Friday, July 07, 2006

... having your cake and eating it, too

I remember learning the “rules” for caring for, and flying, the United States flag. We sixth grade kids were absolutely afraid we might let the flag touch the ground whenever we were chosen to lower it and take it to the janitor’s dingy office in the basement after school. Letting the flag touch the ground would violate one of the rules of flag decorum. And we watched our partner carefully, fully prepared to tattle if he let the flag droop onto the soil.

Another example: on a vehicle, the flag shall be firmly clamped to the right front fender. It is not to be flown from a radio antenna nor are decals of the flag permitted on windows or bumpers. Nothing is said in the code about more than one flag flown from a vehicle. Perhaps the code was adopted in less ostentatious times. At least less affluent ones.

We kids learned that the flag should never be used as apparel. Flags as t-shirts, bikinis, shirts, sweatbands, or on the back of a Hell’s Angels leather jacket, for example, are not approved. I wonder today about those flags sewed onto flight jackets of air force pilots. One might also make a case that flag lapel pins are a violation of that “apparel” guideline.

Another guideline says the flag is not to be used in any way to advertise. “In any way.” The code also prohibits the flag to be used as a costume. I guess uniforms are not, technically, costumes, unless worn by someone not actually in the military. Perhaps standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

The cynical side of me also sees that little flag lapel pin as a costume, as well as a kind of advertisement. I’ll even bet it does not have thirteen stripes nor fifty stars. That means it is an inaccurate representation of the nation’s flag, a fake. Another violation of the code. And it is probably also a product of China or Japan. The code does not address foreign made U.S. flags, but perhaps it should.

The code states the flag is not to be carried flat or horizontally. Does that not prohibit draping Old Glory over a coffin and then carrying it horizontally from the battlefield to the warehouse to the church to the cemetery?

A cake decorator’s representation in frosting of the flag is also a multiple violation of the code’s statements against the flag as decoration, being represented horizontally, and represented with fewer than thirteen stripes and fifty stars, unless the decorator globs fifty bits of white frosting in the blue frosting field. Which is doubtful. I am thinking now of the news clip of the cake with a frosting flag on it presented horizontally to the President in honor of his sixtieth birthday.

The President and his guests ate our American flag!

How are we directed by the code to dispose of a flag no longer serviceable? Well, it is not to be eaten. It is to be burned. Really.

Now those items of the flag code were all set forth as guidelines, and strict adherence to them has been held unconstitutional in every case. Some of my objections are rather silly, except that they are truly violations of the existing code suggested for proper flag decorum.

The recent one-vote loss of the Senate’s proposed amendment against flag burning is obviously a case of the loser legislators having an emotional and political agenda different from prohibiting the actual burning of a piece of cloth. The Senators may not even realize what their agenda is. They probably all wear those phony Chinese made flag pins as decorative advertisements and apparel. And they have witnessed many violations of the flag code and probably have been guilty of dishonoring the flag in other ways, at least according to the code. Some may have been invited to help the President eat that flag on his cake! No, it is not flag code violations they are against.

It must, therefore, be the political statement represented by flag burning that inspires the administration’s anger again this election year. And I can’t remember when the last such flag burning demonstration occurred in America. But never mind that.

It is the free speech statement such action may represent in our land of no longer wholly free speech which rankles the Senators. They and others wanting to divide the voters into wrapped-in-the-flag conservatives and the rest of us are against critical political statements. But first amendment rights allow that. And so far, the courts have sensibly ruled that flag burning demonstrations are a type of political comment.

So, since dissent is what some neo-cons really want to stamp out, they need a Constitutional amendment against the political statement that flag burning may represent!

If it were really honoring the flag, which the administration wants, then the proposed constitutional amendment would also address the other ways the flag is dishonored, according to the flag code of our past. A great place to start might be to prohibit foreign made, tin lapel flag pins. And flag bikinis.

Also outlawed as dishonoring the Stars and Stripes would surely be frosting flag decorations for the President and his friends to eat with their cake!

~ ~

On another matter, here is a quiz item suitable for inclusion in a David Letterman bit. On what occasion, and by whom, was the following said?

“There can be no excuse for anyone entrusted with vital intelligence to leak it – and no excuse for the newspaper to print it.”

Not FDR warning against loose lips sinking ships in 1942. Nor Nixon speaking against the publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Viet Nam conflict.

Oh, you say it was said by Bush when pledging to ferret out any administration leak of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative. Not quite, though he did say something rather similar at that time. He then pledged to find out who was the perp-a-traitor, and pledged that if it were a member of his administration, “he or she would be taken care of.”

We now know that it actually was administrative personnel, perhaps including Cheney himself, who “leaked/planted” the Plame name. And boy, are they being taken care of!

No, the statement is more recent. Yes, Bush said it; so you get partial credit for that. It was said in response to the NY TIMES printing information about the government’s computer ways of following terrorist money. That is the program Bush, himself, had bragged about shortly after 9/11, and since, as proof that he was doing something about terrorism. A program we Americans and the terrorists all knew existed.

Being outraged about it now seems rather obviously designed by the Presidential Uniter to stir the conservative base and divide the nation at mid-term election time. A little like stirring the ultra-conservative base with an emotional regurgitation of the proposed flag burning amendment. Or railing against same sex unions as if they were a threat to “the sanctity of marriage.” (The biggest threat to the “sanctity” of marriage is divorce, but, so far, no one is suggesting an amendment prohibiting that.) Read the Bush quotation again, remembering the Plame revelation as you do.

~ ~

One more comment: Bush buddy, Kenny boy Lay, died. After being found guilty, but before he was sentenced for his part in the Enron shenanigans and bankruptcy. The local paper printed a Lay quotation the day after he died. I wonder if those who believe as he claimed to believe are thinking about it.

Lay said, “I firmly believe I’m innocent of the charges against me. We believe that God, in fact, is in control, and, indeed, He does work all things for good for those who love the Lord.”

I’m not sure who “we” includes nor the purpose of the “in fact” and “indeed,” but if Lay meant that he and his supporters are the “we,” then, in fact, and indeed, those of them who love the Lord must be wondering about Kenny’s death being God’s work for good. Are you listening, Pat Robertson? Will you claim this was the Lord smiting an evil doer?

~ ~


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"perp-a-traitor" Marvelous coinage!

7/07/2006 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Tomtomtommy said...

I see you are back at it making your points with a humorous slant and a laugh. Rev. Robertson will get you. Keep it up.

7/08/2006 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so right about the reason for the proposed anti-flag-burning ammendment. It is emotional hype designed to give the neo-cons something to shout at the Democrats about instead od debating the failures of their administration.

7/08/2006 6:58 PM  
Anonymous juggernaught said...

I agree! They want to tramp on anyone who questions or argues. That is how all despots get started. Read your history. They sneak up on the populace with laws and lies until they have the power. Even Hitler was voted into all his offices and eventually was made absolute leader.

7/09/2006 7:43 AM  
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