Friday, March 16, 2007

Another stupid flag brouhaha

I've been focusing a lot on Washington and national news lately. I wonder what's been going on here at home. Let's see:

On Thursday, the Minnesota House, after a long and emotional debate that featured members quoting Abraham Lincoln, the Pledge of Allegiance, Ronald Reagan and the Declaration of Independence, approved a measure to require that all American flags sold in Minnesota be made in America.

The vote was 83-46. The bill awaits action in the Senate.

"It's time to bring the flag home," said Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker.

Uh, wait. What was that? The state wants to wade into the marketplace and dictate where a particular product can be manufactured? Why?

Surely they're just expressing an opinion. I mean, they wouldn't actually throw someone in jail for this....

The measure would make it a misdemeanor to sell an American flag not made in the United States.... "It feels good to be for a bill like this," said Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall. But he added, "This is serious business when we are talking about 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine."

Okay, they would.

You have to love the response by the bill's sponsor, DFLer Tom Rukavina:

"That's absolutely as absurd as putting a label on your pillow saying, 'Do not remove under penalty of law.' … You can try to pretend this is going to put people in jail. It isn't," Rukavina said.

Fabulous. Make a law that you know won't be enforced because it is unreasonable on the face of it. Yeah, I'm sure that will increase respect for the law -- not just this law, but the law in general.

Rukavina has a history of stupid bills. In this session, he also introduced a bill overruling a local zoning board's decision against a friend's house addition. After enduring withering criticism, he said he wasn't serious about the bill. Which, if true, again raises the question of why he was wasting taxpayer time and money by writing it.

In 2003 he proposed selling off state-owned land in the Boundary Waters to the highest bidder, an idea so bad that Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- not exactly a noted environmentalist -- suggested Rukavina had been "drinking too much swamp water."

Earth to the entire House: the state should intervene in the marketplace -- and restrict civil liberties -- only for good reason. Trying to dictate the origin of American flags does not constitute "good reason." Nor does the mental process involved in arriving at the conclusion that such a bill is worth discussing.

There was more silliness all around:

During the debate, legislators offered several amendments, including criminalizing the destruction of the American flag, making English the state's official language and requiring lawmakers to drive American-made cars. All were ruled out of order or voted down.

The next time legislators want a pay increase, point to this debate and say "not until you stop wasting time on stupidity like this." Meanwhile, hope the state Senate isn't infected by the same strain of brain cramp.

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Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Hmm, thought Minnesotans were smarter than this.

3/16/2007 5:10 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Why? Aren't problems in your area largely caused by people from up my way? ;)

Rukavina is DFL-Virginia (Minn.), about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. There are quite a few smart people up there. But plenty of dumb ones, too.

Less explainable is why the rest of the state House bought into it.

3/16/2007 5:17 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Not too many Minnesotans here. Actually, not a one I've ever run into. Probably too screaming hot here for most of them ;) We're already reaching into the 100 degree range this week.

More like herds from Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, etc.

3/17/2007 5:25 PM  

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