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Legislating Patriotism?

Friday, May 05, 2006 1:24 AM

First Lady Laura Bush gets top billing today with her amazing flip-flop in under 25 seconds. While on CNN's The Situation Room, host John King asked Mrs. Bush about the national anthem issue.

Mrs. Bush promptly said, "I don't think there's anything wrong with singing (the national anthem) in Spanish."

But when King pointed out President Bush's remarks about the Star-Spangled Banner needing to be sung in English, Mrs. Bush reversed her position, affirming, "I think it should be sung in English, of course."

In all fairness, the two sentences are not contradictory - there's nothing wrong with singing the national anthem in Spanish, but it should be sung in English. But it's much easier to say what you mean in the first place.

There's no reason folks should not be able to sing the Star-Spangled Banner in Spanish. Period.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee feels otherwise.

Note, however, the language of Alexander's resolution, which reads, "... statements or songs that symbolize the unity of the Nation ... should be recited or sung in English, the common language of the United States."

That definition is far too broad and shows the inherent foolishness of trying to legislate such things.

Also from the Fiddling While Rome Burns Department is yet another chest-beating, oooom-pa-pa resolution for a Constitutional Amendment.

Senate Joint Resolution 12 proposes the following: The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

While I personally find the act of burning the flag a disturbing statement, making it illegal is the equivalent of ignoring a festering wound. It is when people choose to make such a strong statement that they should be encouraged to speak openly and freely, so that their reasons can either be refuted or affirmed - rather than to brood over resentments and perceived wrongs ascribed to the flag.

And frankly, President Bush has done more to desecrate the symbol of the American Flag without lifting a finger. (Yes, I'm still on about the whole torture-secret prisons-illegal wiretap thing.)

There's a certain irony in having Vice-President Dick Cheney criticize Russia for having, "... unfairly and improperly restricted," people's rights.

This is the same Dick Cheney who argued that we should have had a secret and warrantless wiretap program before 9/11, which, of course, might well have prevented 9/11 - the raison d'etre for the secret wiretap program in the first place.

This is the same Dick Cheney, who, in being party to the secret order for same, circumvented the Constitutional protections afforded through the 4th Amendment.

Mr. Cheney, your credibility when it comes to observing the rights of the people is nil.

Finally, the military released supposed outtakes of a recent video by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in an attempt to portray the terrorist as a bumbling dweeb who needs helpers just to handle a rifle.

It seems to me al-Zarqawi is effective when and where it counts - in the planning and execution of attacks on our men and women in uniform. Or was the Pentagon lying when it attributed 90% of 'insurgent' attacks on American forces to terrorists under al-Qaeda's banner?

Of course, if al-Zarqawi is an oaf and a klutz, it's only a matter of time before we bring him to heel, so we can, like, move on to The Most Important Strategic Challenge in the Middle East: Iran.

This is the same cranial-rectal alignment that had the Bush Administration dismissing Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda as irrelevant. We'd cut off their funding, captured significant portions of their leadership. It was time to move onto Ground Zero in the War on Terrorism: Iraq.

For a president whose rhetoric has often included reminders about how this would be a long battle, the Bush Administration is showing a surprising lack of patience and focus.

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