax to grind. They make their money in the market, or at least have peripheral relations to that bunch. It is in their best interests to try to gloss over the massive problems that we face and put a friendly happy face on things. That doesn't necessarily make it so though. I have been there, done that and have the t-shirt. I was there, in the mortgage business when everything went south in 1980. That lasted four years. I went out of business in my own mortgage company when the crash of 1987 occurred. If we continue to sink, people need to, even as a mental exercise, think about survival IF things end up in the toilet. If we recover without too much further pain, fine. I would be delighted to be found wrong. But if I'm not, perhaps I will be of some help if only to get a few people thinking about the abyss ahead.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


ap file photo, stolen from Huckleberries online

"We have nothing to fear, except fear itself." Spoken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, about the great depression.

I've talked about my take on the economy. There is more to come. Many were cheered when the market jumped back up two days ago. That was bargain hunters buying back in at lower prices. Yesterday, as predicted, we went into free fall again on Wall Street. I believe it will get a whole lot worse before it gets better. There are simply too many things broke for a simple fix.

To study history, one must go back to 1929 to picture where we might go next. The "Great Depression," started in 1929 but didn't reach bottom until 1932. These collapses do not happen over night, with one mighty drop. It is incremental, but inevitable. Our national debt is primarily held by Japan and Great Britain, along with China. If these countries cut us loose, it would be disastrous.

Lets just review a few problems that we are facing. Individually, most are solvable in the long term. collectively, the put us into a great hole, without a ladder. Oil prices led the parade, as Gasoline topped $4.00 and diesel was even higher. Farmers operating large equipment were suddenly paying more than their crops were worth to plant, fertilize and harvest. Truckers and railroads paid more to haul them to market. Suddenly, a country where most of us had disposable income, was no more. Boat & RV manufacturers are shutting down. Hotels and motels without travelers are suffering. Without spelling this out, I think most of you can figure out the rest. It's like lining up dominoes then pushing one over. The rest will follow.

The banking debacle, for me, is the hardest to figure out. I was in that industry for 30 years. In that time, (I retired in 1997) lending standards were, of a necessity strict. If you had bad credit, you would have to rehabilitate yourself for at least three years, and longer if a bankruptcy was in your past. How the industry could justify, especially after 1980-83, the reckless abandonment of sound lending practices, is beyond me.

I haven't been able to confirm when, where and who, but as I understand it, many liberal senators and representatives insisted, a few years ago that everyone should have the opportunity to own their own home. They passed legislation to that effect and the gates were open. You see, there is no way to make more homes available without lowering lending standards. The term now used, is sub-prime, which is a misnomer with spin. The actual name should be substandard. The increase in demand created an overheated market where demand outran the supply. That caused prices on land and homes to soar, even when mills were shutting down due to low lumber prices.

Interest rates were held too low, too long. That created another reaction, that being a wide open boom market. When demand was used up, due both to most people already having bought, and prices skyrocketing out of reach, it was all over. Builders were, as they did in 1980, still subdividing, still slapping spec homes up in cookie cutter tracts resembling California in the past, full speed ahead. "Happy days are here to stay." They weren't and didn't. If Paul Volker were fed chairman again, he would have long ago raised interest rates as he did back in late 1979.

Next I will speculate on what may happen in the near term and compare it to what happened in 1929 and examine the differences between then and now.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Taryn Strikes Again

Unappreciated by the spokesman-Review, Taryn Hecker has found a new niche. She is the grand prize winner at the American Legion Post 149, Athol's annual chili cook-off. Celebrating along with her is her daughter, Goo. Other winners were, hottest chili: Chuck Richmond, second best chili was won by last year's winner, Debbie "Dump Truck" VanScyoc. Although some of the chili was extreme, the Timberlake fire Department wasn't called out. The bartender managed to quell the flames with timely drinks.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Chaos Reigns

By now many, if not most of you have figured out that our economy is in crisis. I would gloat, because I have been predicting this for over a year. I won't, because being right this time isn't pleasant.At this point, we are teetering on the edge of a depression, not recession. While I'm not a trained economist (retired Mortgage Banker)I still think that Paul Volker did the right thing when he viewed stagflation back in 1980. He immediately raised interest rates to the highest seen ever. The economy ground to a halt, but only for three years.

Back then we still were a country with manufacturing as our financial base. You don't build anything, no jobs are created. Now we have free trade. This is a philosophy that I frankly don't understand. It appears to be a road map to one world, or worldwide socialism, yet right leaning Republicans bought into it. Some gobbledygook about turning our industrial might into off shore labor because it's cheaper. The mantra of a service economy that uses the "what goes around comes around" premise, I didn't think was going to fly.

Why? Because the only way our economy can compete with child labor and adults making less that $5 per day, is to become equal with them. This requires them to rise up to our standards, or for us to Fall to theirs. At this point you may have a hint of where I'm going with this. We aren't just in an equal race with the rest of the world, we are in free fall.

The congress blames Bush for the deregulation of the finance industry, but conveniently ignores the liberal mantra of we want everyone regardless of means to be able to own a house. One of the strongest voices there, was Senator Dodd. He is as adamant now about the fault resting with the current administration as he was back when he forced through new regulations requiring the mortgage industry to make it possible for those that couldn't afford to buy a house to be enabled. Rep. Barney Frank was right there with him at the time. Could it be that these and others are talking out of both sides of their mouths? Were going to turn the governance of this nation over to them?

The only way that can happen is through lowering standards for loan approval.That happened. Now we are in a train wreck, economy wise. Other causes of the housing market collapsing are the continuous low interest rates that stayed too low, too long. This used up the demand, while the supply, feeling the end wasn't near, kept on keeping on. As in all boom markets, when the downturn happens, as it always does, spec builders are in the middle of expansion, not retraction. Thus is created an oversupply of homes with no buyers in sight. If we are to lynch, (figuratively speaking) the so called mortgage Moguls, The we need to also take out the senators that forced these liberal know nothing, pay nothing legislation. It would seem that talking out of both sides of one's mouth is endemic in Wahington, D.C.

So, we have several, not just one or two causes of our current dilemma. I will extrapolate further in my next post.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Tragic End ... Almost

This afternoon we learned of massive layoffs, again, at the Spokesman-Review.
starting with the Editor -In-Chief, Steve Smith, and affecting some 60 plus editors, copywriters and reporters. We don't know yet which are gone, and I suspect some will be surprises. Int the seventeen months that I have enjoyed the relationship with the Spokesman-Review.

Obviously the paper will carry on, but under what format, or size is yet to be determined. Those of us that stagger under mounds of papers that somehow don't make it to the recyclers will have a problem solved. For those that get their news from the Internet, you lose. Only national and international news appears on the Internet, unless you are obsessed with what Hollywood star is diddling whom, but then that is what the National Enquirer is for.

This phenomenon of younger readers passing on newspapers is not only a disappointment, but a tragedy. An entire generation simply doesn't either like to read, or doesn't know how, or both. Most young people do not read. It's not even a part of their entertainment regime. Video games and other electronic delights have taken over from mainstream journalism.

When I was a child, (a long while back) we didn't have television until I was around 12 years old. It was black and white. There were not cable or satellite signals to be had. But that didn't matter, because we didn't squat in front of the tube as most kids do now. We played outdoors, which in the Seattle area required a great deal of weather tolerance. We climbed trees, slid off tar paper roofs with waxed paper as out sleds, and somehow didn't break any bones. We made tree houses, tunnels, planter gardens, watching with wonder as nature poked the shoots up through the earth.

One has to wonder in this electronic age, whether these kids that grew up sitting in front of cartoons will turn out to be productive adults, or whether they will become drones, incapable of original thought or actions. Perhaps a fast paced video game could help train fighter pilots, but there isn't currently a huge demand for that.

I wonder and I worry that the Spokesman-Review along with other major market newspapers will become dinosaurs, destined for the scrap heap. The other worry, is what is going to take it's place. You can't wrap fish in a television newscast, although there are probably many that would like to do that with my columns.

We may be watching the end of an era, along with the boost of a failing financial world. It would appear that some folks, maybe most will have to find a toughness that they never learned, in order to survive.

I am having problems with blogger .com re: comments. I will post them manually, as I get them until I get it fixed. The other side of the coin is I will also comment on the comments.

"I think your assumption that young people are not reading the news is faulty! We catch the local news and oh so much more on the web, DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

This comment shows what I meant, and ignores that I was referring to print, not the internet, which if I have to once again repeat myself, doesn't show local or regional news. Why people choose to take things out of context is beyond me. Oh well, onward and upward. Oh, and the overuse of exclamation points suggest a little immaturity. I don't write this blog for children ... That should have been noted.