The First Time

Back when I lived in a city state with public transportation, I amused myself (in an indulgent way) watching the tourists try to work public transportation for the first time.

I would always think back to my first time. It was downright scary, I remember, not knowing where everything goes and what the rules are and where you’re supposed to go and all the while still trying to look cool or–at the very least, for reasons of safety–to look as if this weren’t your first time.

In some ways, the sight of someone using public transportation for the first time (the second time gets easier, as most public transportation systems work roughly the same) is a sweet reminder of how innocent we all once were.

Until I read Mary Ann Akers’ description of Trent Lott’s first time.

"I took the Metro for the first time," Lott told the Sleuth Thursday afternoon in the makeup room of MSNBC, where he and his new lobbying partner, former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), were fixin (as Lott says) to do a TV segment.

"He’s been standing in front of his house waiting for his car and driver," laughed Breaux from the makeup chair, adding with a tinge of a low-country twang, "He’s learning how to hail a cab." (Read: HAY-ul a cab.)

Life in the private sector isn’t as cushy as Lott thought it would be. No more free lunches, no more taxpayer-funded car and driver, no more overprotective press secretary guarding him from the pesky media.

Lott says he doesn’t drive. He doesn’t own a car. Usually, he walks. One day, he says, he walked the 30 or so blocks from his downtown office on 14th Street Northwest to his home in Southeast Washington on Capitol Hill.

Lott took his first Metro ride ever last weekend, when thousands of tourists were in town enjoying the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Could there be a more perfect time for a prima donna first-time rider?

"I stood up the whole time," Lott said, smiling, as if he enjoyed it.

Lott really had no idea how to even go about taking public transportation. He didn’t know how to use the Metro fare card machines, or how much money to put on his trip ticket, or how to add money to one of the fare cards his wife gave him. Truly: clueless.

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“Trent Lott Called”

I haven’t been covering the Dickie Scruggs case mostly because folo has been covering it very nicely. The short update is the whole thing has exploded as four or five different cases merge into one–and none of it looks good for Scruggs. The Scruggses are due to give a deposition just after the new year in one of these cases, apparently to collect evidence on when they first contracted with two whistleblower-sisters who collected evidence against State Farm and got it into the Scruggses hands.

Lotus posted something today that deserves wider notice. In a post describing Trent Lott’s rather hasty retreat from the Senate (both in general, and last night at precisely 10:45 PM), lotus points out that Trent Lott shows up in some of the filings from this time period, in particular the notes of one of the engineers involved in the case. Trent Lott called, the notes begin.


The notes go on and on about Trent’s anger at State Farm, ending with a record of just how mad Trent is.


Now, lotus speculates more about what this might mean for Trent, particularly since it appears that the Scruggses tried to get State Farm in legal trouble in hopes it would make their lawsuits easier to win.

Asshole though he be, Trent Lott is not totally stupid (though he may have been for a while stupified by rage at State Farm). He knows that, despite all his long years’ effort to the contrary, a large number of Mississippians can read and reason and see this trail he’s left, and where it’s heading. There he is down on paper conferring with the whistle-blower (or thief, depending on your standpoint) who worked with Dickie and Jim Hood to coerce a civil settlement via state-applied – possibly criminally state-applied – pressure. Is he the one who hooked them up to the FBI and U.S. Attorney?

But for the moment, I’m interested in this note, which suggests that the sole reason Trent came back this year is so he could legislate his way to revenge against State Farm–or, at the very least, legislate away the insurance companies’ ability to collude.


Now, perhaps I’m mis-reading this note. But it seems to reflect Trent’s well-publicized contemplation of retirement last year, rather than running for re-election. It seems to provide an explanation for why he decided, in the end, to run for re-election: to get even with State Farm. Read more

Scruggs Update: Balducci Did Flip

I’ve been following the Scruggs indictment over at Law Blog and folo while I’ve been busy moving. The short version update? The first concern of the judge who allegedly got bribed, Judge Lackey, was for the guy who was doing the dirty work of bribing: Tim Balducci. While a lot of people have a lot of respect for Lackey, it doesn’t sound like many people (besides Lackey himself) have much respect for Balducci.

This is all the more important since Balducci’s plea agreement makes it clear that Balducci has been assisting prosecutors for some time.

The government acknowledges the fact that the defendant has already substantially assisted the government within themeaning of Section 5K1.1 of the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual. Provided the defendant continues his cooperation and substantial assistance, the government agrees to file with the Court a motion for downward departure.

Perhaps that’s why Dickie Scuggs’ brother-in-law, Trent Lott, thinks that Dickie was caught in a sting. Read more