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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

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photo by lindsay beyerstein


FDL's Pachacutec: "Have DC Democrats Learned to Read?"

Keep fighting

Thanks to Pachacutec of Firedoglake for this great cross-post - THANKS PACH!

That is, have they learned to read the polls?

Democrats Rally Behind a Pullout From Iraq in ’08

WASHINGTON, March 8 — Democratic leaders in the House and Senate began a new legislative push on Thursday for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq in 2008, coalescing behind a fixed timetable to end the war.

The plan to establish a specific date for removing troops intensifies the confrontation with the administration at a time when Congress is scrutinizing President Bush’s request for nearly $100 billion in additional spending toward military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Republicans vowed to block the new Democratic effort, which they said amounted to micromanaging the war, and the White House immediately signaled its opposition.

“It would unnecessarily handcuff our generals on the ground, and it’s safe to say it’s a nonstarter for the president,” said Dan Bartlett, a senior White House adviser, speaking to reporters as he traveled with Mr. Bush to Latin America.

Given the Republican opposition and the Democrats’ slender margin in the Senate, the significance of the new plans was as much political as it was legislative. Democratic leaders in the House were optimistic about passing their legislation, but their counterparts in the Senate faced immediate resistance from Republicans and acknowledged that their chances of attracting enough votes seemed slim.

The new American commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, warned on Thursday that American troops there faced a long road ahead and left open the possibility of calling in even more soldiers to calm the country. He stressed the long-term nature of the effort and asserted a need for open-endedness in the American commitment.
The notion of Democratic leaders embracing a timetable to leave Iraq had ramifications beyond Congress, particularly in the presidential race. The Senate plan sets a goal for troops to be removed by March 31, 2008, similar to a proposal by Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois.

A chief rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, has advocated a phased withdrawal of troops, but has not proposed setting a specific date. She said she intended to support the Democratic resolution. “It’s a goal; it’s not a hard deadline, it’s a goal,” Mrs. Clinton said in an interview Thursday evening as she left the Capitol. “We’re just trying to create some pressure on the president. That’s the whole point here.”

The proposals in the House and Senate reflected the growing sentiment among Democrats that the American public was ready for an end to the war and would not punish their party for escalating the pressure on Mr. Bush to do so. Still, Democratic leaders worked behind the scenes, from dawn to dusk, to sell the plans to the party’s nervous conservatives and still unsatisfied liberals.

“This is extremely painful,” said Representative Carol Shea-Porter, a New Hampshire Democrat elected last fall, in part, because of her opposition to the war. She is eager to end the conflict but intent on supporting the troops. “There are times that you have to search for a compromise for the good of the country.”

In the House, Democratic leaders presented legislation to their members on Thursday that would place new conditions on military operations in Iraq as well as call for a troop withdrawal no later than August 2008. The proposals are attached to an emergency spending bill that will be considered next week in the Appropriations Committee and debated on the House floor before the end of the month.

The Democratic proposal in the House would require Mr. Bush to certify that the Iraqi government is meeting a series of military, political and economic benchmarks. If Mr. Bush cannot verify any progress in Iraq, the legislation calls for the majority of all combat troops to be removed beginning July of this year and completed by Dec. 31.

The legislation also would prohibit military action in Iran unless authorized by Congress.

We’re beginning to see some signs here of late stage testiculogenesis, though the devil, of course, will be in the details.

I highlighted the Hillary Clinton portion because at some point, she’s going to wonder why her campaign fell apart, even though current polls show her ahead. Her close advisors are at once confident she will wrap up the nomination early and hypersensitive to the point of paranoia over any criticism of her war and foreign policy positions.

Senator Clinton, this is not about “putting pressure on the President.” He does not give a shit about pressure. Listen to me very closely: this is about getting the fuck out of Iraq and ending a failed sinkhole of an occupation that is breaking our armed services and weakening the country, according to the will of the voters.
How many highly paid consultants does it take to be that fucking stupid? Jayzuz!
Nice to throw that Iran bit in there, but let’s see if the caucus can hold together. The situation is extremely fluid.

- posted by Firedoglake's Pachacutec