Friday, May 12, 2006

"There's probably no post more important in preserving our security and our values as a people than the head of the Central Intelligence Agency."
--Gen. Michael V. Hayden, nominated by President Bush for the position of C.I.A. Director, quoted in The New York Times, C.I.A. PICK NAMED AS WHITE HOUSE TAKES ON CRITICSby Elisabeth Bumiller and Carl Hulse, 5-9-06.

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to Al Qaeda and their known affiliates."
--George W. Bush, quoted in The New York Times, BUSH IS PRESSED OVER NEW REPORT ON SURVEILLANCE by Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane, 5-12-06.

"Rather than allow our intelligence professionals to maintain a laser focus on the terrorists, we are once again mired in a debate about what our intelligence community may or may not be doing."
--Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), IBID.

I regard these quotes as highly revealing, although one might easily net other such bons mots like so many weak moths circling the dim candles of Grand Old Party gloom that now envelops us. How long before this gloom becomes night is anyone's guess.

Gen Hayden asserts that "our values as a people" depend on the Director of the C.I.A. A very odd thing to say for someone who claims to be a public servant committed to the preservation of constitutional democracy. Indeed, if one reads books like the recently published OVERTHROW by Stephen Kinzer, the C.I.A. has, in its short history, taken actions that in the long run have been detrimental to both our "values" and our "security." That isn't to say that a well-run C.I.A. would not be an important asset to the U.S. government. But I would also like to point out the obvious fact that the United States Constitution makes no mention of a Central Intelligence Agency.

And speaking of spooks, it was the current president's father who served as C.I.A. Director for about 14 months during the presidency of Gerald Ford. Perhaps young George learned from his father that secrecy is best. Bush the younger has more than once expressed his desire for dictatorial powers and has said that he "doesn't need to explain" why he does things and that he is "the decider." His denial that the government under control of his cronies (or what Jonathan Turley writing in the Chicago Tribune called "the made men of the Bush administration") is "mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of Americans" only reinforces the obvious truth that he is doing precisely that.

Rep. Hoekstra's reference to "a laser focus on the terrorists" also highlights the fact that no laser focus has been applied, but a broad saturation campaign of electronic ogling the likes of which the world has never seen. Bush says the NSA spying is "focused on links to Al Qaeda and their known affiliates." Thus phone records of millions of Americans (and their billions of calls) become, in his twisted logic, infected with what--the heresy of doubt, the taint of traitorous inquiry, or the hidden conspiracy of Al Qaeda terror plots?

Hoekstra says we are "once again mired in debate," as if the country's biggest problem is the Hamlet-like nature of our pesky civilian and fourth-estate nervous Nellies. And all the while we sit as citizens of a country whose government has hastily entered two wars, is planning a third, and in the name of the constitution is that document afire like so many Vietnam-era draft cards.

No doubt we will soon discover that significant eavesdropping has and is taking place despite the fierce denials of those in charge. Nevertheless, it is now clear that a large-scale violation of Americans' constitutional rights has taken place, a fitting corollary to the holding of innocent cab drivers and old men on Guantanamo.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One of these days he [Scott McClellan] and I are going to be rocking on chairs in Texas, talking about the good old days and his time as the Press Secretary. And I can assure you I will feel the same way then that I feel now, that I can say to Scott, job well done.
--George W. Bush, White House Press Conference 4-19-06,
The italics are mine.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is B.S. Not only do you kick him --you kick him until he passes out--then beat him over the head with a baseball bat--then roll him up in an old rug--and throw him off a cliff into the pound surf below!!!!!"
--Michael Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay and business partner of Jack Abramoff, who recently entered a guilty plea to bribery charges. The above quote is from a book about the Clinton impeachment entitled, "The Breach" by Peter Baker. The quote is cited in the Wall Street Journal, "Behind Unraveling of DeLay's Team, a Jilted Fiancee" by Brody Mullins, 3-31-06. According the the article, Scanlon and Tony Rudy encouraged DeLay to "lead the charge" for impeachment.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

The "Dear Friend" letter comes from

Hey Tom? Did Ronnie Earle also make up the Washington Post story published today that says you took a one-million dollar bribe from a Russian oil executive?

Dear Friend,

As you probably know, the very partisan Travis County D.A. recently manufactured an indictment against me that is based on charges from the 2002 Texas State House elections. These charges are groundless and false. I am completely innocent.

Just as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and other public officials have defeated similar attacks from this D.A., I will prove his allegations are baseless and without merit.

Despite this partisan distraction, I will continue to represent you and fight for the interests of our community.

I hope you’ll take a moment now to read more about exactly what is happening and why. Thank you for visiting and I look forward to keeping you up to date on our fight against this out of control DA.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


(CBS) WASHINGTON On a whim, U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg pulled into a gas station in Washington this week and bought $20 worth of Powerball tickets. As he was leaving, a clerk ran after him because he had left one of the tickets behind.

"She was a very pleasant young woman; she might have kept it and for all I know it might have been the winning ticket," he said in a telephone news conference.

Gregg collected a check for $853,492 from the Powerball Lottery on Thursday.

According to his latest financial disclosure form, Gregg has between $1.5 million and $6.2 million in stocks and other major investments.

What will he do with the lottery money?

"Whatever my wife tells me what to do with it?" he joked, saying he would turn a portion of the winnings over to the Hugh Gregg Foundation, which supports New Hampshire charities and is named after Gregg's late father, a former governor of New Hampshire....


I'd like to know what Judd Gregg was doing when he stopped to play powerball. Let's take him at his word and assume that he had stopped to buy gas as well as 20 lottery tickets, and that the need for his trip was not simple greed. What important state business had he been conducting and where was he going? Was he busy thinking up ways to help his constituents?

It is astonishing to me that he went out of his way to praise the gas-station clerk who chased after him with one of his tickets, yet he has volunteered to give her NOTHING. What an apt little parable about the generous impulses of our Republican legislators: "I've got mine Jack."

I called his office last week and asked if he planned to give any money to the clerk who chased after him with his forgotten ticket. I was told his press spokesperson was busy and I was connected to her voicemail. "If I do not get a call back" I said in my message, "I will assume the Senator is not planning to give any money to the clerk." I never got a return call.

The larger question is what portion of the money will he "turn over" to his own foundation and why is a man of his wealth not giving the money to, say, help ill-equipped national guardsmen in Iraq?

Following is a letter that appeared in the Concord Monitor today:

The creepy image of millionaire Sen. Judd Gregg starting his day by poring through the newspaper to find his winning numbers is bad enough. To make it worse, picture New Hampshire's own Ichabod Crane trotting over to fulfill his senatorial duties by voting nay that very same day on the Senate amendment to provide for appropriations for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.


Henniker Monitor

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."--Representative Richard Baker of Baton Rouge speaking with lobbyists. The Wall Street Journal published the quote, and it was cited by Maureen Dowd in the NYT, 9-10-05.

Monday, September 05, 2005

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

President George W. Bush commenting on FEMA director Michael Brown's performance in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Bush said this in Mobile, AL on Friday, 9/2/05.