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