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

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is still the Southern regional chairman of the Giuliani for President camapign, and the DC Madam still wants to call Vitter as a witness at her trial.

If Vitter is forced to testify, he would have three options, the Times-Picayune observes:

A subpoena would present Vitter with an awkward choice, legal experts said. He could say he hired a prostitute. He could assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and say nothing. Or he could acknowledge that he hired an escort but that nothing illegal happened.

Fun choices.

Late update: CREW has filed an complaint against Vitter with the Senate Ethics Committee.

Sidney Blumenthal previews the next scene of the Iraq debacle:

Gen. Petraeus is promised as the dramatic hero who will stride to triumph in the last act. The author of a recent study of counterinsurgency who has not previously fought such a war, he has been thrust into the spotlight partly because his halo is yet untarnished. Bush's unpopularity disqualifies him from the "Mission Accomplished" moment. So he pushes out his handpicked general and walks behind his chariot, hoping the cheering of the crowd will be also for him. In his July 12 press conference, Bush mentioned Petraeus 11 times, his name flourished as a talisman for "victory." The generals with the greatest experience with the Iraq insurgency, who opposed Bush's surge, such as Gen. John Abizaid, an Arabic speaker, have been discharged or reassigned. The burden on the ambitious general to produce a military solution is unbearable and his breaking inevitable. But for now, Petraeus' tragedy foretold is being cast as the first dawn of a happy ending.

As Josh mentioned a few days ago, Bush still wants his parade.

Laura McGann has the rundown on the breaking news from Alaska regarding the sweetheart land deal for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Short version: Murkowski bought riverfront property on the Kenai River from a politically connected developer for $179,400, which just happened to be the assessed value of the property for property tax purposes. There are indications that the fair market value of the property may be nearly twice what Murkowski paid.

If only I could pick up real estate for the assessed value. Guess you have to be a U.S. senator for that kind of score.

Update: I've gotten a couple of emails--from readers in Massachusetts and Virginia, respectively--who would be happy to sell me property at the assessed value, saying that FMV is actually lower than their assessments. I'd be curious to know where else in the country this is the case.

In any event, our reporting shows that assessed value does trail FMV in the area where Murkowski's property is located.

That land deal involving Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that TPMmuckraker's Laura McGann broke on Monday just got a whole lot more interesting.

More shortly . . .

From Maria Bartiromo's interview of Condi Rice in the current issue of BusinessWeek:

MB: Would you consider a position in business or on Wall Street?

CR: I don't know what I'll do long-term. I'm a terrible long-term planner.

The award for most misleading headline on today's Iraq vote goes to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, whose website leads with "Filibuster Fails to Force Iraq Vote."

Whoa. Wrong on so many levels.

We were just kicking that one around amongst ourselves. Greg Sargent pointed out that it's a twofer: "The Dems filibustered, and they failed at it. They are filibustering losers."

Just in case all the bamboozling has you confused, it was the Republicans who were threatening to filibuster to thwart a vote on withdrawing from Iraq. Rinse and repeat.

Today, we find Dick Cheney comfortably ensconced in the Executive Branch, which offers him the advantage of being able to assert executive privilege in the face of congressional subpoenas. (The specter of Cheney raising executive privilege came in this letter from the Vice President's counsel to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT). This, of course, is in contrast to Cheney's position a few weeks ago that he was part of the Legislative Branch and thus not subject to an Executive Order on the handling of classified documents.

I used to think that Cheney's undisclosed location was an underground bunker somewhere in the wilds of Maryland. Perhaps it was really this strange new netherworld between the Executive and Legislative branches, an imaginary place of the Vice President's own making.

So what exactly did Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) mean when he said yesterday that he had personally paid every bill he received for the renovations to his home in Girdwood, Alaska?

Well, there you have it. The Senate GOP minority has blocked a vote on withdrawal from Iraq, with the threat of a filibuster. No big surprise. It was clear from the outset that not enough Republicans would defect to overcome their party's filibuster threat.

GOP senators can whine and complain all they want about the President's Iraq policy, but when push comes to shove, the vast majority of them are still lined up right behind the President and his disastrous policy.

Since the media hasn't been able to bring itself to use the f-word (filibuster) in describing the GOP's procedural maneuvering, I'm not optimistic that the coverage of the defeat of the Democrats' proposal for a withdrawal timeline will be much better.

We've already picked up on some doozies. The vote to end debate and proceed to a vote on the Democrats' withdrawal amendment was 52-47, with 60 votes needed for passage. So that's 52 senators voting to end debate and proceed to a vote. How does FOX News report it? The Democrats proposal failed 52-47, as if only 47 votes could be mustered for the Democrats' position.

Now you would expect that kind of thing out of FOX, but CSPAN? Take a look:

Thanks to TPM Reader AG for the catch.

We'll be following the coverage closely. Let us know what you find.

[Note: Oops. In its original form, this post incorrectly transposed the vote total as 57-42, instead of 52-47.]

Update: From TPM Reader TH:

I think even the New York Times headline gives the wrong impression. It reads: "Democrats Fail to Force Vote on Iraq Pullout." It's technically accurate, of course, but even someone up on the debate is likely to think that the Democrats couldn't get their act together, that they weren't united on this. An equally accurate but essentially more truthful headline would be: "Republicans Stymie Vote on Iraq Pullout."

Exactly right.

Late update: Lead headline on the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Filibuster Fails to Force Iraq Vote." Huh?

Thanks to TPM Reader MK for the catch.