- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

Protect the flag

Retired Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady supports the flag amendment to the Constitution that will come up for a vote in the week of June 26. I oppose it and I believe that Gen. Brady’s arguments in his letter to Sgt. Shaft, while sincere, are flawed (“One more senator needed for Old Glory’s protection,” Sgt. Shaft, April 10).

In his letter he says the following:

“As we near the vote, we can expect the long knives in the media to begin a rabid disinformation campaign. In their passion to protect flag burners, they rant that the flag amendment will violate the free speech of flag burners and will amend for the first time the Bill of Rights. Had they read the amendment, they would realize it does neither, and this is a very important point.”

I have read the amendment, and it seeks to do both. The general quotes the proposed amendment: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” The use of the term “desecration” is telling. This term necessarily implies intent. I have a flag, ragged and faded, which was recently brought down by a lightening strike. I will dispose of it by privately burning it. This is not the “desecration” that the amendment seeks to stop. The purpose of the amendment is to give government the power to punish the unwashed and unhinged protesters who hate America. Is it not that very hatred that they seek to convey by burning the flag?

What, after all, is “speech”? Could a gesture be speech? Ask the students at Gallaudet University, where deaf students and faculty communicate by gestures. Clearly, the power to prevent the physical desecration of the flag is the power to prevent the expression of opinions that ordinary Americans find distasteful.

The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution as an incomplete listing of those rights of individuals upon which no government has the moral authority to infringe. It expresses adherence to a law higher than the Constitution. In the Declaration of Independence, this was recognized as the authority for our independence from the British crown and identified as the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This law grants to every human being at birth the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This means that everyone, including the deranged protester, has the right to do as he pleases so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others. The physical desecration of the flag, however offensive, infringes the rights of no one unless the flag has been stolen. The Constitution already permits government to punish theft. The flag amendment would be an offense against the very law upon which our country was founded, the “… Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

I do not speak on behalf of the “long knives of the press” nor do I spread “disinformation.” I speak as a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran with two Purple Hearts, who spent 51/2 years in a communist P.O.W. camp and who has permanent disabilities resulting from my service. I say that instead of persuading the government to pass oppressive laws to prevent the physical desecration of the flag, our time would be better spent preventing the spiritual desecration of the flag by persuading our benighted countrymen to love the flag because it represents the country that respects their liberty.


Rohrersville, Md.

HSAs taking America by storm

Rep. Tom Price’s excellent opinion piece on improving our healthcare system by expanding the use of health savings accounts (“Patient-centered care,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) hits the nail on the head.

HSAs offer people of all walks of life the ability to pick the doctor of their own choice at a low price. Is there any wonder why health savings accounts have taken America by storm?

Expanding opportunities for HSAs by increasing contributions limits and making premiums tax deductible, as Mr. Price suggests, would help HSAs expand even further. That, in turn, would get more Americans much-needed health insurance at a cost lower than traditional approaches.




Sunnywood, Calif.

Immigration defeat for GOP

The Senate’s vote Thursday to allow Social Security benefits to illegal aliens is a major all-around victory for Democrats (“Illegals granted Social Security,” Page 1, yesterday).

First, Democrats know it will outrage Republican voters, causing more of us to stay home on Election Day. Second, they know it will make getting a bill through a House-Senate conference less likely, leaving the Republican Party as the party that got nothing done on immigration. Third, if the provision becomes law, it will increase the number of people with claims on Social Security, increasing the Democrats’ ability to pander for votes by demagoguing as our national budget implodes.

The inclusion of this provision in the Senate bill is an unmitigated disaster for the Republicans, the president and the country. The specter of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is becoming more probable. The Republicans have only themselves to blame. Given their performance on everything from immigration to earmarks, it’s increasingly hard to care if they lose.


Nederland, Colo.

Early testing saves lives

I would like to provide a very personal response to Elizabeth M. Whelan’s Tuesday letter to the editor, “Detecting prostate cancer.” Miss Whelan was responding to Dr. Richard N. Atkins’ “No more prostate excuses” (Op-Ed, May 12).

Miss Whelan states that the National Cancer Institute claims that “using the PSA test to screen men for prostate cancer is controversial because it is not yet known if the test actually saves lives.”

Tell the NCI to contact me because a prostate-specific antigen test saved my life. My PSA velocity, which is a measurement of PSA increase over time, elevated to 4.2 over a two-year period. Although that is not an alarming number, my primary care doctor referred me to a urologist.

A subsequent biopsy confirmed prostate cancer. My only symptom was the PSA of 4.2. I was 57 years young. Fortunately, early detection and quality medical treatment have resulted in my being cancer-free for five years.

I can put the NCI in contact with at least 10 friends who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer because of the PSA test and also have been treated successfully. Those are the fortunate men; I have lost an equal number of friends who were diagnosed in the terminal stages of the disease — their PSA screening was done too late. Please tell me what is so controversial about a blood test that does, in fact, save lives.

The number of false positives and false negatives with the PSA are about the same as for the pap smear for cervical cancer. The PSA is the only test (biomarker) available for men to test their prostate health. They can either play Russian roulette with their prostate health and do nothing or get a regular PSA test.

I hope Miss Whelan’s comments do not discourage any man from seeking prostrate screening. Today’s well-informed men need to be proactive, thoroughly research this subject and learn the truth. As Dr. Atkins stated, “Early detection saves lives — just ask any prostate survivor.”



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