From Pine View Farm

February, 2006 archive

Today’s Deep Thought 0

Some of you may have noticed that, courtesy of a WordPress plugin, I pipe in a new “Deep Thought from Jack Handey” every day.

Today’s was exceptionally deep, but I’m not sure whether it came from Jack or from George Bush:

Broken promises don’t upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?

Remember, con artists only get away with stuff if you let them.


George Will Is Fed Up 0

It took him a long time to catch on (emphasis added):

Besides, terrorism is not the only new danger of this era. Another is the administration’s argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the “sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs.” That non sequitur is refuted by the Constitution’s plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws “necessary and proper” for the execution of all presidential powers . Those powers do not include deciding that a law — FISA, for example — is somehow exempted from the presidential duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”


Bush’s Delusional Healthcare Fantasies 2

WASHINGTON — President Bush argued Thursday that the United States needs a health care system in which patients pay more directly for their care, because that will turn them into comparison shoppers whose interest in a good deal will drive costs down.

Bush said the current system, in which employers and insurance companies are the most involved in paying health care bills, makes individuals less engaged in the cost of the procedures they get.

“When somebody else pays the bills, rarely do you ask price or ask the cost of something,” the president said during a panel discussion on his health care initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services. “The problem with that is that there’s no kind of market force, there’s no consumer advocacy for reasonable price when somebody else pays the bills. One of the reasons why we’re having inflation in health care is because there is no sense of market.”

Let us look at this critically.

It’s Republi elephant dung.

When the doctor sends someone to a specialist, how often do real people shop around?

If one trusts one’s doctor, one goes to the specialist one’s doctor recommends. Period.

When the doctor gives someone a prescription for a lab test, whether it is something relatively inexpensive, such as a CBC or something expensive, such as an MRI, how likely is one to say, “Gee, Doc, is this the best deal? Can I get it more cheaply somewhere else?” Nooooo, indebtedness breath.

One goes where one is sent.

Also to the point, how often are there competing prices? In my part of the world, we have a choice between Labcorp and, er, Labcorp. (Now, this is not a criticism of Labcorp. They’ve always treated me well and haven’t screwed up any results.)

And even more also to the point, the most expensive treatments and tests take place when someone is in the hospital. In the hospital, there is no choice. Period. Ever.

Try it. Get sick. Get admitted. Wait until the attending physician orders tests. Then ask for competitive bids.

Yeah. Right.

Remember what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “The rich are different from you and me.”

Mr. Bush is a child of privilege. He perhaps could, while on his sick bed, negotiate with the hospital for an RFQ on the tests that have to be done within the next two hours to save his life.

But the rest of us could not.

He has no idea what real life is like for most of us.

This proposal does not contemplate the well-being of the citizenry of the United States of America.

But I got a dollar to a doughnut that, if it is enacted, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

After all, that is his track record, is it not?


Wierd Valentine’s Greetings 0

Yeah, I know I’m behind the curve, but I thought this was a cute news story. Chocolate and hearts may be passe for 363 days now, but silly is good all year round. Follow the link:

There’s always an excuse (which we hard-hitting journalists prefer to call a “news peg”) for non-news. But Valentine’s Day is the best. For the last few weeks, publicity reps have been feverishly sending e-mails, recommending story ideas.

Yeah, yeah, we’re covering war, famine, riots, crime, scandal, avian flu, and Sly Stone’s recent apparition in Night of the Living Dead at the Grammys.

But in the increasingly shallow depths of our globally warmed winter, what’s more important? The latest dish on Abramoff? Or, to quote one of my sources, “How to make that special someone know how much they mean to you by giving them a gift from the heart” on Tuesday?


End of an (Army) Era 0

M.A.S.H. no more.

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – The U.S. Army bade “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” to perhaps its best-loved institution on Thursday when it decommissioned its last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) and handed it over to Pakistan.

A legendary institution that gained worldwide fame through a long-running television comedy series and a hit 1970 feature film portraying a fictional 4077th MASH, has a history dating back more than 60 years to the end of World War Two.

The field hospitals served in U.S. wars since, from Korea to Vietnam and Iraq, saving many thousands of lives.

The MASH decommissioned on Thursday — the 212th based in Miesau, Germany — was based in Iraq until last year.

The replacement is CASH (Casualty Support Hospitals), which are smaller, faster, more portable, and can be deployed closer to the front.



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department must respond within 20 days to requests by a civil liberties group for documents about President George W. Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.


“Given the great public and media attention that the government’s warrantless surveillance program has garnered and the recent hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the public interest is particularly well served by the timely release of the requested documents,” he said.

No doubt Attorney-General Gonzales will find some reason to claim that the current Federal Administration does not have to obey the judicial branch, just as he has found reasons that it does not have to obey the legislative branch.

Once he retires from government “service,” he would have a great future manufacturing a signature Philadelphia foodstuff.



is what I do. But not like this:

Cincinnati based surveillance company created the policy with the hopes of increasing security in the datacenter where video surveillance tapes are stored. In the past, employees accessed the room with an RFID tag which hung from their keychains, however under the new regulations an implantable, glass encapsulated RFID tag from VeriChip must be injected into the bicep to gain access, a release from said on Thursday.

Will Smith wasn’t that far off the mark, was he?

I think I’ll add “Security Focus” to my links. They are on top of scary stuff.

One again, a tip of the hat to Phillybits.


What Is a Conservative . . . 0

. . . in today’s discourse?

Used to be, there were pretty clear differences between liberals and conservatives. Frankly, I think there still are.

But I don’t think those differences are ruling public discourse. Rather, I think that, for the more strident members of the right wing (and also of the left wing), George Bush has become the defining factor. I think Unclaimed Territory has it right; I urge you, whether you consider youself liberal, conservative, or independent, to follow the link and read the entire post from which this excerpt is taken:

Now, in order to be considered a “liberal,” only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a “liberal,” regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more “liberal” one is. Whether one is a “liberal” — or, for that matter, a “conservative” — is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.

(Thanks to Phillybits for introducing me to this site.)


Dead-Eye Dick 0

I r a farm boy. I grew up surrounded by guns.

No, my immediate family were not hunters, but many members of the extended family were.

On Thanksgiving, we would host the family for Thanksgiving dinner. Part of the tradition was that my uncle and cousin (ten years older than I) would go squirrel hunting. Later, it was my cousin and his brother-in-law.

I still have the Christmas gift of my 15-year-old dreams–a seven-shot bolt action Mossberg .22 rifle (though it needs a new front sight). And, with a little bit of practice, I could be a pretty mean shot again. I once picked off a crow–the lookout–at 200 yards, when the flock was eating our soybeans.

(Anyone who has ever tried that will tell you that crows are smart. They can tell when you step out the door with a rifle, as opposed to a broomstick.)

I attended NRA gun safety classes in high school (this was when the NRA was primarily a safety organization, rather than a lobbying group).

There is nothing funny about guns. There is nothing funny about shooting anything, even a crow.

Now, city folk, who’ve never handled a gun, may believe that it was somehow Mr. Whittington’s fault that he stepped into Mr. Cheney’s line of fire. But the protocol the current Federal Administration cites–that Mr. Whittington should have announced himself–is just another Bush lie.

There is no such thing as an accidental shooting. Anytime someone or something gets shot, it is either because they were an intended target (no, I do not think that Mr. Cheney intended to shoot Mr. Whittington) or because the shooter failed to use his or her weapon with due care.

It is the responsibility of the shooter to know what he or she is shooting at.


End of story.

Mr. Cheney shows himself, by this act, to be irresponsible.

Once again.

By this time we have earned the right to ask, “This surprises us how?”


Can’t They Chew Gum and Rub Their Stomachs at the Same Time? 0

Gulf Coast hurrican victims to be evicted:

A federal judge on Monday denied a last-minute request that would have forced the federal government to continue paying directly for hotel rooms for 12,000 families made homeless by last year’s hurricanes.

FEMA has promised the evacuees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita that they will still receive federal assistance that they can use toward hotel stays or fixing their ruined homes, although FEMA will no longer pay for the hotels directly after Monday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

Today, legions of wide-bodied mobile homes sit empty at Hope’s Municipal Airport, a sprawling former military base. After all these months, storm victims can’t seem to get the trailers, which are proving a mixed blessing to Hope and Arkansas.

Words fail me.


The Rightwing and Warrantless Searches 0

Phillybits did a little digging and foung the the Rightwing’s views on the Fourth Amendment, as represented by those who frequent the Free Republic blog, seem to have changed.

G-Nashing of Teeth and Great OutRage greeted reports that Mr. Clinton may have tried warrantless searches.

Where is the outrage now?


Candidates’ Debates . . . 0

. . . have become pretty much a waste of time. They have become so stylized as to resemble nothing more than a minuet in a grade B movie about the prelude to the French Revolution, while, outside the doors of the palace, the ruffians riot freely.

Now, I’m not much of a Newt Gingrich fan, but he says something worthwhile here:

For 2008, we should honor the example of Lincoln and Douglas with a rich presidential dialogue that respects Americans in their role as citizens of a republic. We can start down this path with three changes to the presidential debates format.

First, the morass of rules and restrictions that have governed presidential debates should be eliminated. They are the product of campaign consultants determined to mask the weaknesses of their candidates. Campaign professionals prefer more controlled communication, such as campaign advertising, to exert the maximum possible influence on the voter rather than truly letting voters see the candidate in action. The result is a canned, formulaic charade in which the candidates are trained to use these rules as crutches to steer their responses to poll-tested phrases that appeal to certain core demographics.

He goes on to recommend

  • Allowing the candidates to actually address each other;
  • Removing the moderators (one would hope that persons vying for office would be capable of addressing each other civilly); and
  • Making debates in primaries by-partisan, with participants from each party’s primary in the same debate–his theory is that that would reduce the intramural blood-letting and more clearly delineate the differences between the parties, as well as the candidates.
  • I find the first two recommendations extremely sensible. I’m not sure about the third, but it is certain worthy of, well, you know, debate.

    At this point, the candidates’ debates are not debates–they are a series of mini-speeches (by the way, what was the bulge?). We would be better served if we could observe canditates actually taking to, with, and even against each other, rather than right past each other, as they do today.

    And, frankly, I think the candidates would be better served by a chance to get out of their handlers’ straightjackets and into some straight talk.


    Some Snow Pix 1

    Snow-covered truck


    Somewhat Cleared Walk

    Snow-covered Tree

    Carr Road at Stony Run



    Snow Blogging 0


    I had to go to the store today to get some ingredients for my chili.

    What a zoo. The checkout lines were reaching back into the aisles. I’m convinced that you can predict how people drive based on how they push grocery carts. I just relaxed and watched the floorshow.

    We got the first flurry at 1:15 p. Then nothing for an hour. It started again about 2:15 p. (temperature 37 degrees F) and is going good now (4:00 p.); even though the current temperature is still above freezing, it’s starting to stick to bare earth and lawns.

    6:15 p.–Still coming down, some slight cover on lawns and bare earth, but melting on the roads and sidewalks. 33 degrees F.

    (Whoops! Where’s my blog. It’s gone. Go to the server. Reboot. Hmmmm, can’t get to the internet. First rule of trouble-shooting: make sure it’s plugged in. Change out the network cable. Everything’s back. Whew! I was in no mood to spend hours doing detective work on a snowy Sunday, but I’m going to back the darn thing up tomorrow and burn the back-ups to CD.)

    8:00 p.–About 3/4 inch accumulation, temperature just dropping below freezing. Starting to stick to the street and the sidewalk.

    Sunday Morning:

    7:00 a.–There’s clearly been some wind overnight and mild drifting. Plus snow is sticking to the screen of the porch.

    It’s high enough that, when I opened the door, snow was about 1 1/2 inches higher than the sill. The best place I could think of for an accurate measurement of accumulation was the bed cover of my truck: 5 1/2 inches of moderately heavy snow.

    Ed has already ploughed the street at least once and is just back for a second go.

    The good news: Somehow my Inquirer delivery person, who lives about 2 miles up the road, managed to get the paper to me on time. He did good. I think I’ll write a letter.

    24 degrees F.

    9:00 a.: Eight inches on the truck now. Because the snow started when the temperature was above freezing, there’s an icy layer under the snow. I shovelled out the truck for the first time. I’m old; I believe in shovelling early and often–a series of small jobs, rather than one huge one.

    According to the radio, New Jersey Transit is suspending bus service for now.

    10:20 a.: It seems to have pretty much stopped with 8 1/2 inches on the truck. I dug out. I’ll be posting some pictures later.


    Professor Cole Puts the Pieces Together 0



    Bob Barr, from Republican Darling to Republican Goat 0

    Mr. Barr was the Congressman who presented the case for removing Mr. Clinton before the Senate (disclaimer: a case which I considered to be a silly and stupid pretext for a political action). Mr. Barr, though, was sincere in his beliefs.

    He is still consistently sincere. But now he’s on the outside. He spoke at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this week:

    “Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?” Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. “Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?”

    Barr answered in the affirmative. “Do we truly remain a society that believes that . . . every president must abide by the law of this country?” he posed. “I, as a conservative, say yes. I hope you as conservatives say yes.”

    But nobody said anything in the deathly quiet audience. Barr merited only polite applause when he finished, and one man, Richard Sorcinelli, booed him loudly. “I can’t believe I’m in a conservative hall listening to him say [Bush] is off course trying to defend the United States,” Sorcinelli fumed.

    At least Mr. Barr’s principles are not just principles of convenience.


    Snow Storm Chili 0

    (This makes a lot. What’s left over can be cooled in the refrigerator, then put into resealable plastic bags and frozen.)

    1 pkg. black or red beans, soaked overnight or 2 cans canned beans (red and black can be mixed).

    1 can diced tomatoes.

    1 sm. can tomato sauce.

    1 lb. ground beef (variations: steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes; venison, prepared similarly).

    1 med. onion, chopped.

    1/2 doz. med. mushrooms, sliced and quartered.

    1 bell pepper (I used 1/2 bell pepper and 1 Italian pepper today).

    2 cloves garlic, minced, or equivalent dried garlic.

    1/4 cp. olive oil.

    2 tbs. chili powder or more to taste.

    1/4 tsp. rosemary.

    1/2 tsp. basil or more to taste.

    1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (all together now) or more to taste.

    1 dry, crushed habanero pepper if available or hot pepper flakes to taste.

    2 cps. water, approximately.

    dash of salt.


    Bay leaf.

    Saute vegetables and garlic in oil. When onions are translucent, add beef and brown over medium heat until thoroughly browned.

    Add chili powder.

    Add tomato and sauce.

    Add beans and enough water to cover and remaining spices.

    Cover pot and bring to boil over medium heat.

    Simmer approximately two hours. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

    Serve with freshly chopped onion, grated cheese, pickled halapeno pepper slices for garnishes.

    (Aside) I’m planning to serve it with these hushpuppies.


    And This Surprises Us How, Part 2 0

    The current Federal Administration is willing to subvert anything to political ends:

    “The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world,” says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. “He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington.”

    Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.


    Intelligence pros say much of the information used by Bush in an attempt to justify his increased spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, trampling of civil rights under the USA Patriot Act, and massive buildup of the Department of Homeland Security, now the nation’s largest federal bureaucracy, was “worthless intel that was discarded long ago.”


    And This Surprises Us How? 0

    The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of “cherry-picking” intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

    You can read the entire article here.

    Once again, the Iraq War is a war based on lies. Our sons and daughters are in harm’s way for lies. (My son in reality. Others’ sons and daughters, some in reality, some metaphorically.)

    And this is compassionate? This is conservatism?

    I don’t know about you, Gentle Reader, but I am tired of the lies and of the liars.


    Bread and Milk 0

    Tomorrow’s forecast, from weather dot com.

    Cloudy with snow showers developing during the afternoon. High 38F. Winds ENE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 60%.

    Tomorrow night’s forecast, from the same place:

    Periods of snow. Low 29F. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 4 to 6 inches.

    And Sunday’s forecast calls for snow up through about 3 p. m.

    Meanwhile, the best forecaster in the area predicts the following:

    Metroweather Meterologist Pat Pagano is calling for five to ten inches in New Castle County. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says northern Delaware could be in-line for up to one foot of snow this weekend. The National Weather Service says Kent and Sussex Counties could get three to eight inches, with the heavier amounts expected well inland. The storm system is developing down south, in the Mississippi River Valley, then is expected to start tracking north, with the snow expected to start falling on Delaware around midday Saturday. A Winter Storm Watch is already up, and will be in effect from Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.

    I predict that there is no bread and milk left in any of the grocery stores. After all, this is North Wilmington. The nearest grocery store for anyone is a three-day wagon ride over bad roads, so, whenever snow is predicted, all residents must stop at the local General Store and buy all the bread and milk in sight.

    Who knows, if we get the maximum predicted ten inches of snow, we might be marooned in our log cabins and prairie sod huts for almost two or three hours. Except for those brave enough to don their mukluks and strap on snow shoes for the grueling hike to the local general store or equivalent.

    Gosh, with ten whole inches of snow on the ground, it make take almost 10 or 15 minutes to get there.

    Can’t do without that Wonder Bread and Sweet Milk.