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

The race in the NV-3rd just keeps getting more interesting:

Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., made dozens of campaign fundraising phone calls last spring from his district and Washington, D.C., offices, according to a former Porter staffer and e-mails obtained by the Sun.

The former staffer, Jim Shepard, a 10-year veteran of Capitol Hill who worked briefly for Porter this year, said he witnessed Porter making the calls on at least five different dates last spring. Such calls would violate federal election laws and House ethics rules.

Porter's top congressional aide strongly denied that the congressman made such calls.

Porter is being challenged by Democrat Tessa Hafen in a race that appears to have tightened recent days.

You haven't truly made a pop cultural impact until you start showing up on eBay.

Mark Foley, come on down! You have achieved eBay status.

Looks like the Mark Foley action figure is drawing some bids.

Thanks to TPM Reader TS for the tip.

Katrina has become a post-apocalyptic American nightmare for those living in the disaster zone, or dying there, or neither living nor dying but stumbling through the carnage like zombies.

Chris Rose is a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. His columns since Katrina and the ensuing flood of New Orleans have been an unblinking look at what passes for life in the Crescent City. At times angry, bitter, and despondent, yet still mustering occassional hopefulness, Rose, through his column, has been a lifeline for those who want to know what is really happening in the city beyond the narrow frame of TV cameras.

The personal toll on those covering the storm and its aftermath has been too little documented. The Times-Pic, whose main office was flooded in the storm, forcing its temporary evacuation, has faced challenges that no modern American newspaper has ever endured. A few weeks ago, one its photographers attempted suicide by cop. Fortunately for all involved, he was well-known and respected by the police, and they showed a level of restraint that was heroic, even as he tried to provoke them into killing him by using his car as a weapon.

Today, Chris Rose has a column that describes in agonizing detail his own descent into depression last fall as the days after the storm turned to weeks and months. Like most of us would, he resisted entreaties from his family and co-workers to get help. He went a year without treatment, 360 straight days of crying. It is, as such things are, a very personal tale. One man. One family. One city.

It breaks your heart. But it also makes me mad as hell. Mad that this slow-motion disaster of broken levees and shattered lives happened in the first place. Mad that the disaster is still happening, a feckless governmental response dragging out the misery and the suffering just as if the fetid water were still pouring through the levee breaches. Mad that in the face of this overwhelming catastrophe at home we are spending by some estimates $246 million a day to create a catastrophe in Iraq. Mad that in light of all of this ineptitude and indifference the party in power has a chance, a very real chance, of retaining some or even all of its power in the first national election since Katrina.

But Chris Rose did not intend for his column today to be a springboard to a political rant. It is just his personal story. You ought to go read it.

This guy better get his resume polished up:

A senior U.S. State Department diplomat told Arab satellite network Al Jazeera that there is a strong possibility history will show the United States displayed "arrogance" and "stupidity" in its handling of the Iraq war.

Alberto Fernandez, director of the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near East Affairs, made his comments on Saturday to the Qatar-based network.

"History will decide what role the United States played," he told Al Jazeera in Arabic, based on CNN translations. "And God willing, we tried to do our best in Iraq."

"But I think there is a big possibility ... for extreme criticism and because undoubtedly there was arrogance and stupidity from the United States in Iraq," the diplomat told Al Jazeera. . . .

"I can only assume his remarks must have been mistranslated. Those comments obviously don't reflect our policy," a senior Bush administration official said.

Fernandez told CNN that he was "not dissing U.S. policy."

"I know what the policy is and what the red lines are, and nothing I said hasn't been said before by senior officials."

Poor guy. He mistook recent Administration softening of its denials that there is a problem with Iraq as a sign of an American glasnost. What equivalent of Siberia will he be sent to on his next diplomatic posting?

The LA Times has a lengthy piece on the use of No Child Left Behind Act funds to buy educational programs from presidential brother Neil Bush's company Ignite!:

Most of Ignite's business has been obtained through sole-source contracts without competitive bidding. Neil Bush has been directly involved in marketing the product.

In addition to federal or state funds, foundations and corporations have helped buy Ignite products. The Washington Times Foundation, backed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of the South Korea-based Unification Church, has peppered classrooms throughout Virginia with Ignite's COWs under a $1-million grant.

Oil companies and Middle East interests with long political ties to the Bush family have made similar bequests. Aramco Services Co., an arm of the Saudi-owned oil company, has donated COWs to schools, as have Apache Corp., BP and Shell Oil Co.

Neil Bush said he is a businessman who does not attempt to exert political influence, and he called The Times' inquiries about his venture — made just before the election — "entirely political."

Earlier this year, a TPM reader offered a first-person account of the Neil Bush sales pitch.

For TPM readers who enjoy an occasional dose of snark, TPM's Election Central offers "Midterm Roundup," a daily early morning jolt of political caffeine. It's as frothy as steamed milk, as referential as Dennis Miller, and speaks of itself in the third person as often as a pro athlete. Today, Midterm Roundup makes a special weekend appearance.

Reading the tea leaves on whether the Bush Administration is considering a partition of Iraq:

[T]here are signs—slightly cryptic, but still worth noting—that the Bush Administration may be leaning towards partitioning Iraq. The main exhibit is an October 6 AP photograph of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani meeting in Irbil, the provincial seat. Rice and Barzani stood at a podium, flanked by a red, white, and green Kurdish tricolor flag. Neither the Iraqi flag, nor any other indication that the Secretary of State was in Iraq, was in view.

. . .

Given that in September, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a declaration that the Iraqi flag must be flown in all regions (Kurdish nationalists call the Iraqi flag “the flag of Ba'ath”), it's hard to believe that Rice's protocol people could let this one slip by accidentally. Imagine a foreign prime minister visiting America in 1861 and giving a speech while standing in front of a confederate flag—it's hard to imagine a Secretary of State could have missed such symbolism—and the Kurdish press certainly didn't.