Friday, October 05, 2007

My attention flags

Pinning your hopes on appearances

Oh, dear. Senator Barack Obama chooses not to wear a lapel pin depicting Old Glory. That proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the junior senator from Illinois hates America—if, that is, you're a cretin, a raving loony, or a Republican. (Please excuse my redundancy.)

Ever since the grotesque spectacle of George Herbert Walker Bush's nonstop “Pledge of Allegiance” campaign of 1988 (which, unfortunately, worked), a surfeit of faux patriotism has become de rigueur for GOP candidates. Many Democrats became compulsive flag-wavers in self-defense. It has really been done to death. I'd like to argue that flag aficionados should give it a rest.

I realize it is mostly a waste of time to offer evidence to people whose minds are so made up, but I can't resist the temptation to provide a brief photo album in support of the proposition that flag pins are an infallible sign of moral corruption. Let's begin with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. Look at his shiny lapel pin and his shiny smile. It's the shiny smile of a lawyer who made excuses for torture conducted by American interrogators. It's the shiny smile of a man who argued that all civil liberties are subject to the will and the whim of the president. It is the shiny smile of slime.

Here's another grinning politico. It's Larry Craig, outgoing (in every sense of the word) U.S. senator from Idaho. Craig is smiling as he raises his hand to swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Or perhaps he is just saying, “Hello, sailor.” Craig was snared, as we all know, in a tea-room trap in the Minneapolis airport. If the police officer led him on, it was entrapment. If the police officer let the senator make the first move, then it was probably just a case of misplaced priorities. Unless bathroom solicitations have escalated to the point of being a genuine public nuisance in Minnesota, it seems a poor use of police resources to have someone on potty patrol. On the other hand, it is exactly the sort of thing that Sen. Craig would have enthusiastically endorsed. The toe-tapping hypocrite is hoist by his own petard. Nice smile, though. Very welcoming.

Larry Craig was a major catch, but Republicans are ready to provide the sex police with small fry, too. One such small fish—although generously proportioned—is a Florida state representative. Bob Allen says he is innocent of soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. Frankly, I believe him when he says he did not intend to solicit sex from a cop. He undoubtedly thought he was chatting up a civilian-type person. Oops! See Bob's shiny lapel pin. He keeps it that way by rubbing it. It's a double pin, which doubles his pleasure. He wears a wedding ring, too, but that doesn't inhibit his activities any more than the flag pin does. Bob Allen isn't smiling right now because smiling limits his ability to speak out of one side of his mouth.

Former Republican congressman from New York, John Sweeney, had some problems during his 2006 campaign for re-election. His wife accused him of beating her. It's obvious that Sweeney failed to keep that bitch sufficiently disciplined, and it cost him. The voters in his district decided to toss him out, despite the fact that he wore a nice flag pin, thereby proving he was a loyal, God-fearing, patriotic American. He has a solid-looking wedding ring, too. Did he strike his wife with his ring hand? That could have left marks that would later be noticed by criminal investigators. I hope Sweeney has learned to be more careful!

The surprising thing about David Vitter is that he has yet to be implicated in any spousal abuse, although in his case I suppose one could say it would be justified. However, his devoted wife has yet to beat the crap out of him for his dalliances with hookers. Vitter is reportedly into activities that cost a little extra and most spouses find repugnant, so let's give the Republican U.S. senator from Louisiana some credit for sparing his wife's sensibilities. Vitter wears his little flag pin with pride because he's not a low-life like his fellow GOP senator Larry Craig. Craig, after all, cruises bathrooms for boys, while Vitter supposedly prefers diapers with girls. The other men in the Republican senatorial caucus in Washington are much more willing to clasp Vitter to their bosom than Craig, much to the latter's disappointment no doubt.

Here's another nice double-flag pin. It's affixed to the lapel of Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky. Soon Ernie will no longer be governor, perhaps because he's set a record for using his powers of executive clemency to grant pardons to members of his administration. It was necessary, though, because otherwise he might have set a record for the number of convicted felons who worked for him. He's certainly out of the woods as far as that is concerned. And Kentucky Republicans are the forgiving sort of people willing to give an embattled governor a chance at a second term by renominating him. It's only fair, since he hasn't been convicted of any crimes yet. Too bad his Democratic successor won't be giving him a pre-emptive pardon.

Two final examples will clinch my argument that flag pins are the stigmata of corruption. See the smiling Dick Cheney? Dick has a secret. He knows that his little flag pin represents a doormat on which he likes to wipe his feet. He smiles because the joke is on you. He wears the flag like an upright patriot, but the only “patriot” he cares about is “Patriot Act.” Please don't complain about its trampling of civil liberties and due process—that would be unpatriotic and Dick would have to punish you. He'll manage to keep smiling, too.

Although smiling is an unnatural act for Dick, he winks at unnatural acts when they're performed by his friends or family. (Anyone else can go to prison.) That's the kind of genteel man Dick is. Hypocrisy is one of his family values.

This is Dick's friend George. George has a flag pin in his lapel and a little flag to wave. See the expression of concentration on George's face? He can't smile right now because he is completely focused on waving the little flag back and forth. George does smile sometimes, though. Like when Dick tells him he's been doing a good job. George likes it when Dick tells him he's been doing a good job, because otherwise he would have no clue at all. Not a bit.


maths teacher said...

Hey, nice blog! I like the Bush countdown... keep believing.

(From a fellow teacher over the water.)

Anonymous said...

The other night I watched Penn and Teller burn a flag on tv to celebrate "the freedom that flag represents". A nice act. Especially for a Swede, because American patriotism is alien to us. We would never dream of being proud of our country, at least not while anyone's watching. And even those of us who DO feel a certain amount of pride that we live in one of the healthiest, most secular countries with one of the lowest crime rates in the world, even we don't care about the flag. The Swedish flag is something that goes on embassies and next to red cottages in the countryside. Which is why we view American so-called patriotism with more than a pinch of distaste.

Ah, culture clashes.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Flag-waving (and -wearing) is a nice symbol. Unfortunately of late it has become a substitution. If you wear the flag and capitalize Homeland and Nation and Patriot, why how can anyone doubt your motives and your actions?

As Sinclair Lewis said:

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

enigma4ever said...

perfect.....metallic patriotism....worthless little pins measuring what ?...great post..

Anonymous said...

Wonder where those flag pins are made?

Zeno said...

Thanks for your comment, Ralph. I can't tell whether you're a clever satirist or a genuine right-wing idiot, but it doesn't matter. Your stuff is comedy gold. I especially love the use of ALL CAPS and the climactic screaming of "No ideas," as if that is itself an idea. Brilliant.

That guy said...

Nicely done.

Oh, and I especially love the "baseball-hate" and "william-kristol-hate" gag. Ralph is either a very funny guy or a complete loon.

Anonymous said...

To Felicia Gilljam: This was EASY. What's with all these nice Swedish people and their flags?

Cris Seligman said...

Oh, I think I like William-Kristol hate. I work in an industry (O mighty blogger, you reportedly were in that industry as well before teaching) where we were required to wear ribbons or the flag pin immediately after 9-11. Some of us didn't think we needed to wear it, having other ribbons and medals we'd earned in the armed forces. We figured we'd already demonstrated our patriotism and didn't need to make a stupid point with a 50-cent flag pin. We were forced to wear them anyway or suffer suspension or discipline...what a wonderful country! I guess I have "flag-pin-hate" as well. Fantastic blog you have here...keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Like I said in response to the same youtube video someone posted in a comment to my own blog, there's a bit of a difference between a minority of xenophobic jerkheads waving flags once or twice a year, and the whole nation being pretty much required to wave one on all sorts of occasions. The american flag seems to be everywhere all the time. In Sweden it's nearly become a symbol of racism.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I like the way Ralph loses track of his pronouns (You can't...because they can't). Unless he means liberals can't handle the truth because Republicans can't think, of course.

But no, I'm sure he didn't mean that. That would have been "we can't think". And he didn't need to say that in so many words, did he?