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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

Six months to stabilize Afghanistan, says the NATO commander there, or 70 percent of the population will switch sides to the Taliban.

I've always thought of Rep. Ray Lahood (R-IL) as a moderate Bob Michel Republican. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose, and apparently that means everyone in the GOP has to drink the Kool-Aid.

Lahood, appearing on Face the Nation this morning, lauded Denny Hastert as an paragon of ethics and good government:

He took care of Tom DeLay, his best friend. When Tom was having ethical problems, the speaker went to him and asked him to leave. When he appointed Duke Cunningham to the Intelligence Committee, he went to Duke and made sure he wasn't on the Intelligence Committee after it was disclosed he took $2.3 million. And when Bob Ney was appointed chairman of the House Administration Committee, he was appointed by Speaker Hastert. Speaker Hastert went to him and told him to step down from that committee after the Abramoff disclosures.


Setting aside Hastert's obviously bad record of appointing good people (or is it good record of appointing bad people?), Lahood knows this version of events isn't accurate. Not even close.

Delay hung on for months, years even, under an ethical cloud. Just this weekend it was reported that Hastert's staff was instrumental in passage of the Delay Rule, which would have permitted Delay to remain as majority leader even after a felony indictment against him, until public outcry forced the GOP caucus to rescind the rule change.

Duke was gone from Congress so fast it made your head spin. I can't find any record of Cunningham stepping down from the Intel Committee before he resigned from Congress, which he didn't do until he entered his guilty plea to the corruption charges. The Duke story broke in June 2005. He announced in July 2005 that he wouldn't seek re-election. In November 2005, he entered his guilty plea and announced his resignation from Congress. In December 2005, the Intel Committee announced a shuffle of positions resulting from Duke's departure. In April 2006, Hastert announced Duke's replacement on the committee. Nothing in that timeline suggests early intervention by Hastert.

As for Ney, there is some truth to Lahood's assertion, but an incomplete half truth at best. Hastert did push him to resign his chairmanship, but not until after Jack Abramoff's guilty plea. In bears noting that as of right now Ney is still a Member of Congress.

Hastert has stonewalled, resisted, enabled, ignored, participated--well, you get the idea. He is the longest serving GOP Speaker in history. One of the most corrupt Congresses in history is his legacy. He built it. He owns it.

The AP has a lengthy investigative report out on Sen. George Allen's personal finances. The piece focuses on stock options that the Virginia Republican failed to report on his Senate financial disclosure report. I'm still working through the article, but a lot of it looks like it plows the same ground as this American Prospect piece which ran last month.

Late Update: We have word that Allen has responded to the AP story. "I don't even know what 'stock options' means. I just made the term up. I have never used that term in my private life." Maybe so, but we understand that the use of "stock options" began in French colonial North Africa, where Allen's mother was raised. We're looking into it.

What did NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds know and when did he know it? His former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, isn't saying. And Fordham's lawyer declined to tell our Election Central.

The Navy lawyer whose successful defense of Osama bin Laden's driver led to the Supreme Court's landmark Hamdan decision has been passed over for promotion.

Under the Navy's "up or out" promotion system, the decision forces Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift into early retirement. He learned of the decision about two weeks after this summer's ruling in Hamdan, which was a historic rebuke to the Bush Administration, and not long after the National Law Journal named Swift one of the top 100 lawyers in America.

Military promotion practices are notoriously byzantine and take into account many factors, but I think it's safe to say that this is a disgrace and a black-eye for the Navy.

In sign of Foley fallout, new poll shows Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) in serious re-election trouble.

Justin has your Sunday morning Foley roundup . . . plus a former page tells the LA Times he had sex with Foley. And every scandal needs a theme song.

Latest Newsweek poll: For the first time since 2001, more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror.

Late Update: The Newsweek story describing the poll results also contains this head-scratcher: "Americans are equally divided over whether or not Speaker Hastert should resign over mishandling the situation (43 percent say he should, but 36 percent say he shouldn’t)." Equally?

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