From Pine View Farm

October, 2005 archive

Spring Has Sprung, Fall Has Fell, Winter’s Near . . . 0

I am not a big fan of winter. I can’t say that I have a favorite season, but, if I did, winter would not be in the top three finalists.

Indeed, when I see a car with a “Think Snow” bumper sticker, I have an insane urge to shoot its headlights out.

It’s no so much the cold, nor even the heating bills (though, after this winter, it may be the heating bills).

It’s taking five more minutes to get out of the house because of having to put on umpteen more layers of clothes.

It’s not being able to move because of umpteen more layers of clothes.

It’s having to wear long handles and Gore-Tex boots to work. And I work inside!

It’s not being able to leave the doors to the screened porch open. Now I have to open and close them to let the dogs out. And the darned dogs are worse than cats. They want in. They want out. One wants in, the other wants out. Then the first one decides he doesn’t want to be in if the other one is out and wants to go out again. Open and close. Open and close. Open and close.

But most of all, I realized today, I hate having to turn on my headlights to drive home. It’s just not right.

And soon, as December approaches, I’ll have to turn on my headlights in both directions. I’ll go in the building while it’s still dark and exit the building when it’s already dark.

If you have a “Think Snow” bumper sticker, be very careful if you see a little yellow truck following you . . . .


My Little Gas Price Survey, Hallowe’en, 2005 0

Paulsboro, NJ, Exxon, $2.29.

Paulsboro, NJ, BP, $2.39.

Claymont, Del., Exxon, $2.29.

Claymont, Del., Sunoco $2.26.

Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.19.

Claymont, Del, BP, $2.23.

Claymont, Del, Cumberland Farms and Getty, $2.21.

Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.35.

Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.25.


Highlights from the Wide World of Spots 0

(I was wondering whether I was beating this subject of public honesty, or lack thereof, to death.

Then I figured, Naaahhhhh.)

Near the end of his analysis in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer of the implications of the indictment of Mr. I. Lewis Libby on natioinal politics, Dick Polman includes a summary of the current Federal Administration’s use of the politics of character assassination as regards the Iraq War.

His analysis may be off; after all, it’s an attempt to predict the future. The history of retaliation and vindictiveness towards those willing to question the actions of the current Federal Administration is worth reviewing (and these are just the big fish–how many little fish have they stepped on)?

In the weeks and months ahead, Bush critics will argue that the Plame affair is merely the most publicized example of how the administration treats those who dissent on the war. There is a documented track record of retaliation.

After Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki told Congress that the occupation of Iraq would require “several hundred thousand” troops, he was pushed into an earlier retirement. After national security aide Richard Clarke questioned Bush’s response to al-Qaeda threats, he was assailed as a disgruntled, publicity-hungry partisan. After ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill wrote a book claiming that Bush and Cheney were obsessed with Iraq, the administration suggested that he may have shared classified documents with the press. After an ABC reporter did a story on low troop morale in Iraq, he was painted by a White House aide as an “openly gay Canadian.”

This, of course, does not include other highlights of this tactic by the same team in other areas, such as

  • circulating rumors that Ann Richards, Mr. Bush’s opponent when he won the Texas gubernatorial race in 1994, was a Lesbian;
  • circulating rumors, just before the S. C. Republican primary in 2000, in South Carolina that John McCain had a mixed-race “love child” by a prostitute; and
  • the scurrilously misnamed campaign of lies by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” just last year.
  • And these are the people who promised to restore integrity to the White House.


    Hallowe’en 0

    Great line from today’s Prairie Home Companion in the message from the Ketchup Advisory Board:

    “Hallowe’en is the great Republican holiday.

    “You try to scare people to death. And gobble up as much as you can.”


    Criminalizing Politics? 3

    One of the stupider claims coming from the current Federal Administration and its surrogates is that the investigation of the outing of Valerie Plame and the resulting indictment of Mr. I. Lewis Libby is somehow “criminalizing politics.” (Link courtesy of Emily Messner in the Washington Post.)

    All the investigation is doing is criminalizing criminal behavior. And criminal behavior to further political ends is still criminal behavior.

    The Bill of Rights nowhere says that those seeking or holding office may do anything they wish in the interests of accomplishing their political ends.

    Daily Sally points out that the public seems to be disengaged from the story, and

    . . . understandably so. It’s a convoluted story of lies and spies, of foreign places and not-so-public faces. Many average citizens have never heard of most of the players and don’t know the back story. How could they? The Bush administration has done everything in its considerable power to keep it out of the public eye. And the media has been, at the least, passively complicit by not shedding clearer light on the whole dirty mess.

    And the American people have historically been loth to think ill of their elected officials.

    I remember when push came to shove in an earlier time. I was much younger then, home with my family, watching television, watching the news report that Mr. Nixon had dismissed Archibald Cox. My father disappeared from the living room (this was before the time that there was a television in every room) for about 20 minutes.

    Now, my father had voted for Mr. Nixon in 1968 and 1972, not because he was a rabid Nixon fan, but because Mr. Nixon seemed to him to be a better choice than Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern. (I voted for Shirley Chisholm in my first election.)

    I realized what later what my father was doing. He was calling Western Union and sending telegrams to our elected representatives incongruously assembled: “Impeach Nixon.”

    He had reached his breaking point with Mr. Nixon’s lies.

    And, compared to the current Federal Administration, Mr. Nixon’s administration was upright and honest.

    What they tried to do was steal an election they already had in the bag. And use the IRS and FBI to pursue their political enemies (without benefit of a Patriot Act to give their actions a gloss of legality), and then (and this is what did them in) cover up their actions when their minions got caught.

    They did not sell out the treasure of this country to the rich, nor send our young to die for a lie (though one might argue that, in dragging out the Viet Namese War, they perpetuated a war for a lie, a war they inherited from their predecessor), nor did they cloak their treachery in the robes of religious belief.

    Ahhh, the good old days. Give me honest political corruption over hypocritical moral corruption any day of the week.

    (Discussion Question) When are you going to reach your breaking point with the greed, hypocrisy, and abuse of power of the current Federal Administration?


    Carl Bernstein on Plamegate 0

    Hmmmmm. More on the politics of character assassination.

    “We are obviously watching and the press is beginning to document the implosion of a presidency,” Bernstein said Thursday, just hours before the Plame grand jury is set to expire. “How destructive that implosion is going to be, ultimately, we don’t know yet.

    “But what the Plame leak investigation has unveiled is what the press should have been focusing on long before and without let up–how we went to war, the dishonesty involved in that process in terms of what the president and vice-president told the American people and the Congress, and the routine smearing by members of the Bush administration of people who questioned their actions and motives.” Emphasis added.


    Indictment 6

    Libby is indicted and the press and blogosphere will certainly be full of comments.

    Here are a few items I found particularly interesting to the extent I could keep up with things while at work today:

    A live chat with the Washington Post’s Associate Editor Robert Kaiser about the Libby indictment and related issues.

    Witness this exchange:

    Dayton, Ohio: Perhaps, this indictment will teach Republican officials a lesson not to get too cozy with the journalists who are for all intents and purposes their enemies.

    Robert G. Kaiser: You know, this is a truly silly comment. At the risk of sounding self-serving and pompous, I will say as forcefully as I know how that honest reporters are not the “enemies” of any public figures other than corrupt or malfeasant ones. The idea that we are sitting in this newsroom with a political mission to undo Republican officials is just nuts. (Did Bill Clinton believe that when The Post broke the Monica Lewinsky story?)

    Follow the link for the full chat.

    And the effects of this whole escapade on Valerie Plame are not being reported, because she’s not speaking to the press. But it looks as if the current Federal Administration’s love for the politics of character assassination will ultimately end her career at the CIA:

    Lost in the din of the leak scandal that has consumed Washington is the very personal impact on the gracious, willowy CIA operative at its center. Plame, the wife of former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and arguably the most famous spy in the world, is not likely to stay at the CIA, some acquaintances say.

    With her career derailed, Plame, 42, the mother of 5-year-old twins, hasn’t publicly signaled her plans. But privately she has said that she feels she has no future at the spy agency where she has worked for 20 years.

    And Senator Ted Kennedy (not one of my favorites, but he knows how to orate) reminds us of this (via Eschaton):

    Today is an ominous day for the country, signifying a new low since Watergate in terms of openness and honesty in our government. This is far more than an indictment of an individual. In effect it’s an indictment of the vicious and devious tactics used by the Administration to justify a war we never should have fought. It’s an indictment of the lengths Administration officials were willing to go to cover up their failed intelligence, their distortion on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and their serious blunders on the war. It is an indictment of their vindictive efforts to discredit anyone who challenges their misrepresentations. (Emphasis added)


    It’s Not Kansas Anymore 0

    It’s Oz.

    And the wizard is in charge (from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer):

    In a new escalation of the nation’s culture war over the teaching of evolution, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association announced yesterday that they would not allow Kansas to use key science education materials developed by the two organizations.

    The refusal came after the groups reviewed the latest draft of the state Department of Education’s new science education standards and concluded that they overemphasized uncertainties about the theory of evolution and failed to make clear that supernatural phenomena have no place in science.


    Harriet Miers, Reprise 0

    Yesterday, I posted a short muse about Harriet Miers.

    An analysis of the failure of the nomination in today’s Washington Post. Among other things, the Post reports that

    . . . in perhaps the biggest misjudgment, Bush assumed that Miers would somehow shine in a Washington klieg light she had never before faced.


    “This thing never got off the launching pad very well,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because public airing of self-criticism is not encouraged in the White House.

    The comment I highlighted is certainly not new news, but it is the key to why the current Federal Administration, when faced with a failing strategy, reacts, to quote Aubrey Daniels, by doing the same thing harder.


    Responsibility 0

    and how to accept it.


    Halliburton, Iraq, and Slave Labor 0

    Why am I not surprised?

    A need for foreign workers in Iraq — and the flood of American dollars into the country — have created a labor network that critics call misleading, illegal and even dangerous. Chicago Tribune correspondent Cam Simpson retraced the fatal journey of 12 men from Nepal.

    Listen to the story for details.


    Censorship. Particularly Stupid Censorship. 1

    Despite all the other stuff that’s going on, the current Federal Administration has demonstrated a complete lack of a sense of humor by going after The Onion for using the Great Seal of the President of the United States in its satire. (Picked up from Phillybits)

    It seems appropriate to remind the current Federal Administration that the Seal is not a trademark, like the Golden Arches. The seal belongs to the United States, not to whoever happens, quite by accident (or, in this case, by act of the Supremes), to be holding the office of President. There is no trademark infringement nor copyright on items that belong to the citizenry of the United States of America.

    So I post here, and tip my hat to The Onion–always biting, often funny, and, I hope and trust, never cowed:

    Great Seal of the President of the United States

    Participating So Far
    (Updated 10/28/05 8:00 a. m. courtesy Phillybits)


    All Spin Zone
    Jesus General
    The Poor Man Institute
    Three Bulls
    Ken Ashford
    Watching Washington
    If I Ran The Zoo
    Uncle Horn Head
    Lair Of The Blue Cat
    Ang’s Weird Ideas
    Bloody Knee Jerk

    Others commenting:
    Chaos Digest
    The Comfy Chair
    Myopic Zeal
    The Next Left/a


    Harriet Miers Withdraws 6

    Questions of politics and qualifications aside, I feel sorry for Harriet Miers. Whatever she expected when she accepted Mr. Bush’s offer of the nomination to the Supreme Court, she certainly did not sign up for the public flailing she received. And, to my mind, most of the fault lies with the persons who put her in this situation, not with her.

    From the Washington Post:

    WASHINGTON — Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.

    Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.

    Follow the link for the full story.


    Thoughts on the World Series of Major League Baseball 0

    American League rules,

    National League drools.


    Patrick Fitzgerald and Kenneth Starr 2

    What a contrast.

    Cast your mind back to Ken Starr. His investigation leaked like a bad roof.

    Compare him with Patrick Fitzgerald, who has conducted himself as a person of integrity and a dedicated prosecutor. Why is the blogosphere and the regular press full of speculation? Because nothing is leaking. No one has a clue what he is contemplating.

    This is consistent with his record. He is a prosecutor, not a politician, and certainly not the tool of politicians.

    He has comported himself with complete rectitude. Any attempts on the part of the current Federal Administration to accuse him of being another Ken Starr are, I think, doomed to fail. (via Suburban Guerrilla)

    Comparing Fitzgerald and Starr does nothing so much as show Starr up as the political hack he was.

    But it will be amusing to watch the current Federal Administration attempt to use once more their favorite tool against Mr. Fitzgerald: not facts, not truth, not honesty, but character assassination.


    Billmon Brings It Home 0

    Nothing I could imagine could be more powerful than this.


    My Little Gas Price Survey, 10/26/2005 0

    Still dropping. Wawa is under $2.30.

    Claymont, Del., Exxon, $2.37.

    Claymont, Del., Sunoco 2.34

    Claymont, Del., Wawa, $2.29.

    Claymont, Del, BP, $2.33.

    Claymont, Del, Cumberland Farms and Getty, $2.31.

    Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.41.

    Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.31.


    Mr. Cheney’s Place in History 0

    The Washington Post considers Dick Cheney’s legacy. He persists in thinking that in adflictatios veritas, so the Post offers a new title: Vice President for Torture.

    VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans.


    It’s not surprising that Mr. Cheney would be at the forefront of an attempt to ratify and legalize this shameful record. The vice president has been a prime mover behind the Bush administration’s decision to violate the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and to break with decades of past practice by the U.S. military.


    So now Mr. Cheney is trying to persuade members of a House-Senate conference committee to adopt language that would not just nullify the McCain amendment but would formally adopt cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as a legal instrument of U.S. policy. The Senate’s earlier vote suggests that it will not allow such a betrayal of American values. As for Mr. Cheney: He will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture.


    An Unexpected Sighting 0

    I work in the wilds of South Jersey. It’s probably three miles in a straight line to Center City Philadelphia, but the waves of McMansions are just starting to crash against the shore of farmland here. Portions of the industrial park are still undeveloped and overgrown with scrub forest.

    Yesterday, as I worked my way through the industrial park towards the Interstate on my way home after work, I saw something I have not seen before and certainly did not expect to see here: a wild turkey ran across the road in front of me.

    It was quite a treat.


    My Little Gas Price Survey, 10/24/2005 1

    The local news station, WILM-AM, today quoted an AAA press release to this effect:

    Falling gas prices are finally a trend.

    AAA’s Catherine Rossi says Hurricane Wilma spared the oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, which should help keep prices going down as long as another major storm doesn’t come along.

    Just over the weekend, gas prices in Delaware fell by ten cents, bringing the average price for a gallon of gas to $2.57. Despite the falling prices, Delaware is still significantly more expensive the Pennsylvania. Rossi says the average for a gallon of gas in Pa. is $2.49 per gallon.

    I think it’s old news. The prices I’ve been seeing in my little corner of Delaware are substantially lower than this. On the other hand, when I’ve driven the length of Delaware, I’ve seen prices rise steadily as I head towards Maryland; if this average is based on statewide prices (and Delaware is not a very wide state), they may be accurate.

    Here’s what I saw this evening:

    Claymont, Del., Exxon and Sunoco, $2.46.

    Claymont, Del., Getty and Wawa, $2.37.

    Claymont, Del, BP, $2.39.

    Claymont, Del, Cumberland Farms, $2.36.

    Claymont, Del., Gulf, $2.47.

    Holly Oak, Del., Mobil, $2.37.