Promising Developments

Nico at Think Progress:

This morning on CBS’s Face the Nation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that Congress may refuse to authorize funding for an escalation of U.S. forces to Iraq if President Bush cannot justify the strategy.

Pelosi stated clearly that Congress will fully support all U.S. forces currently in Iraq. “But if the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it,” Pelosi said. “This is new for him because up until now the Republican Congress has given a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions, and we have gone into this situation, which is a war without end, which the American people have rejected.”

See also Taylor Marsh and Bob Geiger.


Here’s a YouTube video of Cindy Sheehan (via Mahablog commenter Sachem515) that I actually find a bit alarming.

In this video Sheehan says,

Rahm Emanuel, worked against every anti war candidate that ran in the primaries, and actually some of them that ran in the general elections. Rahm Emanuel, worked against every single one of those people.

Certainly, Emanuel in his capacity as chair of the DCCC ran away from the Iraq War last year. Certainly, he recruited and pushed Dem primary candidates whom he considered “safe” on Iraq — meaning, those who were willing to mouth pablum about staying “until the job is done.” Certainly Emanuel made stupid choices about candidates and races in which to invest DCCC money. Certainly, after the midterms Emanuel took credit that he didn’t deserve. And yes, he’s a back-stabbing ass. But to claim that he worked against any Democrat in the general election is going too far, I think. Let’s not get carried away here. If anyone can alert me to an incident in which Emanuel actually seemed to be trying to undermine a Dem candidate in the general election (claims that he didn’t work hard enough for somebody don’t count), please let me know.

The other part of this video that bothered me was Sheehan’s whining about Nancy Pelosi not including Iraq and impeachment in her “first 100 hours” legislative blitz. Sheehan is being disingenuous, or is misinformed, or is extremely stupid. The issues chosen for the “100 hours” were narrowly focused items to be accomplished in 100 hours. As in, getting bills passed and out the House door within 100 hours. The “100 hours” items were never intended to be the entire Democratic agenda; just a kick-off. The “100 hours” items are:

  • Adopt the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission, a bipartisan panel created to investigate the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon
  • Increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25
  • Expand the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research
  • Require the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to reduce prices in the Medicare prescription drug program
  • Cut student loan rates for college undergraduates
  • Foster the development of alternative energy by creating a fund to be financed by the oil industry
  • The “100 hours” amounted to Pelosi’s version of Newt Gingrich’s famous “Contract On With America” from 2004 1994. These items were chosen because they were low-hanging fruit — popular with voters, good items to campaign on, and the House ought to be able to pass the bills within the time limit. A gimmick, yes, but all of the six items are important issues that have been held up by the Republicans lo these many years.

    Even Sheehan ought to be bright enough to know that the House could not whip up bills of impeachment in just 100 hours.

    Regarding impeachment — I’m all for it, but if it’s actually going to be accomplished the issue needs to be handled with great care. The issue is political dynamite, and if the Dems act prematurely — before there is a very strong public consensus in favor — it could blow up in their faces. It’s cheap and easy for Sheehan to demagogue the subject, as her ass isn’t on the line.

    Hearings are a good first step. Congressional hearings in the past have made a huge impact on public opinion. We do need to push the Dems for all the hearings and investigations they can think of. Several are already rarin’ to go. I hope the investigations will make impeachment viable.

    But Sheehan’s whining about the Dems is not helping to make impeachment viable. If she wants to help, she should use her stature as an antiwar activist to bring a serious discussion of impeachment to the public. Pandering to the easy applause of her fawning admirers must be fun, but it’s not going to make a dime’s worth of difference to the Cause.

    Finally, I very much dislike Sheehan’s implication that Iraq was the only issue that mattered with voters, and that antiwar activism was the entire reason the Dems took back the House and Senate, and that Iraq and impeachment are the only issues that matter now. A lot of Americans also care deeply about minimum wage and prescription drug prices and national security issues that don’t involve overseas wars. As important as Iraq is, this is not the time for the Dems to become a one-issue party; nor do I think so many Dems would have been elected had they all been one-issue candidates.

    Many of us have been looking to the day in which real progressivism might make a comeback for many years before George Bush was President. I think we may have a shot. If the Dems blow off progressivism in the next two years, I don’t expect to live long enough to get another shot. Sheehan may not care about progressivism, but some of us do.

    I’m anticipating many comments in support of Saint Cindy. Yes, I’ve gone from being a Sheehan admirer to concern that she’s just a female Ralph Nader. (I used to be an admirer of Ralph Nader, too; the only difference is that it took me thirty years to see the truth about Ralph [Update: see this, too]. I’m either getting quicker, or more jaded.) Note that I agree with a lot of what Sheehan says, and I am not at all opposed to holding Dem feet to fire as needed. But demagoguery is demagoguery, and a lot of what I see in that video looks like demagoguery to me.

    It Was a Nice Planet While It Lasted

    The Times of London is reporting that Israel plans to nuke Iran. Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter (who are stationed in the United States) report:

    ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

    Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

    The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

    Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

    “As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

    There’s good reason to be skeptical of this story and suspect either bad reporting or Israeli saber-rattling. Still …