Keith Ellison does the right thing on Iraq
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2007 13:04:03 -0700 (PDT)
In a message: [PROG] Apologizing for Keith Ellison's vote
on Sat, 24 Mar 2007, Charles Underwood wrote:

> My guess is that
> he has been duped into thinking that the Pelosi bill was actually the most
> direct possible path to peace in Iraq, whereas I personally believe that it
> is a shameful tactic of the beltway Democratic leadership to continue the
> war until the 2008 elections, in order for Bush to drag his party down in
> electoral defeat.
> Eventually, I believe, Keith himself will understand this. Eventually, I
> think he will come to realize that he has made a huge mistake.
> We were not wrong to support Keith Ellison for Congress.  Like each of us,
> he is only a human being, flawed and sometimes weak and certainly quite
> capable of error.

There is a problem with Charlie's logic.  Namely that Keith's vote was
"wrong".  I believe Keith voted in a manner most likely to end the war
the soonest.  See the Moveon message below urging constituents to
thank Keith for this tough vote.

There is a regretable lack of understanding of our political system, That
is that in the end practical politics rules.  Our political system is
based on compromise. And while it may feel good to vote for what one
really wants, if the proposition has no chance of ultimately prevailing it
is a token vote and has no practical consequence.


Fred H. Olson  Minneapolis,MN 55411  USA        (near north Mpls)
Communications for Justice -- Free, superior listserv's w/o ads:      My Link Pg:
612-588-9532 (7am-10pm CST/CDT)   Email: fholson at

Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 12:31:54 -0700
From: "Nita Chaudhary, Political Action"
<moveon-help [at]>
To: Fred H Olson <fholson [at]>
Subject: Rep. Ellison does the right thing on Iraq

Dear MoveOn member,

We're one step closer in the fight to end the war. Today the Iraq
Accountability Act passed Congress. For the first time, Congress passed a
real deadline to end the war--by fall of 2008. Your representative,
Congressman Keith Ellison voted right and helped make that happen.

This was a very hard vote for members of Congress. But Rep. Ellison supported
Speaker Pelosi in her strategy to wind down this war. Can you write him
a quick note to say 'thanks' for bringing us one step closer and to keep
up the fight until all our troops are home?

There's no question that this bill was not as strong as most of us would
have wanted---and we're going to keep fighting together to bring the
troops home sooner than next year. But it's an important step forward, and
at today's vote 63 of the 71 members of the Out of Iraq Caucus voted for
the bill. All but 2 Republicans voted against it.

Now the fight moves to the Senate. If Senators also pass a hard timeline
to end the war then this plan goes to the President.

If he makes good on his promise to veto it, he'll be forced to stand up in
front of the American people--a strong majority of whom want to set a date
to end the war--and argue for a war with no end. And he'll have to veto
funds for the war along with the timeline and send the whole thing back to

We've taken one big step in the right direction and together, we are going
to keep fighting until we bring all our troops home safely.

This is just the beginning. Please write Rep. Ellison and thank him for making
this victory possible.

Thanks for all you do,

--Nita, Eli, Justin, Karin and the Political Action Team
  Friday, March 23rd, 2007

P.S. We thought you might enjoy this memo from progressive author and
strategist, David Sirota, about the courageous work of progressive
Democrats on this bill:.

Progressive Democrats: The New Power Bloc In Congress
--By David Sirota

The Progressive Democratic Members of Congress who had been considering
trying to kill the supplemental bill that includes binding language to end
the war made a deal with Speaker Pelosi to provide the necessary votes to
pass the legislation. This is a principled and shrewd move that these
lawmakers should be applauded for if and when the bill passes. And it is a
courageous move because it is never, ever easy to swallow a compromise,
even if it is clearly the right thing to do to achieve long-term goals.
These Members of Congress played hardball from the beginning, and that
hardball made sure this bill included strong, binding legislation to end
the war. Without that hardball, that legislation wouldn't be in this
supplemental at all. In fact, such binding language probably wouldn't even
be voted on at all in any form, much less have a solid chance to be passed
by the full House today. And because of their efforts, progressive
Democrats have not only brought the war closer to an end, but they have
become one of the most powerful blocs in the U.S. Congress.

Like many fighting against the war, I am exhausted. I've been spending a
lot of time traveling for the Progressive States Network, which has been
at the forefront of the effort to stop the war with its Anti-Escalation
Campaign that has gotten 29 states to introduce antiwar resolutions (this
week's news: the Oregon House passed the resolution). In hasty cellphone
calls while running through airports, in email correspondence late at
night in motels, I've been talking to lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have
been agonizing over this vote, I've been banging out memos analyzing
possible outcomes, and I've been working with other incredibly courageous
groups to build a coalition to pressure the Congress to do what it was
elected to do.

I need a rest, but in my exhaustion, I'll say three things:

1) These progressive lawmakers are true heroes because they are displaying
a seriousness about ending the war, rather than merely a seriousness about
protesting the war. Protest and pressure are critical in the lead up to
legislative action--but when it comes time for that action, we hire
lawmakers to do just that: make laws. That process does not tend to create
perfect outcomes, and the supplemental is by no means perfect. But this
bill, with its binding language to end the war, disproportionately tilts
toward the antiwar side when looked at in the context of a Congress whose
majority is unfortunately NOT antiwar. That's a key point here: The
majority of Americans oppose this war, and Democrats hold a majority in
Congress, but the majority of Congress is not (yet) antiwar. That's
unfortunate and I don't like it, but it's a fact. Passing a bill this
strong and binding, then, is a major step forward.

2) Some readers keep saying that Bush will ignore whatever binding law
Congress passes, and thus this Iraq bill is unacceptable. I agree that
it's very likely Bush will try to ignore the law like he has so many other
laws--but we can't ask legislators to legislate under that premise. The
whole legislative process is about making laws, meaning a legislator has
to assume the law that is passed will be followed. Legislating under the
whole "he won't follow the law" premise is really a giant catch-22. If he
won't follow the law, why legislate anything? (And this goes even for
spending bills--take a good look at military appropriations bills and
you'll find that the President of the United States has incredible
latitude to ignore Congress and spend money.) Again, I think he probably
will try to ignore the law--but now, if this bill passes, a law will be on
the books that we will be able to try to enforce through the courts and
through other means.

3) Like Bowers, the progressive lawmakers and everyone who supports their
decision (yours truly included) to support the supplemental should not
accept the concept that some will inevitably trot out claiming that voting
against the bill and killing it out of supposed "purity" is a more
"ethical" or "principled" stand than voting for the bill and solidifying
binding legislation to end the war. It's a different tactical outlook, but
in no way any less committed to ending the war than those who advocated
for the bill's defeat. In the last few weeks, many of the leaders of the
antiwar movements--the people doing the hard, unglamorous organizing work,
not the people just blowing off contrairian steam--have been attacked by
some on the left as supposedly "selling out" for supporting this
supplemental. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and discredits those
forwarding the argument. The truth is, those antiwar leaders trying to
cobble together a legislative coalition could easily make the charge that
the contrairians are selling out--selling out a viable way to end the war
in order to grandstand for the cameras. But these antiwar leaders aren't
making that argument because at least one side of this debate on the left
understands that this is a tactical debate over how to end the war, not a
substance debate over whether to end the war.

Senior antiwar progressives like Dave Obey who crafted this legislation
and other progressives who played hardball and who made the deal last
night to help pass this bill should hold their heads high--they will
likely go down in history as making the critical difference in taking the
first real step to end the war. As a former staffer for the founder of the
Progressive Caucus, Bernie Sanders, I can say this is a major step forward
for progressive power in Congress. These lawmakers displayed toughness and
principles, but also shrewdness to get things done. And that kind of
political sophistication bodes well for all the other fights coming up in

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