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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

As we mentioned earlier today, the New York Times has thrown its support to Ned Lamont in an editorial appearing in Sunday's paper. The editorial board, which has long favored Joe Lieberman, pulled no punches as it withdrew its support, calling Lieberman's well-known accommodations of the Bush Administration a "warped version of bipartisanship."

If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.


The significance of newspaper editorials is vastly overrated. But in withdrawing its longtime support of Lieberman and backing Lamont, a virtual unknown until just a few weeks ago, The Times has given Lamont all of the boost that an editorial can deliver. It validates a challenge that until very recently many observers considered more notable for Lamont's national support from liberal blogs than for the possibility that the incumbent might actually be unseated in his own party's primary. There must be at least a few people close to Lieberman who are wondering tonight whether he ought to step aside in favor of Lamont, rather than end his political career with a humiliating defeat.

Mission accomplished?

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared victory on Saturday after Israel announced it was withdrawing its forces from the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbail where Israeli troops found unexpected difficulty in dislodging the guerrilla group from its strongholds.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev defended the decision to pull troops from Bint Jbeil, saying Israel had never intended to occupy the town, but Nasrallah's quick declaration of victory underscored the propaganda gains Hezbollah is reaping across the Muslim world as it battles Israel to a stalemate.


The last time I recall the U.S. seeming this ineffectual was following Jimmy Carter's failed attempt to rescue the American hostages in Tehran in 1980.

For those MZM-oholics among you, here's video of the grand opening of the MZM facility in Martinsville, Va., less than two years ago, complete with remarks from Richard Berglund, Rep. Virgil Goode, and Mitchell Wade himself. Oh, the heady days of ribbon-cuttings and campaign contributions. The MZM facility shuts its doors for good on Monday.

In a sign of election year desperation, the GOP House early today passed a $2.10 increase (over three years) in the minimum wage. But not to be completely outdone, they tacked on an estate tax cut to the same bill, along with some other tax reduction goodies.

As Kevin Drum noted, dryly: "Clearly, the Republican Party is the party of common sense. After all, if you give a few hundred dollars a month to the poorest of the working poor, it's only fair that you also give several million dollars to the richest of the idle rich."

“You have seen us outfox you on this issue tonight,” crowed Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) to Democrats on the House floor.

Those clever House Republicans. What will they think of next?

NYT endorses Ned Lamont . . .

More at TPMCafe's Election Central.

And here's how The Times first dropped the bombshell, in a straight news piece on the Lamont-Lieberman race:

[The New York Times, in an editorial published on Sunday, endorsed Mr. Lamont over Mr. Lieberman, arguing that the senator had offered the nation a “warped version of bipartisanship” in his dealings with President Bush on national security.]
More to come . . .

After my post last Saturday trumpeting Floyd Landis' amazing performance in the Tour de France, I can't exactly ignore his failed drug test this week, as much as I'd like to ignore the test, the Tour, and the entire sport from this point forward.

There are those, including Landis himself, warning against a rush to judgment. Fine. We'll wait and see, though Landis himself expects his B sample to show the same elevated ratio of testosterone, at which point he will be stripped of his win in the Tour. As I understand it, the definitive test will be an analysis of whether the testosterone in his system was natural or synthetic, a test which may not be completed for some time.

Yeah, that's what I love about the Tour: alpine vistas, fields of lavender, and carbon isotope ratios.

I think I'll dull my pain with something French and authentic, like a bottle of Pernod.

Former CIA hand Ray Close, via Larry Johnson:

My source confirmed in detail the fact that intelligence being produced for the Bush Administration by the Pentagon strongly supports the thesis that Hizballah operations are directly controlled and closely managed from Teheran. My source considers this an exaggerated picture of the real situation. He believes that this assessment contributes to an unhealthy and even dangerous mindset in Washington, leading to potentially serious miscalculations and errors of judgment by President Bush and his closest advisors at this very critical time.

Reuters: "Israel will not demand the immediate disarming of Hizbollah as part of a deal to end the current fighting in Lebanon, a senior Israeli foreign ministry official said on Saturday."

Time for some context on the current turmoil in and around Israel. This passage from Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty has special resonance given current events. The scene is the White House Situation Room in January 2001, where Bush is meeting for the first time with his National Security Council, 10 days after taking the oath of office. Bush has just asked who in the room has met Ariel Sharon:

He'd met Sharon briefly, Bush said, when they had flown over Israel in a helicopter on a visit in December 1998. "Just saw him that one time. We flew over the Palestinian camps," Bush said sourly. "Looked real bad down there. I don't see much we can do over there at this point. I think it's time to pull out of that situation."

And that was it, according to [Paul] O'Neill and several other people in the room. The Arab-Israeli conflict was a mess, and the United States would disengage. The combatants would have to work it out on their own.

[Colin] Powell said such a move might be hasty. He remarked on the violence on the West Bank and Gaza and on its roots. He stressed that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and Israeli army. "The consequences of that could be dire," he said, "especially for the Palestinians."

Bush shrugged. "Maybe that's the best way to get some things back in balance."

Powell seemed startled.

"Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things," Bush said.


With that, the rest of the meeting was devoted to Iraq.

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