Flag Burning and Other Dubious Epidemics
By Molly Ivins
Monday 05 June 2006
Austin, Texas - Thank goodness the Republicans are around to tell me what to worry about. The flag-burning crisis - here in Austin, there's that pall of smoke rising from the west every morning (it's from an area called Tarrytown, where they burn hundreds of flags daily).
You didn't know hundreds of flags were being burned daily? Actually, you can count on your hand the number of incidents reported over the last five years. For instance, there was one flag burned in 2005 by a drunken teenager and one by a protester in California in 2002. This appalling record of ravishment must be stopped. You're clearly not worried about what matters.
Gay marriage, now there's a crisis. Well, OK, so there isn't much gay marriage going on here in Texas. None, in fact. First, we made it illegal. Then, we made it unconstitutional. But President Bush is all concerned about it, so I guess we have to alter the U.S. Constitution.
Gus and Captain Call (of "Lonesome Dove" fame) will be an item - with who knows who waiting in line right after them.
Also of great concern to Republicans is God Almighty, who, rather to my surprise, has been elected chairman of the Texas Republican Party. That's what they announced at the biannual convention in Fort Worth this week: "He is the chairman of the party." Sheesh, the Democrats couldn't even get Superman.
Also weighing down the nation with a heavy burden is the estate tax, which the Senate will try to repeal this week. The estate tax applies to around 1% of Americans, and I have yet to find any record of it costing anyone a family farm or business. It affects only very, very, very rich people, of whom you are probably not one. And they don't, actually, need another tax break.
These are the things we are supposed to be worrying about, and you notice that it frees us of quite a few troubles we might otherwise fret about.
The war in Iraq? No sweat.
War with Iran? We're carefree.
The economy? Hey, did you see that employment report? Well, ignore it.
Budget out of control, shipwreck ahead? Never mind - Bush doesn't. Worst class divisions since the Gilded Age, rich so much more enormously richer than everybody else, country starting to get creepy? Don't worry, be happy. Torture, massacre, extraordinary rendition, hidden gulag of prisons in foreign countries, Guantanamo and massive violations of international law, American law and the Constitution? Well, you can see why gay marriage is a far greater menace.
Wipe out for the environment; hundreds of regulations and laws changed to favor those who exploit and damage natural resources; all so common no one is keeping track of them all? Let her rip.
Global warming? In the first place, it's Al Gore's issue. In the second place, it's a downer. In the third place, who cares if it's too late in a few years?
Homeland security/war on terror? With the highly excellent disposition of anti-terror funds once more judiciously applied by the Department of Homeland Security, we truly have nothing to worry about. We're ready to stop terrorist attacks in Wyoming, and there are no important cultural sites in New York City, so let's rock.
Oil crisis? Ha! What oil crisis? You want a $100 rebate you can then give the oil companies? Hey, we're going to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and that should see us through ... oh, about nine months.
Windfall profits? You think the oil companies are ripping us off for windfall profits? Who? ExxonMobil? Why, they would never!
I believe what we have here is a difference over moral values.
The Republicans are worried about the flag, gay marriage and the terrible burden of the estate tax on the rich. The rest of us are obviously unnecessarily worried about war, peace, the economy, the environment and civilization. Another reason to vote Republican - they have a shorter list.