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

Democrats' decision to forgo earmarks this year is making for strange bedfellows:

Surprisingly, some Republican conservatives agree with the do-nothing approach, because Democrats have decided to rule out any 'earmarks,' otherwise known as 'pork' for local areas and special interests, while the continuing resolution is in effect.

These earmarks became a huge political issue in the midterm elections as Democrats pointed to expensive GOP-sponsored projects, such as a 'bridge to nowhere' in a remote area of Alaska, as a sign that pork had gotten out of control.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the Senate's most conservative members, said in a statement that 'my hat is off to Reid and the Democrats for making this decision. By agreeing to do a yearlong spending resolution for 2007, we will effectively take a time-out on pork-barrel spending.'

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the Republican Study Committee's Budget and Spending Task Force, said that 'it is somewhat refreshing' that Democratic leaders have adopted a strategy that for weeks has been favored by conservative Republicans.

FEC slaps Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with a $300,000 fine and knocks around some liberal 527 groups, too, all for activities from the 2004 election cycle.

CNN's resident funny man, Jeff Greenfield, protests that he was just making a joke when he compared Barack Obama's jacket-but-no-tie attire to the fashion choices of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

"Talking Point Memo," the home of Joshua Micah Marshall, pronounced the observation "weird." "The Daily Howler" saw it as party of the same media instinct that ridiculed Al Gore for his "earth tones" clothing choices back in 2000. The Columbia Journalism Review Web site weighed in with "character assassination." (It acknowledged that the effort might have been a weak attempt at humor).

Is some of this my fault? It has to be, for the same reason famed Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach liked to say that when someone misses a pass, 90 per cent of the time it's the fault of the passer.

I figured there was no way on planet Earth that anyone could possibly take such a presentation at face value. I was wrong.

Most of what happened here, I think, is a demonstration of the hair-trigger instincts that have grown up among some of the bloggers (not to mention the need to fill all that space every day, or hour, or 15 minutes).

Sigh. Of course, it was a joke. Just a weird joke, poorly executed. Watch the clip (the link is on the left in the middle of the page) and decide for yourself. Then check out this second CNN clip, about Obama's name.

So is the joke on the media? Or on Obama?

(By the way, it's cable news that has space to fill, 24-7. We can write as much--or as little--as we want.)

Just about everyone is holding their collective breath to see how serious Democrats are about earmark reform. So when Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the man who put the pork in "pork barrel," announces he's going to forgo this year's earmarks for his beloved West Virginia, that's a huge symbolic gesture.

Huge immigration raid at Swift meatpacking plants in six states Tuesday. The union for the plant workers tells TPMmuckraker that legal immigrants were caught up in the sweep.

The Listener-in-Chief:

The challenge for Bush's team was to make the president appear as though he were taking the release of the [ISG] report seriously, without necessarily embracing its conclusions. In the days following the report's release, Bush the Decider transformed himself into Bush the Listener. Usually prickly with war critics—on the rare occasions he spoke to them at all—the president now invited them in from the cold and kept quiet.

. . .

The results of that effort will be unveiled next week, when Bush is expected to announce what he calls "The New Way Forward," his latest plan to salvage the mission in Iraq.

The New Way Forward? How very Mao.

On the issue of what the House should do about the re-election of Rep. William Jefferson, a few readers have cited the Supreme Court case of Powell v. McCormack, which on a cursory reading suggests that the House would not have the power to exclude Jefferson, assuming he meets the basic legal qualifications for being elected to Congress (age, citizenship, etc.), but could expel him after he was seated.

TPM Reader CC, on the Bill Jefferson conundrum:

While I'm sure that Jefferson is guilty and corrupt as sin, I'm a little concerned about the idea of not seating a duly-elected member of congress when there hasn't even been an indictment in the case yet. If an indictment comes down, or the Ethics Committee finishes their investigation in the next couple weeks, that's one thing. Could they not seat him pending the outcome of the Ethics Committtee investigation? I don't know enough about the innerworkings of Congress to know.

With our legal system based on "innocent until proven guilty", it seems to me that this has become a no-win situation for the Democratic leadership. If they don't seat him, the GOP will use any angle possible as a wedge (race would be the most obvious thing here but I'm sure there are others).

Florida is an entirely different matter. Not seating the "winner" there would be a means towards a "do over" special election. You're not saying that he's unfit to serve, you're saying, "there's enough doubt in the process so lets do it again, and if you win again, so be it...". Both parties have enough operatives and money to make the do-over race legitimate.

I don't think that not seating Jefferson would blunt any of the outcry from not seating Buchanan just because Jefferson's a democrat. Linking the two cases muddles the issue. Duly-elected (probably) unfit to serve Dem vs. (probably) not-duly-elected but fit-to-serve Repub. I think they need to be as separate as possible.