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

From TPM Reader RB:

As I read the reaction/fallout from Ann Coulter’s remarks at CPAC this week I’m annoyed by the entire progressive reaction to it and most of the many other outrages committed on a daily basis by the Republican Party.

Why doesn’t a progressive with an audience say something to the effect “This is who and what the once proud and honorable Republican Party has turned itself into. It is a party of hate, intolerance, incompetence, greed, treason, fanatical, hostile to science and reality, and totally corrupt. They have no honor and no shame. They’re fascists and a cancer on our great nation, plain and simple and this is just another example of that.”

Around here we focus on showing it rather than just saying it. But with Coulter and her ilk, it's probably necessary to just say it from time to time. So, yeah, what RB says pretty much covers it. (Treason is not a charge to throw around lightly, so I'll hedge on that; and we probably flatter ourselves by saying the GOP is fascist, although I agree its fascist tendencies are alarming.)

So which of the Democratic presidential candidates are willing to say it?

Late Update: Not so fast, says TPM Reader FN:

Can someone please explain why a comment from Ann Coulter draws such a flood of responses from progressives? Seems like such a waste. I thought the time was ripe for having substantive political discussions. Yet here we go wringing our hands and expressing moral outrage over a comment from someone who is really a cartoon character. Who cares what she says?

The whole reaction comes across as phoney and pathetic. Instead of demonstrating toughness it, instead, shows weakness. We seem to be trying to perfect our holier than thou, righteous indignation persona. It's fine to learn how to fight back but then we have to learn when to fight back. There is a difference between a bird shot and a cannon ball. Can't we try to focus on building a discussion about the war, health care, climate change and economic disparity and save our new found "toughness" for the major battles?

"If I was Heather Wilson, I'd be thinking about taking a long trip to Baghdad, where the conditions are a little more subdued." --former New Mexico Gov. Dave Cargo, a Republican, on the fallout from the U.S. attorney purges

Former New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who lost her 2006 bid to unseat Rep. Heather Wilson by just 861 votes, has a few things to say about the claims by ousted U.S. Attorney David Iglesias that he was pressured, reportedly by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Wilson herself, to bring criminal indictments before the mid-term elections for political purposes.

In an interview with Heath Haussamen, who blogs on New Mexico politics, Madrid claims that Iglesias may have succumbed to similar internal GOP political pressure in another public corruption case:

In an exclusive interview, Madrid said she wouldn’t be surprised if Iglesias is telling the truth, because she believes Domenici and Wilson may have had a hand in another massive public corruption scandal prosecuted by his office.

She said Iglesias, a Republican, kept her office from having any involvement in prosecution of the state treasurer scandal. She believes that was “probably” done at the urging of Republican operatives and designed to give Wilson fuel to attack Madrid for doing nothing about the scandal.

. . .

Madrid said her office was involved in 2005 in the early stages of the investigation of the treasurer scandal, along with the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department, but the FBI stepped in, took control of the investigation and ordered her to stay away.

Madrid contends that was likely done at the urging of Republicans, who may have been preparing to fight what, at the time, was only a potential Madrid campaign against Wilson. The congresswoman repeatedly attacked Madrid during the campaign for doing nothing about the corruption in the treasurer’s office.

“We were deliberately kept out by the Justice Department, the U.S. attorney and the FBI,” Madrid said, adding that she believes it is likely that Iglesias, Domenici, Wilson and Bush political adviser Karl Rove “had these prosecutions so intertwined with this campaign.”

Madrid's claims are short on specifics; but, given Iglesias' recent charges of political interference, her suspicions certainly seem more plausible than they would have a month ago.

The thing about Iglesias is that his own account of the calls from Wilson and Domenici doesn't cast him in a particularly flattering light. He admits that according to Department of Justice policy he should have notified his superiors of the calls but failed to do so. It also looks like Iglesias was prepared to take the fall and go quietly until Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testified to Congress that the U.S. attorney dismissals were for performance reasons. Only after he was smeared did Iglesias speak out.

It would have been nice if Iglesias had put the same value on defending the rule of law as he has on defending his own reputation.

Those golden oldies that just keep on giving. Remember the Denver Three? Their civil suit is proceeding, and today the Denver Post reports: "A former White House official who ordered three activists expelled from a 2005 Denver public forum with President Bush says it was White House policy to exclude potentially disruptive guests from Bush's appearances nationwide."

Hard to imagine any high-level heads rolling over the Walter Reed scandal if Don Rumsfeld were still secretary of defense. So give Bob Gates at least some credit, but he's still got his work cut out for him if the Pentagon is littered with Rumsfeld hires like Army Secretary Francis Harvey:

Pentagon officials said Gates was angry that as the scandal unfolded, the Army relieved the commander of Walter Reed, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, who had been in that job for only about half a year, and replaced him with Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army surgeon general, who had previously commanded Walter Reed and was said by soldiers, their families and veterans' advocates to have long been aware of problems at the medical complex.

Harvey defended his decision to temporarily appoint Kiley as Walter Reed's commander. He said Kiley called him a few days ago and lambasted The Washington Post's series on the medical center. "He called me and said, 'I'm willing to defend myself. . . . I want to have an opportunity to defend myself, and it was wrong and it was yellow journalism at its worst, and I plan on doing it. Trust me.' " Harvey said. "I said, 'Okay, Kevin.' " Harvey added that Kiley was to be in the job only about a week until they could make a "thoughtful decision on who should replace him."

Okay, Kevin? Now that's leadership.

In the "been there, done that" category comes news today about the faulty intelligence the U.S. has been providing to the IAEA about Iran's nuclear program. From the LA Times:

Although international concern is growing about Iran's nuclear program and its regional ambitions, diplomats here say most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran.

The officials said the CIA and other Western spy services had provided sensitive information to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency at least since 2002, when Iran's long-secret nuclear program was exposed. But none of the tips about supposed secret weapons sites provided clear evidence that the Islamic Republic was developing illicit weapons.

"Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that's come to us has proved to be wrong," a senior diplomat at the IAEA said. Another official here described the agency's intelligence stream as "very cold now" because "so little panned out."

Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

We're learning more about Sue Ellen Wooldridge, formerly the Justice Department's top environmental official whose boyfriend, former Interior Department official and lobbyist Steven Griles, is caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal. In an otherwise soft-pedaled story, her hometown Sacramento Bee quotes Wooldridge as claiming that "when I was growing up I used to castrate sheep with my teeth." Oh, my. I didn't realize that was how it was done.

This morning's headlines are about a suicide bomber killing more than 30 people near a college in Baghdad. But you can't get a sense of the mind-numbing insanity of the situation until you read this post written by one of the Iraqis on McClatchy Newspaper's staff in Baghdad, presumably before today's bombing, who fears constantly for his daughter, a college student, who like her classmates is a sitting duck during midterm exams.

BBC: "Iran has successfully fired its first rocket into space, Iranian state television has announced."