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We were just watching Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-CT) talk at the American Enterprise Institute, when our collective jaw dropped as he set off on a death-defying string of historical analogies. It seems that his ability to survey our times with Churchillian clarity short-circuited:



Here's the transcript as I could best transcribe it:

There are people who have spoken of this moment in history as if it were the 30’s, and there are some parallels, I fear, there. People say the war in Iraq is comparable to the Spanish Civil War, and the war in Iraq, to the larger war against Islamist terrorism, comparable to the Spanish Civil War, to the Second World War, the late 30’s and the failure to grasp the growing threat of fascism in Europe until it was almost too late. The painful irony of this moment in our history, is that while in some senses it is comparable to the 1930’s, it’s also already 1942. Because Pearl Harbor [9/11], in this war, has already happened.

From CNN:

On the same day that the 110th Democratic-led Congress convenes with a plan to immediately pass lobbyist and ethics reforms, the Congressional Black Caucus Thursday gave a standing ovation to Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who faces an FBI probe into bribery allegations.

"The haters... and negative nabobs...the people who spoke against him couldn't prevail against the people who spoke for him," Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, master of ceremonies for the CBC's celebratory event, said Thursday morning.

Ten months into his sentence, ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) is getting some new digs:

Imprisoned former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham will soon have a new address ---- a work camp just outside Tucson, Ariz.

The camp is 410 miles from San Diego, a six-hour drive that will allow the former Republican lawmaker's friends and family members to more easily visit him as he serves an eight-year sentence for taking more than $2.4 million in bribes.


Meanwhile, the investigation presses on, as prosecutors continue to examine whether the defense contractors who bribed Cunningham had similar success with others:

Federal prosecutors in San Diego have subpoenaed documents from three House committees as part of an investigation into special-interest earmarks in spending bills.

The demand ratchets up an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego into contracts awarded by the Defense Department and other agencies. The probe stems from the bribery case against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe), who pleaded guilty and resigned in 2005.

The scope of the investigation is unclear, although the request for documents is considered unusually broad....

The subpoenas went to the armed services, appropriations and intelligence committees, whose Republican chairmen reported the subpoenas to outgoing House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in letters dated two weeks ago....

The subpoenas are an escalation of a nine-month tug-of-war between the Justice Department and House Republicans. Prosecutors had asked the committees to turn over the information voluntarily.

Here's Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) on Hardball last night. Does anybody else find this to be a stunning admission from the Republicans' #2 in the Senate?



The transcript:

Matthews: I think [Vice President] Cheney had his thumb on the scale, do you agree? That they were pushing this war so hard, they were working to look at any evidence that backed the war and ignore any evidence that didn’t back the war.

Lott: They were pushing the evidence that justified going to the war, a lot of us, Republicans and Democrats, were concerned about what we were told, and we bought the packet.

Attention Corrupt Bastards, the loophole is closing:

A group of House Democrats wants to change a state law that they say allows politicians to sell their votes in exchange for campaign donations.

That's right: It's not already a crime under state law, according to Anchorage Reps Les Gara and Harry Crawford, who filed a bill to close what they call a legal-bribery loophole.

Prosecutors Unveil Ney's Bribery Price List "As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on an ethics reform package partly inspired by the misdeeds of former Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Ney, federal prosecutors filed new documents in court that detail exactly how lobbyists paid Ney for political favors.

"'Defendant Ney accepted thousands of dollars worth of benefits in a scheme that spanned two continents, lasted almost four and one-half years, implicated numerous separate transactions and involved numerous acts of deceit and concealment,' the legal filing said.

"What was Ney’s price for placing an Oct. 26, 2000 statement in the Congressional Record on behalf of lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s SunCruz casino boat operation? The new documents say it was a $10,000 contribution to the National Republican Campaign Committee that SunCruz made less than a week later.

"What did it cost for Ney to insert language in the Help America Vote Act that would have helped a Texas Indian tribe represented by Abramoff to reopen a closed casino? Abramoff instructed the tribe to make political donations to Ney that totalled $32,000.

"The documents were filed as part of negotiations over the sentence Ney should receive after pleading guilty to felony charges of conspiracy and making false statements. Ney’s defense lawyers say the former congressman from Heath exercised control over fewer than five participants during the criminal acts he committed, but prosecutors filed the documents Wednesday to show that Ney was a “manager/supervisor” of criminal activities who oversaw more than five people.

"Ney’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 19. Prosecutors have recommended that he serve 27 months in prison." (Plain Dealer, Legal Times)

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Bad news for war profiteers and corrupt politicians.

Today, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill, simply called The War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007, targeting fraud by government contractors supporting the occupation of Iraq and the response to Hurricane Katrina. Such profiteering would be a felony under Leahy's legislation, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million or twice the gross profits of the profiteering. The bill would also clarify U.S. courts' jurisdiction to handle cases of profiteering which occur overseas.

To make it a muck-fighting twofer, Leahy also joined Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) to introduce a bill aimed at strengthening public corruption investigations. The proposal would extend the statute of limitations for many offenses, allow federal investigators to use wiretaps when chasing state and local officials defrauding the federal government, and would boost the FBI's public integrity budget by $100 million over four years.

As we noted repeatedly last month, law firms, lobbyists, and professional spinners have busily repositioning themselves to attract corporate clients who'll be looking for help once the Democrats bring the gavel down.

But one firm has topped them all, organizing a one-stop-shop for targeted companies (sub. req.):

Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw today is launching a Congressional Oversight Strategy group that will combine lobbyists, white-collar defense lawyers and members of its banking, securities and energy practices.

“I’ve chaired an oversight subcommittee, so I know what they’re going to be looking for,” said ex-Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.), a Mayer Brown lobbyist. “If a private person or corporation comes up before Congress and needs a team, we’ll be bringing the people together.”

McIntosh said the new practice will have as many as 20 lawyers and lobbyists, including one-time U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor; Peter Scher, former chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.); Andrew Shore, former chief of staff to the House Republican Conference; and Howard Waltzman, most recently the chief telecommunications counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


Well, jeez. And the investigators don't even have their pants on yet. Early advantage: corporations.

Well, well, well. Another wrinkle in the post-election battle down in Florida's 13th District.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has taken every opportunity to blast Democrat Christine Jennings for challenging the results of November's election in the district, even accusing her of "destroying democracy." But now it turns out that his own wife came to him about her own voting problems on Election Day.

"Mrs. Sandy Buchanan indicated on November 7, 2006 that she had difficulty registering her vote for Buchanan. [Vern Buchanan] did not respond to this complaint as the period for voting had nearly ended," reads a recent court filing by Buchanan (you can read it here). A memo by Buchanan's spokeswoman also turned over to Jennings as part of a court filing gives more detail:

"...on Election Day... Mrs. Buchanan indicated that she had to hit the button more than once, I think she said three times -- to record her vote for Mr. Buchanan."


Jennings has cited the testimony of hundreds of Sarasota County voters who had difficulties voting just like Sandy Buchanan to buffer her contention that electronic machine glitches cost her the election.

Here's a piece of muck history unearthed yesterday from deceased Supreme Court justice William Rehnquist's FBI files.

In 1986, the Reagan administration was eager to protect its nomination of Rehnquist to be chief justice the Supreme Court. Officials learned that at his confirmation hearings, Democrats in Congress planned to bring out witnesses who would testify that Rehnquist had intimidated minority voters as a Republican Party official in Arizona.

Intimidation? Now there's an idea. So the administration enlisted the FBI to do background checks on the witnesses -- and pushed the bureau to send special agents to "interview" them prior to their testimony. That's not a usual practice, mind you. At the time, at least one FBI official warned that the Justice Department "should be sensitive to the possibility that Democrats could charge the Republicans of misusing the FBI and intimidating the Democrats' witnesses."

Despite that warning, the order was approved.

Who would have rubber-stamped such a horrendous idea?

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