Friday, January 28, 2011


Some people jump into icy cold water for no good reason. 
By contrast, on January 22, 2011, 200 men and women, from 7 to 74 years of age, with an air temperature of 17 degrees, took a frigid polar bear plunge into the Potomac at Maryland’s National Harbor, downstream from the U.S. Congress, demanding that our political leaders save real polar bears from extinction – as well as their human kissin’ cousins.
The demand is that Congress adopt policies to decrease carbon emissions from 388 parts per million of carbon dioxide to 350 parts, a safe level (see )
My wife Holly planned to swim while I held hot drinks, foot warmers, towels, a thick terry cloth robe, my camera and yellow sheets for notes.  You can see why I couldn’t make the plunge myself.
Some disbelievers might wonder if cold weather doesn’t contradict the science of global warming.  But extreme weather conditions are averaged with other climate phenomenon.  They don’t change the fact that the average temperature worldwide has gone up 1.4 degrees since 1880, and that we had our hottest temperatures in 400 years in the last several decades.  The average temperature in Alaska, Western Canada and Eastern Russia have increased almost twice as fast as the global average.  We’ve seen Antarctica melting.  Islands and shore lines are receding.  Arctic ice is disappearing rapidly, and an ice free summer there is now foreseeable.  Polar bears are at risk, as they lose their sea ice habitat, the ice platforms they hunt from and that protect them from drowning.  They are losing more young, starving, and every fifth bear is dying.
Hundreds milled in clusters with polar bear caps and hot coffee in hand, the last folk song finished, the wind blowing, ice rimming the Potomac, as Mike Tidwell, the founder of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (, reassured the polar bear plungers in waiting that some swimmer had been doing this for years, proving you “can survive the plunge,” and remind congress that “the science isn’t lying.” 
Last year, the National Research Council released, “Advancing the Science of Climate Change,” confirming once again that global warming is caused by what we humans do.
Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards said she was “warming up” to the plunge and invited citizens to “lean on us” in Congress to get something done; she was backed up by San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker, NaVorro Bowman.
As the polar plungers dropped off their clothes in nearby tents and emerged unprotected in swimsuits in the winds along the icy banks, a cheer went up and they raced as one splashing into the icy waters.
Among those in trunks was Franciscan Father Jacek Orzeshowski who told us that he made the plunge because combating global warming was a “moral and spiritual challenge” and “faith communities are embracing this movement,” so we can “defend the powerless,” avoid extinction, and save the “awesome diversity of life;” he prayed that all who plunged may enjoy the “fire of grace in our bellies.”  May it be the same for those who fight global warming everywhere!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The Supreme Court hasn't done enough to make our laws subject to high dollar politcal contributions.  Funny it was only a year ago when one Supreme Court Justice shook his head when President Obama criticized the obscene fund-raising allowed by the Supreme Court.

Now Republican House Leader Eric Cantor wants to eliminate any taxpayer financing for presidential elections. 

After tonight's state of the union, Cantor is starting the presidential campaign at 10 AM, Wednesday, on the house floor to consider:

H.R. 359 - To reduce Federal spending and the deficit by terminating taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions (Modified Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole / Ways and Means Committee / House Administration Committee)

Cantor has announced that "the rule [for discussion on the floor] provides for one hour of general debate, not more than five hours of amendment debate, and makes in order only those amendments that have been preprinted in the Congressional Record."

Who ever said talk is cheap?

Friday, January 21, 2011


Political Sleight of hand works best when we’re slight of mind – when we don’t pay careful attention.
Only days ago, President Barack Obama encouraged our leaders to talk “with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”
Some have agreed to curb their rhetoric and others propose to sit with other partisans when the President addresses a joint session of Congress on January 25, 2011.
But what a Congress does can cause violence as destructive as a 9mm bullet.
A former federal employee, living in Loudoun, retired when he was 55, now 10 years ago.  He counts on his monthly retirement check.  Days ago the government told him that he was not getting a COLA (a cost of living adjustment), and his monthly payment has been reduced.  What does he do now?
The government told a woman on Social Security disability that they’ve been over paying her for years, she disputes it, but they are going to pay her less, and the new amount won’t cover her monthly rent.  She said days ago they’re forcing her onto the street.
Across the nation, state governments including Virginia are telling state employees that their retirement will be cut short and they have to pay or do without the benefits they were promised when they agreed to become public servants.  No stimulus for these working men and women.  We depress them instead.
Only last month, a congress of invertebrates told the wealthiest in the nation, their principal contributors, not to pay more in taxes (3% more), and so now the middle class are getting less and being asked to pay and suffer more.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner, a beneficiary of significant contributions from the insurance industry, with a gilt-edged health plan himself, has set out to repeal health care.  The Congressional Budget Office says the cost of repealing this bill will be $230 billion over the next ten years.  Boehner is concerned about reducing the deficit except when it’s inconvenient to his contributors.  If the Speaker succeeds and kills this cost-saving health reform, then millions of Americans won’t be insured, and if you get sick or lose your job, you may lose your coverage as well.  Pre-existing conditions won’t be covered, children will not be covered, and lifetime caps on insurance pay-outs will be restored.
As for Social Security, the trust fund has $2.9 Trillion.  It’s your money.  You pay into this fund every time you’re paid a wage or salary.  Did you know that our government has been borrowing from this trust fund to reduce the deficit?  Speaker Boehner thinks maybe you can wait from 65 until you are seventy to retire, reducing your lifetime benefits by 30 percent.  Republican Congressman Paul Ryan has drafted a program for Speaker Boehner to privatize Social Security and provide vouchers for Medicare. 
Civility is part of the answer but good conduct is the rest and cutting health care and social security doesn’t heal, it wounds, steals dignity, causes pain, and costs lives.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


On the Sunday talk shows, they were talking about mental health, in my opinion, so that no one will think about the violence prone language and actions of our public officials that prompted the Fenster-like shooter in Tucson to wound and kill so many in an effort to get his principal political target, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

For one thing, this Congress is not going to do anything about mental health. 

We didn't do anything about it before the shooting in Tucson, nor the shootings before that one. 

It is ironic even to be talking about mental health reform, as Speaker John Boehner prepares to repeal the reform health bill this week. 

If the Speaker has his way, there will be fewer public tools to redress mental health challenges.

Don't get me wrong. 

This is a significant issue, and we handle it so bad in this nation's culture that even returning combat veterans fail to reveal the symptoms of PTSD or TBI, lest they be treated like pariah, even after they've risked their lives for this nation in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But we haven't finished discussing the predicate for considering mental health or even gun laws.

We must spend more time seriously discussing what our public officials did, and may continue to do, to prompt violence at home by their acerbic and vitriolic political discourse. 

Some have said it was "just exaggerated talk." 

That's just not true.

By way of example, we all remember those citizens last summer who shouted down congressmen and congresswomen in their districts, didn't allow them to talk, spoke with a great deal of abuse and disrespect. 

They were dehumanizing and denigrating our representatives so that we would lose respect for them. 

Consciously or unconsciously, they were attempting to create a psychological distance that allows for more than just spoken abuse to be suffered by our public officials.

No one can forget how some citizens spat upon members of Congress outside the Capitol. 

That was another advance in the wrong direction for a democracy and it was made possible by the abuse beforehand of members in their districts.

We have to consider more than how our leaders speak. 

We have to discuss what tactics are permissible at public meetings.

I didn't say legislate but, as a society, we have to re-visit what it means to lead and how one can best follow and express one's independent views.

Would that our nation would develop a code of conduct for public discourse that might minimize the risk to public officials and citizens.

Then maybe we shall heal, and not wound, as the President rightly instructed earlier this week.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Read Tribbett on giving power back to the people!

Those of you who think Richmond gets away with murder should read Ben Tribbett's post on giving power back to the people who have their own minds -  This might be the answer to the Dillon Rule that says it's all about Richmond, not us folk.  Anyhow give it a look. 

John Flannery

Boehner's Boner

Speaker Boehner's boner - passes on air lift from Prez to Tucson memorial, and then passes on WH State Dinner - a small man in a big job.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Palin's Blood Libel remark!

Blood libel, says Palin.  Did she know that's an anti-semitic sentiment that jews killed babies for their blood for rituals?  Reckless, sure!  Worse, perhaps.


By John P. Flannery

What have we learned?
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a wonderful public servant from Tucson, Arizona, named for an angel, took a 9mm bullet through the left side of her brain, back to front, at 10 AM on Saturday, January 8, 2011, outside a Safeway where she was meeting with her constituents.
As I write this, the day after she was shot, she is fighting for her life, in a coma we hope is a sleep of repair, brain swelling receding, consciousness imminent.  Even if she recovers, she may not ever be able to resume her congressional office.  You have to wonder if that wasn’t the objective – to do with bullets what couldn’t be accomplished with ballots.
The skilled shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, wrote before he shot her, “I planned ahead,” and that it was an “assassination.”
Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik of Pima County explained this shooting happened because of the “vitriolic rhetoric” from our political “leaders.”
Last March, after the health care vote, former Governor Sarah Palin published a website that, Congresswoman Giffords complained, “has the crosshairs over our district,” and she rightly said, “[w]hen people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”
When Rep. John Boehner was campaigning last March, he said, if the Obama health care reform passed, it would mean “Armageddon” (Revelations 16:16), as in when the Messiah returns to earth to fight the Anti-Christ.  Asked about his apocalyptic reference, he said they were “just words,” like they meant nothing.
Stieg Larsson fans may remember Lisbeth Salander’s T-shirt, “Armageddon was yesterday … today we have a serious problem.”  We surely do!
Republican T-party Senate Candidate Sharon Angle told those T-party activists they might be forced to resort to “Second Amendment remedies” if dissatisfied with the November election results.  Maybe Ms. Angle also thinks they were “just words.”
I’m not a lawyer because I like to argue.  I’m a lawyer because I believe the rule of law is the alternative to violence.  Some wannabe law makers last year basically told the public to break the law and they made possible, with such recklessness, the violence that they now pretend not to comprehend.
My hero, Sir Thomas More, admonished his son-in-law, Roper, for suggesting that More break the law:

"What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?. And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?  This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?  Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

Our leaders must recant their incitements to break the law - or we won't be able to stand upright in the winds that shall surely blow.

LTM Editorial: America, where civility is outgunned. Must read!

EDITORIAL: America, where civility is outgunned

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was setting out her meet-and-greet table in Tucson on the morning of Jan. 8, ready to hold a “Congress on Your Corner” event, she was practicing her constitutionally protected First Amendment right of people “peaceably to assemble.”

When a 22-year old mentally disturbed man approached her with a firearm at his side and a maximized clip of ammunition at the ready, he was practicing his constitutionally protected Second Amendment right to bear arms.

When, in the weeks and months leading up to the Tucson massacre, angry – and often anonymous – Internet users posted hate-filled messages littered with not-so-subtle threats against lawmakers they disagree with, they were practicing their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights to free speech.
For 99.9 percent of the time, these sometimes countermanding constitutional principles are held in a fragile state of balance – sometimes working together, sometimes in parallel.

In Tucson, that balance was tragically and horrifyingly upended.  When constitutional rights clash, most of the time they end up in the legal system to be adjudicated.

Then, there’s Tucson.

Some have been quick to label the incident as “isolated.” That, to us, has a wispy veneer of acceptance that we are not ready to accept.

Does anyone recall that only a few weeks ago, a deranged man entered a public school board meeting in Florida and opened fire on elected officials?

The events that took place in Tucson hit home for a member of the Times-Mirror editorial staff, who has worked many such down-home, constituent-focused congressional events before while serving on Capitol Hill in the 1990s, yet does not recall the level of vitriol then in the body politic as it has manifested itself a decade later in today’s political environment.

The refreshingly candid Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said this weekend that he had “never seen the mood of the country as bad as I’ve seen it this past year.”

We agree.

That may be due to many factors. Such as the arrival of heated and threatening rhetoric that often crosses the line from the likes of, the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. It may also be due to the explosion of speech on a new medium, called the Internet, which was still in its infancy a bit more than a decade ago.
Ironically, a year ago, the Times-Mirror opined about the state of political rhetoric in America in an editorial that carried the headline, “More talking. Less balking. Please.” While that position still seems right today, it also seems morbidly outdated given last week’s events.

Already, partisan finger pointing is at play across the airwaves and online. The lessons – while still early – of the Tucson massacre have clearly not been learned. And the investigation into the motive of the 22-year-old assailant is still pending. That’s important to keep in mind.

Hate has always been a sinister subterfuge of American politics, as was the case with President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, or that of Sen. Robert Kennedy and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

More recently, there was the Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building in 1995.

But it is still – objectively speaking – hard to recall a period of such anger and vitriol as characterizes today’s America. It has become a noxious and toxic miasma of vituperation and vengeance. It has been allowed to carry on for too long. It has become acceptable in 2010, where it would be characterized as abominable in 1980.

Would someone like Ronald Reagan have ever allowed such a climate? We think not.

With the help of a massive, untethered 24/7 radio and TV talk show market, and the unbridled expanse of the Internet medium, political discourse has gone from “fully charged” to radioactive - dangerously so.
When Sarah Palin’s campaign organization places cross hair targets over a U.S. map with congressional incumbents she wants to “remove from office,” there’s a spine-chilling subconscious message that is sent to the minds of viewers. Most of us take it for what it is. But for those who cannot process rhetoric from reality, common sense from the nonsensical, its effects can be deadly.

Additionally, Political Wire reported that the Palin- and Tea Party-backed opponent of Giffords last fall held a campaign event where supporters were invited to attend and join the candidate in shooting rounds from a M-16 assault rifle, while imploring them to “take out” Giffords from office. That’s an absolute line crosser for us.

Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times, labels this as “eliminationist rhetoric.”

Free speech advocates will rear-up and state – arguably – that the First Amendment is not the assailant here. Yet our congressman, Frank Wolf, told the Times-Mirror just after the Tucson event that “words have consequences, clearly.”

Yes they do. Tragically and ironically, it’s the same line that was uttered by Congresswoman Giffords in March 2009 in a TV interview when she discussed the use of sniper-rifle cross hairs placed over her district on Palin’s map of targeted congressional incumbents.

There are limits to free speech. Hate speech is a crime in many instances. A citizen commits a federal crime if they walk into a movie theater and shout “Fire!” when there is none. Likewise, it’s a federal offense to call or e-mail a bomb threat against a public building.

Beyond timid acceptance of Tucson as yet another “isolated incident,” there are pragmatic and timely measures our federal officials can take to mitigate such events in the future.

One step may be to extend to members of Congress the federal law criminalizing threats to the president, as a deterrent.

Another idea, from the Times-Mirror, would address the permeation of concealed weapons that are easy to get in states like Arizona, even for mentally-incapacitated individuals like Jared Loughner, who did not require a special permit to get his gun.

Why not create a security “bubble” around members of Congress and federal judges that would make it a federal offense to knowingly carry a concealed weapon within 50 yards of a federal lawmaker or judge? If anything, it sends a message. If nothing more, by purpose or accident, it may save a life.

Meanwhile, we pray for the life of Congresswoman Giffords and the other victims fighting for theirs in a hospital in Tucson.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


There are some folk who think they can spew all sorts of garbage into the air and that it won't make any difference.  We're talking about carbon emissions. 

Chesapeake Climate Action (CCAN) is fighting to try to get the planet to 350 parts per million - the safe number to avoid runaway global warming.  We are above that now. 

So they do things like jump in ice cold water to highlight their efforts and to raise funds for each person who braves the waters - as a polar bear might.  In other words, we prefer cold winters - and want to keep it that way, at least around here close to home. 

My wife, Holly Flannery, has set her mind to jumping in the water this January 22nd.  If you want to see last year's effort, check on this video.  And, if you could contribute to Holly's goal, unless of course, you want to take the plunge yourself, then go to her Plunge website and contribute to the cause.


Saturday, January 8, 2011


Something else Speaker Boehner could do with his gavel when he's not crying - watch here. 

CNN Reports 6 Dead; Dr. confirms Rep. Giffords alive; & he's "optimistic"

Despite ABC Report, CNN states that, while 6 are dead, Rep. Giffords is alive with a single gunshot wound to her head, and her surgeon is optimistic of recovery. 



There is no evidence at this time that the shooting of Giffords was politically motivated, but it's grimly ironic that the candidate appeared on a map of House Democrats "targeted" by Palin in 2010.

The map controversially used actual target markers on locations these Democrats lived and listed their names.
See the controversial target map below:

Congresswoman Dies

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Dies After Being Shot at Public Appearance in Tucson, Arizona - ABC Reports


Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords (D-AZ) alive and in surgery for shots to her head by some mad man in Tuscon AZ; her astronaut husband is at the hospital, anxiously waiting to learn of her condition; Rep. Giffords' office had earlier been broken into and trashed because of her support of health care legislation; others protest she hasn't done enough about illegal aliens; if anyone thinks this isn't related to the rabid rhetoric of self styled T-party activists and Fox News wing nuts like Beck or Palin, raise your hand; someone tell me how she'd been better off is she'd had a gun in her hand bag!  ABC Report here.

Congresswoman Giffords - undergoing surgery

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Speaker Boehner cries again - but soon it will be our turn

Rep. John Boehner, the tan-faced 53rd speaker of the House, pledged "to give government back to the people" earlier today. 

As usual, he was a tad vague about which "people" he meant.

Unable to control himself, at the faintest sign of approval by his party cronies, he cried at his investiture - pushing his "George Hamilton" tan into a large white handkerchief. 

I don't know about you but I really think he should check his meds or something. 

Imagine what these hardy Republican "mad men" would have said if Speaker Pelosi shed a single tear for anything.

You may remember what people thought when Senator Hillary Clinton had a moment of empathy on the campaign trail?

The difference I believe is that Speaker Pelosi, Senator Clinton, and many other Dems, men and women who have fought for the middle class their whole life long, and for the poor, really do care to make a difference for all the people.

Boehner is a manipulative power hungry hypocrite, at the service of high funded contributors.

Consider his own advertising and how it stands up.

He claims to come from the poorest people in Ohio, but he has set a course to roll back the health care for his poorest and oldest constituents, for children, and for those with pre-existing medical conditions, and it's the first thing he's set out to do.

Sounds like he's more concerned about the insurance industry that has buyer's remorse after agreeing to the health care proposal.

What's remarkable is Boehner will fight like mad to roll back healthcare, while enjoying the privileges of doctors and medical care on call at any time of the day or night as a member of the House of Representatives.  I've seen members run to get meds and attention for the common call when I was a Hill rate.  How often do us common folk do anything like that?

Boehner has not made it a secret that he wants to take "a hard look" at social security and medicare. 

As a member of Congress, Speaker Boehner's retirement is secure - even without his chamber of commerce handlers.  But what about those people in Boehner's old neighborhood or the rest of America.

Those of you who have been paying into this social security system your whole life, grab the banister or something to hang onto, because Boehner and his band of merry men want to pull the rug from beneath your feet at an age when you can't run the 440 quite as fast as you once could. 

They want to raise the retirement age, reduce benefits, make them based on your income, and encourage 401ks - and we all know how much better a 401k is to the certain benefit you expected from social security; oh yes, forget about that COLA as well.

Today is Wednesday, what will Congress do next - after some of them hear the Constitution read aloud?

No mystery there. 

The new Republican Congress, headed up by his tearful majesty, shall push through a series of roll backs on health care, perhaps even a bill privatizing social security, and whatever other hair-brained legislation they believe will please their crazed base of latter day self-described t-party revolutionaries.

Next, the Senate will have to review their hellish handiwork, and we can expect the Senate will stop this wrong-headed series of initiatives dead, either with a filibuster that drags on painfully, or a series of short and sweet no votes (if McConnell can suppress his inner child), and, however that happens, with much sturm und drang, or more pacificistically.  In either case, that means it means that President Obama won't have to veto any of this "just say no" legislation.

Some of you may remember when Pinocchio Boehner said the election was about jobs. 

This from the guy who opposed unemployment insurance, funds for teachers and students, and a lot more.

The fact is this election was never about jobs for the middle class for Rep. Boehner. 

And its not about giving the government back to all the people.

It was what it's always been about for Speaker Boehner and that's about securing the levers of power for the large financial interests including the insurance industry that underwrite and manipulate Boehner and his henchmen. 

Boehner cried today, faux tears in my opinion, but we'll all be rubbing our eyes and crying for real if this nation doesn't demand that our congress govern instead of campaign for 2012.

John P. Flannery

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Budget cuts cause workers to scramble.

In today's New York Times, in a story titled "States Seek Laws to Curb Power of Unions,"we have Governors across the country talk about cutting salaries and pensions for public employees.  Such a spectacle of preference.  Our public officials won't sacrifice the income of the very wealthy in a tax - not even 3 percentage points, not some compromise either, say 1 1/2 percent.  Instead, they bow and scrape to those who fund their campaigns and allow them to perpetuate themselves in their phony baloney jobs. They take it out of the hides of working men and women.  They compromise their pay and their retirement and their ability to bargain for better when they can act together.  Now doesn't that just make your blood boil? 

John P. Flannery