Monday, September 29, 2008


The Conservative Republican Caucus held back votes in a most under-handed fashion in order to defeat the bailout vote in Congress this afternoon.

As a result, the Dow has dropped 700 points, and gas per barrel is dropping for fear of inflation.

The Republicans are making the pretense that the vote failed because of partisan remarks by Speaker Pelosi.

Minority Leader Boehner knew where every vote was when he earlier announced that the bill would pass. And he no doubt directed several to vote against the bill on the first go-round.

You may ask why they would do that.

They are posturing to make a pretense, so that when the bailout does pass this evening or tomorrow (after a news cycle), the Republicans will take credit for solving the problem they created, all the time blaming the questionable intervening chaos on Pelosi, when it was McCain who compromised this settlement.

Fox News is all atwitter with nonsense about allowing our economy to correct itself by the “invisible hand.” Who could say if they believe this nonsense? But you have to ask yourself where was the “invisible hand” to avoid this crisis. No doubt you’ve seen the economists saying that what caused the crash was that no one acted when they saw the banks were failing, to shore up capital, to restore confidence in the market.

J. Flannery

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain suspends his campaign and bails out on the debate w/ Obama

Senator John McCain is suspending his presidential campaign and trying to bail out of the debate scheduled for this Friday evening at 9 PM with Senator Barack Obama.

The most moderate criticism is to say that McCain can't multi-task.

Mores seriously, it appears that McCain is making a politically desperate move to revive his own campaign, rather than to revive the US economy.

McCain says he is suspending his campaign to fly to Washington, DC Thursday morning to help with the economic crisis.

But McCain has no committee responsibility or expertise to deal with the substantial issues now pending before the US Congress.

We all remember how McCain confided his inexpertise to the Wall Street Journal, and then proved that point last week when he showed himself out of touch with the economic crisis and conflicted in his message of an influence-free staff when his campaign manager has been by Fannie Mae.

McCain's intervention leaves the impression of a bull in a China Shop -- as he still cannot temper his alarmist and defeatist rhetoric.

McCain announced this afternoon that he believes it is unlikely that the Congress and the Administration can agree on a bailout bill when both Congress and the Administration have made reassuring statements to the contrary - that they have achieved consensus on a number of issues, and are working toward a compromise that they hope to ink by the end of the week.

McCain's hurriedly announced initiative - his latest "Hail Mary" pass - may have more to do with the polls released today and late yesterday showing McCain dropping like a stone by 9 points as compared with Obama, and precisely because of the contrasting favorable reaction to Obama's approach to the national economic crisis.

McCain is therefore posturing, not leading.

We may discover that this political stunt was coordinate with the remarks President Bush plans to make this evening.

If there are going to be any changes regarding this Friday's debate, it might be to change the subject matter to the economy from foreign policy.

But it shouldn't be canceled.

Now more than ever, no matter what happens with the debate, unlike any other presidential election in our time, we are getting a chance to see how McCain or Obama would lead us if either was our Chief Executive.

Impetuous Opportunistic McCain or Sure and Steady Obama.

You decide.

J. Flannery

Sunday, September 21, 2008


John McCain was thrust into ice water in a bath tub by his parents to curb his anger when he was young.

However questionable this parental chilling may have been, McCain’s anger and outbursts have persisted into his adult life, and into this campaign; thus, has McCain rightly earned the nickname, “McNasty”.

This week saw McCain’s magma rise and erupt again in the face of the economic crisis that he helped create, little understands and has not a clue how to cure.

It is all the more personally tragic because McCain’s “let it alone” attitude toward Wall Street has allowed this greed and fraud to up-end the stability of our economic engine and compromise the entire world market.

It is difficult to understand why anyone would take a moment to consider anything McCain has to say on the economy after thirty years in Washington, including his role in another significant crash and burn scandal involving Savings and Loans Banks, starring Senator McCain in a leading role, who carried water for a prominent corrupt banker named Keating who made McCain’s congressional career possible.

McCain first made his Hoover-like assurance that our economy was “fundamentally sound” early this past week – when no one else saw it that way.

When Senator Barack Obama, moments later, castigated McCain for his Pollyannish nonsense, McCain disappeared into a sea of dissembling “explanations” of what he really meant, then asked for a study to avoid committing himself to any course of action, and then demanded we fire the SEC Chairman and get even with Wall Street and reform the Congress – as if he was some bystander who hadn’t created the problem in the first place.

In a truly remarkable political pirouhette, he even tried to blame Senator Obama for the crisis.
It was quite a spectacle: Multi-millionaire McCain, agent of Wall Street, playing populist, with full-throated cries of pain and anger, assuring us he’d get even for us when he did nothing to stave off the disaster that has overrun our economy.

At the end of the week, McCain was upset with reporters that the final iteration of “his economic solution” didn’t get coverage by the press, when it looked suspiciously identical to the “solution” offered by the Administration.

Finally, as McCain embraced the “prescription” to save our economic ills, let’s consider what the proposal says and how it adversely affects all us real folk.

The Administration proposes to pay out one trillion dollars (or so)(sort of like “real money”) to protect these economic pigs who got us into this mess, and to bail them out with our hard-earned tax dollars, and to allow these same ill-run companies to keep the profits that we all underwrite because we were so “stupid” as to be self-reliant in our lives when they all knew that their friends in the Administration would protect them from their economic debauchery.

This “solution” has been described in various simple formulae by the array of tv radio and print pundits but the most accurate one is to characterize this as Bush and his friends “socializing” their financial losses (so we pay), and “privatizing” the profits (so they get to keep what they “make”).

But what does that really mean to us?

The answer is simple because there are limits to what we have in our treasury or can get (meaning tax or borrow) to spend on wars and failed businesses, and spending on the war and the economy means that Congress and the next Administration will have to compromise “entitlements” meaning your Medicare, Social Security, and much much more that affects each and every one of “us” working stiffs, and not the economic pigs who literally sold out America.
Conservative columnist George Will today called this Administration’s plan a prescription for “trickle down misery.”

There is an interesting and poignant parallel we should consider between the Iraq war and what has gone wrong with the economy, how something is done wrongly, and then we are all expected to pay for it.

The Bush Administration lied us into a war that former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned against, and we are paying for that lie to war with our nation’s treasure and the blood of young fighting men and women.

The Bush Administration allowed business to lie us into this crisis, looking the other way while banks cheated, granting 0% loans to borrowers who they knew couldn’t make the payments when there were due; and they did this because they knew they were going to pass the bad paper on, irresponsibly, and hoped that this house of bad paper would never collapse, because, at the end of the day, we taxpayers would pick up the tab.

Millions of Americans now live lives of quiet desperation, insecurity is everywhere, in their life’s investments, afraid that they’ll lose their jobs, concerned they may fall ill and not be able to afford treatment, maybe not be able to retire at all, because of the greed, fraud and incompetence that the government now would protect with their hard-earned money.
If there’s anyone who should be mad, it is the people who have been betrayed by this Administration, by greedy businessmen, and, yes, Senator McCain, now found out once again, for posing as our savior when he was in fact among the predatory class that made this disaster possible.

This election is a special historical opportunity to set matters right – and that answer is not Senator McCain and his cohort of self-serving corporate socialists.

J. Flannery

Friday, September 12, 2008

They paint us as strangers giving candy to kids - time to fight back

What the Republican smear machine does is line up smudged slandering images side by side, big lies, and causes the voters to hate and fear based on the false demeaning conclusions about the person at issue, making that person a pariah, an outcast, not one of us.

That's how they silence disagreement. And that's how they win elections.

When the Republicans falsely state that Obama wanted to teach sex to tots, they go way past the candy from strangers stereotype that causes us all to recoil from such conduct.

A disciplined mind would see through this.

It might wonder if this was some misdirection to undercut sex education in every context - and wonder why anyone would want to do that.

I suggest that the republicans are hoping to make taboo any discussion of teaching the young about sex because then we might wonder why an alaskan governor had unmarried sex leading to a "love" child who herself had unmarried sex leading to another "love" child without sex education.

The Times wrote a fair editorial saying we should ask her questions at a press conference (see below). It's a good point but a more rigid mind would say we already have enough information about how unsuited she is to ever be president and turn its attention to why McCain, at his age, would choose her if he was in his right mind - and truly cared about America (as he says he does).

In the example at hand, the Republicans seek to innoculate the public debate from teen pregnancies that might be avoided by sex education AND they get to punch Obama in the face at the same time - a twofer.

We all know they think this way. Bush has done this for years.

That is the political challenge of this campaign - how to speak truth to a lying unscrupulous opponent who trashes american values even while pretending to represent them.

Could the Rs running McCain really be so sinister?

Yes. Absolutely. We have too many data points to teach us that that's how they do their dirty business.

What must be our response?

More of what Obama did the other day about the faux outrage over lipstick on palin's collar.

What we can't do is presume that the media will "do it for us" - as I honestly believe was the wrong-headed short-term stratagem of the Obama campaign following Palin's announcement that has got us off balance and struggling to get ourselves back on course.

And I'm encouraged we're making our own arguments again.

But we've lost valuable time - and days matter now.

As for the media's backbone, to return to a real problem in this nation, consider the proposition that the Obama campaign made that we can expect the media to get it right.

There was a time when this would have been sufficient. But the traditional media has been tamed. The vitality of serious criticism now lurks in the blogs and e-mails, the digital underground. It comes from the ground up, from the people, if they are alerted to what's at stake. The big mistake in most arguments is to assume the unstated proposition is embraced as obvious. You can't blame anyone for missing an argument that is never made. And we must make the argument loud and clear that the only way this McCain gang can win is the way Bush won and that is by lying.

If the "legitimate" media could be coerced, coddled and coopted into a role as quiescent observers of the lies that took us into the Iraq war, instead of irate critics or straight reporters of that lying policy, then why in the world would we expect them to find a transforming backbone in the remaining 50 days of this presidential campaign.

We have to think politically in terms of self-help, doing it ourselves, by talk, door-knocking, blogs, e-mail, snail mail, tv, radio, flyers, whatever it takes.

As one Dem told me, we dems are bringing a martini to a knife fight.

Every democrat should be required to watch Rocky, hear those bells and horns, think about fighting as a down and dirty slug fest, of right against wrong, because we have to, and then run out the door and grab the lapels of a friend or neighbor and tell them what these thugs are doing to this nation and our public discourse.

In other words, we need more bare-knuckled fighting and the process and the lies spewing from the McCain machine is as fair an issue as any in the "change" theme because, if we "change" how we talk about public policy for the better, we may actually restore a needed public dialogue that hasn't been free or truthful for years.

Process is out-come determinative and not to challenge the McCain's slash and burn process including its demeaning choice of a back bench governor, posing as ready to be our commander in chief, is to miss how we got into the Iraq war and how we trashed our economy and our individual rights and liberties.

This crowd has been lying and diverting our citizens for so long, they believe it's governing.

We promised America a grand debate and we have that opportunity.

McCain like Bush makes light of serious discussion and demeans the policy choices of our time with sloganeering.

We have got to roll up our sleeves and beat these bullies - and not just to elect Obama and Biden - but to restore the promise of America for this McCain ticket and its roving band of slandering sloganeers are prepared to do worse than they have already done to this country and we fail to stop them at our own nation's peril - at home and abroad.

J. Flannery

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Anyone who heard the speech this evening of Miss Congeniality at the Republican National Convention knows that she is anything but "congenial".

Governor Sarah "Barracuda" Palin showed us her sharp elbows and was the closing act in a low class tag team performance begun with "Rude" Giuliani's attacks on Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

When I was taught by the Dominican Nuns at St. Pius’ Grammar School in the South Bronx, they always said that “empty vessels made the most noise.”

Governor Palin, in about thirty minutes, reduced the hi-falutin American dialogue that Senator McCain once promised us to its lowest degrading common denominator, to hurled insults, lies, half truths, and misdirection.

The Bush-Cheney-Rove response to any serious allegation has almost always been to attack and destroy "the allegator".

Governor Palin recited the script the Rove machine wrote for her this evening, in the most recent edition of this deplorable strategy, and proved her disqualification for the office that she seeks, more than anything we’ve heard about her since her candidacy was announced only a few days ago and she went to ground, to avoid shooting from the lip.

"Rude" Giuliani made fun of Senator Obama's efforts to help the poor in the streets of South Side Chicago as a community organizer. Presumably, the brothers from Manhattan College taught the "Rude" Mayor about the Sermon on the Mount - and how we should care for the least of our brethren. But these delegates roared with laughter that Senator Obama would care to take the time to care for the poor.

“Moose Killer” Palin, who has never written a book herself and who reportedly wanted to burn books when she was a Mayor, made fun of Senator Obama's two published biographies.

How ironic for her to insult someone who discloses who he is when she has ducked interviews and withheld some vital information about who she is - even to Senator McCain in the “exhaustive” twenty minute "vetting" that delivered her to this “historic” nomination.

The NY Times’ Maureen Dowd remarked that she thought political parties learned not to go on “blind dates” when picking their vice-presidential nominees. It’s rare that they work out well and Governor Palin is no exception to this rule.

If we needed a reminder of what we want and need to change in this nation, we got a birds-eye view tonight when we witnessed the harsh tone and vaporous content of the Republican convention.

Venom spewed forth from the Republican cobra that has entwined and strangled this nation's promise for so long, revealing itself in this convention’s speakers and the inapt cheers from the assembled party faithful.

This convention’s character is a mirror of the outgoing Administration that the Republican party seeks to perpetuate, an Administration that authored the Patriot Act, lied to make the Iraq war, approved torture, imprisoned citizens on the say-so of the Chief Executive, broke our economy, squandered the blood of our young and the treasure of our nation, denied women choice, stymied stem cell research, awarded ceos, short-changed the middle class, appointed Justices who have compromised our rights and liberties and contradicted their sworn assertions to the senate committee that “approved” them, shut out the public on its energy decisions, ignored global warming, created lies and junk science to explain itself, compromised our environment including the air we breathe and the water we drink, denied evolution, preferred risky private retirement accounts over social security, compromised job security, health care, and worker's rights. You can start with this list and add your own grievances.

Everyone is now on notice.

We risk more of the same if these folk steal another election.

That’s why we cannot ignore this barrage of slanders, sophistic sleights of mind, and misdirection begun in earnest with this convention.

We are headed toward another nasty, low ball slimy campaign like those sponsored four and eight years ago.

Remember the "not-so-swift" boat attacks on Senator Kerry.

Remember those same attacks on Senator McCain himself.

Remember as well that these lies stick and stay and destroy hope and change - if you fail or delay to respond to them.

Our course is clear.

We must answer each and every false claim, disintegrate the rhetoric, underscore the reality that they would obscure for this is the only way they can succeed.

We have a campaign based on truth and fundamental fairness, a reform campaign, and the nation is ready to change – if we can only dispel the false smoke that would conceal this coiled snake ready to strike once again.

J. Flannery

Monday, September 1, 2008


When we left the convention hall last thursday night, with almost 80,000 of our closest friends, we decided it was a better idea to walk from the convention hall downtown, rather than take the bus; the night before it had taken an hour and a half from the Pepsi Center to travel by bus to the hotel. Invesco was bigger and further away.
It may not have been any faster to walk -- but it sure was a lot more adventurous.
Jim Turpin, the State Dem Vice Chair for Finance, was my seat mate at the convention.
Our wives, Holly Flannery and Susan Prokop, were seated together in the nose bleed seats watching the grand festivities with tickets promised and delivered for our "guests".
When the fireworks stopped and Jim and I had said our last goodbyes to other delegates, and gave what comments any journalist wanted, our next logistical challenge was where to meet our brides.
What did anyone do before cell phones?
The security forces were directing Holly and Susan to parts unknown. But we made our rendezvous despite their helpful interference, and set out in high spirits with Rachel Rifkind, from Fairfax, VA, who was wary about the walk, and made up the fifth member of the "Walking Virginians Team."
Don't get me wrong about the busses. The busses had been ok, the drivers polite and helpful, you met and had fascinating conversations on whatever bus you snared, and you'd talk with governors and senators and elected reps and party activists from across the country, telling you what it was like where they were, but, after sitting on the floor of the convention a fair amount, sitting on the bus was getting old by Thursday night, and we thought a perambulatory dialogue was much to be preferred.
The best laid plans of tired delegates will often go astray.
We wandered in the dark circling the arena to find the underground path from the arena downtown by which to walk. A good friend from Denver, Steve Holtze, told us where the path downtown was.
Here's the rub, and wouldn't you guess it, there were concrete road dividers topped by fences in almost every direction except where the busses ran and where we could not go.
On our final arc to the south east of Invesco, the crowd massed, pushing slowly toward an opening in the fence, seemingly torn open above the 3-foot high concrete road dividers.
When I say mass, I mean mass of people. No one was shoving or impatient, but we were a crowd in small passageways, patiently waiting for our collective opportunity to make any advance at all.
At this opening in the fence, this is where we felt like Alice dropping down a rabbit hole.
We hopped the concrete divider, although not all "hopped" as well, and that accounted for the crowd delay as the mass pushed up against even the more nimbler hoppers.
Once over, we climbed a slight hill, and found ourselves on eerily lit train tracks, lights pointing toward us, and we made our way up the tracks to a crowd pushing from our left toward a slim overhead bridge (see pix above) en route, we assumed, downtown.
We all found the circumstances engaging, and spirits remained high despite the slow going.
The euphoria of the convention and continuous company and remarks of those around us made what might have been annoying quite insignificant.
The night setting, tracks and walking bridges, surprise button vendors, railroad crossings and flag and sign-waving crowd, made it all fun somehow, even though there were no signs to tell anyone where to go to get downtown.
We were rewarded with our sense of direction, as lemmings sometimes are not, and arrived at a restaurant downtown not two blocks from our hotel, and where Congressman Jim Moran and his bro, Delegate Brian Moran, were settling in.
We enjoyed their warm welcome and then the brothers Moran sent over a small feast of dishes that we consumed in (almost) an instant.
We gave the Moran brothers a triple loud cheer for their good neighborly gesture, toasted and downed our nightcaps, and retired to catch early airport shuttles and planes, courtesy United, back to the Old Dominion.
J. Flannery

Friday, August 29, 2008


America began a forced march to restore its historic legacy in Denver last night when an army of 80,000 people, in a mile-high stadium, shouted as in one voice that we had had enough and made a promise to change all that this November.
We have set out to end the Joycean nightmare from which the nation has appeared unable to awake - to cure economic stagnation and end military adventurism - policies that have compromised this nation's vitality.
On the anniversary of a dream, "too noble to ever die," by the lights of one speaker, proclaimed long ago at the Lincoln memorial by Martin Luther King, by a man who gave his life for that dream, a dream only partly realized even today, we re-dedicated ourselves to the promise made in the pristine words of the american constitution, to fulfill that promise made to every American by our founders, that we all are truly equal before the law and before our government, and set ourselves a path to quench "the flames of withering injustice" that have made a lie of that historic promise.
The excited and hopeful crowd in the stadium joined with the millions watching and hearing this convocation from across the nation and bound their souls to ours to put an end to the shame and disgrace that this young democratic experiment has suffered for too long.
This stadium and this event became the focus of hope for the many who have realized how parched they've become, how thirsty they are for fairness and truth, after eight years of political drought.
There is hardly a person who has eyes to see and a mind that can think who would disagree that we are struggling to experience, in the words of King, "a joyous day break to end the long night."
We hope to end a national ethos that has made us captive to the fear and lies that perpetuate these greedy power seekers who have dominated our national debate and made us all less than we could be while all the time saying, lying through their teeth, that they had our best interests at heart.
We hope to find the common ground for common folk who do common things in a kind of quiet courage and dignity that reflects what's in our collective soul.
Senator Barack Obama has raised his voice to say aloud what we have all known and believed for so long but we were worn down by lies and the seeming futility of opposing the wrong-doers who have compromised our American dream.
Senator Obama was right last night when he said this was not about him although it might not have come to pass had he remained silent himself.
It is about us and what we want and we have to stand up and say so for we do not have the luxury of waiting any longer.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a man of faith, whose public service is informed by his deeply held beliefs, spoke of the mustard seed, at Mark 4:31-32, how this most humble of seeds when sown in the earth grows to have such breadth and reach that it can shade the birds that fly above.
Governor Kaine likened our effort to this humble seed and from such humble beings we can become a force to move mountains - standing in the way of this nations dream and promise.
We left a stadium in Denver last night to do nothing less than realize the American Dream compromised so long by unworthy men and women who have made pretense at protecting and caring for us when all along they were only think of themselves.
We have now set our sights on November, our work is cut out for us, but if we do our best, we shall finish this fight with the election of Senator Barack Obama as our next President and Senator Joe Biden as our Vice President.
J. Flannery


Jacob Paul & Macella Monney

Some of our citizens, young and old, had their protests muffled and contained, and I thought that was wrong.

Outside the covention center, there were "cages" designated for "protesting."

The name alone should give anyone pause.

What do you say to someone who wants to "protest"?

Would you please enter the "cage," sir, or madam, if you want to "protest"?

That plainly diminishes any one's dignity and coerces and chills what may be said.

A "cage" denotes and connotes restraint, captivity, control and containment and usually of an animal that we think is "dangerous" and/or "undeserving" of too much freedom.

It seems somewhat ironic to "contain" or "compromise a protest against the Iraq war outside the Pepsi Center when we were objecting to that same war inside the convention.

But the point is not whether the various 1st amendment exertions of speech in these parallel venues are congruent or not, whether they be comments on the war, or fluoridation, or the home heating plan of Senator McCain.

What's most important is that we allow our citizens to speak their mind and speech in the most robust manner for bromides may not be offensive at all.

I am encouraged, however, that the young instinctively know that this is wrong.

Students Jacob Paul and Macella Monney had a hand-written sign they carried down the Denver street after tonight's convention, the letters in Kelly green, stating, "The power of our voices may overcome your cages."

Jacob and Macella may not know the words in the relevant constitutional document, even though it is the First Amendment.

But they have demonstrated that instinctive objection to anyone curtailing their comments about anything.

And perhaps that's what we mean when we say "certain inalieanable rights."

J. Flannery

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Former President Bill Clinton reminded us tonight how he became President, and how he got re-elected, when he made the case for nominating Senator Barack Obama to become President of the United States.
When he came on stage the crowd rose to its feet, shouted Bill's name, and generally reacted without any concern except to welcome an old friend.
And that was despite the recent primary that had divided the party between Senator Hillary Clinton's supporters and Barack Obama's supporters.
We all clapped and rocked and, in some moments, Clinton appeared quite moved at the enthusiastic outpouring.
When he could finally stop us all cheering and demonstrating, and be heard above the crowd, as his time to speak ran by, President Clinton couldn't say enough good about Obama, including even what he said about the hotly contested primary with Hillary, namely, that "[t]he long, hard primary tested and strengthened" Obama.
Contrasting himself with Obama, he told the convention how "we prevailed in a [presidential] campaign in which the Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be Commander-in-Chief."
Referring favorably to Obama, he asked the convention if it: "Sound[ed] familiar?" In other words, isn't that what Senator McCain is doing now to Obama?
Bill was instructing not just the general public but the delegates as well about his rationale for supporting Obama and attacking McCain.
Bill told the convention that "[i]t didn’t work in 1992 [for Republicans to attack his inexperience] because we were on the right side of history."
He said similarly "it won’t work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history."
"Barack Obama will lead us," he said, "away from [the] division and fear of the last eight years back to unity and hope."As he said so, Bill Clinton was leading the party away from division and perhaps fear as well - by persuading the delegates to do more than just vote for Obama on election day.
Bill knows what it takes to win a tough election, and he wanted a committment that all delegates would work together before election day, no matter who they had preferred in the primary, and lead their friends and neighbors to vote for Obama, and for Biden.
Clinton's intellectual heft, his facility to get things done, and his transparent passion for the business of government are why we listen to him.
Clinton did more than speak this evening.
He brought the party together.
The tipping point was manifest afterwards, as many delegates considered how to elect Obama, and that included Hillary supporters.
J. Flannery

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


At 1:45 pm this afternoon in Denver, before an assembly of her elected delegates, alternates, friends and staff, Senator Hillary Clinton announced "I'm now releasing you delegates."

The hundreds present shouted, "No."

Another said, "Don't do it."

Hillary explained that she was releasing her delegates and left to each delegate to vote his or her conscience, and to allow for anyone who was bound by those back home to vote for her if that's what they had to do.

Hillary made it clear, however, after the vote, that she expected everyone to support vigorously the nominee, Senator Barack Obama, as that's what she had already done, and planned to do.

There were various reactions but, in the category of moving on, one delegate summed up what a lot of others had to say, "All I want from Obama Thursday night is what he really stands for, and 'hope' and 'change' is not enough. I can't buy a pig in a poke. I want him to give a speech like Hillary did and tell us what he stands for and I want to know the specifics. So that's why I'm looking forward to Thursday's speech. I'm pulling for him to deliver. But he's got to deliver."

J. Flannery


When standing in line for Hillary Clinton's confab for all her delegates at about 1:30 pm this afternoon, we got to spend some time with Clinton delegates from Tennessee and to ask them if "all was well" in their neck of the woods, in rural Tennessee.

Barbara Brown, above, is from Clarksville, TN, and she had spent seven years in Blacksburg, VA.

Her breakfast cereal was ruined somewhat this morning when the Clinton caucus for her delegation met.

They were discussing voting for Hillary and one of the Clinton whips announced "after much soul-searching," that she was voting for Obama.

The Whip had been in Clinton meetings to discuss the roll call vote and the Whip decided it was "the right thing to do."

So I asked, "and how tempered was the delegation's response?"

"It was more like a firing squad," Barbara said. The whip was ousted in a parliamentary gallop.

Apparently, when the next whip climbed into the saddle, a male whip, he committed a gaffe as well. "He" overlooked and failed to recognize a female delegate who had her hand raised, " Barbara said. It was obvious to everyone. "The oversight was compounded by the fact," Barbara said, "that he recognized a male delegate to speak instead."

David Harper who was right there listening to Barbara and said, "That's why we were for Hillary, to stop that kind of bias against women."

David is from Lafayette (and don't say it like that famous frenchman's name, you know the one who has a square out in front of the White House, if you don't want to get slapped up side the head).

"We're going to have to try much harder," David said, "to carry down-ticket candidates this Fall." He said this was critical in his state's rural areas. "We have a strategy for that," David said, "and we're hopeful we'll be able to pull that off, but it's not going to be easy."

Barbara complained that Obama is "out of touch" and out of sight - as he hasn't been back to Tennessee. By comparison, Barbara said, former Rep. Harold Ford, takes on every redneck coffee shop; by the time Harold leaves, they want to support him and give him money. He can talk to the people. Obama has written off Tennessee. He has to do the same thing."

"Hillary had a lot of support," Barbara said, " and "it would have been different if Hillary had been the nominee or the VP."

J. Flannery

A Ballot with your Bagel - Early Happy Returns

Clinton supporters this morning had a ballot with their bagel.

Obama and Clinton conferees arranged for every delegate to get to vote in writing for the presidential nominee they prefer.

In the Virginia delegation, as elsewhere, you got to sign your name in support of your candidate as you picked up your credentials for tonight's session of the convention.

As indicated in an earlier posting, there were competing accounts of how the balloting would proceed.

Some who got wind of this process yesterday objected that this was a dilution somehow of the right to vote for Hillary.

While the approach may be unprecedented, that doesn't compromise the essential element of the franchise, to get to vote for the nominee you prefer and the one your friends and neighbors back home elected you to support.

If in truth and fact, this was a contested race, and not a foregone conclusion, then perhaps this process would be faux and not fair.

But there could hardly be any justification for stringing out the process unnecessarily, except to obstruct the convention's business this evening.

Eula Tate and I were elected in the 10th Congressional District Convention in Northern Virginia.

The other night each of us signed a petition to advance the balloting process, to put Hillary's name in nomination for president of the United States.

This morning when I signed in, I took my favorite pen and marked an "x" in the column next to Hillary's name, as others in our delegation did in support of Barack Obama.

Then I signed my name. I had voted for Hillary Clinton to become our nominee.

When I joined the breakfast in progress in the adjoining ball room, I found Eula and asked her if she had voted.

She said she thought that we were not to vote. I said she didn't have to vote but this was her opportunity. I confirmed I was sure it was all right.

As Eula and I had been elected together for this purpose, we walked out together to the table where the ballot was available to record Eula's vote.

She picked up the pen and registered her vote for Hillary Clinton.

I asked Eula, "How do you feel."

Eula said, "I voted. Now I'm happy."

She gave me that look out of her big eyes like, "So how about you."

I said, "I'm happy too."

In this delegate's opinion, and I'm sure this is shared by many Clinton supporters, we have crossed another obstacle and bound the convention tighter and closer thereby.

We have advanced again in the process of reconciliation toward genuine unity.

J. Flannery


On the second night of the convention, Hillary Clinton brought down the house when she endorsed Barack Obama as the democratic party's nominee. You can read what she said if you didn't see and hear it on any one of the media outlets. It was a great speech and it said everything that needed to be said. The question is what effect will it have going forward?
Most significantly, the question remains, if Hillary's delegates feel as she does, will they act as she suggested she should? In other words, are her supporters ready to go to work for Obama, and then cast their ballot for him in November? No question the trend is in that direction but there's still work to be done.
To all appearances, the reconciliation looked a done deal in the convention hall. The signs with Hillary's handwritten name waved above the heads of the delegates, and supporters of Obama and Clinton appeared as one in the celebration. The word "unity" filled the hall. It was emblazoned on long standing blue signs on cardboard poles that allowed you to thrust them into the air. There were cheers and laughing. But was this all authentic? Did the show conform to the reality? What's in the hearts of the delegates?
The conversations afterwards among the Clinton delegates, as they walked from the Hall, and made their way to the parking lot, to wait for busses to take them to celebrations afterwards or their hotel rooms, revealed there's still work to be done. We are at a tipping point and forecasts are favorable. We are inching toward unity and it's possible but we're not there yet. And this is not about sour grapes.
Obama supporters don't understand how that could be. Don't get me wrong. They are not uncivil. They don't say - get over it - even if they are thinking it. It's because they haven't stood in the shoes of the Hillary supporters.
As best I can understand the reservation, it is not so much about losing to anyone - even if it was at first. It is about whether Obama will truly embrace and advocate what Hillary fought to implement as her program of political action.
These activists were drawn to Hillary because of issues she espoused. She said it herself. This is not about her. It is about health care and women's rights and more. The devil is in the details and that's what's holding back the enthusiasm of some.
Obama served himself well when he spoke on the CBN that he would choose Supreme Court justices who would recognize a woman's right of privacy, and McCain disagreed. It helps when this Supreme Court has made many decisions that disfavor what we believe are our rights as individuals to be "let alone" and that McCain would make a bad situation worse for years to come.
The Clinton delegates are meeting today at 1:15 pm at the Convention Center with Hillary Clinton to confer about putting her name in nomination. That's the next important point of progression toward real unity.
There is talk that the nomination process will be more faux than fair.
Delegates believe that Hillary's name will be put in nomination and there will be a roll call that causes votes of delegations to be registered reflecting the support of voters for her nomination as our presidential nominee.
They believe that because that's what they were told - or at least were led to believe that's what's going to happen.
News reports and behind the scenes chatter suggests that will not happen.
It would be a big political mistake to have announced one thing and to do another, to have a bait and switch.
It's because the partisans are being knit together, moving toward unity, and it's a delicate process and it will work if it's done right.
This is no time for one side or the other to suffer buyer's remorse about this agreement - as it was announced and as it was understood.
Last nights floor demonstration may lead some to think they can dispense with the roll call vote, make it pro forma, less significant than it was originally understood.
I think that would be a mistake.
What is the downside risk of a less substantive show of putting Hillary's name in nomination? Will the failure to have a roll call cause a protest on the convention floor? I can't say. But it will stick in craw of those who thought that was going to occur and will affect the enthusiasm necessary to accomplish what we say we want - to elect Obama in November with the work of these partisans who know to lead others in their home communities.
In sports and life generally, we play many "games" where winner takes all. In the general election, that's an easier undertaking. You don't have to lose and then work together to fight a common opponent.
When you have a "family squabble," as we have here among the democratic activists, if you win, the question is how do you reconcile afterwards and move on, and work together.
It is hard to say what one thing will determine whether this convention process wins the hearts and minds of Hillary's supporters.
The failure to thread this needle today on the nomination process means the can gets kicked down the road to see if Obama himself has to close the deal on Thursday night when he gives his speech at the Invesco Center.
J. Flannery

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


We are at the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado at the Pepsi Center and the opening gavel has sounded on the 45th gathering of 20,000 of the party faithful.

Virginia is seated in the first wave of folding chairs, located far forward of the other states on the floor of the convention only 50 feet from the podium with only one state more prominent, Illinois - Senator Barack Obama's home state.

Virginia is prominent because it is "in play" this November with 40 Obama campaign offices throughout the state, fighting to turn the Commonwealth blue, to garner 13 electoral votes, and to do so for the first time since 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson carried the Old Dominion over Senator Barry Goldwater.

The front wall of this expansive arena, the backdrop for the presenters, is a composite array of brilliant lights and projection elements, in the shape of an uplifting wave, seemingly crashing and splashing upward to spend its watery force in the hall's topmost rafters.

This grand hall is awash in delegates, going and coming, up and down the aisles, on stairs, between chairs, out by the concessions, and the principal objective of the delegates is to meet and talk with other delegates about this collective obsession they share for all matters political.

Of course, we delegates also want to talk to anyone with a camera, pad or microphone to explain and preserve the fine points of this historic undertaking.

"I can't believe I'm here," said one newly minted Virginia delegate, "not with these people around me that I've only seen on tv."

Stage and screen actor, Tony Goldwyn (who played the bad guy who schemed to betray and kill Patrick Swayze's character in "Ghost"), stood less menacingly in the aisle by the Virginia delegation and his picture was taken with an enthusiastic fan, Northern Virginia delegate, Charisse Espy Glassman. Charisse simply walked up to Tony, and said, "I heard you were a killer;" he answered, "I am" and then posed with a smile.

Senator George McGovern squeezed past but then paused to say hello and pose. CBS's Katy Couric was only feet away, prepping for the evening broadcast.

When singer John Legend stood astride that wave-like stage, he struck a convention theme when he sang: "We're the generation that can't afford to wait ..."

Singer Legend threaded the crowd's spirit, with his lively brassy beat, so irresistible, that the throng came to its feet for an extended foot-tapping, flag-waving, hip-swinging dance, and there was no division in the house when he finished singing.

I attended my first democratic convention at the Madison Square Garden in New York in 1980 when Senator Ted Kennedy gave a speech that concluded with a Tennyson passage that defined his life's view, that he was "a part of all that [he] ha[d] met, [and] though much is taken, much abides." He proposed this standard for us all.

Given the Senator's recent illness, Tennyson's tenet makes a nation anxious for what this illness may take and how it may compromise his abiding worth.

Tennyson spoke of "one equal temper of heroic hearts" that are "strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

The convention scheduled a film tribute to Senator Kenedy, prepared by Ken Burns, that was to be introduced by his niece, Caroline Kennedy, to celebrate his "heroic heart".

We presumed the Senator would be absent - because his doctors told him to stay home. But the rumors began to spread that he was coming anyhow.

No one thought he would speak if he came, even when he walked to the rostrum, imagining he would do no more than acknowledge, perhaps with a nod, the convention's kind gesture.

He said, "thank you" twice, and still no one expected more.

The Senator then took the rostrum in hand like he was grabbing an old friend by the shoulders, planted himself firmly, facing straight forward, his large white-maned head looking out at us all, and he spoke, in that deep bass, to an audience choked with emotion, that: "Nothing could keep me away." Wild cheers and waved signs greeted his double meaning.

He was still only warming up. With celtic thunder, he promised the next Administration will "break the old gridlock" that denied health care to many Americans, and make it "a fundamental right, not an expensive privilege."

Senator Kennedy promised that, in the new Administration, our "men and women in uniform shall never again be committed to a mistake."

Senator Kennedy challenged us to ground our government, in peace and war, on the "high principle and bold endeavor" that defined the american character. What would have happened, he asked, with a laugh, if his older brother, President Kennedy had not said, "we're going to the moon", but said instead, "it's too far to get there." President Kennedy's decision was the only right decision. "It's what we Americans do," he said, "We reach the moon."

Twenty eight years earlier I waved a blue-backed sign with the white lettered word "Kennedy" in Madison Square Garden with thousands of others who witnessed his earlier convention speech. Now here we were doing it again.

Years earlier, Senator Kennedy ended his remarks, saying: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

This evening, he amended his coda, casting it for another generation, for another democratic candidate, to carry the torch he bore for so many years, saying, "the hope shall rise again, and the dream lives on."

It was a night for America to remember and to celebrate.

J. Flannery

Monday, August 25, 2008


Virginia Governor Tim Kaine hosted the opening night celebration at Red Rocks with a barbecue and concert that had the politicos, delegates, families and friends dancing in the aisles, in this natural arena carved out of massive red rocks, overlooking the mile-high city in the midst of a far off and brilliant lightning storm.

Mame Reilly outdid her past accomplishments to choose this extraordinary venue and entertainment Sunday night to kick off the convention.

We had an open bar with Colorado margaritas and tables spread with garlic potato salad, various meats, cole slaw, fresh buns, salad, fruit and spores for the child in you.
The views were spectacular and Cheryl Crow crooned how, "Change will do us good."
We had set out for Denver in the Virginia dark early on Sunday with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, delegates from across Virginia and DC, journalists from Readers Digest and the Wall Street Journal, and we did this early Sunday AM on United 301, the official airline of the Democratic Convention.
When we arrived, Denver Mayor Hickenlooper had greeters in cowboy hats to answer any question and we were whisked (well almost) out of the airport on vans to the Virginia Delegation Hotel , the Crowne Plaza, hosting, VA, DC and West (by God) Virginia.
En route, we saw police in riot gear and on horse back, how can they move in those black batman like outfits, overly concerned (in this observer's view) about some pretty tame demonstrations against the Iraq War - no argument there.
I did wonder why the polizei weren't instead dealing with some pretty lame Republican objectors who were road-side with hand-painted signs, that lacked a certain civility; perhaps they didn't get the memo that their convention was not in Denver this year; if so, no wonder they were upset.
True to our democratic support of mass transportation, and our strong belief in long queues, and you know why, so that we can get to know each other better, and just "catch up", we're getting around the town in bus when we are not on foot.
It was a long and happy and hopeful day when we pulled up at the Crowne Plaza after our Red Rocks opener.
J. Flannery


The USA Poll this Monday morning, the first day of the Democratic Convention in Denver, says that "Clinton Backers are restless," and that only 47 % are "solidly" behind Obama.

Obviously, we can't speak for the accuracy of any poll but there is no question that, at this convention, we are going through a reconciliation of powerful political forces in the democratic party, dredging up those unresolved issues that our nation has yet to resolve, and that our democratic party is now addressing.

In the end, I believe we are going to get there and come out united.

But let me tell you why.

The most important reason is because Senator Hillary Clinton herself, at the vortex of this issue, does believe it is in the best interest of the party and the nation.

Before we even got to Denver, Hillary Clinton invited all her elected delegates to participate in a conference call to discuss the upcoming convention.

She encouraged one and all to work for Senator Barack Obama because "he stands for the things we worked so hard to achieve."

Tomorrow morning, Tuesday, from 10 AM - Noon, at the Women's Caucus, both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama will appear together to rally her supporters and women generally to the candidacy of Barack Obama.

Many of those issues that we care about as Hillary delegates have been made a part of the party platform and shall be a centerpiece of the fall general election campaign. This is about reconciliation and unity.

When Hillary speaks at the convention on Tuesday evening on the anniversary of the constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote, she shall underscore the critical participation of women in our nation's government and how we have again caused to crack that glass ceiling that compromises participation for women.

There are some who think the democratic convention is a backdrop to some humdrum political pageant.

That's just not right. The convention has served as a deadline to get things done. Now we are participating at the convention itself in a public ritual, where the players cannot hide, and are struggling to resolve how we go forward united.

Hillary's name will be placed in nomination on Wednesday at the Pepsi Center, and her name should placed in nomination, because it shows that her effort and her supporters are taken seriously, welcome to participate as full partners in the process, and necessary allies in the effort to re-build and restore America in Fall campaign.

The ties that bind Hillary and Obama together, and therefore their supporters, is about nothing less than equal rights before the law without regard to sex or race or any other incident of birth or station in life.

When the shifting sands of policy confound our belief in a political system or its candidates, we have to consider the mid-point of the shifts and decide if these views, by vector, trend and emphasis, truly reflect our own vision of America.

Are we joined as one in our support to end this wrong-headed war in Iraq, and having peace? I believe the answer is yes.

Are we seeking to restore sanity to a damaged blood-let economy and are we about assuring health care and jobs and retirement security to a nervous nation? I believe the answer is yes.

Finally, how else may we resolve any reservations about who should be the nominee if the nominee we preferred as leader, Senator Hillary Clinton, tells us, and does so enthusiastically, that we, each of us, should support Senator Barack Obama?

Are we not bound to honor Hillary's lead - if we are "her delegates"?

Nothing worthy of our time and effort is easy.

Our ambition to join political forces at this convention may yet be daunting.

It is, however, a worthy ambition to unite our party to secure this nation's future.

J. Flannery

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Senator McCain was sitting at one of his ten homes - not that I'm keeping count - when he heard that Senator Biden was our Vice Presidential nominee.

He must have just loved Senator Arlen Specter's praise for our nominee, reported today, talking about how Arlen and Joe shared Amtrac rides together to and from home and the U.S. Senate.

But how can Senator McCain really complain when our former Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, Senator Joe Lieberman, who once stood by Senator Al Gore, is a featured speaker at the Republican Convention?

But, enough about the big picture.

It's now time to think about going to Denver.

I've stopped checking my Obama e-mail for who will be on the ticket, and am packing papers and a swim suit (I might get to use) when I to travel to Denver for the Democratic National Convention as a Hillary delegate.

I'm leaving behind my friends and colleagues at the Campbell Miller law firm and, except for an emergency, I don't plan to be working on my cases; but perhaps I should know better than that. (You can get a look at our firm and community on YouTube.)

I know that this convention will be different, because of friends who have always been gray elephant Republicans who have told me repeatedly during the endless primary season and since that they are supporting Senator Obama, and not the Republican nominee.

My law partner, Eric Zimmerman, who doesn't much like labels is a Republican, and he told me during the democratic primaries that he was voting for Senator Obama, and that was before Senator Biden was chosen.

I asked if he was just pulling my leg. He assured me he was not, and he is still for Obama - confirmed within the last 48 hours.

Eric knows about public service. And he knows what's important. Eric was the Mayor of a local town called Purcellville. He rescued and championed Little League Baseball in Loudoun County, Virginia. And he's a great lawyer and friend.

Like many other Republicans I meet and talk with, Eric thinks that we have done so badly for eight years, that he's ready for a change, and that Presidential candidate Obama is the change that we need.

I saw this same phenomenon when James Webb, the former Navy Secretary, decided to come back to the Democratic party and run for the US. Senate in Virginia.

Webb had objected to the Iraq War, declaring in September 2002 that such a war made no sense, and no one could dispute the fact that Webb, as a marine and former Reagan cabine appointee, knew what he was talking about; and Webb won, beating the incumbent Iraq-mongering Republican Senator George Allen.

My wife Holly and I supported Senator Hillary Clinton in the democratic primaries and we're going to Denver, and I am pledged to vote for Hillary this upcoming Wednesday on the first ballot.

I always thought Hillary was a class act, first got to know her during the dark days of her husband's impeachment, but also afterwards when she was the Junior Senator from New York.

That's why I worked for her when she ran for President - because she was and remains a great leader.

We cannot overlook, however, that Senator Obama has found a way to acknowledge her leadership, her tireless campaign and her significant contribution, meaning the millions of primary votes and her forceful arguments about the war, and the economy.

Obama acknowledged the significance of her run when he agreed that Hillary's elected delegates should and shall vote on Wednesday at the convention.

My friends and associates who shared my support of Hillary say she had that right anyway - to have her name put in nomination.

In one sense, they may be right.

But politics is not purely a platonic dialogue about ideals - even when it may seem to be.

A roman senator, Seneca, said the fates lead us to our destiny, or drag us there.

This is an opportunity that allows us to follow Hillary's lead.

It is a sad truth that no one who works hard for any candidate is worth much if the resultant passion doesn't prompt disappointment when the candidate loses.

This has been an acute challenge this election season.

We have before us, however, the fact that the differences that Obama and Clinton debated, while important, were narrow as compared to the ideological gulf between Obama and the Bush debacle that will continue in the name of McCain -- if we persist in dressing our primary wounds.

Our first business is Sunday when we convene as a delegation that evening with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine at the Red Rocks outside of Denver for political talk and a barbecue.

On Monday, we have the opening gavel of the democratic convention.

On to Denver!

And please watch this space for updates!

J. Flannery

Thursday, August 21, 2008


In 1998, Congresswoman Stephanie Jones came to the US Congress from Ohio, and she was as kind as she was ready and competent to serve.

As a former judge and prosecutor, she gave heft to floor debates resisting the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

She quickly earned a reputation as a member who was ready to accept any legislative assignment and there was no question that she'd get it done - and well.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi found her so competent and beyond reproach that she gave her a leadership position on the House Ethics Committee, and she was a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Her true spirit is best captured by the memory of her ready smile - as if life's unfolding moments brought her nothing but joy. When an aneurysm cut short her life this week, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) remembered "her infectious humor and that thousand watt smile."

When we were in Boston for the Democratic Convention in 2004, we saw her at one of the many receptions, and she spoke at length as a mother about one of her favorite topics, her only child, Mervyn Leroy Jones Jr., what kind of young man he was and what he was doing, asking with genuine interest after our children. The best in politics truly love people and are concerned and interested about who they are and what they are doing and caring that all is well. Congresswoman Jones was that kind of politician. She loved people and she loved tackling difficult problems.

This primary election season, Congresswoman Jones supported Senator Hillary Clinton for President and, at the victory party when Hillary carried Ohio, her son, Mervyn, was again at her side, at the celebration.

She was the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Ohio, and she was first in the hearts of her congressional colleagues and her constituents.

It is hard to imagine that she will not be at this convention in Denver with her son at her side.

J. Flannery

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


One Fox News correspondent has been belly-aching that Dem activists can know Senator Barack Obama's VP - if they just ask.

And they'll get an e-mail or a text message to their cell phones.

So what's the beef? I suppose because the media feels "oh so unnecessary".
But aren't they getting a news story in the bargain -- that the connected generation keeps current - and without any middleman except, well, the telecommunications companies.
If you want to know who Obama's VP is when he's made the selection, just sign up -

You'll get a notice, either by e-mail or text message! And you'll be a nano second ahead of the networks, listserves, e-mails.
Now that's a change.
J. Flannery


Hillary Clinton invited all her elected delegates to participate in a conference call Tuesday evening at 7 pm to discuss the upcoming convention and she encouraged one and all to work for Senator Barack Obama because "he stands for the things we worked so hard to achieve."

When Hillary came on the conference phone line last night, she thanked everyone for supporting her candidacy and said she knew how hard it was to be elected a delegate, and she was appreciative, but she was also enthusiastic at what "we had achieved," and discussed her efforts campaigning with Obama, to see that these causes became a reality.

She confirmed that her name would be placed in nomination and Harold Ickes explained how the roll call vote would be conducted.

She made a point of underscoring how the platform reflected so many issues that had been the centerpiece of her campaign.

She enjoyed the irony that she would speak to the convention on Tuesday evening on the anniversary of the constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote, and Senator Obama would speak on Thursday evening on the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speech."

When Virginian activists convened at the Jefferson Jackson Day in Richmond, now months ago, and heard from Hillary and Obama, in turn, speaking of their vision for the nation, no one could imagine the political journey that has brought us to the threshold of this historic political convention.

When there were questions by some delegates on the conference call about proposed demonstrations outside the convention hall in Denver, Colorado, Hillary's campaign staff said that they were not in communication with those efforts and were doing everything they could so that the convention would run smoothly. When asked, they said they did not know nor expect any floor flights over credentials or the platform.
One and all delegates were invited to a meeting with Hillary Clinton next Wednesday at 1:30 pm at the convention center when more directions would be provided for the conduct of the roll-call.

There are those who eschew the democratic convention as a mere backdrop, particularly if there are no anticipated fights over rules or platform but those folk miss the point.

It is the convention, as deadline and as public event, that has compelled so many people who care about their nation to come to agreement about how they may best serve the goal we share for a better America.

By contrast, the Republicans will have their president speak the first night of their convention, and spirit him out of town. Cheney, the outgoing Vice President, is not attending. Nor are several Republican Senators who are afraid of losing their phony baloney jobs attending - as the association with this outgoing Administration is harmful to their job security.

Nor is the symbolism of our convention meaningless or empty - as some pundits might suggest.

It is about nothing less than equal rights before law without regard to sex or race or any other incident of birth or station in life.

It is evident by the nature of the principals, Hillary and Obama, from their sex and race, incidental and central, to their accomplishment, and thus to ours as a people.

When the shifting sands of policy confound our belief in a political system or its candidates, we have to consider the mid-point of the shifts and decide if these views, by vector, trend and emphasis, truly reflect our own vision of America.

Are we joined as one in our support to end this wrong-headed war in Iraq, and having peace?

Are we seeking to restore sanity to a damaged blood-let economy and are we about assuring health care and jobs and retirement security to a nervous nation?

Those who support Senator Obama this year including Hillary are supporting an idea of America that our citizens embrace and have long demanded and it's about nothing less than peace and security, something that has eluded us for too long.

This convention is a bringing together of those who have differed, in the margins and details, about how to cure a compromised nation and, by the fact of convening, we have set a deadline, by which we have deigned to restore this nation's good name and a means to redress the inequities and incompetence that we have suffered the last eight years of the accidental president, George Bush.

On to the Convention!

J. Flannery

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


(Lovettsville, VA) ... Loudoun County in Northern Virginia has been Republican red for a long time but something revolutionary has happened that has everyone scratching their heads about the change in Virginia politics that has Loudoun County and perhaps all of Virginia turning from red to blue this presidential election season.

Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner has discouraged partisan posturing and trumpeted a policy of results that matter to the voters. In a year when the economy is sour, the war is never-ending, and government seems to be coming up short, Governor Warner has a message that voters want to hear. Governor Warner will likely become our next US Senator with his record of performance and his promise to do more of the same in the US Senate. It is no accident that Governor Warner is the keynote speaker at next Tuesday's Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Nor does it appear that Governor Warner is alone in this resolve. Governor Tim Kaine, the incumbent, has followed the same kind of policy in office and won high praise for his hard won results.

Senator Jim Webb, a decorated marine, celebrated author, and former Navy Secretary was a Reagan Democrat who found the prosecution of the Iraq war ill-advised and wrong-headed and thought we weren't doing enough for the middle class and for those men and women who put their lives at risk. When Webb won his upset victory over Republican Senator George Allen, he showed the way to a Democratic Majority in the U.S. Senate as he led other Republicans to pull the voting lever for good government that got them results.

Loudoun County has been a mix of farmers in fox hunt country and hi-tech behemoths that breed IT innovation. The County has grown faster for years than any other County in the U.S. It was solidly Republican but it changed because the voters preferred results and accountable officials over ideology that meant less to their everyday lives.

Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott, one of my personal heroes, said that Senator Barack Obama, slated to be nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate next week, will carry Virginia in November if we register 200,000 new voters by early October.

When we talked months ago, there were already 100,000 voters. The robust primary season nationwide and in Virginia that pitted Senator Obama against Senator Hillary Clinton, and other worthy Democrats, caused many to register to vote because they liked what they heard.

In Loudoun County, by way of example, we increased registered voters by 23% since 2004 when we last had a presidential election. Whether you like the campaign slogan or not, that's real "change."

President Lyndon Johnson last won Virginia in 1964 after President Jack Kennedy was slain in Dallas against Senator Barry Goldwater. President Clinton came the closest in 1996 when he beat Senator Bob Dole.

But this is a bellwether political years that has confounded party elders, aged pundits and every prediction anyone has made.

This is a year of hope and it is a year of change from what was.

We wait to watch Virginia, the cradle of Presidents, to defy the elders and pundits and make Virginia blue again.

J. Flannery

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's also about the Supreme Court - Stupid!


Senator Barack Obama said this weekend that Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, of the U.S. Supreme Court, was a brilliant thinker but he didn't share his views.

On the other hand, Senator John McCain thinks Justice Scalia is a model justice.

Whomever is elected President will likely have to choose three new Justices to the Supreme Court.

I give this toss up to Obama - the former law professor - as he's got this all right, and McCain doesn't even come close.

I do have a nagging quibble, however, when the Senator says that Justice Scalia is "brilliant."

I do truly think the Senator is a tad too kind.

You may have noticed that Scalia has broken his media silence this year to talk on camera in order to hawk a rule book (115 rules to be precise) that he’s written with Bryan Garner, his sycophantic co-author whose claim to fame is as the author of “Modern American Usage” and the “Elements of Legal Style”.

The title of the book is “Making your case – the Art of Persuading Judges.”

At the very outset, Justice Scalia advises us, of a judge’s “human proclivity to be more receptive to argument from a person who is both trusted and liked” (p. xxii).

You may recall the accusation that Justice Scalia was more “receptive” to Vice President Cheney’s argument before the Supreme Court, when our Vice President refused to disclose information about his energy task force.
Justice Scalia appeared to “trust” and to “like” Cheney. Justice Scalia even went duck hunting with the Vice President while the Sierra Club’s appeal demanding disclosure was pending before the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia then wrote a 21-page “not-to-worry” broadside saying that many Supreme Court Justices get their jobs “precisely because they were friends of the incumbent president or senior officials.”

I didn't think that was brilliant.

Justice Scalia also said in his book that a legal advocate must “master the relative weight of precedents” (Rule 26)(p. 52). But how do you master a precident that is disregarded?

When the Supreme Court intervened, in its 5-4 decision, in 2000, making Governor George Bush the President over VP Al Gore, by stopping the recount in the Florida primary, the decision was unprecedented.

The dissenters called it an intrusion into what was and should have been resolved by state law; Associate Justice Breyer quoted Brandeis who wrote: “The most important thing we do is not doing.”

When correspondent Lesley Stahl recently asked Justice Scalia on CBS’s Sixty Minutes if the decision in Bush v. Gore, ending the Florida recount favoring Bush, wasn’t more about politics than judicial philosophy, Justice Scalia passed up the opportunity to teach us, just as he did in his rule book, and said instead “get over it. It’s so old by now.”

(If court opinions did truly invite indifference or irrelevance by their age, then why is it that Justice Scalia can’t “get over” a much older Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, from 1973, recognizing a woman’s right of privacy?)

How can anyone argue to a court with a political agenda that disregards precedent?

Justice Scalia insists on deference, a kingly prerogative, when arguing before the court.

He says advocates that address the Court should appear as a “junior” colleague, and as one “explaining the case to a highly intelligent senior partner” (rule 18, p. 33).

I beg to differ. No advocate should be considered an inferior before any court in a democracy. No advocate should need to consider himself (or herself) in any other way than respectful and competent.

I believe most courts and justices agree and prefer a competent advocate to inform their discretion, and not some lackey who is too humbled before the court to be zealous for his client.

Justice Scalia doesn’t blunt his own zealous advocacy as a Justice.

He has written opinions that referred to the other Justices’ opinions variously as “sheer applesauce”, “absurd”, “implausible speculation”, and “self-righteous.”

Should an advocate before the Court in a democracy be more constrained than a Justice?

No doubt you have your own views about Justice Scalia and the other Justices.

When Senator Obama listed the Justices that he thought were suited to serve, and explained why he did not favor others including Justice Scalia, he did give us all hope for a much-need change on the Supreme Court.

This is just one more example where Senator McCain would assure us that we were going to get more of the same.

When President Clinton ran, he was fond of repeating his campaign manager's admonition, "it's the economy, stupid."

Well, this year it's again the economy, and the war, but it's also about the Supreme Court.

J. Flannery