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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Comments

As you may have heard, the vote in the Senate happened today, and the ammendment failed. And while I'm happy that it failed, it is hard to celebrate much because it failed by just one vote. So there are 66 Senators who voted for it, and I'm guessing most of them know it is wrong but feel like they have to strike the right, patriotic, political posture.

Results are available here:

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

My Senator, Wyden, voted against it, as did Boxer. But Feinstein and both the NV Senators, and the other Oregon Senator, Gordon Smith, all voted for it. Shameful.

[Ed. Note: Link added above for convenience]

Phriedom, I couldn't agree more. Of course by now the Senate resolution has been defeated, as it was bound to be, since this was nothing more than mere grandstanding for election year purposes. Pathetic.

I happened to catch the C-SPAN recording of part of the debate yesterday, with Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy taking opposing views. Fascinating to watch (I've put the congressional record PDF here if you want to read the full text).

I was particularly struck by Specter's rambling about his experiences sitting on the Veterans' Affairs Committee:

"The veterans, with some substantial justification, repeatedly made the point at our hearings that they were not treated right for the sacrifices they had made; that when it came to compensation and disability, the Nation which has called upon them to fight wars and sustain wounds and sustain loss of limbs, comrades who have given their lives, the Nation was not very appreciative or grateful or didn’t reciprocate with the kinds of benefits to which the veterans thought and think they are entitled to. It is a continuing battle, given the budget limitations."

So, instead of actually HELPING our veterans, you know, treating them right and all... we're instead debating trivial (and frankly, disrespectful) measures like this flag burning amendment. Please, somebody, buy Specter a clue!!!

Contrast that with this quote read by Patrick Leahy, from a letter written to him by Colin Powell, on the subject of this amendment:

"We are rightfully outraged when anyone attacks or desecrates our flag. Few Americans do such things and when they do they are subject to the rightful condemnation of their fellow citizens. They may be destroying a piece of cloth, but they do no damage to our system of freedom which tolerates such desecration. . . .

I understand how strongly so many of my fellow veterans and citizens feel about the flag. . . . I feel the same sense of outrage. But I step back from amending the Constitution to relieve that outrage. The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous.

I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will still be flying proudly, long after they have slunk away."

I can't imagine a more appropriate, powerful, and eloquent summation of exactly the right position to take on this inane amendment. Bravo to General Powell! (Or would it be Secretary Powell? Not sure of the proper protocol there...)

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