Saturday, October 18, 2008

There they go again...

Amherst Town Center 8:00 PM
So yeah, once again I’m not overly worried a sitting President or retired President has died because with Amherst College flying the US flag at half-staff could be anything: the death of a lunch lady, or Pulitzer Prize winner.

Their prominent flag spends so much time at half staff most local folks no longer even notice when it is down in the position of mourning (that only a US President or Governor can order).

Belchertown gets it!


Anonymous said...

Larry, Your pet peeve about Amherst College lowering its flag to half-mast when a student dies, makes it apparent that you are more concerned about an arcane and inconsequential flag handling rule than the death of a young man and the loss his friends and family is experiencing.

Why you stick to the 29 flags on 9/11 and leave it at that?

Honestly, do you what J-walkers ticketed? What other laws do you want enforced? How many more cops should we hire to enforce your vision of a police state?

Anonymous said...

Ah, the blogosphere and its demands.

For every day, there must be a controversy. For every day, there must be a grievance.

That appetite for public attention must be fed. So we have these tempestuous teapots and mountainous molehills like whether Amherst College is complying with Larry's construction of the rules.

But, in the end, Larry is really just about Larry. The reality of the College community mourning a young man's death means nothing to him.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Colin Powell just endorsed Obama, calling him a "transformational figure." He listed several reasons for his choice:

* Obama's response to the economic meltdown
* Obama's ability to reach all classes, races, and parties
* Obama's rhetorical ability and his substance
* McCain's erratic response to the economic crisis
* Palin's lack of preparedness for the Presidency
* McCain's smears
* The direction of the Republican Party
* The danger of two more conservatives on SCOTUS (he's probably thinking about all the anti-torture decisions)
* The attacks on Muslims (he mentions a Muslim woman burying her son in Arlington)--this was one of the most powerful parts of the endorsement

Larry Kelley said...

Next brilliant full moon take a long walk around your neighborhood—you will see that glorious orb reflected a hundred different ways from window panes, shiny car hoods and pools of water. All the same moon.

The American flag is also a shining beacon—reflected and displayed in many, many different ways: commemorative flags in town centers, Giant flags at Big-Y (God, I just love that flag), tiny ones held by children at July 4’th Parades (And I love them equally) or small ones on a bronze stick holder at cemeteries marking the grave of a veteran (such as my father).

All the same flag. The symbol that represents us—the greatest nation on the planet (warts and all).

Amherst College does not own the copyright on the American Flag (although with well over a billion in reserves they could probably make an offer).

Last year, unfortunately, thousands of high school and college students died in an auto accident. But how many had their alma mater lower the United States flag to half-staff to show mourning? Probably only Amherst College.

When you report to work tomorrow Mr. Morse ask the janitor to lower the flag in front of your office building to half-staff in solidarity with Amherst College and see what they say.

This clear violation is not “my construction of the rules.” Flag protocol has been around for a very long time.

Anonymous said...

Rich Morse is everything that's wrong with Amherst. A mirror! A mirror! for this man Richard!!!

Anonymous said...

"Amherst College does not own the copyright on the American Flag"

That's right, no one person or organization does. It is something every American can claim so why do you insist on claiming it as your own?

Also, another commenter made a personal attack on Rich Morse which I think is unwarranted. I would ask you to call off the dogs. I would also note that Mr Morse serves in government and at a substantial personal cost (he could make far more in private practice). He puts the bad guys away. You'd think he'd earn a little more respect around here for being this most important part of keeping society safe and civil. There is no call for personal attacks.

In terms of Federal law on flag handling, you are of course right. I think you might agree that the law is unenforceable and inconsequential but maybe not.

We don't see Amherst College burning the flag (which is a Constitutional act of free speech), we see them using it as an expression of pride and loyalty in our country, and we see them using it as an expression of mourning to recognize the loss of life when a member of its comunity dies, which is common in many cities, towns, states, organizations.

Seriously, Amherst will never revolve around your view of the ideal small town. You might consider that and choose your battles with a eye toward cost-benefit and strategic gain rather than crap on a perfectly reasonable expression of mourning as a violation of federal law.

Larry Kelley said...

I don’t claim the flag as my own. As such, I TRY to follow Federal Flag Protocol. But I’m sure if you staked out my house (from a public road of course) over the next three months you would find at least an instance or two where I left my flag up overnight (without proper illumination) or up in extremely inclement weather.

But the difference is those digressions would simply be an accidental by -product of a very long day.

Amherst College on the other hand knows damn well they are violating flag protocal and they continue to do it with impunity figuring nobody will say anything since they are memorializing the dead and they are of course Amherst College (named after the town--not Lord Jeffery Amherst.

Amherst College can certainly afford to design their own flag and then they can fly it at half-staff as often as they please.

Mr. Morse is a Big Boy (hopefully not any bigger since he quit my Health Club a year-and-a-half ago over the failure of the May 1’st $2,5 million Override). If he can’t handle the heat then he’s in the wrong line of work and should most definitely consider a different forum for exchanging ideas (like, for instance, an Amherst League of Women Voters event where only one side of the issue is invited.)

Anonymous said...

Let me first say that Larry Kelley's blog (as well as many others) has been a great help and I guess, useful tool for me. The blog-Amherst-info world came in handy in a section of my finished screenplay. Just keep in mind, I'm one who believes deeply in flying the flag 365 days of the year.

Being someone who was raised in Amherst and knows far too well where Larry and his views are coming from, I certainly respect them.

It's troublesome at times to see the ideals of one's hometown being questioned by outsiders of any kind.

Unfortunately, this is where the unexplained problem comes from.

My point here is in responce to Rick Morse and the Amherst College flag business.

Please take a look at the photograph at the top of this page.
On Septemember 10, 2001, there was a town meeting about where and when to fly the american flag.

The next day it was painfully obvious to everyone the flag should be flying.

In reference to the above the picture, I have always questioned it's intent.
My sister who lives in lower Manhattan ,saw many close friends die that day. To her,it wasn't about poltics or showing one's patriotism by standing over a pile of rubble and holding a flag.

No, for her it was nothing more than pain. The pain and suffering of losing friends and loved ones. So my question is really why the photo?

Was it to stick it to the selectboard officials who denied the claim on Sept 10th?

Or were you like millions of Americans, you were saddened by the tragedy.

Either way. I would hope you turned around and said a prayer for the 3,000 + who died right behind you in the photograph.

My sister never gave a rats ass about who did it and why.

Enjoy these videos and have a nice day.


Larry Kelley said...

Well if you tuned into the Select Board discussion on September 8 resulting in the stunning change of policy to actually allow the flags to fly on 9/11 this year (and you got it wrong in the video as they did fly in 2002 and 2003) you would know the story behind the photo of me holding one of the original 29 commemorative flags over Ground Zero--taken by my nervous wife who had never used a digital camera prior to that moment.

A Veteran’s Agent (and they know a thing or two about flags) had told the Select Board on 9/10/01 that they had “desecrated” the commemorative flags and “may as well burn them”. At that point I wondered: how do you undo a desecration?

Fly it over Sacred Ground.

I told that burly New York City police officer that the commemorative flag would go on permanent display at the Amherst History Museum and would not be a personal souvenir or something sold for profit on EBay.

The photo was simply historical proof that it actually flew over Ground Zero. I also have official certificates to show it flew over the State House in Boston (where I was allowed to run it up the flagpole) and the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Governor Jane Swift, Congressman John Olver, Senator Ted Kennedy, Jane Garvey (FAA chief that awful day), and President George W. Bush all signed the original photograph. Talk about bi-partisan cooperation.

That signed original photo is now preserved along with my other political papers in the Umass Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

Yeah, on December 1, 2001 when I was on that consecrated ground I said a prayer for the victims. And I have continued to say one every night since.

I hope you make a lot of money with your “completed screenplay” (although I may suit over all the material you borrowed off this blog).

Anonymous said...

You're such a hero Larry. It must be awe inspiring for you to be in "the glorious orb" of your own presence.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, especially at 5:45 AM

Anonymous said...

"You're such a hero Larry. It must be awe inspiring for you to be in "the glorious orb" of your own presence."

No "anonymous", the glorious orb of YOUR presence is something awe inspiring... I think it's the way you hold your kool-aid.

Anonymous said...

Larry, I'm sorry to say you're missing the big picture here. I grew up in the same Amherst as you did. Went to the same schools,went to Kentfield hardware with my dad,had a cone at Frosty Cap after a game, etc.

I'm sure we know a lot of the same people and have many of the same friends. I've met thousands of students over the years and have always heard, "what's up with nutty Amherst?". That has always bothered me.

So after digging into a lot of the local issues, I discovered that I agree with you on just about everything. Plus what's good is that you do your homework to back it up.
1.The Parade - nobody should want small children asking mom and dad what that "f*ck Bush" sign means.please.

2.Cherry Hill - I enjoyed it years ago because it was cheap.Now I can afford Amherst or Hickory.But facts are facts,if it loses money year after year, something should be done.Especially now in this financial mess were all in.

3.The Flag - this one is a no-brainer. It's extremely sad when someone refers to the flag as a symbol of tyranny and fear and destruction and terrorism. Is America perfect? No.but there's an awful amount of good that comes from those stars and strips.Whether your hangin' Al Franken or Bill O'Reilly, I think everyone should agree on that.

But this is the big picture. It's simply the way you make your point.You needle every town official or for that matter, anyone who doesn't agree with you.I guess you like that, but by using schoolyard name-calling like "His Lordship" and wearing "Just Go" shirts etc. on the surface may be funny, it's obvious you've pissed off so many with those things that they go against you even when they know you're right.

I guarantee you Cherry Hill would've been sold years ago. I promise you that the flags would be flying on 9/11 EVERY year instead of this "every three year compromise" nonsense.

So keep on being the great watchdog that you are, but please take my advice from one townie to another.

Stop throwing so much gas on the fire you supposeably want to put out. It's not working.

As for those silly little YouTube videos, I thought you would enjoy them. I KNOW you have a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

The Big Y flag is not flown correctly. The hight of the flag pole is supposed to be at least five times as high as the vertical side of the flag. Clearly the Big Y flag is too big for its flag pole.

I have nothing against big flags. But when a very big flag is flown too close to the ground, the effect is somewhat oppressive and shows, to my mind, a patriotism that has more to do with lauding ones' own virtues rather than proper respect for the flag and country.

Just my liberal commie 2 cents.


Larry Kelley said...

Well…you come here for free exposure to advertise your videos (that use a fair amount of material from this blog) and then attack the photo I have used in the masthead since startup--one that is sacred to me; and now you lecture me on being less antagonizing? Hmmm…

Yes, I agree Cherry Hill would have been shut down a few years ago if not for the pissing contest aspect.

I don’t agree that the 29 flags getting to fly every year on 9/11 however, as Anne Awad back--when she was the Czar (2004-2006)--would never have allowed it (she voted against it in 2002 and 2003 but was outvoted by the old majority often referred to as the “sensible center” and Gerry Weiss only caved this year because is no longer in the majority (one of the many benefits of Ms. Awad’s resignation).

But yeah, I did enjoy the videos (more so part 2.)

Anonymous said...


Anyone can fly the flag at half-mast for any reason. There is no law that says otherwise. The President and Governors orders to fly flags at half-mast only pertain to federal and state buildings. If someone wants to fly the flag at half-mast because their grandmother dies they can do it.

"Flag Code does not exclude any citizen, whether a they belong to an organization or not, whether they recognized very locally or regionally. Examples of deceased citizens that might be honored with by lowering the Flag to half-staff include local religious leaders, youth leaders, honored teachers or sports coaches, local politicians, or a local hero. There need be no authorization from the government for the private sector (non-government) to use the Flag to honor any citizen."

If Amherst College wants to fly the flag at half-mast it's their right to do so and I commend them for it. I'm glad they fly the flag.

Larry Kelley said...

That is why it’s called “flag protocol” rather than “flag law.” Even with State or Federal buildings after orders issued by the Governor or President, National Guardsmen or Marines do not enforce the protocol.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see Americans who do not follow flag protocol be questioned by law enforcement as the whether they are pro-American or Anti-American.

If they are anti-American, I would like them to be imprisoned until they admit to the error of their ways.

I have a neighbor (near the high school) who drags their flag on the ground.

Since no one seems to care about flag protocol, I wonder if you recommend that we 1) punch him, 2) burn his flag until he knows how to follow protocol, 3) burn his house. I won't take any action until i hear from you.

Anonymous said...


"Flag Code does not exclude any citizen, whether a they belong to an organization or not, whether they recognized very locally or regionally. Examples of deceased citizens that might be honored with by lowering the Flag to half-staff include local religious leaders, youth leaders, honored teachers or sports coaches, local politicians, or a local hero. There need be no authorization from the government for the private sector (non-government) to use the Flag to honor any citizen."

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, there are a couple grammar errors in that first paragraph.

Jonathan said...

Anon said:


Off-topic, but you can usually find just about any piece of directly-quoted text by simply Googling a distinct phrase or phrases from the text, like this, which leads directly to the source of the text. There's my quota of Internet education for the day.

More on-topic, note that the page referenced here is NOT the US Flag Code, but merely one person's non-authoritative interpretation of it. The actual flag code can be found here (the parts pertaining to half-staff display are in Section 7). The interpretation of when the flag should be flown at half-staff is a bit murky - the actual code gives the President and state governors specific rights to order flags to be flown at half-staff on specific occasions, but doesn't specifically prohibit flying it at half-staff on other occasions. Indeed, the code specifically states that "the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law" upon the death of "other officials or foreign dignitaries". Whether or not an institution such as a college could consider a student to be an "official" is probably a question of interpretation.

On the other hand, the also-non-authoritative, but very through survey of flag etiquette at specifically says "No" to half-staff for companies on the death of an employee, or colleges on the death of a student (details here). In both these cases, lowering a company or college flag, or displaying black crepe on building entrances, are suggested as alternatives that show respect for the individual being honored, while also respecting the flag code.

Anonymous said...

Masthead Photo.

Whether you believe me or not, I'd like to give you a big thank you for being open and honest about that photo.I knew the whole story already about how it came the flag came to be. I just was unclear about your intent.

As I had asked you previously, "was it to stick it to the selectboard officials who denied the claim on Sept 10th? Because seriously, reading the things that you've written and/or commented on (not to mention what some have written about you) in the Bulletin over the years, it was hard to get where you were coming from.

A lot of folks I knew had the impression of "look at me, you warped,twisted, un-American Amherst left-wing pinko kooks!" "See what I'm holding at Ground Zero?" It's not hard seeing that in the situation.

But I can see now first hand from your latest responces, the above impression is just plain wrong. It's easy to see in this case that 9/11 brought out the anger, sadness, well hell, every kind of emotion in you. Me too. I'm glad the photo is sacred to you.It's something to be proud of. I sincerely never meant to attack or lecture you on anything. If you felt that way, I apologize.

I really had to dig down and find out more about this guy who pisses off so many and what makes him tick.

BUT, I am sticking to my guns when I SUGGEST to you to cool your jets a bit. You know the saying, "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar". And in saying that, why don't you consider running for the select board? You certainly seem passionate about your hometown.

Amherst, the state and the nation are facing some rough times ahead. I think everyone should put their egos aside and concentrate on just fixing the problems.

By the way, how come you couldn't get Senator John Kerry and Amherst's own State Senator Stan Rosenberg to sign the photo?


I simply googled Amherst and there popped up all this information and images for the YouTube videos. What a wonderful world we live in. If they ever make any money, I'll throw a few bucks your way.

Take care

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, I like it when people “stick to their guns”—especially when taking incoming rounds. Although these violent metaphors will scare off Anne Awad types.

I actually did run for Select Board (five times) and if there were two seats open I would come in third, or one seat open, occasionally second. I even ran for State Representative against Ellen Story a long time ago, as an Independent and although Ellen beat me over 2-1 I did beat the Republican by 3-1.

The problem in our little town is that for soooooo many years I have been soooooo outnumbered by freespending ideologs (with a political agenday) that I have had to shout to get peoples attention. Thankfully these days I have joined forces with a few like-minded folks who have a core and care as deeply about the town as I do.

But yes, the child who exposed the King had no clothes relied on truth without shouting (but that story is fictional)

I never asked Stan (or Ellen) to sign the Ground Zero photo but I’m certain they would have. Kerry I did not ask--but he ignored me 25 years ago on an issue that Senator Kennedy immediately responded to, so him I’m not so sure about him.

But hey, the photo is only an 8” by 10” and you only have so much room. Actually, if you look closely at the original the paw print of my dog Jamie is also there.

She was in the back seat of the car when we drove to Boston to fly the flag over the Capital Building (and get Governor Swift’s signature) and at one point jumped from the backseat to the front landing with one dirty paw on the white border of the photo.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to flog a dead horse...

"But, in the end, Larry is really just about Larry."

Rich Morse

Are you friggan kidding me?!!?

Are youuu friggan KID-DING ME???????

Larry Kelley said...

And these days, we have one too many Larry's

Anonymous said...

How NOT to handle the flag VIDEO