From Pine View Farm

December, 2006 archive

Celebrate C. D. Alston Day 0

It was one year ago today that C. D. Alston, Gen., USAF, announced that

Insurgents in Iraq are showing little capacity to keep up numerous and persistent attacks, a senior U.S. general in Baghdad says.

At a briefing December 29, Air Force Brigadier General C.D. Alston said there are three reasons for the diminishing capability of the insurgents to keep up attacks. The ability of insurgents to wage sustained combat is a key indicator closely watched by U.S. military forces to determine the enemy’s effectiveness.

“The first is the joint offensive operations that have been launched by coalition forces and Iraqi security forces over the course of the last several months,” said Alston, who is the director of strategic communications for the Multinational Force Iraq.

The security offensive has been focused on defeating terrorists and foreign fighters, and disrupting the insurgency, he said, with great effect.

The second reason, he said, is the progressive training and equipping of Iraqi security forces.

Let us celebrate his clear-headed prescience.

With a tip to Atrios.


Supporting Our Troops, Guv’mint Style 0

From NPR. No one supports our troops like their employer:

Army studies show that at least 20 percent to 25 percent of the soldiers who have served in Iraq display symptoms of serious mental-health problems, including depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Administration officials say there are extensive programs to heal soldiers both at home and in Iraq.

But an NPR investigation at Colorado’s Ft. Carson has found that even those who feel desperate can have trouble getting the help they need. In fact, evidence suggests that officers at Ft. Carson punish soldiers who need help, and even kick them out of the Army.

The Army is giving these soldiers honorable discharges, but adding a “PD” (personality disorder) notation.

Now, “personality disorder” is a recognized psychiatric diagnosis–and a pretty scary one–though, from listening to the news story cited above, I suspect the Army is not using the term in that sense. Rather, they are using it as some kind of catchall gotcha that means, in sum, “whatever is wrong with you, the United States Department of Defense is not responsible for it.”

Even when it is.

And, frankly, “personality disorder” is a pretty scary diagnosis, because there is no cure for properly diagnosed personality disorder. Those who suffer from it will not admit that there is anything wrong with them; without that admission there is ipso facto no chance of a cure.

For the Army to hang that diagnosis around someone’s neck and walk away is, frankly, beyond contempt.

And the Army is now taking its support of its own troops to whole nother levels:

Earlier this month, NPR reported on problems soldiers face at Ft. Carson, Colo., when they come back from Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other emotional problems. Now, the base command has taken steps to court-martial one of the soldiers profiled in the story.

Class act. Use you up, throw you away.

All the yellow ribbons on all the vans and pick-up trucks on all the back roads of this country will not allay the Army’s betraying its own.


Electricity Surges. Wars Escalate. 0

All Spin Zone:

You don’t “surge” a conflict. You don’t “surge” a commitment of manpower and money. Plain and simple, it’s ratcheting up the stakes; it’s an escalation of the conflict and an escalation of U.S. commitment to the occupation.

One wonders why the Current Federal Administrator is taking so long to reveal his new policy on his failure in Iraq.

I suspect that the reason is simple. He cannot grasp the reality that stuff doesn’t happen just because he wants it to and now has no clue what to do.

But I predict this (call me Criswell), based on his past performance: Whatever choice he makes will be the wrong choice.

The man has a perfect track record. He won’t ruin it now.


Immigration Reform, Bush Style 2

The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks, including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and put more immigrants on a faster track to U.S. citizenship if they volunteer, according to Pentagon officials.

A desparate sign of the moral and political bankruptcy of the Current Federal Administration. They cannot find enough cannon fodder in the United States, so they look for it elsewhere.


R. I. P. Gerald Ford (Updated) 0

My girlfriend said, “I don’t remember Jerry Ford being such a great president.”

I replied, “He wasn’t. But he was an honest, decent, truthful, and honorable man.”

No doubt that’s why he looks so good from the sixth year of King George the Fourth.


Professor Cole takes a reasoned look back on the Ford Administratioin.


Five Things You Don’t Know about Me 3

Tagged by Phillybits.

1. In the first election in which I was eligible to vote, I voted for Shirley Chisholm.

2. I was at the Mobe, the Big One, singing along with Pete Seeger in “Give Peace a Chance.”

3. Me mate and I got caught trying to steal that keg of beer from an English pub, but we talked our way out of it.

4. It takes three weeks of Saturday nights to steal a stop sign. And said stop sign looks awfully nice in the deputy sheriff’s front yard.

5. My draft lottery number was 349. Until the lottery, I was on my way to Saigon upon graduation.

Consider yourself tagged.


Christmas Retrospective 4

Nine people, five dogs, one ham, one goose, two and a half dozen sweet potato biscuits, three cups (before cooking) rice, one head of cauliflower au gratin, one quart goose gravy, one tin cheese straws, three bottles of wine, two sweet potato pies, one lemon chess pie, one notification of impending grandchild.

And no more cooking this week.


We’re on a Mission from God 1

(with apologies to the Blues Brothers) Phillybits.


Dealing in a Vacuum 1

The vacuum cleaner has issues. It’s a canister with a beater head, but the beater in the head doesn’t work consistently. There’s some kind of short. So I went to the manufacturer’s website to find an authorized dealer (yeah, it’s the kind of vacuum you want to take to an authorized dealer–I inherited it from my father and it cost half a Yugo).

The manufacturer’s website has issues:


Guess I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. There must be a phone book around here somewhere . . . .


Merry Christmas to All 3

and to all a good night.


What Happens to Your Desktop When You Are Away from the Computer? 1

Find out here.


Goode Grief 0

Now that Senator George Allen (Embarassment of Virginia) is jobless, a fitting successor for the small-minded bigotry party is needed.

Fortunately, one has volunteered himself: Congressman Virgil Goode (rhymes with food) from Southside.

I will not spend my time demolishing the irrational hate-filled bigotry of his beliefs, which embarrass me, my home state, and anyone who knows aught of the history of the United States of America and its Constitution.

Professor Cole does that nicely here.

Virginia has given the United States of America some towering figures: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe. All in the past. Lately, Virginia has given us Pat Robertson (and his Daddy, J. Willis), George “Surfer Boy” Allen, and, now, Goode.

It’s so bad that Senator John Warner, once voted “Dumbest Senator,” (it was before teh internets, so I can’t find any links–heck, he may still have been married to Elizabeth “One Husband Is As Good As Another” Taylor at the time–but I read about it when it happened) now looks like a statesman.

I will say this: Mr. Goode proves that any idiot can gain elected office.

Then, again, maybe I’m wrong. He’s not just any idiot.

He’s a very special idiot.



Freedom Flies . . . 2

. . . if we do not guard it.

Bruce Fleming of the U. S. Naval Academy–worth a read:

. . . only a few years ago, enraged right-wingers screamed because the French dared say “no” to the then all-powerful 43rd President, demanding that there be some actual proof that Saddam did in fact possess weapons of mass destruction before they’d sign on to an attack. People posing as patriots (but in fact idiots) poured French wine into the gutters-this was reported gleefully on Fox News, and played for sensational effect on the French news networks-to show their fury that anyone could dare to question El Presidente. For that matter, fury was in the air, anyone who questioned or warned was a traitor or a coward. Far too many people were all too ready to support roaring into battle, being convinced that action- any action – was the way to take their revenge.

Now it’s the morning after. Oh, our aching head! And surprise! The French were right. Increasingly the evidence suggests that the CIA gave in to political pressure to front-and-center the claims of questionable sources to justify a war that was already decided on. Rationality was forgotten.


The current administration has offered at every turn a horrifying lesson in how not to lead. Its MO has been this: suppress dissent (rather than encourage it), surround yourself by sycophantic yes-men (rather than objective views), bring in personal loyalists for key positions (rather than people who actually know what they’re doing), vilify those who disagree or propose a better way. And oh yes: accuse even long-term like-minded allies of cowardice and treachery if they don’t kiss your ass 24/7. No term of opprobrium is too low for somebody who refuses to bow to your will: that’s the way to lead the Free World. (Not.)

The far right has still not realized that one does not protect freedom by destroying it.

With a tip to All Spin Zone.


Love Is a Many Splendored Thing 0

A 29-year-old woman allegedly forged documents and assumed the identity of an Annapolis attorney, apparently for the sole purpose of having sex with an inmate at a Baltimore prison.

“It was an elaborate scheme,” said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the prison system. “I’m not aware of something like this ever occurring before.”

Police charged Tiffany Gwen Weaver, of Reisterstown, with seven counts stemming from the alleged incident, including forgery, fraud, and false use of government identification. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

Hope it was as good for–oh, never mind.


Pet Peeve Dept.: Yams Are Not Sweet Potatoes 5

My Daddy spent a good part of his career with the Virginia Department of Agriculture trying to develop new markets for sweet potatoes.

Yams are not sweet potatoes.

Just as green beans are not watermelons.

They are a whole nother thing from a whole nother continent.



Joe Sees the Light 0

Here. (Windows Media Player format.)

With a tip to C&L.


Consulatation 0

Susie has it figured out. Here.


James Beard’s Never Fail Blender Hollandaise Sauce for Persons Who Don’t Want To Spend All Day Messing with a Whisk 3

4 egg yolks

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbs lemon juice

8 tbs (1 stick) butter

tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper

Combine egg yolks in blender.

Hit blender once quickly to blend egg yokes.

Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper (sauce) to blender.

Melt butter in small sauce pan until it’s bubbling (the butter, not the sauce pan).

Turn blender on high and pour butter in thin stream directly into center of blender blade. Turn off blender immediately that mixture is, well, blended.

Serve over Eggs Benedict.

Makes approx. 3/4 cp.


Sweet Potato Biscuits 3

1 cp Flour

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs butter, melted and slightly cooled (may substitute shortening, vegetable oil, or, if a disciple of the Evil One, margarine)

1 cp cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (may used cooked canned sweet potatoes)

Approx. 1/4 cp milk

Combine dry ingredients.

Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add sweet potatoes and mix well.

Add milk gradually to make soft dough.

Turn out dough on floured board and knead until reaches biscuit consistenly. Add flour if needed.

Roll out dough and cut out with biscuit cutter (a juice glass works just fine).

Place on lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 450 F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on bottom of biscuits.

Makes approx. 12 biscuits.


Christmas Dinner 8

Roast Goose with Stuffing

Goose Gravy with Goose Giblets (which is to die for)

Country Ham (brought it up from Virginia today)

Rice (merely a vehicle for the gravy)

Green Bean Casserole (because it can be prepped in advance)

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Lemon Chess Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

Have I left out anything?