Wednesday, June 28, 2006

# Posted 6:45 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHAT'S UP WITH DIANNE FEINSTEIN? Any idea why she's the lone Blue State Democrat to support the flag-burning amendment? You can read her floor speech in defense of the amendment here.

I know very little about constitutional law, but Feinstein's two main arguments are as follows: First, flag-burning is not a form of speech but a form of conduct. Second, the flag is a national monument and can be protected in the same manner as one would the Lincoln Memorial.

Perhaps there is a legal basis for that first argument, but it seems like wordplay to me. After all, can Congress outlaw mimes just because they annoy us with their conduct rather than their speech?

As for the flag being a monument, that seems like nonsense. If you build a miniature version of the Lincoln Monument and smash it up with a sledgehammer, that is perfectly legal. In other words, a monument is a specific piece of public property, such as the actual, physical Lincoln Monument a couple of miles from where I'm sitting right now in Washington.

On a related note, riddle me this: Why did Hillary vote against the flag-burning amendment after sponsoring a bill to outlaw flag-burning?
(15) opinions -- Add your opinion

Many Democrats did what HRC did. Two answers:

1) they may have genuinely believed that their bill resolved the free-speech issues and was therefore a better alternative to amending the Constitution;
2) political cover.

I'm going with 2. But I really don't begrudge them it this time. the FBA is one of those terrible ideas that gets something like 56% popular support.
I'm not all that familiar with American law. However, I believe that the proper way to dispose of an old American flag is to burn it (See US Code Title 4, Ch. 1, Sec. 8(k) So, if you punish someone for burning the flag in protest, then you are essentially punishing that person for the protest, not burning the flag.
HRC did what she did to point out the fallacies in the R's (and Feinstein's) arguments: If flag-burning is truly not speech, then we don't need a constitutional amendment to ban it. A law will do. Hence her proposal of an anti-flag-burning law.

Bob Menendez (D-NJ) also voted yes.
Am I the only one who sees hypocrissy in the no voters. The vote was to support a constitutional amendment.

It is my understanding that the people in the states then have to vote on the amendment. What is better, stopping the proecess before it has time to get started or letting the process move forward to the peoples vote.

Hillary is on the record suporting a flag burning amendment. Hillary then voted against the amendment. Will she be on the 2008 ticket with Keryy. They ticket can be right on everything. One can be for and the other against.
The vote for the amendment only approves moving the process top a vote by the people of the states. Why wouldn't it be reasonable to have a real vote on this.

Hillary was for the amendment before she was against it. She is on the record supporting a ban then voted against the amendment.

Hillary and kerry could be on the same ticket in 2008. What a winner. Hillary could be for a position and Kerry against.
They would have all the bases covered.
Ummm. I don't think that the Constitutional architecture was designed with the idea that the Senate should be a "rubber stamp" for Constitutional amendments. Congresses job is not simply to sign off on amendments so that they can be presented "to the people" (actually, state legislators in this case). The architecture rather, was designed to make it REALLY HARD to amend the Constitution by creating multiple obstacles in the process--multiple points at which, in particular, cooler heads might prevail in the face of a popular but misguided or unnecessary change in the foundational document of our political community.

Just saying. If HRC changed her mind on this one, then in my book that's a GOOD thing. I for, one, am sick of the notion that constancy is an inherent good in our political leaders.
Dude, if banning flag burning means Congress can outlaw mimes, then I've just changed my position on the anti-flag-burning Amendment to a "yes."
Mark Dayton of Minnesota also was a "yay" vote.
I consider Minnesota to be purple these days, but New Jersey is pretty blue.

Now, Dan, with regard to the virtues of constancy, I can see why a staunch Democrat might disagree.

But think about this. Elections give presidents a tremendous amount of power for four years. Isn't it better to know in advance what the president might do with that power?

Sure, there are events like 9/11 that come along and change a president's entire philosophy, but those are the exception, not the rule.
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Bush changed his foreign policy based upon facts on the ground.

The DHS was, and still is a bad idea. Bush was right to delay as long as possible. During the delay some changes were made. However, increasing the chain of command cannot be seen by anyone who is a proponent of excellent mamagement practices to be a more efficient method increasing information flow.

You are a bit late complaining about the tax cuts and the deficit. Latest data suggest that income to the federal government has increased to level where the deficit will be halved by 2007.

State Governments are also experiencing large increases in revenue.
Davod: you comments on the DHS would seem to contradict David's claim that changing with the political winds is a failing of Democrats.

As for deficits and taxes: try the counterfactual. Yes, better economic performance continues to make up lost ground. The deficit will be, under the projections I assume you're drawing on, half of what it was in 2004. I suppose that's good news, if you take a terrible baseline as your starting point.

Anyway, would these be the projections without the offbook supplements favored by the administration? And none of this deals with the taxation/entitlement gap that will hit us in future years or what will happen once the economy starts to downcycle.

I agree, btw, that it is a good thing that Bush changed his mind about aspects of democracy promotion and nation-building. I wish he'd changed his mind a bit MORE on some of these issues, but that's a discussion for another day.
I’ll take another stab at it. There were apparently three questions in the post above:
(1) Why is Feinstein the only Blue Dem to support the amendment proposal?
(2) Is the notion of “conduct, not speech” and “public monument” crap?
(3) Why did Hillary vote against the flag-burning amendment after sponsoring a bill to outlaw flag-burning?

(1) Well, the same WaPo article alludes to political opportunism on the part of conservatives in order to garner support with patriotic talk before the upcoming elections. This may be one possible explanation, albeit a questionable one.

(2) In my previous comment, I mentioned that burning the flag is the proper way to dispose of it. So, the difference between respectfully disposing of a flag and protesting by burning the flag, relates to motive and message. The “conduct, not speech” is crap. And as far as the “public monument” remark is concerned, I think that Adesnik already called that.

(3) I have no clue.
Some of the older Democrats in Congress--and Diane Feinstein is one of the oldest--realize that if their party ever retakes control it will need a bit more popular support. You get to see this clearly in the Senate, where the GOP has a big edge, by 55-45. Thus, they are coming back to God and the flag, in their uncertain, insincere way, by ones and twos, generally when they face reelection. Poor HRC is beginning to visualize what a difficult time she will have trying to advance any agenda if she should win the presidency. It is exactly these low-level political questions like flag burning which remind us the Democrats are the minority party and almost certain to remain so.
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