Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ryan Flynn Crosses The Line (AGAIN)

The new blogger over at Minnesota Democrats Exposed (MDE) Ryan Flynn, not to be confused with the University of Minnesota hockey player seems to be trying to be noticed by being loud and abrasive, like a petulant teenager. Let me be clear, I was not a big fan of MDE's founder Michael Brodkorb, but he had a sense of decency, and wrote articles like this one about Senator Wellstone.

Flynn wrote what is possibly his most ludicrous post earlier this evening. You can read it below (emphasis mine):

Congressman Keith Ellison and Congresswoman Betty McCollum took the strange, bizarre and downright reckless step of voting “present” in the U.S. House on Friday on a resolution supporting the right of Israel to defend itself as well as supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The amazing thing here is that both Ellison and McCollum, who are self described proponents of peace, are now on record not even supporting the peace process.

The biggest problem with their actions on this vote is that a “present” vote might as well be a “no” vote. They did not have the backbone to just turn their back on Israel, they instead took the cowards way out.

If rockets were flying into the United States, would Ellison and McCollum vote present?

Huh? How did we get from two present votes to questioning how Reps. McCollum and Ellison would vote if "rockets were flying into the US"?

Flynn didn't even take the time to find out why Reps. Ellison and McCollum voted present instead of yes or no.

I went ahead and spent three minutes and two clicks to find out their reasons. From Minnpost, we find out some of Ellison's reasons:

"I come to the floor today torn about this resolution," said Ellison, a Democrat who became the first Muslim member of Congress in 2006 and represents Minnesota's 5th district.

Ellison mentioned his first-hand encounters during a trip to Israel with the "physical and emotional destruction" caused by Hamas, but added that the United States needs "to have compassion for the people of Gaza and the tremendous human suffering there."


"For the U.S. Congress to simply reiterate its statement that Israel has a right to defend itself, to me misses the critical issue before the world at this moment, which is the humanitarian crisis," Ellison said.

and McCollum's reasons:

"I recognize Israel's right to protect its citizens from the persistent and growing threat of rocket attacks," McCollum said from the House floor. "However, as an unwavering proponent of peace, and as an advocate for the rights and security of the Israeli and Palestinian people, I seriously question the proportionality of Israel's response."

McCollum added that the resolution did not go far enough in immediately calling for a cease-fire. Instead, McCollum said, the resolution "justifies Israel's bombardment of the citizens of Gaza, sanctions the incursion of Israeli troops into Gaza to clear this occupied territory of Hamas fighters regardless of the human cost, and calls for "supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process" while innocent Palestinian women and children are being killed in Gaza."

You might not agree with their reasons, but you can see how they see themselves between the yes and no votes, which was a position shared by 20 other representatives including Republican representative Ron Paul. I'm not quite sure what's cowardly about voting your conscience instead of following the vast majority (390 reps in favor), or misrepresenting your views with a no vote. I'd say there's nothing cowardly about that. Or maybe there is something cowardly about not voting for a bill supported by the Speaker of the House and all of your party's leaders? Didn't think so.

Flynn claims that voting present is the same as voting no, which is not true, they mean different things procedurally and as reflections on one's position. In practice, it is true that voting present can have the same effect as voting no (the same is true for missing a vote, but you didn't hear Flynn mention the 8 Republicans who did that). However, in this instance the vote was 390 in favor, with 5 voting against, 22 voting present, and 16 absent. Additionally, the vote was on a non-binding resolution, which means that a present vote did little more than say that they neither support the resolution in its entirety, nor did they wish to defeat it.

Reps. McCollum and Ellison were anything but reckless, instead they were thoughtful and voted their conscience on an important resolution that gave them less than a day to consider their vote (it was introduced on 1/8 and the vote was at 1:40 pm on 1/9). You can read the full resolution they had to consider here.

Ryan Flynn needs to save the reckless label for himself.

Update 1/12: Flynn responds to criticism:

I stand by this post, by saying that they might as well have voted no means that they hid behind the option of voting present, that is the coward’s way out.

I of course read both of their statements before writing this post, and again I feel the statements are something else to hide behind so they can point and say, “but look at what I said.” [sic] Actions speak louder than words.

As I explained above, there is nothing cowardly about voting present on this non-binding resolution. If he read the statements before writing the post, he should have at least referenced them for the reader (there was not as much as a single link in the original post). Actions do speak louder than words, but that best applies when someone's actions and words don't match. In this case, Representative Ellison and Representative McCollum, said one thing and acted in the same manner. Showing themselves to be both thoughtful and consistent.

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