Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Flag Burning Amendment Loses by 1

Thank goodness. The flag burning amendent fell one vote short of the 67 required to send it on to the states tonight. Madison’s ghost will sleep a bit more soundly tonight.

Comments

  1. #1 kehrsam
    June 27, 2006

    What I don’t get is that free speech is an intrinsically conservative position, as well as classical liberalism. So where does the vast majority of support come from, can this country really have that many fascist-wannabes running around?

    There is something about elction years that requires brains to be turned off.

  2. #2 Karl
    June 27, 2006

    “…can this country really have that many fascist-wannabes running around?”

    A speech that Walter Shurden gave at the Baptist Joint Committee luncheon last week contained this:

    IT CAN HAPPEN HERE

    Let me tell you why I believe it can happen here, this idolatrous mixing of church and state.

    It can happen here because “Generation Joshua” is loose in our country. Have you heard of “Generation Joshua?” It is an effort by Michael Farris, founder of Patrick Henry College, to turn Christian, home-schooled students into political foot soldiers to gain political power in order to subsume everything — entertainment, law, government, and education — under their right wing version of Christianity. Like Joshua of the Hebrew Bible, Generation Joshua’s job is to possess the land, to conquer the land, or, in the words of the religious right, “to take back the land.” And, according to Michael Farris, in the spring semester of 2004, Patrick Henry College had more interns in the White House than any other college in the nation. It can happen here because of a religious right-wing militancy.

  3. #3 Chance
    June 27, 2006

    The baptists, despite the southern version creationist bend, are generally solid onthe seperation of church and state. The American Baptists are a very solid religion as a whole.

  4. #4 Rob Knop
    June 27, 2006

    What I don’t get is that free speech is an intrinsically conservative position,

    Once upon a time the Republican party was, or at least advertised itself as, the party of individual liberty and fiscal responsibility.

    Now it’s the party of homophobia and creationismm, and that’s how it advertises itself.

    -Rob

  5. #5 Sexy Sadie
    June 27, 2006

    Score one for free speech!

  6. #6 wheatdogg
    June 27, 2006

    Generation Joshua, huh? To get a taste of what these means, check out this blogsite, http://www.therebelution.com, run by two brothers.

    They’ve been following the Brittany McComb hoohah and have posted the text of her speech and her thank you letter to her supporters. They’re behind her all the way. The rest of their site fits the Generation Joshua scheme pretty closely, too.

    For example, they link to Albert Mohler’s blog — Albert Mohler! He’s the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one really cool dude who’s down with the whole teen scene.

    Generation Joshua has left progress behind. God help us.

  7. #7 Spike
    June 27, 2006

    Where do we get the list of the votes, so we know who to dump.

  8. #8 Spike
    June 27, 2006

    I found it:

    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00189#state

    Look how many D’s there are in the “Yeah” group!

    Three R actually stood up for liberty.

  9. #9 kehrsam
    June 27, 2006

    I imagine most major news sources will have the votes. The GPO does a great job also of getting out the Congressional Record, generally before 10am the next day. Go to http://www.gpoaccess.gov/crecord/index.html

    And search for flag burning. The vote should be the top item in the morning.

  10. #10 kehrsam
    June 27, 2006

    This whole issue is playing with fire, and far too many of the players don’t take it seriously. Speaking from personal experience, in the late 1980s the issue was a statute, not an amendment. I was working for a Democratic member of Congress at the time, and he voted for the statute, on the grounds that 1) it made the Amendment unnecessary, and 2) he was counting on the Supremes to pull his nuts out of the fire, as Scalia (!!!) later did.

    As Mark Steyn (of all people) recently argued, it takes a strong flag to put up with protests. I don’t recall anyone burning Switzerland’s flag within living memory — for good reason. As long as America stands for something, there are those who are going to protest, and sometimes use the flag symbolically in that protest. For all I know, I’ll be one of those protesters.

  11. #11 Bill from Dover
    June 27, 2006

    If ya can’t burn the flag, it doesn’t stand for what it used to. If it is against the law to burn it, it ain’t worth the effort in the first place.

  12. #12 richCares
    June 27, 2006

    we have a lot of problems we need to solve so why do we waste on this amendment. I asked a rightie how many flags were burnt in protest this past year. He named 6 but all 6 were overseas (Palestine,Pakistan,etc.) He could not name any in the US. OK, I understand, no one burnt a flag so we need this amendment. Evidently flag burners don’t seem to exist.

  13. #13 PaulC
    June 27, 2006

    Spike: Thanks for the link. I can’t help wondering what is the problem with Dianne Feinstein. She’s got a safe seat. She always likes to look tough on security, but for crying out loud this is not security; it’s a bogus non-issue. Even Biden and Lieberman voted Nay.

  14. #14 Kele
    June 27, 2006

    Well, that’s good news. Both of my senators voted nay, one Dem and one Repub. At least Dayton (the Dem) is resigning.

  15. #15 Keanus
    June 27, 2006

    It’s always useful to judge people by the company they keep. In the case of flag burning the only countries in the world that ban it are Cuba, China, Iran, and, perhaps, Beylorussia. Perhaps there are other similarities between our current administration and the party in control of Congress and those countries. If there are, we are in a heap of trouble and more than Madison is rolling over in his grave.

    Let’s hope this is the high water mark for this political insanity.

  16. #16 Maldoror
    June 28, 2006

    By ONE????? Pyrric victory if you ask me…how can there be democrats voting for that?

  17. #17 dogmeatIB
    June 28, 2006

    It’s utterly horrible that this amendment failed by only one vote. Combine that with the fact that teenagers last year voted to suspend most of the 1st amendment and we literally have a terrifying assault on our first amendment rights. While I am happy that my old state (WI) voted Nay/Nay, I am equally disenchanted that my new state (AZ) voted Aye/Aye on this one. I don’t fool myself with this one, I live in redneck land, but I will fight this one … well hell, I’ll fight for 1st amendment rights regardless…

  18. #18 sixteenwords
    June 28, 2006

    Maldoror…

    …how can there be democrats voting for that?

    Ask the Swift Boat Veterens for Truth, they may be able to help you out.

    Or, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of nay votes came from Democrats, to the point that some will lionize the three Republicans that didn’t vote nay, you could ask Ed “Republicrats” Brayton. He’ll tell you they’re all the same. Failing that, he’ll just imply it.

  19. #19 Bartholomew
    June 28, 2006

    Maybe they should have taken the health and safety angle:

    A WELSH flagmaker last night issued an urgent safety warning to Muslims who are buying up his Danish flags to torch in cartoon protests.

    …he warned, “It has to be pointed out though that a number of modern flags are now made largely of polyester and when they burn they melt. That means if they are whirled around by a protester, his or her fellow protesters could be splashed by flying pieces of burning material. If it got into the eye it could do serious damage so we are about to issue a warning to this effect on our website.”…

  20. #20 Corkscrew
    June 28, 2006

    “Generation Joshua”??? Come on, there’s such an obvious way to reframe this:

    Generation Judas, backstabbing Christianity for political goals.

  21. #21 Pinchbeck
    June 28, 2006

    Generation Joshua. It only takes half a brain to realise that the Xtian right is pushing the US ever closer to the edge of a very slippery slope. Don’t like immigrants? Okay, then tighten visa controls to the point where academics have trouble getting into the country. Don’t like lefty intellectuals and all their god-hating evolution crap? Okay then, dumb down science teaching. Tech R+D is a big chunk of what makes the US money, and this lot are going to royally fuck it over for you. All these Josh Gen pricks can have as much political aspiration as they like, but very few of them will ever make the country a red cent. Thses people will send your country down the dumper, and the secular, tech-savvy Chinese will be rubbing their hands with Asian made glee.

  22. #22 Abel PharmBoy
    June 28, 2006

    Lovely…now we can just get back to debating the writing of discrimination back into the Constitution instead.

  23. #23 Mark Paris
    June 28, 2006

    Freedom and liberty: in order to save them we had to destroy them.

  24. #24 Bill from Dover
    June 28, 2006

    Somewhere – Afghanistan perhaps – a very tall Arab is rubbing his hands and chuckling.

  25. #25 Ed Brayton
    June 28, 2006

    sixteenwords wrote:

    Or, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of nay votes came from Democrats, to the point that some will lionize the three Republicans that didn’t vote nay, you could ask Ed “Republicrats” Brayton. He’ll tell you they’re all the same. Failing that, he’ll just imply it.

    I’m sensing a pattern here. Every comment you’ve left on my blog has been pretty much identical in content – snide, sneering, and sarcastic, but not actually coming out and making an argument. It’s quite annoying. If you think I’m wrong about something, come out and say it and we can discuss it. These little shots you seem to enjoy so much are just an irritation and will only result in you being shown the door.

  26. #26 kehrsam
    June 28, 2006

    Check out the WaPo tale of the tape on this one. There are some interesting splits in the vote.

    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/109/senate/2/votes/189/

    I like that they allow sorting by astrological sign, seeing how relevant that is to the discussion. My fellow scorpios were the only sign to vote against.

    Oops, did I just provide Commissar with fresh ammunition?

  27. #27 PaulC
    June 28, 2006

    Without getting snide about it, I do think that the term “Republicrats” is belied by nearly everything that has happened since Bush took office. It was halfway plausible in 2000, but it strikes me as quaint today.

    That doesn’t mean I like my own party very much. If current Democratic leadership somehow (and I don’t see it yet) won control over the elected branches of government, the result would neither be very inspiring, nor would it solve many of the severe, systemic problems of our aging Republic. On the other hand, they’d at least keep the crappy status quo going and throw a few crumbs by maintaining a somewhat functional public sector.

    Republican leadership has as its occasionally stated goal to completely destroy the public sector (Norquist’s “drown it in the bathtub”) with the exception of that most bureaucratic of all bureaucracies, the military. For the super-rich, there is no need to rely on public infrastructure–you can be as happy in a banana republic as in a functioning country if you can afford bodyguards, transport by helicopter, private water purification and power generation. For the rest of us, we can sign on as corporate lackeys and rely on their largesse. If that fails, we can hope for the crumbs of charity offered by whatever theocratic ersatz is offered in lieu of well-conceived social services.

    The Weimar Republic was also a joke, but that in no way made it the moral equivalent of its successor.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve passed 40, but my rallying cry these days is “Hooray for the crappy status quo. Let’s keep it!”

  28. #28 Jason Kuznicki
    June 28, 2006

    The question every legislator must ask, when attempting to protect the country from a perceived danger, is as follows: How does this perceived danger actually threaten our liberties?

    People burning American flags don’t threaten anyone else.

    Indeed, burning a flag pretty much declares that the person performing the act is a loser with no real capacity or even motivation to do anything more serious. That these people can so terribly knot up the republicans’ shorts is perhaps their only virtue.

  29. #29 Ed Brayton
    June 28, 2006

    PaulC wrote:

    Without getting snide about it, I do think that the term “Republicrats” is belied by nearly everything that has happened since Bush took office. It was halfway plausible in 2000, but it strikes me as quaint today.

    I’m not so sure that’s the case, and let me explain why. First, because many of Bush’s bad decisions have come out of the Democratic playbook. For example, the boondoggle of a Medicare prescription drug bill that is going to cost us hundreds of billions of dollars. That’s a policy that the Democrats would generally support, and the only reason many resisted it was because it was proposed by a Republican president. Likewise with the protectionist tariffs on steel and other products – Democrats have historically been for them and Republicans against them. Same with the campaign finance reform bill and the vast increase in spending on farm subsidies.

    Second, many of the historically Republican proposals that we object to with Bush, like the Patriot Act and all of that, were almost unanimously approved by Democrats – and more importantly, Clinton wanted those same powers in the early 90s and was turned down by a Republican congress that objected. Clinton wanted roving wiretaps and administrative subpeona power and much more (almost everything that later made it into the Patriot Act) in 93 and 94 and was rejected, but back then it was mostly Democrats in favor of them (though not all, some were consistent in their opposition) and Republicans opposed to them. So it becomes pretty difficult to sustain the argument that only the Republicans are a threat to our constitutional liberties. Indeed, as most libertarians rightly said in the 1990s, Clinton was the worst president for civil liberties since Nixon – until now, of course. So while there may appear to be a stark difference right now on the matter, bear in mind that Democrats crave the same kinds of power when they occupy the White House and that they voted overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress to give that power to Bush. So when the Democrats claim that they’re the party of civil liberties, I don’t think the contrast is quite as stark as they would like us to believe. Are they a bit better when it comes to civil liberties than the Republicans? Probably. But it’s not as big a difference as they pretend it is. And when it suits them politically, most of them will happily switch sides in the debate.

    Republican leadership has as its occasionally stated goal to completely destroy the public sector (Norquist’s “drown it in the bathtub”) with the exception of that most bureaucratic of all bureaucracies, the military.

    Then how do you explain the vast increases in spending on Medicare, on farm subsidies, and the like? I think it’s important to separate what conservative ideologues might say they want from how they actually govern. And the fact is that each party, when they actually hold all the power, tend to govern like the worst of both parties. The Republicans have no intention of blowing up the public sector because that vastly bloated Federal bureaucracy provides enormous opportunities for transferring our tax dollars to the corporations that fund their campaigns. Both parties require a huge bloated bureaucracy because that’s how they pay off their campaign debts and pay back their benefactors. That’s why they’ve ramped up the farm subsidies by nearly 1000% since Bush took office, because it’s corporate welfare to pay back their benefactors. That’s why they passed the energy bill and the medicare bill, because it included vast transfers of wealth from middle class taxpayers to the energy companies and pharmaceutical companies who fund campaigns (and they do so for both parties).

    The one place where there is a clear difference between the two parties is in the constituencies they have to pander to in order to stay in power. The Republicans have to pander to the religious right and that’s the scariest prospect to me. That concerns me more than anything else. So in that regard, I would much rather have a party in office that is beholden to someone other than James Dobson and his followers. But enough to support the Democrats? Only to the extent that it divides power, because if they had control of both branches the way the Republicans do, it would reinforce their worst tendencies as well. I’m all for divided government as long as have to have a two party system.

  30. #30 PaulC
    June 28, 2006

    Ed Brayton:

    Then how do you explain the vast increases in spending on Medicare, on farm subsidies, and the like? I think it’s important to separate what conservative ideologues might say they want from how they actually govern.

    I agree that there is a wide discrepancy between theory and practice, particularly when there’s an opportunity to use other people’s money to bestow gifts to prospective voters.

    However, my take is this. Who do I want in charge of the public sector? Is it the bunch that concedes its importance without hesitation and promises to take care of it, or is it the bunch that says it’s a lot of useless bureaucracy and should be done away with. Even if in practice, neither is going to do away with it, it strikes me as perverse to assume that the best results will come from the gang proposing to do the most damage.

    You and I may also disagree on the role of the public sector. I don’t believe in runaway spending, but I do think that there are often efficiencies in well-conceived public solutions that are not replacable by privatization. I consider privatization a tool and not a goal in its own right. Let’s look at each problem and determine empirically whether it is best solved by markets or by central planning.

  31. #31 Spike
    June 29, 2006

    PaulC wrote: Let’s look at each problem and determine empirically whether it is best solved by markets or by central planning.

    I think that’s a great idea, too. Is there a blog/db where we could meet and start doing this right now?

  32. #32 Ed Darrell
    June 29, 2006

    There is an enormous difference between a group of people who agree with the superordinate goals of an organization running it as if it were a useful tool that is worthy of preserving in order to keep doing noble work, and a group of people who regard the organization’s goals as bad and the organization as inept, running it to gain popular approval. Democrats make government work for people; Republicans make government work for votes, disbelieving in the goals of government in the first place.

    Mr. Brayton said:

    First, because many of Bush’s bad decisions have come out of the Democratic playbook. For example, the boondoggle of a Medicare prescription drug bill that is going to cost us hundreds of billions of dollars. That’s a policy that the Democrats would generally support, and the only reason many resisted it was because it was proposed by a Republican president.

    The Republican devils are in the details. I think Democrats supported the Republican plan in order to get something into law, but the Republican plans from the start were designed to fail. The goal of the Republican plan was to rein in costs; the goal of the earlier plans was to deliver pharmaceuticals to older people who could not otherwise afford them. That may seem like a subtle difference, but let me offer real world examples. Many company health plans do not offer measles vaccines, on the rational calculation that few people get measles, and at $33.00 a pop, that’s an unrewarded expense. But, were there to be a measles epidemic (such as we had in the late 1980s to early 1990s), one or two measles cases with complications would explode spending, were there a category for “measles.” One company I worked for spent over $100,000 for one case of a kid with complications who needed hospitalization. It would have cost the company less than $5,000 to inoculate all eligible kids in the company. It would have cost less than $10,000 to inoculate all uninoculated kids in Dallas County preventing the epidemic here. So it would have been dollar wise for any one company in Dallas County to have paid the bill for the county public health officials to have the tools to vanquish the disease. But the goal was to not spend money, and if there hadn’t been that nasty epidemic, the bean counters would have complained about the $10,000 expense.

    In health care, the only way to save money is to have good health. The Republican pharmaceutical plan does not work for good health, but instead for minimum government expenditure in the first couple of years in order to assure votes for Republicans. In the long run in will cost a fortune and fail to achieve health goals, but we know that. The hope for most Democrats was that a rational person would be elected following Bush, to fix the plan. That hasn’t happened, disaster still looms.

    Mr. Brayton said:

    Second, many of the historically Republican proposals that we object to with Bush, like the Patriot Act and all of that, were almost unanimously approved by Democrats – and more importantly, Clinton wanted those same powers in the early 90s and was turned down by a Republican congress that objected.

    A good case can be made that Clinton should not have had the powers, either, but again there are demons in the details. Do you think the Republicans would have stood for Clinton failing to use the warrant processes for searches, in any condition? Were Bush to simply follow the U.S. laws, treaties, and international law, most of the difficulties with the PATRIOT Act fade away.

    We are a government of laws, not men, sure — but corrupt, stupid, evil or bumbling people can frustrate the best intended laws in a nation that depends on popular consensus to keep the government noble and good. A democratic republic doesn’t work when truly evil or truly stupid people manage to seize power, the founders well understood. It has been a blessing to our nation that most often we have not had completely evil or completely bumbling elected officials, especially presidents — and that we’ve had a lot of other noble people able to correct things when we did have them.

    There is no single, magic bullet to end our current difficulties. But to argue that things could not have been any better with a Democrat in the White House is to fail to appreciate the differences between a noble guy like Al Gore and someone who so closely resembles a functioning sociopath, as does George Bush. Bush does what is necessary to gain approval from the most people, all of the time, it appears. It appears he has no principals anyone can really point to, especially of any consistency through his life, other than doing only what is necessary to save his neck and have a good time. Anytime such a person is in power, there will be trouble.

  33. #33 kehrsam
    June 29, 2006

    Evry President since WWII has attempted to increase the power of the Executive branch at the expense of both the other branches and the public. The best thing that can possibly happen is for divided government, as we had under Reagan/Bush I and for most of Clinton’s term. If Kerry had been elected, yes we might be out of Iraq, but we’d be diving into Darfur or some equally godforsaken spot.

    As a lifelong Democrat I hate to say it, but Ed is right: WHile which interest group gets the most swag may change, the fact is some interest group will be getting the swag and the taxpayer gets the shaft. Democratic opposition to the Medicare givaway was not that it was a giveaway, but they preferred the largesse go to one wealthy interest group (seniors) rather than an even wealthier group (pharm companies and their stockholders — senior citizens prominent among them). Makes you proud to be an American.

    The extreme level of political nastiness we are currently witnessing can be explained by three factors. First, the Bork hearings did incredible damage to a bipartisan consensus on political debate, for good or ill. Second, DeLay decided that instead of sharing the nation’s wealth, it was all going to go to republicans (the K St Project). Finally, Fox News et al discovered that there is entertainment value in political theater and instead of merely broadcasting said theater, figured out that they could create it as well.

    Well and good, if you care for the politics of sharp elbows. There is a long tradition of that in this country as well. If you’re like me and believe that there is such a thing as the public good and enlightened public policy, not so good.

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