Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
A congressional watchdog group says 17 lawmakers are currently under investigation for allegedly breaking ethical standards. Charges include steering earmarked funds toward associates, tax evasion and receiving preferential mortgage rates.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says 13 of the accused are Democrats and four are Republicans. Those four are Don Young of Alaska, Jerry Lewis and Gary Miller of California and Pennsylvania's Tim Murphy.
The Democratic side features Senators Roland Burris of Illinois, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and New Jersey's Robert Menendez. House members being investigated include John Murtha of Pennsylvania, Linda and Loretta Sanchez of California, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel of New York. The Politico reports that Rangel has now spent more than $1 million in his defense.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is demanding an explanation from the Justice Department about its dismissal of a civil complaint against three members of the New Black Panther Party accused of intimidating voters last November in Philadelphia. Commission Chairman Gerald Reynolds tells The Washington Times: "If you swap out the New Black Panther Party in this case for neo-Nazi groups or the Ku Klux Klan, you likely would have had a different outcome."
The only charge that stood against the panthers was a weapons complaint against the leader. Justice Department officials said the facts did not support a case.
But the Times reported last month that at least one person appointed by President Obama helped scuttle efforts by career lawyers to pursue legal action. Justice Department officials insisted that report was wrong.
Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson
And one name on the list of this year's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is causing quite a stir. Former Irish president and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson is one of 16 winners of this nation's highest civilian honor. But the Anti-Defamation League says the choice is "ill-advised" and that Robinson "has an animus toward Israel... she became a lead cheerleader for the Palestinian narrative."
Pro-Israel groups point to her work as governor of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism which was criticized for targeting the west and overlooking racism in Arab nations. Both the U.S. and Israel boycotted the event.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says: "There are statements that obviously she has made that the president doesn't agree with, and that's probably true for a number of the people that the president is recognizing."
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.
Bret Baier is the Chief Political Anchor of Fox News Channel, and the Anchor & Executive Editor of "Special Report with Bret Baier.” His book, "Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission," (William Morrow) is on sale now.