To Beat or Not to Beat, For O’Donnell There is No Question

It’s one thing to burn a Quran. It’s another when a cracker like Glenn Beck claims to take back the civil rights movement. It’s still another to advocate exercising Second Amendment rights on your political opponents if your Cult de Tea doesn’t get its way. But this, this is a national outrage…

Delaware GOP Senate hopeful, Christine O’Donnell, is … against … (wait for it) … masturbation.

It’s, “lusting in your heart,” dontcha know. The same as adultery. A mortal sin committed directly against God and whatever imaginary playmate you’re watching on your internal DVD player. You know, the same God that John Ensign, Newt Gingrich, and any number of other sinners of both parties insultingly slapped in the gob when they committed actual adultery.

I wonder if it’s masturbatory adultery if you lust after your spouse. Is it any different if you lust after your same sex partner? How about some heavy petting with that golden retriever next door? – but I digress.

Her charge must be true. Moose Mama, Sarah Palin, has endorsed O’Donnell and if there was ever a masturbation expert, it’s Moosilini. After all, back when she was just a shrill harpy of a Wasilla housewife, she had a witch doctor cast aside her demons. While he was casting out the demons, he surely must’ve gone after those impure thoughts she had about the First Dood and those hunky snowmobile racers he’s always binging home.

In a world chock full of distasteful and awful things it’s hard to imagine a world without a little pud-polishin’ or nub-rubbin’. I assume Christine’s against drinking and drugs, so that leaves one’s only relief at church – where the priests or pastors are too busy twiddling kids and church secretaries  to busy themselves with something so distracting as prayer or comfort to their fellow sinners.

And the Imams? Just forget about them. Who knows what depravity they and their honey-drunk, next-life virgins get up to?

Denigrating masturbation is like burning the flag. Both are revered symbols of our nation. They even have similar Constitutional roots. The First Amendment guarantees free speech (of which flag burning has been found to be) and I can tell you from personal experience that speech flowing from the throes of lust is very free, if not a bit dirty in a boom chicka wow wow sort of way.

When will these constant threats to our personal freedoms end? It seems like O’Donnell wants to start a War on Christmas Whacking or something. All America needs are a few good death panels and some Johnson’s Baby Oil to retain our title of World’s Only Superpower. Our country’s strength is in its national groin.  A groin strong enough to stand up to the sexually repressed Taliban, those filthy gays, and those few who enjoy a little pony play (NSFW) from time to time.

As I write this post, I’m looking at pictures of both Christine and Sarah, trying to divine what drives their lunacy. It seems that …

“You know, that prim schoolmarm vibe they both have is kind of attractive. Hmm, I never noticed that before. Those smiles. Those sexy glasses. The snappy tight, but not too tight, clothing and the come-hither winks. They’re babes. I’d hit that in a New York minute if …”

OH CRAP! I’ve committed virtual adultery!

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

The End May Be Nigh for John Ensign's Political Career

Nevada's top political journalist, Jon Ralston, reports:

In the federal penal code, it is known as "structuring."

And it is a word Sen. John Ensign should remember because it is very likely to be on any indictment with his name on it.

That’s what I am told by a reliable source familiar with the deliberations occurring inside the Justice Department as federal authorities in Washington try to do with Ensign what they could not do with former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens: Get their man. Or, because they had Stevens and then lost him because of misconduct, Justice wants to make sure if it goes to the next step with Ensign, the charges stick.

Indictment? Don't mind if I do. (Remember, it was the abysmal Bush DOJ that fumbled the Stevens prosecution.) So what is "structuring?"

Structuring is a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements — for example, a $96,000 payment to your mistress laundered through a trust controlled by your parents and calling it a “gift” instead of what it obviously was: a severance payment that had to be reported.

Based on the facts already in public domain, it seems there may be enough for an indictment.

Two former federal prosecutors in the past two weeks have said there is enough evidence to indict Ensign. “Just based on what the senator has said himself and what Mr. (Doug) Hampton has said … under the federal standard of probable cause, there’s enough to indict the senator now,” ex-prosecutor Stan Hunterton, a well-respected local attorney, said March 19 on “Face to Face.” Then, Thursday on the program, Melanie Sloan, the former federal prosecutor who now heads a D.C. watchdog group that has filed several complaints against Ensign, said, “I completely think” Hunterton is right. ...

The department is being very deliberate in assembling a case against Ensign. But Justice has a mountain of documents and e-mails that, combined with the senator’s own admissions or statements in e-mails, would seem to amount to a formidable case. And last week’s New York Times story, showing how Ensign’s contacts with a local company (similar to several other interactions), show how far the senator was willing to go to get Hampton work, mostly while he was employed by ex-Ensign aides who had formed a lobbying/consulting firm. The structure, so to speak, is becoming more transparent all the time.

Beyond Ensign's dire and deserved legal fate, what are the political implications?

If Ensign gets indicted, he will become a national and state nightmare for the GOP. National Democrats will brandish him as a symbol of corruption (they may anyhow) and local Democrats will wrap the junior senator around the GOP Senate nominee’s neck, especially because Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian foolishly have said they would welcome his support. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid directly go after his pal to boost his sagging fortunes. I can hear it now: “Sorry, John. But now you know how Doug Hampton feels — how it feels to be screwed over by your best friend.”

Why are the national and state Republicans mute? Cowardice, perhaps? Or is it, as NBC political guru Chuck Todd tweeted Friday, repeating something he previously said on “Face to Face” a couple of weeks ago: “NV/DC GOPers desperate to wait for Gov. Gibbons to be out of office before pushing Ensign out but can they really (http://nyti.ms/91kElt)?”

The Web link in Todd’s tweet is to last week’s Times story, emphasizing the point that if the Republicans wait too long, their silence could be very costly. And if Ensign gets indicted and no prominent Republican has called for him to resign, there’s no way to structure that deal to the GOP’s benefit.

Ensign and Washington Republicans can continue to do what they've been doing all along - ignore, ignore, ignore. But they might not be able to run out the clock on Election Day 2010 - still seven months away - before indictments come down. And, as Ralston points out, if the Washington Republican establishment stays mum on all of this, the issue becomes a matter of the entire Party coddling its corrupt members. Hmmmm, Republican Culture of Corruption, where have I heard that before? And that's on top of the already-competitive gubernatorial and Senate races in Nevada, which is also a key 2012 swing state, don't forget. (Lowden's and Tarkanian's poorly thought out statements welcoming Ensign's support will no doubt bite them in the backside if either is the Republican nominee against Majority Leader Harry Reid. The political ad writes itself.)

Particularly as it relates to the 2010 Senate races, the Senate Republican caucus is the Ensign-Vitter caucus. Every Republican incumbent Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate should be asked by their local media if they think hypocritical lawbreakers like John Ensign and David Vitter should resign their seats. They should be forced to call for the ouster of these hypocritical, lawbreaking Republicans or be forced to serve as apologists for them and let the voters decide. Though the media around the country largely may be dropping the ball on their responsibility, it appears federal investigators aren't. The national media that gave a relentless week of news coverage to the Eric Massa absurdity still hasn't fully given the Ensign matter (or the Vitter matter) its due. However, the handing down of indictments, should that come to pass, will be national news and should force the issue for every Republican seeking federal office in 2010.

For news and analysis on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

Tough Day for Republicans

Getting away from the policy, for a moment, and to the politics, today has been a bad day for Republicans. First, the scandal surrounding John Ensign is blowing up, touching not only the GOP Senator from Nevada but also the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Ensign recently chaired.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury looking into the aftermath of Sen. John Ensign’s extramarital affair with a former staffer, adding a new political problem for GOP leaders in their response to the dual criminal and ethics probes of the Nevada Republican.

The NRSC was asked to turn over documents related to Ensign’s tenure as NRSC chairman. Ensign chaired the committee during the 2007-08 cycle.

[...]

A Las Vegas TV station, KLAS, reported on Wednesday night that at least a half-dozen Nevada businesses with ties to Ensign have received document subpoenas from the grand jury in Washington, D.C.

KLAS also said that federal agents, including a prosecutor from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity unit, are looking into allegations that Ensign offered to help a Nevada credit card company block new legislation in return for a $28,000 donation to the NRSC.

Ensign's is not the only ethics scandal hitting Republicans today.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has agreed to pay $74,000 to settle charges that his travel and campaign spending violated state ethics laws.

The Republican governor is accused of breaking 37 laws, including improperly using pricey plane tickets for a trip to Argentina where he saw the mistress he infamously called his soul mate.

Under a consent agreement signed Thursday, Sanford doesn't admit guilt but does not contest the charges either.

It's going to be pretty hard for Republicans to prove to the American people that they learned the lessons of 2006 and 2008 when they allow the Ensigns and Sanfords to remain in their midst.

NYTimes: Ensign Legal and Political Woes Get Worse

Eric Lichtblau and Eric Lipton have the scoop for The New York Times:

Previously undisclosed e-mail messages turned over to the F.B.I. and Senate ethics investigators provide new evidence about Senator John Ensign’s efforts to steer lobbying work to the embittered husband of his former mistress and could deepen his legal and political troubles.

Mr. Ensign, Republican of Nevada, suggested that a Las Vegas development firm hire the husband, Douglas Hampton, after it had sought the senator’s help on several energy projects in 2008, according to e-mail messages and interviews with company executives.

The Beltway media has been doing its darndest to liken the ethical problems facing the Democrats today and those faced by the Republicans in recent years, but the differences could not be more stark. In the case of Eric Massa, for instance, within about a week of allegations of his misconduct coming forward into the public sphere, the Congressman had resigned his office. The Democratic response to the scandals surrounding Charlie Rangel were not as swift -- but nevertheless he no longer holds on to his committee chairmanship.

Yet when you look at the scandals affecting the Republican Party, both during the lead up to the 2006 elections and more recently, the response could not be more different. David Vitter, Mark Sanford and John Ensign are all still in office years and months after it became clear that they were under suspicion of impropriety.

In the case at hand, if the Republicans were serious about ethics, they would have taken steps to address the allegations against Ensign months and months ago when they first surfaced. That they haven't is extremely telling, undermining any notion that the GOP is poised to capitalize on the problems facing some Democrats in Congress.

Ensign could be in deep trouble

In June, Senator John Ensign of Nevada became the luckiest adulterer in American politics when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford didn't hike the Appalachian Trail. Ensign had been involved with campaign staffer Cynthia Hampton, who was married to Senate staffer Doug Hampton, but Sanford's bizarre pronouncements about his "love story" and Argentinian "soulmate" wiped Ensign off the media's agenda. Even the news that Ensign's parents gave the Hampton family $96,000 wasn't enough to get the Nevada senator back in the spotlight. His approval rating took a big hit and continued to slide during the summer, but he had reason to hope this scandal would fade before he faced re-election in 2012.

Unfortunately for him, New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and Eric Lipton have been researching Ensign's efforts to help Doug Hampton find work upon leaving his Senate office. First, Ensign "contacted a small circle of political and corporate supporters back home in Nevada" to see whether anyone had work for Hampton.

In the coming months, the senator arranged for Mr. Hampton to join a political consulting firm and lined up several donors as his lobbying clients, according to interviews, e-mail messages and other records. Mr. Ensign and his staff then repeatedly intervened on the companies' behalf with federal agencies, often after urging from Mr. Hampton. [...]

The senator declined to be interviewed. But his office said that the inquiries he had made about work for Mr. Hampton were "only recommendation calls" and that the senator's actions in support of his former aide's clients were "not at the behest of Mr. Hampton."

Mr. Hampton and his wife, in a series of interviews, provided a detailed account of Mr. Ensign's efforts to mitigate the fallout from the affair, which ruptured two families that had been the closest of friends.

Mr. Hampton said he and Mr. Ensign were aware of the lobbying restriction but chose to ignore it. He recounted how the senator helped him find clients and ticked off several steps Mr. Ensign took to assist them with their agendas in Washington, activities confirmed by federal officials and executives with the businesses.

"The only way the clients could get what John was essentially promising them -- which was access -- was if I still had a way to work with his office," Mr. Hampton said. "And John knew that."

There's much more detail on the lobbying in the New York Times article. The Times also reported, "The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee are expected to conduct preliminary inquiries into whether Senator John Ensign violated federal law or ethics rules" by letting or even encouraging Doug Hampton to lobby his office.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't seem eager to defend Ensign, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

Asked if Mr. Ensign could be an effective senator in light of ethical questions raised by the New York Times Friday, Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said only: "Sen. Ensign continues to serve. He's a member of the Finance Committee, been active in the discussions there." [...]

At a news conference on health care, Mr. McConnell was asked several times about Mr. Ensign but declined to take a firm position. "I really don't have any observations to make about the Ensign matter," he said repeatedly.

The Senate Ethics Committee has been looking into the Ensign matter since a complaint was filed on June 24 by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group. Friday's revelations give the committee additional allegations to investigate.

Ensign's no longer just another Republican hypocrite on family values. I see lots of legal fees and in all likelihood no re-election campaign in his future.

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