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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

Election Central screens the latest political ads. Ned Lamont as Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a little spooky.

NRCC drops another $6 million nationwide, and some of it went to Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), despite reports that the national GOP had given up on that race.

Josh posted a couple of weeks ago about the modus operandi of the AP's John Solomon: "His rep is as an easy mark for oppo researchers peddling their wares -- and from both sides."

So I was almost amused when I saw Solomon's hit piece today on John Kerry. In a story that purports to follow up on Kerry's botched Iraq joke (the headline is "Kerry's '72 Army comments mirror latest"), Solomon reports:

During a Vietnam-era run for Congress three decades ago, John Kerry said he opposed a volunteer Army because it would be dominated by the underprivileged, be less accountable and be more prone to "the perpetuation of war crimes."


Phrased that way, it appears that Kerry was linking being underprivileged to the commission of war crimes. But once you read the rest of Solomon's piece it becomes pretty clear that Kerry thought that a professional army would be more likely to commit war crimes (which may be arguable but is not implausible) and also thought that an all-volunteer force would be comprised disproportionately (and unfairly) of the underprivileged. Solomon commits the causal fallacy of concluding that Kerry therefore said that the underprivileged are more likely to commit war crimes.

Now back to the Solomon MO. His sources for the story were "a former law enforcement official who monitored 1970s anti-war activities" and "someone who gathered" the document in which the comments appear"from archives during Kerry's unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign." The first source gave Solomon the tip. The second source, apparently an opposition researcher, provided the document.

Like I said, almost funny. Then I considered what a treasure trove the current national security apparatus must be yielding even as we speak for some oppo researcher to exploit against a yet unknown Iraq War veteran 34 years from now.

More on those push-poll calls about medical experiments on the unborn. Several TPM readers in Maryland have reported robocalls from Michael Steele's Senate campaign with a "poll" question along the lines of "do you believe that medical research should be allowed on unborn babies?"

TPM Reader PR, in Maryland:

I got the same "polling" call. It starts out asking who you are going to vote for, then has a series of questions, including the medical experiment question. Also asked whether you supported marriage as being between a man and a woman, do you want your taxes raised and then asks at the end, based on what you now know do you support Michael Steele. . . .


A slightly different version of the script is reported by TPM Reader JA:

After asking you who you're going to vote for, it asks "do you want your own taxes raised or lowered?" Then it tells you that Cardin has voted to raise your taxes and will do so again. It follows with "do you believe the words 'under God' should be in the pledge of allegiance?" It tells you Cardin voted to remove them, which I assume is false. Then it goes straight to the gutter and asks "do you support medical research experiments on unborn babies?" Of course, it then tells you Cardin is for this. It finishes by asking again who you're going to vote for.


At least one Maryland reader says his call did not include any reference to medical experiments on the unborn. Some reports we've gotten say the call was the Steele campaign; others say it was a group called "Common Sense Maryland." Still others say the sponsor was "Common Sense Ohio."

In Tennessee, TPM Reader LK reports that a group called "Common Sense Tennessee," which appears to be an outgrowth of "Common Sense Ohio," is making robocalls on behalf of Republican Bob Corker in the Senate race:

It starts off asking are you for Corker for for Ford, then it runs thru a list of push poll questions; not verbatim but the substance below: -- do you favor giving the same rights to terrorists as to americans? -- are you pro life? -- do you support the NRA and how it lets us have all the guns we want to? -- do you think we have a problem with illegal aliens? Asks again are you for Corker or for Ford.


A TPM reader in Virginia says that the George Allen campaign is using a a similar question in its push-poll calls: "Do you favor carrying out medical experiments on a dead fetus?"

Then there's TPM Reader LH:

Yes, there are other campaigns doing push polls asking that question. I have received a poll asking if I agreed with medical experiments on unborn babies. The call was in support of Dick DeVos. I live in Michigan's 2nd Congressional District. I simply told the woman that as a person living with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma since the age of eight, I fully support medical experiments on cells that were artificially created in a lab for the sole purpose of curing disease and saving millions of lives. I also told her I personally found the pro-lifer's stance offensive because I am alive, and why do they think an artificially created lump of cells more important that me? My parent's were married for years before they had me. I WAS a planned pregnancy, my parent's created me naturally, just the way God intended. Why shouldn't I be saved? Why do they feel MY life is unimportant? I finished the call by informing her that my parent's love me, they have already lost one child to murder, real murder, the kind that involved a criminal investigation and would take serious umbrage with anyone who would want me to die too. I asked her why didn't she believe my parent's have suffered enough, why she felt my parent's need to lose another child and hung up the phone.


A lot of money is being spent on robocalls in these last days of the campaign, so keep us posted on what you're hearing.

LA Times: Even if Dems win both Houses, Rove will still have given "virtuoso" performance.

Fields of Fire, one of James Webb's books that George Allen has been attacking as obscene, is actually on the Marine Corps' reading list for professional development.

Joe Galloway:

The president declared himself confident that Republicans would sweep to victory and maintain their stranglehold on both houses of a Congress that's done nothing but rubberstamp Bush's war policies and Republican efforts to enrich their fat-cat donors and themselves, of course.

If he's right and that's the result of the Nov. 7 elections, then the American people will finally have fulfilled H.L. Mencken's prophecy that we'd continue choosing the lowest common denominator until, in the end, we get precisely the government we deserve.

Meantime, Vice President Dick Cheney confirmed that some of the senior al-Qaeda terrorists in our custody have been subjected to "water-boarding," a torture that brings the victim within a hair of drowning and suffocation. Cheney declared that it was a "no-brainer." My thoughts exactly: Only people with no brains opt to torture a captive in violation of domestic and international law.

This unseemly circus and its clowns in Congress can't go away fast enough and with enough dishonor and disgrace to suit the circumstances. Their place in America's history is secure: They will go down as the worst administration and the worst Congress we've ever had. Period.

They deserve to lose both the House and the Senate on Nov. 7, and the White House in 2008. They bullied their way into a war that they thought would be a slam-dunk and then so bungled things that the only superpower left in the world has been humbled and hobbled in a world that they've made more dangerous for us.

Thanks, guys. You've done a heckuva job. We won't forget it.


That about sums it up.

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