the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
Via Americablog, I see that Bush celebrated September 11 with a little flag desecration (a habit I’ve mentioned before). It still seems to me that if something is bad enough to require a constitutional amendment, it should be an impeachable offense.
Of course, the real question is whose idea it was to make a September 11 flag doormat in the first place. That sort of thing hasn’t gone over well with Republicans in the past.
The right-wing blogosphere has whipped itself into yet another delusion-based, spittle-flecked frenzy, this time over a puff piece the New York Times published in its travel section Friday about the vacation homes of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Glenn Greenwald has the details. It’s reminiscent of last year’s secret Islamic messages in the Flight 93 memorial, only scarier because it feeds into the extremist rhetoric the right has been increasingly using against journalists in general and the Times in particular — calling for treason prosecutions, life imprisonment, and even death. Now they’re actually saying the Times is working to help Al Qaida kill the secretary of defense and the vice president of the United States.
Today, Glenn follows up with a post titled “What is left of Malkin, Hinderaker and Horowitz’s credibility?” in which he reveals that Rumsfeld himself gave permission for the supposedly security-threatening photos to be taken. Presumably the next step is for Malkin et al. to claim that Rumsfeld has been subjected to advanced brainwashing techniques to get him to cooperate in a plot to kill himself.
Alas, the answer to Glenn’s question is that they still have just as much credibility as they ever did, but that won’t stop them from appearing on television.
Update (8:50pm): Yikes! The Times piece includes a bit of quaint history about Rumsfeld’s place:
The houses have names. Mr. Rumsfeld’s is Mount Misery and is just across Rolles Creek from a house called Mount Pleasant. On four acres, with four bathrooms, five bedrooms and five fireplaces, built in 1804, the Rumsfeld house is just barely visible at the end of a gravel drive.
Thomas M. Crouch, a broker at the Coldwell Banker office in town, says one legend attributes the name to the original owner, said to have been a sad and doleful Englishman. His merrier brother then built a house, and to put him on, Mr. Crouch supposes, named it Mount Pleasant.
But there is some historical gravity to the name, too. By 1833, Mount Misery’s owner was Edward Covey, a farmer notorious for breaking unruly slaves for other farmers. One who wouldn’t be broken was Frederick Douglass, then 16 and later the abolitionist orator. Covey assaulted him, so Douglass beat him up and escaped. Today, where the drive begins, Mount Misery seems a congenial place, with a white mailbox with newspaper delivery sleeves attached, a big American flag fluttering from a post by a split-rail fence and a tall, one-hole birdhouse of the sort made for bluebirds — although the lens in the hole suggests another function.
So Rumsfeld’s vacation house is the home of a 19th-century torturer — one who tortured Frederick Douglass? Rumsfeld isn’t responsible for former owners, of course, but it’s a bit, um, coincidental.
In the spirit of recognizing nonlame behavior from Democrats, let me say that I happened to catch Barney Frank (D-MA) on CNN’s Late Edition yesterday when it was rebroadcast on C-Span Radio, and he did a good job defending free speech. Two passages stand out.
First, Frank highlighted the selectivity of the Republican outrage about the recent story by the New York Times about the administration’s tracking of international financial transactions and the resolution the House passed condemning such stories:
As far as that’s concerned, clearly, let me give an example of the partisanship. In the Republican resolution, which they put through the House, not allowing us to amend it, not allowing us the kind of democracy that we’re fighting for in Iraq and Afghanistan, they cited a 1998 leak of how we were tracking Osama bin Laden. A terribly damaging one.
They didn’t mention who did it. Apparently it was The Washington Times. Now here’s the story. When The Washington Times, a very conservative paper, during the Clinton administration leaked apparently information or printed leaked information about how we were tracking Osama bin Laden, I don’t remember a resolution. I don’t remember a demand for going after that. So, apparently, when a conservative paper does it under a Democratic administration, ho-hum. Now, six years later, when a more liberal paper does it in a Republican administration, you get this.
I honestly, at this point, don’t know how serious the leak was. But I will say this. I have heard for some time now that we have been bragging about how we were tracking the terrorists’ financing. And I find it hard to believe that the terrorists, having read that we were tracking the financing, didn’t understand that banks were involved. Did they think we were sneaking in their caves at night and going through their pockets?
Peter King (R-NY) was representing the anti-free-speech side and reiterated his belief that the Times reporters should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917 — a position Greg Sargent has so far found no other members of Congress willing to support.
Later, the subject turned to the recent attempt to pass a Flag Protection Amendment to the Constitution, and Frank was able to tie it to one of the right wing’s recent targets of hysterical overreaction:
I think it’s a great mistake. It’s a failure to understand a very important principle. Support for free speech means allowing obnoxious people to do despicable things. And I’ll tell you, I can’t think of a rationale for arresting people who burn a flag that doesn’t cover those Muslims who wanted to arrest the Danish newspaper for running a cartoon that defaced and abused Mohammed.
I mean, are we saying that, well, it’s OK to degrade important religious symbols, but not a flag? You know, by the way, it’s often when people who burn a flag illegally, it’s got to be your flag. In Massachusetts, you can’t burn leaves out in the open because of purity in the air. So you certainly can’t burn a flag.
But the fact that burning a flag, that we would make that criminal, well then what is the difference between that view and those Muslims who wanted to shut down Danish newspapers? I mean, this notion, people said, well, free speech has limitations. Yes, you can[’t] endanger the safety of others. You cannot impugn, specifically, someone’s reputation with lies. But speech being offensive, that’s what free speech means. It’s very easy to be for the free speech of people with whom you agree.
King’s defense of the amendment was half-hearted and included the sentences “Obviously it’s not the most important issue facing the country” and “The country’s not going to come to an end.”
Keep up the good work, Barney!
With the Congress gearing up to amend the Constitution to partially repeal the First Amendment in order to address the grave threat of flag burning, Bush decided to take out a little time in Austria to scrawl his signature on American flags for some fans. This is a repeat of a flag-autographing stunt he pulled in 2003, for which there is photographic evidence:
If desecrating the flag is such an outrage, shouldn’t these Constitution amenders be drawing up articles of impeachment?
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