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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

A couple of pieces out today examine K Street's role in a post-Abramoff Democratic Congress. More here and here.

Sixteen million Americans live in "severe poverty," defined as individuals making less than $5,080 annually and families of four making less than $9,903. Yeah, 16,000,000.

We all know intuitively that Dick Cheney is delusional when he says that the British partial withdrawal in southern Iraq is a sign of success in stabilizing the region; but, for a more concrete sense of how badly the British have failed and how cowardly Tony Blair has become, you can't do better than Patrick Cockburn's piece yesterday in The Independent.

From the conservative Daily Telegraph:

Israel is negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq as part of a plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

To conduct surgical air strikes against Iran's nuclear programme, Israeli war planes would need to fly across Iraq. But to do so the Israeli military authorities in Tel Aviv need permission from the Pentagon.

A senior Israeli defence official said negotiations were now underway between the two countries for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an "air corridor" in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Teheran developing nuclear weapons.


I suppose the Iraqis themselves--a sovereign country, we are reminded by the Bush Administration when it's convenient--would be militarily helpless to stop Israeli overflights, but one can imagine that the backlash against U.S. troops by Iraqi Shiites would be swift and fierce. We might find ourselves longing for the days when we were merely caught in a civil war.

Update: Then again, the Israelis may need help just to find Iran.

Late update: Reuters reports that Israel is denying the report in the Telegraph. More here.

As Paul noted yesterday, another U.S. attorney has resigned, this one in Michigan. The Washington Post today confirms that "Margaret Chiara, the 63-year-old U.S. attorney in Grand Rapids, Mich., . . . was among a larger group of prosecutors who were first asked to resign Dec. 7."

That brings to eight the number of U.S. attorneys pushed out in the post-mid-term-election purge. DOJ has said the total was less than 10, but has declined to be specific. Were there others we still don't know about?

NRA crazies and their corporate sponsors cannibalize one of their brethren--'cause who wouldn't want the right to vaporize prairie dogs with military-style assault rifles.

Washington Post:

Two senior officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who opposed many questionable management and spending decisions by the agency's former director are being moved to lower-ranking positions effective Thursday, officials said. . . .

The transfers are widely seen within ATF as demotions. They come seven months after the sudden departure of Carl J. Truscott, the former director, who clashed with Domenech and other senior executives over spending and management practices.

An inspector general's report issued after his departure showed that Truscott -- who previously served as head of President Bush's security detail at the Secret Service -- engaged in a wide-ranging pattern of questionable expenditures on a new ATF headquarters, personal security and other items. The report also said that he violated ethics rules by forcing employees to help his nephew prepare a high school video project.

Domenech took over for Truscott after he resigned and reversed a decision to include a costly engraved quotation from Bush's speech to Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the new headquarters entrance.


SOP for the Bush Administration.

OK, class. Today's homework assignment is reading Gen. William Odom's op-ed in the Washington Post. I've highlighted Odom's analysis in the past, and he remains possibly the most cogent observer of the Iraq disaster.

Greg Sargent has pulled up Sen. Clinton's floor speech on the Iraq War resolution from October 10, 2002. It's worth a refresher as Clinton tries to finesse her vote now.

Which brings me to another point.

Why is she trying to finesse her vote?

Seriously.

On the substance of it, would she really cast the same vote today knowing what we know now? I can't believe she would. Does she regret, therefore, casting that vote? She won't say that exactly, which leads one to conclude that she has political reasons for not saying so.

But what political reasons?

Again, seriously.

Here Clinton finds herself where many if not most Americans do: supported the war initially and are now dubious. So what political backlash would she suffer for traveling the same arc as a significant percentage of voters? Arguably, very little.

The backlash she is getting is from the left, which remains angry about her vote. But does holding fast to that position now deflect criticism from the left? No, just the opposite. It invites more criticism.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying this, but since I can't figure out why she would hew to this position for political reasons, I circle back to the substance of the issue. Would she cast that vote again knowing what she knows now? Maybe she would. But, again, I doubt it. She's too smart for that.

I'm left with thoroughly unsatisfying explanations; such as, she's too stubborn to admit a mistake. Thoughts?

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