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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

New York State Police have demoted a 28-year veteran detective following the pre-election leak of a police report involving one of our favorites, Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY):

The move comes following the explosive surfacing of a State Police report just a few days before this year's elections. The report contained information about State Police responding last December to the congressman's Clifton Park home. It stated that a 911 call from Sweeney's wife, Gayle, resulted in an observation at the home of scratches on Sweeney's face. The report said Gayle Sweeney had complained about being physically attacked by her husband.


According to the Albany Times Union, neither police officials nor the detective, Capt. Frank Pace, would comment on the circumstances of the demotion. But Sweeney's attorney told the paper there was "no question" Pace leaked the report. Pace had been the investigating officer of an earlier unrelated incident involving Sweeney's son, who was charged with assault.

Sweeney was defeated last week for re-election.

Tom Delay's successor claims his staff destroyed files in the congressional office, the AP reports:

Just three days after being sworn in, U.S. Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs wants Congress to investigate the destruction of files in her office by former staff members of her predecessor, Tom DeLay.

. . .

Sekula-Gibbs said in a statement Thursday that seven employees in her Washington office and the district office in Stafford, Texas, outside Houston, "deleted records and files without my knowledge or permission" before quitting.

. . .

Sekula-Gibbs, who is serving out the last seven weeks of DeLay's term, said the walkouts were "suspicious" in that the seven took the time to delete files before leaving without notice.


Sekula-Gibbs won the special election to finish out Delay's term, but she lost the general election for the full term beginning in January. She sure is making her seven-week tenure fun.

Tom Delay's choice for Time's Man of the Year? Nancy Pelosi. Said Delay:

"She worked for years putting a strategy together, building a huge coalition. She held the Democrats together in the House like I have never seen before. She is going to change America!"


And, yes, Time actually had Delay on its selection panel.

Update: Delay was actually on a panel at a symposium hosted by Time on who should be selected Man of the Year.

Today, in international affairs:

A renowned black magic practitioner performed a voodoo ritual Thursday to jinx President George W. Bush and his entourage while he was on a brief visit to Indonesia.

Ki Gendeng Pamungkas slit the throat of a goat, a small snake and stabbed a black crow in the chest, stirred their blood with spice and broccoli before drank the "potion" and smeared some on his face.

"I don't hate Americans, but I don't like Bush," said Pamungkas, who believed the ritual would succeed as, "the devil is with me today."


Great, now Bill Kristol will want to invade Indonesia.

Top-shelf political analysis from Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL):

Examining the 2006 midterms, Putnam blamed the GOP defeat on “the independent vote, the women vote, the suburban vote.” He said that “heck, even the white rednecks who go to church on Sunday didn't come out to vote for us.”


Between the segregationist wing of the GOP in the Senate and the white redneck wing in the House, there are those suggesting the GOP is now just a regional party of the South. That's not fair to the South, unless you mean the circa 1948 South.

Reuters: The outgoing chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, James Inhofe (R-OK), on Thursday dismissed a U.N. meeting on climate change as "a brainwashing session."

Hoyer prevails, 149-86 . . .

It's done.

Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will be the new House majority leader, holding off an upset bid by John Murtha (D-PA), who had the backing of Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi.

The final tally was not far off from predictions. Hoyer had long been the favorite. Until Pelosi's active involvement on behalf of Murtha this week, there wasn't much doubt about the outcome. But Pelosi's last-minute aggressive advocacy for Murtha did throw the race into turmoil.

More here.

A lot of reporting is being devoted to trying to figure out what the U.S. strategy in Iraq will be going forward. We discussed at length yesterday the report in The Guardian about the President's "last big push."

In an op-ed today in the LA Times, Laura Rozen outlines an internal Administration debate over whether U.S. policy in Iraq should tilt in favor of the Shiite majority:

A U.S. tilt toward the Shiites is a risky strategy, one that could further alienate Iraq's Sunni neighbors and that could backfire by driving its Sunni population into common cause with foreign jihadists and Al Qaeda cells. But elements of the administration, including some members of the intelligence community, believe that such a tilt could lead to stability more quickly than the current policy of trying to police the ongoing sectarian conflict evenhandedly, with little success and at great cost.

. . .

To do so would be a reversal of Washington's strategy over the last two years of trying to coax the Sunnis into the political process, an effort led by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. It also would discount some U.S. military commanders' concerns that the Al Mahdi army, a Shiite militia loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada Sadr, poses as great a threat to American interests as that presented by the Sunni insurgency centered in western Iraq's Al Anbar province.

So what's the logic behind the idea of "unleashing the Shiites"? It's the path of least resistance, according to its supporters, and it could help accelerate one side actually winning Iraq's sectarian conflict, thereby shortening the conflict, while reducing some of the critical security concerns driving Shiites to mobilize their own militias in the first place.


Laura has more at her blog.

There are other policy options on the table, but so far "the last big push" and "the tilt" are the two we've seen most publicly articulated.

Are the lame names for these strategies indicative of how poor the policy options are?

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