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Burning Questions

1984: Joey Johnson, a communist rabble rouser, went to Texas to protest Reagan administration policies at the Republican National Convention. He and his comrades trashed their protest route, spray painting and vandalizing businesses. One of them pulled an American flag from its pole along the way. At the Dallas city hall, Joey lit that flag on fire.

Common sense would suggest that everyone in the group should’ve been arrested for their various antics. But that’s not how things work in America. Only Joey Johnson was arrested-because of what he did to that flag. You see, Texas had a law about destroying “venerated” symbols and representations. He was convicted, and received fines and remanded to a year in prison.

Yes, back then you could get majorly busted because you disrespected a piece of cloth. Johnson and his lawyers appealed the conviction, and after upholding and turnover by lower courts, his case went to the Supreme Court. They ruled in Johnson’s favor, citing first amendment concerns regarding his right to free speech. Even Antonin Scalia, who was never much for extending rights that offended his sense of originalism, concurred that flag burning is symbolic speech.

1989: Congress passes a new version of a flag protection statute. This did not survive a Supreme Court challenge.

1995-2006: Every session of Congress tried to pass a flag desecration amendment. Failure. It would have been the most bizarre use of the Constitution since Prohibition, the only time it was used to limit freedom and action.

So it’s settled. Now, it has been pointed out to me that just because something is settled case law doesn’t mean that good jurisprudence has been applied. We can look at things like Dred Scott or Plessy and know this to be true. But it seems like there is no judicial or political will great enough to stop someone from burning the flag. Personally, I agree with the courts-it’s just a flag and if you are not proud of it, you don’t have to respect it. That is your right in what is ostensibly the freest country in the world. A lack of patriotism is not a crime. Now of course that offends certain sensibilities because the first thing some like to cite when getting enraged about disrespect for the flag is that so many soldiers died fighting under the colors for “freedom”. I’m a veteran who wore the flag on my shoulder and I think that argument is garbage-it should be fairly clear to anyone with an acquaintance with the nearly unbroken string of wars we have participated in that we are rarely, if ever in it for freedom’s sake. Start by asking the Indians and work your way up to Iraqis to find out how we do freedom. I asked the Iraqis. They were fucking pissed, because in removing Saddam Hussein, we scorched that country with ruthless destruction and the whole country fell apart as a result. You will remember that primary targets were infrastructure in our “shock and awe” campaign, and I still don’t think they can keep the lights on all day in Baghdad. We know well now what Iraq was really all about-selling off the country’s resources to the oil companies and enriching friends of Dick Cheney.

Anyway:

November 29, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump tweets that flag burners should lose their citizenship and go to jail.

What the everloving fuck? Where did that come from? Is this occurrence an impending epidemic that requires a statement from the guy’s who’s going to run the planet? Did someone torch a flag in public lately?  Trump must’ve seen this story on Fox. I mean, I know Trump’s a born again fascist and he’s really enamored of the colored cloth as you can see here:

Donald Trump

Yeah, I can’t believe he’s gonna be president either. I’m revulsed and shocked by this bizarre hypernationalistic display, not to mention how it showcases the president elect’s  mental juvenility by hugging a fucking inanimate object. And  the bitch of all this is that it’s not the flag he cares about, it’s why the students burned it-because of his win of the presidency. And like a whiny ass titty baby, his thin skin couldn’t take the affront.

In the wake of the tweet, the media has gone in a few directions with interpreting it. One popular reaction is to stop paying attention to Trump’s online behavior because it is a red herring deployed to get us not thinking about what he’s really up to with his controversial staff and cabinet picks and his conflicts of interest that show that Trump is out for nothing but to enrich himself. I don’t think this theory holds much water-there is ample journalism available to watch Orange Caligula lose his head on social media and point out that his advisers are maniacs, lackeys, and deregulation freaks as well. Highlighting both paints a more complete picture of this fucking nutbar. Another strain of thought is that he is working on undermining the media by bypassing it, and this makes it very difficult for journalists to fight against that because you’ve got a self reinforcing rightwing news system(of which Fox is a large part of) that will report anything this idiot says. And when straight journalism tries to undo the lies and misinformation and just plain lunacy, he can say that the media is biased. Believing Trump’s tweets are a great way to have shit for brains and never have any real information, but some people, namely 1/2 the country like it. But the point is that it becomes harder for journalists to do the persuading that needs doing because Trump’s conditioning people to not listen. Ominous, eh? However, I don’t think Trump is smart enough to know that he’s declawing the press by lying and making up things that they will find false and therefore show their bias. He’s as much a victim of the phenomenon of instant communication as we all are, where any unexpurgated brain rot can be shared with hundreds of thousands of people.

As for me, I think it just makes him look like the ill-informed, oversensitive caveman he is and we should broadcast his dribblings far and wide in the hopes that the Electoral College will save us.

Hah! I’m kidding, the electors are morons appointed by the parties. Good fucking luck with that. Good fucking luck to us all, we’re gonna need it. I picked a terrible time to stop drinking.

burning-american-flag250.jpg

UPDATE: Mitch McConnell says that Donald Trump can eat his unwiped asshole if he tries to bring the flag burning issue before Congress. Mitch Fucking McConnell, who busied himself subverting the Constitution nearly all of this year by withholding advice and consent from President Obama on the Court vacancy, is on the correct side of this issue. And his disinterest in Donald Trump’s brain droppings remains even as he prepares to make McConnell’s wife part of the Cabinet. I look forward to these two weasels fighting each other in the future.

Sorry About My State

This is not quite in my backyard, but it shows that racism is not dead. I think that should be obvious by now, given all the pushback on the rebel flag and the daily murders of black people by cops. Well, some yahoo got creative with his bigotry:

The owner of an “eclectic” art gallery in Macon, Georgia took down the Confederate Flag flying outside the business this week — and replaced it with a World War II-era Nazi flag.

According to WGXA Channel 24, the gallery SEVEN on Second will be flying the Nazi flag for a week.

Owner Anthony Harris told the TV station, “I just want people to realize that it’s a flag. Don’t get so much in an uproar about it; it’s good to have a conversation about it; it’s good to address it, but there’s no need to want to kill someone over it.”

I have a question for the flag suckers-if it’s not so important, why are you making a big deal about it? You’re allowed to fly any flag you want, you know. No one has stopped you, you are protected by the First. But to just do something egregious and antagonistic and then claim it’s no big deal is bullshit of the highest order. You are not impressing anybody, you are not making a salient point; you are not funny by any stretch of the imagination. You are a fucking mouth breathing scumbag and I hope that someone vandalizes your projection of racism and hate. Because while the government can’t prosecute you, you’ll find that some people are going to react viscerally and jack your shit up.

Once again, America, sorry about that.

 

Twisted History

What the fuck happened in Oklahoma when the president showed up?

OKLAHOMA CITY — Confederate battle flags greeted President Barack Obama as he arrived here for an overnight stay on Wednesday.

Across the street from his hotel in downtown Oklahoma City, as many as 10 people waved the flags as his motorcade arrived. The group stood among a larger group of demonstrators, many of them there to support the president, who is in town ahead of a visit to a federal prison on Thursday as part of his weeklong push on criminal justice issues.

Wow, Oklahoma. That’s some fine citizenry you have there. I’m utterly gobsmacked.

OK. A couple of things:

#1: Oklahoma was Indian territory at the time of the Civil War.

#2: Barack Obama didn’t have a blessed thing to do with the fervor surrounding the confederate flag. Those were local decisions made at the behest of angry citizens.

It should be clear that this is some serious racist bullshit. But this story has a twist:

According to local news organizations, a man named Andrew Duncomb, who calls himself the “black rebel,” organized the Confederate flag demonstration. He also put together a similar protest on Saturday at the Oklahoma State Capitol — just a day after South Carolina removed its contested flag from the State Capitol grounds.

So one ignorant-ass oreo cookie organizes this shit and suddenly it isn’t racist. Yeah. Pull the other one. There is no reason to wave the southern rebel flag in Oklahoma other than to make a show of hate against a black figure in power, if you consider the bullet points above.

Or, perhaps you aren’t a fucking idiot and can figure out what this is for yourself.

Making Up History

It’s a bad week for “history”. Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma is pitching a fit that her precious statue is going bye-bye, and South Carolina relinquishes its clutch of the confederate battle flag to its bosom.

It’s been a wild couple of weeks. This country’s social fabric, often sewed with malice, is tearing in all the right places.

Time Has Come Today

I am glad it took only 48 hours or so before Nikki Haley and Lindsey Graham did a complete volte-face on the confederate flag issue. It must have been a difficult decision, because to remove it in the wake of the Charleston shootings meant that South Carolina politicians have admitted that it is a symbol of hate and that they could not pretend that it wasn’t anymore. So I give high praise instead of razzberries for Haley, Lindsey et al. South Carolina’s decision to lead is having ripple effects across the South. “Serious” Republican candidates, sensing safety now that SC has capitulated, rushed to bag on the flag. Other pols who have nothing to lose are digging in their heels, whining about “state’s rights”, which itself is also an old way to excuse provincial racism. But the trend suggests that Southern figures of prominence see no advantage in continuing to kowtow to the racists in their home states.

Dylann Roof has accomplished exactly the opposite of what he intended to achieve with his rampage. He’s brought people together instead of starting his race war. He forced the conversation on race that the plethora of white, trigger happy cops doling out summary judgment upon blacks could not.

It’s a good day to be an American. We haven’t heard the last of the racists, but we’ve forced the weasels to stop hiding in plain sight.

South-Cackalackee Style

What is it with fucking flags?

Why do we clutch them to our hearts? I just don’t get it. I don’t pledge allegiance to mine anymore. I think it inspires the worst kind of jingoism, something for the lower mammals amongst us to hang on to when they are scared, confused, and angry.

As much as I can’t stand scraping to a piece of fabric, I nonetheless remain partial to the United States as my home sweet home. I served it for 9 years. I must make that clear.

But what do we do with the Confederate flag? How can that thing still fly on public buildings after all we went through to defeat the ideas that it represents? Even Texas gets it. But South Carolina doesn’t. That fucker was still flying high when the US flag went to half-mast after the Charleston shootings.

I know, right? Here’s Nikki Haley on the radio:

HOST: There are also calls today that you have to take the Confederate flag down from the state capitol. How do you address those calls?

HALEY: I think that…at a time like this, you have to look back at what we’ve done. Fifteen years ago the General Assembly at the time they had a conversation. The Republicans and Democrats and everybody came together on a consensus to bring the Confederate flag down off of the dome. And they put it on a monument out in front. I think that conversation will probably come back up again. And you what we hope that we do things the way South Carolinians do. Which is have the conversation, allow some thoughtful words to be exchanged, be kind about it. Come together on what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re trying to do it. I think the state will start talking about that again. We’ll see where it goes.

Word salad. Pure nonsense. Look out Sarah Palin, you have competition. Moving on:

HOST: But what’s your position on the issue?

HALEY:You know, right now, to start having policy conversations with the people of South Carolina, I understand that’s what ya’ll want, my job is to heal the people of this state. We had a 26 year-old that just graduated college. We had anywhere from a 26 year-old to an 87 year-old grandmother. You had a track coach.You had a librarian. This is very real to us. […] There will be policy discussions and you will hear my come out and talk about it.But right now, I’m not doing that to the people of my state.

So it’s necessary to keep the flag flying because it will hurt the fragile white people of South Carolina. Governor, you have citizens, not children. You are not the mommy of South Carolina, hon. You’re afraid to make an unpopular decision because you know damn well you will be chased out of office by the cracker-ass goobers that you govern.

Haley was not the only South Carolina leader to be stupid on this issue:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who hails from South Carolina and is now running for president, has come to the rebel flag’s defense. According to Graham, the Confederate flag is an integral “part of who we are.”

Although Graham acknowledged to CNN the flag has been used to push racist agendas in the past, he said “the problems we have in South Carolina and throughout the world” do not stem from symbols, but because of “what’s in people’s heart.”

Inquiring minds want to know-please define “who you are”. I know for damn sure the blacks in your state don’t want to be included in this club. Symbols have meaning to some, and that particular symbol represents racist pride. Don’t even pretend that there isn’t an issue here. But god forbid you should lose the low-com-denom vote.

Being a leader takes courage. Nikki Haley chooses to prevaricate instead of acting like one. And Lindsey Graham has no excuse whatsoever. He’s got the gall to run for president. Who would trust a pandering jellyfish like him to attend to the nation’s affairs?

Join the new century. Stop living in 1861.

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