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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

While the anniversary of Katrina's final landfall is not until Tuesday, the storm memories harbored by many survivors and refugees begin on this Friday night a year ago.

Those who were prudent and cautious by nature had started paying attention to the storm--really paying attention--earlier in the day. They had evacuated once already that summer, for Dennis, and the year before for Ivan, both of which hit the Florida panhandle. The Mississippi and Louisiana coasts were largely spared by those two earlier storms, and many residents there were perhaps reluctant to pack up again. The only thing more tedious than evacuating for a hurricane is evacuating for a hurricane that ends up striking somewhere else.

But if you had ever experienced the traffic jams during a hurricane evacuation, especially leaving the cities along the Gulf Coast, then you knew that you better get out while the getting was good. And Friday night, the getting was still good.

Traffic was a little heavier than usual, but drive times were about normal. Gas was available. Weather conditions were good. If you wanted to avoid the chaos that the weekend might bring, you went home from work, packed the car, and headed out before dark. If you had the means to do so. If you had someplace to go.

Shift change. Matt Yglesias is back over at the Cafe. I'll be guest-hosting this weekend for Josh. You can email me at tpmguesthost (at) hotmail.com. More soon . . .

An investigation is underway in Britain into whether the Blair government's cooperation with U.S. spying on international banking transactions violated British and European law, The Guardian reports.

Pat Buchanan coughs up another xenophobic hairball, while anti-immigration counter-demonstraters in Riverside, N.J., show their true colors:

Opponents of a local law cracking down on illegal immigrants clashed on Sunday with residents chanting "go home" as both sides proclaimed their loyalty to the United States.

An estimated 300 to 400 people gathered outside the town hall to protest a recently passed ordinance that bans hiring or renting to illegal immigrants, who are accused of overburdening local services such as schools and hospitals without paying taxes.

The protesters, representing the largely Brazilian immigrant community of Riverside, were heckled by about 500 counter-demonstrators kept at bay by police on the other side of the town's main intersection.

As immigration supporters accused the town's council of racism, opponents chanted "USA, USA" and waved placards saying "Scram" and "Stop Illegal Immigration." A passing pickup truck drew loud cheers by flying a Confederate flag with the motto "The South Will Rise Again."


I like that last part. The South will rise again--in New Jersey?

Update: Apparently there was a secret pact between New Jersey and the Confederacy heretofore unknown to historians. More here.

Reader MF takes the same view as many TPM readers do (albeit more politely than some):

Sorry but with your and Atrios' blog battle over Joe Momentum the real issue is being missed.

This is now an issue about the basis of the Democratic Party - if Lieberman gets re-elected as a Independent after loosing a Democratic Party primary and the Dems in the Senate welcome him back into their caucus like nothing has happened our Party is dead. The Dems in Washington will have said that the wishes of the States don't matter and will be ignored when its handy and that there are 2 Parties, the one that lives in the States and the one in Washington and on this and all things Washington rules. Sometimes there are things that are more important than a majority. It doesn't matter if he's needed to get the 51 votes or not Lieberman has to be forced out of the Party.

If there is no Party discipline there is no Party - if there aren't rules and regulations there isn't a Party.

This whole mess is more important than Lieberman, the Dems in the Senate, and the nutmeg State.


Putting self above party at the expense of party should have consequences. But at what cost? I part ways with those wanting to enforce party discipline even as they admit it might cost Dems a Senate majority. As I have said before, a Democratic Senate with Lieberman in it far surpasses a GOP Senate without Lieberman.

Practical question: If the concern is that Lieberman is going to drive up GOP turnout in Connecticut, thereby hurting Democratic congressional candidates, is casting the Lamont-Lieberman race as a crucial battle between the forces of darkness and light the best way to dampen Republican turnout?

Karl Rove is still a fundraising draw deep in the heart of Texas. But you know what they say about familiarity breeding contempt:

"I think we actually like Karl a lot more now than we did when he was more active locally," said Republican consultant Royal Masset.

Masset said there is a sense that Rove in Washington is remaining loyal to Bush while "fighting the good fight. He's fighting budgets. He's fighting wars. He's doing conservative kinds of things."

As a Texas consultant, Masset said, "There was a real sense of him being a total self-centered (person) who didn't care about anybody. He would literally destroy people who tried to oppose him."


Where to even start . . .

Curiously, despite the calls for lobbying reform from Dennis Hastert and John Boehner, those seeking to rein in congressional earmarks are being punished. Gannett reviews the earmarks for Tennessee in next year's federal budget. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) did okay for his district, but says he could have done better if not for his votes for earmark reform.

Cooper's 5th District also has 19 projects, but he thinks there would be more if he had not been so outspoken in his opposition to this method of distributing federal tax dollars. "In general, what they are trying to do is punish me without eliminating all my projects," Cooper said.

He said he received warnings on the floor of the House during votes on proposals by Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to remove some of these projects from bills.


Lobbying reform, GOP-style.

A long piece on the relationship between Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and convicted briber Vernon Jackson, from the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Vernon Lamar Jackson and William J. Jefferson and their wives spent a pleasant weekend in New York City in the fall of 2004. The Kentucky businessman and the Louisiana congressman watched U.S. Open tennis from an air-conditioned corporate box, attended The Lion King on Broadway and did a little shopping.


Those were the good old days.

A good rundown on where things in Iraq are now and where they are headed:

For all the recent attention on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, far more people died in Iraq over the past month than in Israel and Lebanon, and tens of thousands have been killed from the fighting and criminal activity since the U.S. occupation began. Additional signs of civil war abound. Refugees and displaced people number in the hundreds of thousands. Militias continue to proliferate. The sense of being an "Iraqi" is evaporating.

Considering how many mistakes the United States has made in Iraq, how much time has been squandered, and how difficult the task is, even a serious course correction in Washington and Baghdad may only postpone the inevitable.


Events on the ground are outpacing the debate here at home. From a political standpoint, the decision to invade Iraq and the incompetence demonstrated in the execution of that decision are fair game in congressional elections. From a policy standpoint though, the debate is--or should be--how do we prepare for, respond to, and ameliorate the looming consequences of the invasion on the region as a whole.

In that regard, debating whether to keep the troops in Iraq or bring them home is, at a certain level, starting to seem quaint. It is another sign, one of many, of the dysfunction in the U.S. policy-making apparatus that no provision is being made for the "spillover" effect. Of course, that would require first acknowledging that the strategic objectives of the Iraq invasion have not been, and cannot now be, achieved.

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