Category Archives: Patriotism

Wearing a representation of the American flag on your clothing is NOT patriotic, especially when done for spite

Am I the only person who has a problem with how flippant wingnuts are about the American flag?  Today they are flipping out about some kids who got kicked out of school for the day because they were wearing clothing with the American flag on it — on Cinco de Mayo.

I say kick them out every day — for being disrespectful to the flag.  Here’s a repost of my rant about this from earlier:


March 31, 2007 · 2 Comments · Edit This

Today I had to drive off into *Bush* Country — the suburbs around Houston — in the hopes in the rain of finding my family at an Easter Egg Hunt (there’s a side story about a kitten to this adventure that I’ll write about later).  Driving down the center street in the city that claims bragging rights to being the Birthplace of Texas, a truck pulled up beside me with what must have been some 10′ 2×4′s in its bed.  Usually if something like lumber is sticking out of the back of a truck, a bit of red ribbon is tied to the end sticking out — so drivers will notice the unusual extension of space the truck is using and therefore the following vehicle won’t burst its radiator.  This *patriot* that was driving the truck had an American Flag hanging off the lumber in the back of his truck.  Like I said, it was raining and the streets in Bushville were dirty and this geinus had an American flag hanging off a 2x4s in the bed of his truck.

Let’s step back a bit to get the feel for my reaction.  My mom has always been one to latch onto the majority trends.  She’s probably never had an original thought.  (She’s afraid of computers, so no chance she’ll ever read this.)  When I was in junior high school (’70′s), it was very popular to embroider blue-jean colored shirts.  Much like charm bracelets, one’s mom individualized the embroidered shirts.  My mom stitched an American flag on mine.  I wore it to school  one day and one day only.  I didn’t get sent home, but the assistant principle told my mom that it was disrespectful to wear the American flag on my clothing.

Fast forward to 2001.  After 9/11, people in this country had American flags everywhere.  I remember going to a dinner party at my friends’ house.  The wife is from here, her husband is Russian.  She worked for a firm that did a lot of business in the former Soviet Republics, and so there were mostly Russians at the party.  One Russian guy asked me why Americans started putting flags everywhere — their cars, their houses, their clothes — after 9/11.  The only explanation I could give — and I was still devastated from what had happened –this was shortly after 9/11 and before the invasion of Iraq – was that people wanted to come together — that the U.S. mainland had never been hit from outside before.  Having lived in Latvia, I then pointed out that the former Soviets have a strong tradition of displaying flags — more so than here — and that if Russia had been hit, Russians would have done the same.  (Remember, this conversation took place before the attack in Beslan.)

I don’t fly a flag at my house.  If I ever do, most likely it would be a Texas flag, not a U.S. flag.  No, I’m not one of those crazy people who want to secede, but my heart is always with Texas.  I do wish that Texas could have had enough money back then not to have been pressured into joining the U.S. and that we could have ended slavery without a war.  Yeah, I have these dreams — fantasies.

I’ve gotten off track.  My point is that people do things with flags that could be interpreted to be disrespectful all the time.  What is the difference between burning a flag and using it to signal the end of a 2×4 and in the meantime dragging it through the mud and rain?  Or wearing it as a bathing suit and sitting on it?  Or wearing it on your shirt?

I would never do any of that with either the American flag or the Texas flag.  Which pisses me off more?  If someone did it to my flag.  Texas, always Texas.

Here’s an idiot, just for fun.  I see he’s begging again.


Dylan Gwinn from Local Traffic Reports to Big Time Talk Radio

I finally found this guy on the intertubes.  He’s done traffic for KTRH and has a you tube channel for his traffic videos.  His blog is nonexistent (you could buy if you want). He hasn’t done anything on his website for 2 1/2 years.  He does have the St. Ronny worship covered, as well as his liberal hate on.

(I’m listening to him right now — he’s full-tilt Obama is the problem, everything is his fault.  He’s also got a pretty good white man whine going about how he can’t speak his mind or that people knew about the shooter at Fort Hood yesterday couldn’t say anything to stop this before it happened.  Also, there’s the predictable anti-Muslim nonsense.)

Here are the podcasts from his show from yesterday (November 5th 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.).  For whatever reason, they couldn’t get his name right.  He should look into that.

Two things to listen for:  from the first hour — towards the end– Gwinn reads from an article about a mayor who suggests paying people not to have children as a solution for problem parents.  “AN outspoken Kiwi politician has proposed a new solution to the country’s child abuse problem – pay the “appalling underclass” not to breed.”  After a rambling and convoluted rant connecting this mayor’s suggestion to “death panels” and health reform, he states that he doesn’t know where Kiwi is. (rim shot)

The second thing:  from the second hour — right at the beginning — a woman calls in bellyaching about how President Obama started giving his closing remarks to a Native American Conference at the White House instead of immediately talking about what had happened at Fort Hood.  The woman is so pissed that she gets everything wrong (she thought he was talking about the health care bill, and that he was praising people working on health care).  Gwinn doesn’t check his facts, but jumps in with both feet and ad libs outrage.

Later on in the second hour he responds to a caller pointing a finger at the private companies making the flu vaccines as having some responsibility for the delays in getting them out.  Gwinn turns around and tells her, no.  It’s Obama’s fault because he ordered single dose vaccines instead of double dose and that’s what slowed everything down.  This is nonsense.

(Gees, here at the end of his show, he’s accusing liberals of hating America.)

So, my critique of what I heard, Gwinn is scattered — and stale.  He’s just regurgitating the same old things and even the way he deals with callers is typical.

Oh, great.  Now Michael Berry is on to continue with the white man whine about political correctness.  And he repeats his statement from yesterday that people should be cautious and wait for the facts to come in about Fort Hood, which he did do, but only after trying to get the journalist he interviewed first to SPECULATE more than once.

And I’m going to turn him off because he’s already said that he’s going to concern troll the President about how he handled his “press conference” yesterday (which WASN’T A PRESS CONFERENCE dumbass).

That’s the Ticket!

It’s a very good thing that our friend Kathleen is only in charge of a household and a blog and not the economy or the war effort in Afghanistan (or even foreign policy as I pointed out earlier).

On the economy, she has a post up about the deficit.  Her source is a blog post at the  American Enterprise Institute which has a pretty graph that was cooked up supposedly using OMB numbers, but there is no link to any specific OMB report(s).  The graph makes George W. Bush look pretty bad, given that it also includes the Clinton surplus.  But it makes projections for the Obama administration look horrible.  But that’s the point, right?  There’s no indication whether Obama’s ban on accounting gimmicks (piker, indeed) is calculated into the Bush numbers or whether the sunset of the Bush tax-cuts-during-two-wars are part of the graphic.

But unskeptical Kathleen runs with it:

Maybe THIS is why we protest now and not under Pres. Bush?

She’s still fooled by gimmicks.

In the long run, spin can only go so far. People can look out their doors and see what is happening to our economy.

Really?  In the Woodlands?  In my neck of the woods, we are holding our own.

The Labor Department will release the September unemployment report on Friday. It’s probably no coincidence that Pres. Obama is out of the country that day, deciding on a whim to go help out Michelle get those 2016 Olympic games for Chicago.

She just had to get in a dig about the Olympics.  I’m surprised that she didn’t go as far as Bill Kristol and telegraph possible travel to Afghanistan to the Taliban.

And today she realized that she’s just done with the Afghanistan war and has become a peacenik.  Oh, not really.  She’s just throwing a temper tantrum and wants to take her ball home.  She was never really into the NATO led military action in Afghanistan anyway.  She got her charge from the mostly US led actions in Iraq (which is telling). Again she sees President Obama as reactionary.  On top of that she doesn’t understand the chain of command and that bypassing General Petraeus (one of her heroes!) is not the way this sort of thing works:

When the news got out that Pres. Obama had only talked to the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan ONCE in the last 70 days, they quickly put together a conference call. This is a President that has no interest in war. Who doesn’t believe in ANY war.

He has no business leading one.

I see.  That last comment is followed by another surprising comment — given that Kathleen supported the surge in Iraq and would presumably remember how long it took in 2007 to get more troops into Iraq.  But no:

43 U.S. troops have died since Gen. McChrystal called for reinforcements.

How many U.S. troops died while the surge was is process?  How many Iraqis died in 2007?  Her memory is so short she should be tested for Alzheimer’s.  The last insult?

we need to bring our boys and girls home

I watch The News Hour every day and This Week every Sunday.  I see the military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan each time they pay tribute to them.  I stop what I am doing and pay attention — pay tribute.  They are not boys and girls.  Kathleen is not old enough to patronizingly call them “boys and girls.”  Perhaps she feels free to write that sort of thing because no one in her family, including herself, have ever served in the military.  To her it is just a game, or a petty way to make a political point.

Town Hall Meetings and Conceal Carry

Linkless post for now, but I’ve just got to say that any politician who holds a town hall in Texas is just crazy.  Looking at the Doggett video made me cringe.

And today, the wingnuts — Kathleen and Michael Berry — just raise the crazy to an unbearable level.

It’s a toss up whether FLA or TX will be the first place that a politician gets threaten with a gun (and hopefully survives it).

I get it.  Lots of people are sour about the election results — more this time than last.  Just CALM DOWN please.

Among Other Things, This is Your Problem, Republicans (or conservatives or little “l” libertarians or whatever you want to brand yourselves today)

So this poll comes out and it shows that President Obama is getting good scores from the American people.  The first thing you do is analyze it based on race— if you are a good conservative, one who is described as “brilliant” on talk radio and always up for an interview.

If you want to put out a manefesto for your dying party, you compare apples to oranges.  And by the way, I agree with Kathleen that all of her kind should get behind the Libertarians.  Just looking at their responses to the League of Women Voters  guide each election cycle shows that they are in the same place. I’m guessing she doesn’t know anything about this.  Were she a PUMA, she would likely lean toward Larouche.

If you are a program manager of a radio station that only really has the local baseball team to support your revenues, and your whiney ass is off the air, as is your weekend tag teamer, then I guess you fire people. 

Both Kathleen and Michael Berry say they aren’t racists, but my goodness they approach that line almost every day, either through ignorance or design.

I’ve found it quite easy to avoid being called a racist all my life.  I’ve also never had to defend myself on the legality of torture.

Funny how that works.

Chilean Ghosts : The Other 9/11

by Roberto

Until that dreadful morning in 2001, September 11th was significant as the
date of another, equally terrible event.  The military coup led by General
Augusto Pinochet, which overthrew the government of Salvador Allende,
began on September 11th, 1973, and plunged Chile into the darkest period
of its history.  As with the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, I will
always remember exactly where I was, and the sickening feeling of
disbelief which I experienced.

I had just begun my first semester at UT Austin, and was in a classroom a
few minutes before 8 a.m., waiting for our Intro to Geography class to
begin.  A student seated a little in front of me was glancing thru The
Daily Texan, the UT student newspaper.  Over her shoulder I read the
headline: Chilean Coup D’Etat – President Allende Dead.

This was of course long before the Internet and I, along with some others,
had to wait until the evening news before I could learn more than what was
skimpily provided in that day’s newspapers.  Even then, standing in a
packed room at the Catholic Student Center, there was little enough in the
way of concrete information and that erratic trickle would go into total
blackout shortly after.  It has taken years for the reality of those first
days, weeks, and months of the Pinochet dictatorship to come to light, and
even longer for the grim facts to sink in.

I first heard the name Salvador Allende in 1963.  My dad was the American
Consul General in the northern Chilean city of Antofagasta (‘large town’
might be more apt, but it seemed a city to me  at six years old big is
big).  Antofagasta is on the Pacific coast, edged in by the great and
ancient Atacama desert.  The posting was then considered what the State
Department calls a ‘hardship post’, not through any danger of disease, or
marauding bandits, or primitive living conditions, but, as my dad was fond
of saying, because ‘the place is as isolated as the dark side of the

The diplomatic community was patchily represented in Antofagasta, unlike
in Santiago the capital, where every nation and its dog had an embassy, or
even Valparaiso, a deep-water port which was vital from a trading point of
view.  By contrast, Antofagasta was a frontier town, and although it was
the largest population center relative to the extremely important copper
mines in the northern swath of the desert, and was also the headquarters
of the Army’s Division del Norte, then, coincidentally, commanded by one
Augusto Pinochet, our lovely town had not a lot to recommend itself on the
world-theater.  Besides my dad, there was a British legation, along with
the consular representatives of Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and Belgium.
Yugoslavia was also represented in the person of an ‘honorary consul’, who
ran a woman’s dress store and occasionally dropped by our house for a game
of chess.  Incidentally, the term ‘honorary consul’ is universally
considered a more high-falutin’ way of saying that the honoree is someone
who has gone native.  In other words, Yugoslavia’s official representative
had married a Chilean woman, had settled down with a home and a business
and had no earthly intention of returning to Europe.

On the particular day when I first learned about Salvador Allende, my dad
was driving me and my two older sisters out to a site in the Atacama
desert where an astronomical satellite station had been established a few
years earlier.  It was a tiny site, manned by three young Americans from
NASA and occasional colleagues from the Chilean Meteorological Institute,
with visitors from Japan and Australia, among others.
There is a stunning number of stars visible in the skies of the Southern
Hemisphere, far more than are visible in the Northern half, and in the
dead of a cloudless night, out in the flat lunar landscape of the Atacama,
the sky would have been an ocean of brilliance.
My dad was taking the NASA guys a number of care packages, mainly American
snack foods, cigarettes, beer, and, according to my oldest sister, who’d
peeked, several copies of Playboy magazine.  I can’t imagine that Playboy
would have been for sale in any of the local bookstores, nor in the many
kiosks which sold cigarettes, candy, and calendars of the Catholic holy
days.  Had the magazines been sent from Santiago by top-secret diplomatic
pouch?  It’s funny to think so.

My family lived in a house directly behind the Consulate building, two
blocks from the ocean, and so the drive clear across town seemed fairly
long, but exciting since it was something we’d never done before.  Maybe
my dad was trying to keep us from getting bored but as we climbed into the
car he devised a game for us to play as we drove along.  He assigned each
of us the name of one of the three Chilean presidential candidates who
were campaigning in the upcoming election.  My oldest sister called dibs
on Eduardo Frei, leader of the Christian Democrats and considered a
centrist-moderate on the US-model; I was assigned Miguel Lopanzo, a
conservative candidate whose name was regularly and affectionately
mispronounced as ‘Lapanza’, ‘panza’ being slang for stomach or gut,
which fit the man, who was something of a barrel; my other sister got the name
of the candidate for both the Socialist Party and the Worker’s Union
Alliance, Salvador Allende.

As instructed by my dad, we were each to keep count of every poster,
banner, and campaign sign which we saw on our trip across town.  Much to
my oldest sister’s delight, Frei took an early lead as we drove through
the downtown district, but Lopanzo began to catch up in the suburbs.  My
other sister was disappointed but as we drove towards the outskirts of
Antofagasta, through the working class district and on into the poor
neighborhoods, crowded with tiny structures of corrugated tin and
cardboard and tires, the posters for both Frei and Lopanzo disappeared
completely and there was nothing to be seen but the name of Salvador
Allende.  Across a number of facades and power lines one could also see
wordless and imageless red sheets, which, had we asked, could have been
added to my sister’s tally as signs of support.

As we went on into the desert my dad and my sisters had a general
discussion about politics, most of which was far over my crewcut head.  I
do remember my dad telling us that all over the world, poor people didn’t
get much help from their governments, and that was why they relied on the
Church and also why they often looked to the Socialists and even the
Communists for hope.

I knew my parents had voted for John Kennedy and they had taken us to see
him speak at an open-air auditorium in Caracas, Venezuela, during the
goodwill tour of Latin America shortly after he was elected.  Beyond that,
I was a truly empty vessel, with a child’s unwavering allegiance to Texas
(where my dad was from and where my aunts and uncles and grandmother lived),
to Poland (where my mom had been born), to England (because I was in the 2nd
grade at the Antofagasta British School and we sang ‘God Save The Queen’
each morning before class), and to Chile (because that’s where we lived and
where our cats and stuff stayed).

On a deeper level my dad’s personal politics were very much out of the
classic Kennedy mold.  Quite liberal on the social issues of the day:
civil rights for Blacks in the American South; strong labor unions,
hopefully corruption-free; a deep and mocking distrust of Big Business.
He could be especially sarcastic about the advertising industry (and not
just the American version) and would comment rhetorically about radio or
TV commercials: ‘What exactly are they trying to sell me?  Happiness and
good looks or a washing machine?  Eternal youth or Coca-Cola?”  But his
true love and interest was in the world of international affairs.  and
there he was a prime example of the Cold Warrior wing of the Democratic
Party.  He believed that it was the moral duty of the United States to
fight Communism throughout the unaligned Third World.  In later years he
and I would have long and unresolved arguments about the monstrous nature
of many of the regimes the US supported, simply because they toed the line
of ‘better dead than Red’.  By the same token, he was extremely conscious
of the American tendency to cross the line from patriotism into fascism,
and was moved by the wistfulness of some of his older colleagues who had
lived through the Red Scare years of the early 50s, shortly before he
himself joined the Foreign Service.  These older officers had witnessed
the hounding out of many brilliant fellow civil servants from the State
Department, including some of the most astute scholars of both the Soviet
Union and China.  This anti-intellectual streak which had always been a
boasted-upon hallmark of the Republican Party was something which
profoundly disgusted him.  He was as familiar with the writings of Marx
and Lenin and Fanon and Guevara as some atheists are with the Bible.  How
else does one learn to know one’s enemy?

Allende lost the election of 1964 to Eduardo Frei but won in 1970.  His
was not the first socialist government to be democratically elected in
Latin America (if one counts the Mexican government under Lazaro Cardenas
in the late 1930s), nor was Allende’s regime the first to be overthrown
with US-supported brutality.  That dubious distinction goes to Dr. Jacobo
Arbenz, president of Guatemala until his ouster in 1954, in an action that
had less to do with Guatemala than with the CIA’s desire to test various
theories of media deception, crowd control, and infrastructure sabotage.
In a perversely similar pattern, disciples of free-market fanatic Milton
Friedman, the so-called ‘Chicago Boys’, would descend on Chile at the
invitation of General Pinochet and the military dictatorship, in order to
use the prostrate and cowed population of Chile as their own little
laboratory, testing out the more radical aspects of a capitalist ‘shock’
economy, without the annoying distraction of having to listen to the
unhappy voices of the many who fell to the margins or through the cracks
into poverty.

Until that September day in 1973, Chileans had proudly held up their
history as a civilized alternative to what happened in neighboring
countries.  A military coup was something that one expected from
Argentina, or Peru, or Bolivia.  But in Chile?  It was unthinkable.

And so, on each September 11th, from now until the day I die, I will
remember two tragedies.  The one that was televised for all the astonished
world to see and the one that happened at the other end of our shared
hemisphere, when one country which I love betrayed another, smaller and
humbler country, which I also love.

Shopping Smart

Murphy went through a phase of peeing on my bed.  I cleaned it every time.  I read on some answer forum that he is at the age that that sort of thing happens.  He seems to have stopped, but out of an abundance of caution, I ventured out today to buy waterproof mattress covers for both my bed and the guest bed.  I first went to Anna’s Linens.  It was all ‘Made in China,’ so I moved on to Sears — where I should have started in the first place.  I got 3 U.S.A. made mattress pads — two waterproof and one to cover the twin bed box spings.  I also got new sheets made in Pakistan for both beds.  The seven totaled up to less than $200, so I was happy.

Last week, I ordered an evaporative air cooler, and it arrived today.  It was easy to set up.  Put it in the window, add water, and open a window opposite the cooler.  It’s working — better than I had expected.

The technology is not optimal for the climate here in Houston.  Evaporative air coolers work much better in dryer climates.  It’s the type of AC my grandparents had in West Texas.  That said, it does cool the place down, which is what I was looking for.  I am looking for ways to avoid running any A/C.

So far it has been great — since about 7 p.m.  We will see how it works tomorrow.

Oh, and it was made in the U.S.A.

Remember, I’m not a flag wearer.  I’m just someone who is trying to NOT buy anything from Mainland China.

Pictures will be up tomorrow.

And maybe I’ll get I am Legend.  We’ll see.

A Barbaric Circle Made Complete

From the NYT via memeorandum — The plan for interrogations at Gitmo orginated from the methods (which the U.S. classified as torture) used by Red China on U.S. military personnel during the Korean War — which btw — resulted in mostly false confessions from said personnel.

So, let’s get this straight:  The Red Chinese tortured U.S. military personnel during the Korean War.  The torture results in false confessions, i.e. admitting to the U.S. using germ warfare, among other atrocities.  These men were later interviewed and they detailed what was done to them.  The military then incorporated this information into SERE training.  Then the Bush Administration decides that it would be a good idea to use the same techniques our government had long claimed was torture on detainees at Gitmo.

One more time — to just pound it home — The Bush Administration took torture techniques from Red China,  known to have produced false confessions, and used them in some completely misguided attempt to get TRUE confessions from the detainees in Gitmo.

These ‘techniques’ aren’t lawfully used by the DoD anymore, but Bush made sure the CIA still can.

I’m sure that the genius who came up with this thought something along the lines of, “Well the Chinese didn’t get it right, but we can!!!!”

A “fun” factoid from the article — these are the same techniques used by cults to brainwash initiates.  That’s just great. /sarcasm

 Added: Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly  + comments

‘I don’t want you here, I don’t like your political views’

That’s what a man, a veteran, said to Quanell X this morning at a gym, and then pulled a 5″ knife out.

From the article:

Ratliff, 37, faces a charge of making a terrorist threat, a class B misdemeanor. If convicted, Ratliff could face up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Ratliff is being held in the Brazoria County Jail on a $10,000 bond.

This made me think of something I read earlier today.  From Kathleen:

I love the fact that we can disagree in this country without violence.

Perhaps a qualifier is in order.  Its seems that some of us can, others, not so much.

Rumsfeld, the Statesman

Or so says The Claremont Institute.   Get your tickets now!  Buy your way to a “Churchill Table” for only $10K.  For $25K, I think you get dipped in liquid gold or get to sit next to Rummy.

Odd, I was looking up links for a post about Somalia when I found this.  Imagine that — there are people in this country who think someone will pay $25K to have dinner with Donald Rumsfeld.  And those people are correct.  What will The Claremont Institute do with all that money?  Whatever they damn well please, I suspect, and given that Bill Bennett is part of it, I would also guess that it will fund ways to make patriotism part of the November 2008 election.

Personally, I think questioning a fellow American’s patriotism is passe at this point.  Once you arrive at the conclusion that the only patriots are those who agree with you, you’ve pretty much run out of territory.  By drawing the lines closer and smaller, you define yourself as a minority.  Honestly I’ve never thought of calling any of my blogosphere foes nor people I interact with on a regular basis un-American.  I’ve never thought they were.  It’s such a reactionary thing to do.  When you have no argument, that’s where you go.  Bennett has often said that he believes the next election will be about patriotism.  It may well be for his side of the aisle, but for me, I’ll choose the person I vote for based on their policies.

Seriously, it’s like voting on the basis of who is a dog.  Dora is a dog.  Tammy is a dog.  They are different.  Dora has done some stereotypical dog-dog things in her life — and most are nasty.  Tammy, not so much.  Is Tammy not a dog?  That’s where the patriotism argument is at this point.  It’s as if in dog-world you don’t sniff butt.  Or lick up your own vomit (or try to).  Or bury things in the yard.  Or kill some creature you hate.  (Dora does; Tam doesn’t.)  What makes one a dog?  What makes one a patriotic American?  Wearing a flag lapel pin?  Wearing a flag shirt?  Wearing flag speedos?  Signing your autograph on an American flag?  Buying a red, white and blue or yellow ribbon-shapped magnet from China?  Representing (to international students) your country, state and city 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, year after year,  by your actions?

Dora and Tammy are alike in one fundemental way — they both love their chewies.   Watching them tear up those beef puffs truly gives me pleasure.