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It’s pander time-Live blogging flag amendment debate June 27, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Politics.

Live blogging as wind bags speak on the flag amendment, the breakdown of the debate on the Senate floor on Tuesday from 9:20 a.m. CDT forward. Each update tells who spoke, what time, for how long and the highlights of their speech. Watch for updates.

Quorum Call Tally: 7

Update: 9:20 a.m: Against-Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) (9:20-9:25 a.m.) Backdropped by nothing.
Jefford’s Main Points: I hate flag burning but . . . pandering Senators be damned, the Bill of Rights is fine as is.

Update: 9:28 a.m: For-Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (9:28-9:40 a.m.): Backdropped by a large reproduction of the Iwo Jima flag raising.
Feinstein’s Main Points: The flag is very special, I like it, vets like it. Iwo Jima made me go all willy-nilly patriotic. Don’t burn the flag.

Update 10:04 a.m: For-Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) (10:04-10:19 a.m.) Backdropped by an old school power point presentation on blue posterboard, easel included.
Hatch’s Main Points: Doesn’t ban flag desecration. Restores Constitution to its status before activist jurists changed it to allow urinating and defecating on the flag. Red and blue states want it, if there were white states they would to. (Oh, wait, that’s Utah, nevermind). Also provided numerous anecdotes of reported flag desecration.

Update: 10:19 a.m.:For-Sen Mel Martinez (R-FL) (10:19-10:30 a.m.)
Martinez’s Main Points: I used to take care of Cuba’s flag as a member of Little Fidel’s Warriors. Rights have limits, this ain’t no stinkin’ free speech, it’s the flag. It’s about the flag as a symbol of something special.

Update: 10:35 a.m.: Against-Sen Russ Feingold (D-WI) (10:35-10:47 a.m.) Feingold’s Main Points: It’s not okay to burn the flag, I hate flag burning so does everyone who is against this amendment. But even Nazis-Flag Burners are protected by the 1st Amendment. This amends the Bill of Rights, not good. Flag burning isn’t threatening, but flag urination/defecation . . . well . . . Anyway, this is unnecessary, the Republic won’t fall without it. Included statements from vets against the amendment.

Update: 10:49 a.m.: Against-Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) (10:49-10:59 a.m.)
Carper’s Main Points: I too love the flag, ever since I was a Boy Scout. I have flags out the wazoo. God brought us the Constitution. Amendments have done great things, this is not great. I would have kicked some Nazi/Flag Burner ass when I was in the ‘Nam. We can’t change the Constitution for a few anti-American idiots.

Update: 10:59 a.m.: For-Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) (10:59-11:25 a.m.) Backdropped by the famous firefighters and flag photo at the WTC ruins and, of course, the Iwo Jima flag photo.
Cornyn’s Main Points: People are misreading this amendment. If we can amend the Constitution for Congressional pay we can do it for the flag. Stautes won’t work, “Been there, done that, dudn’t work.” Reread the amendment text, in case we missed it. Flag is good, flag desecration is bad, why not protect it. Continued to babble about nothing for over 20 minutes.

Update: Senate recessed at 11:26 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. Two hour lunch break, huh?

Update: 1:15 p.m.: Against-Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (1:15-1:25 p.m.)
Leahy’s Main Points: Veterans needs are more important than stirring “public passions for political ends.” Blamed Bush for “not thinking to lock the door,” in reference to VA information theft. Basically says the Senate is saying “screw your privacy, God save the flag.” Personal information of vets is being sold on the black market faster than child prostitutes in Thailand while Leahy used the debate to talk about vets health care and other veteran issues.

Update: 1:25 p.m.: Against-Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) (1:25-1:34 p.m.)
Carper’s Main Points: Concluding remarks from earlier with quote from Vietnam POW about seeing flag upon his release. No need to amend the Constitution to protect the flag.

Update: 2:01 p.m.: Against– Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) (2:01-2:06 p.m.)
Inouye’s Main Points: Amendment would dishonor those who have sacrificed in wartime. Surfing. I love the flag, and hate the defilers. Surfing. Flag burning is obscene. Palm trees. But expression is necessary to honor veterans, even if the burning of the flag is offensive. Surfing. Do not amend the Bill of Rights, except for surfing.

Update: 2:06 p.m.: For-Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) (2:06-2:12 p.m.)
Coburn’s Main Points-Flag burning is not speech. The founders meant speech only, no other expression is protected by the 1st amendment, only talking. All books, art, music and other forms of expression are not protected by Coburn’s Constitution. Again comes back to judicial activists. “Speech, it says speech, not behavior.” (Read last statement as: “I am an idiot.”)

Update: 2:06 p.m.: For-Sen Sam Brownback (R-KS) (2:06-2:17 p.m.)
Brownback’s Main Points: Compared flag desecration with vandalism. As if the flag was comparable to the Lincoln Memorial. Since vandalism isn’t protected by free speech flag burning isn’t either. No problem with speaking against the flag but with desecrating the flag. In Brownback’s world the Lincoln Memorial is, apparently, a mass produced piece of cloth.

Update: 2:17 p.m.: For-Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) (2:17-2:20 p.m.)
Thomas’ Main Points: Flag represents sacrifices, should recieve special protection. Understands concerns but the amendment doesn’t limit free speech. A symbolic issue. Understands alot of things, including the dissent against the amendment, doesn’t take this lightly. Flag=Resolve. And back to 9/11. Also compared many memorials with mass produced cloths.

Update: 2:20 p.m.: For-Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) (2:20-2:24 p.m.)
Isakson’s Main Points: Judges can’t make the law, must interpret. Amendment has nothing to do with speech or expression, has to do with protecting the flag. “The flag is a living symbol in which or men and women have fought for over two centuries.” Pulled heart strings with stories of visits to European battlefields. He also claimed to know what the many war dead Americans would have felt about flag burning. Spent remainder of speech communing with the dead through his Oujia Board.

Update: 2:31 p.m.: For-Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) (2:31-2:38 p.m.)
Talent’s Main Points: U.S. only has few unifying symbols, one being the flag. Without flag protection how else would we be united as one? You can still criticize the U.S. but you cannot pee on the flag in public. Back to activist judges, said courts have amended the Constitution, the people should be able to do so as well. This debate is about “how much you value the flag.”

Update: 2:38 p.m.: Against-Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) (2:38-2:54 p.m.)
Durbin’s Main Points: Pointed out that Inouye lost arm in WWII and was most qualified to talk about this issue. Amendment is unnecessary. Should not change the Bill of Rights for the first time in our history. 1000 amendments proposed in last 15 years. Constitution is not to be amended lightly, second amendment this month, “I think it’s unfortunate.” Collegues on Republican side of aisle have no humility. Proposes amendment that will make Constitutional amendment unnecessary. Durbin’s proposal will make it a crime to desecrate the flag. Proposal also makes it illegal to protest within certain distances at churches, funeral homes and other locations where veterans are honored or buried.

Update: 2:54 p.m.: Against-Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) (2:54-2:58 p.m.)
Bennett’s Main Points: Greatly conflicted on issue because Hatch is the sponsor of Constitutional amendment. Cannot amend the Constitution for this purpose, but agrees with protecting the flag. “Constitutional amendment under the present circumstances is not necessary.” Loves Orrin, even though he dissents.

Update: 2:58 p.m.: Against-Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) (2:58-3:12 p.m.)
Kerry’s Main Points: Concerned that leaders are not uniting the country around real challenges. Debate is divisive. “I didnt raise my hand to defend the flag, I raised my hand and took an oath to defend the Constitution and our country.” Also noted that he hates Ohio. (Not really). Added veteran’s quotes and a quote from former Sen. John Glenn. A pause for some unanimous consent nonsense and then more of Frankenstein. “In the United States of America you have a right to be stupid.” (And I am living proof).

Update: 3:12 p.m.: For-Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) (3:12-3:21 p.m.)
Bunning’s Main Points: Flag is symbol and an important one. “It is an insult . . . to stand idly by while the flag is desecrated.” It is necessary to restore the power that the Supreme Court’s activist ruling in 1989 took away. Cited public support as reasoning why amendment is needed, because the courts are out of touch. Also brought up Rick Monday incident from 1976 baseball game. Flag burning is not a form of speech. Said Old Glory multiple times. Also, apparently thought that July 4 falls on June 28, kept saying “the eve of the fourth of July.”

Update: 3:21 p.m.: For-Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) (3:21-3:26 p.m.)
Allard’s Main Points: “Flag symbolizes triumph of representative government over the inequities of tyrannical rule.” Brought up Washington raising grand union flag over Prospect Hill. Quoted Patrick Henry and Calvin Coolidge. Wants to restore the ability of the people to protect the flag which was stolen by the activist judges. No free speech is impeded by this amendment.

Update: 3:26 p.m.: Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) (3:26-3:32 p.m.) Spoke on a different topic, boring and insurance oriented. Sweet.

Update: 3:32 p.m.: For-Sen John Warner (R-VA) (3:32-3:39 p.m.)
Warner’s Main Points: Spoke of his father in WWI and his experiences in boot camp during WWII. Iwo Jima made him feel mushy too. No pictures. Said this was the reply he gave a reporter as to why he was voting for the amendment. Will vote yes because of the great sacrifices of American soldiers.

Update: 3:39 p.m.: For-Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (3:39-3:46 p.m.)
Thune’s Main Points-Thune also, apparently communes with the dead as he also claimed to know the will of dead American soldiers. Veterans want it, it deserves protection. Amendment is simple, doesn’t amend the 1st Amendment. Brought up fallen soldiers, 9/11, and Iwo Jima.

Update: 3:46 p.m.: Against-Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) (3:46-4:04 p.m.)
Byrd’s Main Points: I love the flag. It is a symbol of the liberties we enjoy. Liberty protected by Bill of Rights and Constitution. Had an all around freak out session as he recited the Pledge of Alliegence. Issue caused him great anguish. Will remain opposed to the amendment. Still respects veterans and the flag. As a side note, watching Byrd speak was definitely worth watching this stuff today. Also ripped a little red book from his pocket and waved it around several times (it was the Constitution not Mao’s Handbook as you right wingers may have thought).

Update: 4:07 p.m.: Against-Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) (4:07-4:10 p.m.)
Kennedy’s Main Points: Bill of Rights is very important and has not been amended in our history. Doesn’t need to be now. 1st Amendment is not an accident. One cannot claim to protect freedom by taking them away. Finds it contemptible and malicious but it occurs infrequently. “We are being asked to undermine the foundation of our democracy to squash a gnat.”

Update: 4:10 p.m.: Against-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (4:10-4:17 p.m.)
Clinton’s Main Points: Proud to stand up to protect flag. Flag transcends nationality. Agrees that destroying flag is offensive because it disrespects the nation and belittles the sacrifices. But this does not warrant an amendment. It is outside the realm of previous amendments. Emotional issue. Wants law not amendment. Clinton is co-sponsoring Durbin’s proposal.

Update: 4:17 p.m.: For-Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) (4:17-4:19 p.m.)
Craig’s Main Points: Spoke on Durbin amendment (not Constitutional–though he spoke on that too). Durbin amendment fails miserably to adhere to a federalism principle. Oppose Durbin on 2 grounds, can’t legislate according to the courts on flag burning, ought not to tell states what to do in state or private cemetaries.

Update: 4:19 p.m.: For-Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) (4:19-4:23 p.m.)
Chambliss’ Main Points: Flag is sacred and used in firehouses, military etc. Emotional symbol, everyone in the world recognizes it as a symbol of freedom. Wants to pass Durbin amendment stand alone.

Update: 4:23 p.m.: Against-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) (4:23-4:26 p.m.)
Lautenberg’s Main Points: Cannot take away the right to dissent. Showed pic of Bush signing an American flag and a pic of Kid Rock who “partied” with the Republicans. Asked what is desecration. Called this amendment politicking at its worst.

Update: 4:26 p.m. : For-Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (4:26-4:28 p.m.)
Graham’s Main Points: Not about desecration, amendment is about restoring the power of the people to protect the flag. Not too much of a burden to ask people to not destroy the flag. People can be told “No.”

Update: 4:28 p.m.: Against-Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (4:28-) Praised Senator from Hawaii. Complimented his collegues. Reminds him of the Terry Schiavo case which the Republicans overreached and butted in on family affair. Voting to uphold the Constitution not to narrow the precious freedoms of the Bill of Rights.

Update: 4:32 p.m.: Durbin and Hatch close and sum up general arguments on both sides of the issue.

Update: 4:41 p.m.: Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) sums up thoughts about the flag and what it represents before the vote. Looks like there will be a vote today.

Update: 4:48 p.m.: Roll Call Vote on Durbin Amendment, makes it a crime to desecrate the flag but doesn’t change the Constitution.

Update: 5:15 p.m. Durbin Amendment failed 36 to 64.

Update: Flag Protection Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution), Amendment failed 66-34.


1. Glock21 - June 27, 2006

Whether or not you agree that flag burning should be allowed as a freedom of speech issue (I do), the real concern for me would be the enforcement of such a ban. Are we going to have federal agents sent to protests to ensure compliance? Are we going to have local yocal cops busting people they don’t like because their flag isn’t being maintained as strictly laid out in the US Code and trying to get them nailed in the already way too busy federal courts?

Other than the emotive shock value… is there really an epidemic of flag burning that we have to amend the Constitution to stop so we don’t have to see that sort of behavior anymore? The flag burning we normally see is in the middle east, and this won’t do anything about that. Nobody likes to see it any more than they like to see a KKK rally… but free speech means even the assholes get a say. The silver lining is that free speech lets assholes identify themselves readily to the non-assholic population.

But hey, if it scores the politicians some points with their patriotism frenzied constituents… I guess they can ramble on and on about it… no chance in hell for it to pass right now anyways. Politics as usual… high on emotion, low on reason.

2. Glock21 - June 27, 2006

“Personal information of vets is being sold on the black market faster than child prostitutes in Thailand.”

So far no confirmed identity theft of any of the millions of vets whose data was stolen… and the best guess at the moment, it was all erased and never got past the crooks, let alone sold on any black market.

But alas… that’s just a guess. Right now there is no proof that it was definitely erased, just likely that it was *probably* erased, and there is no proof that the data has made it to any identity theives or anybody at all yet. Makes it hard to support such a bold and emotive statement.

3. dr. gonzo - June 27, 2006

Best chance yet though. Stupid politicians. If you read my previous post you know that I also think this is an ignorant waste of time.

4. Matt - June 27, 2006

Actually, the burning of a flag is the preferred legal way to dispose of it, but apparently politicians don’t read the law anymore.

Wearing the flag (on clothing, etc.), putting it on jewelry, or using its image for nearly any other purpose (there’s someone locally who apparently has a tarp covering his boat that is in the image of the American flag), are all illegal.

Go figure.

5. dr. gonzo - June 27, 2006

Actually the Flag Code isn’t law. It’s just a set of guidelines.

6. yinn - June 28, 2006

I’m glad it didn’t pass, but it wouldn’t have stood anyway, being so vaguely worded.

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