Fly an Irish flag on the streets of America, not a problem. Wave a Mexican flag, and hear the controversy swirl.
Mostly among conservatives, who are incensed that Mexican nationals and other supporters of amnesty for illegal aliens would go so far as to hoist Mexico's flag at pro-immigration rallies across the United States.
Declared Fox News' Bill O'Reilly: "So now it's becoming a race war. That's what it's becoming - a race war. You see half-a-million people show up in L.A., and they were waving Mexican flags."
"In many, many ways, outrageous," agreed Fox News host Sean Hannity.
The right-leaning Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard warns illegal aliens that waving Mexican flags "doesn't help their cause." And columnist Robert Novak sees mostly red in Mexico's red, white and green colors.
"Where did all these flags come from?" he wondered. (We would assume Mexico's equivalent of Betsy Ross, no doubt sewing furiously when the United States set out to steal Texas from our neighbors to the south.)
As for President Bush's position, let us remember a photograph of our commander in chief enthusiastically waving the Mexican flag while campaigning for office in 2004.
COME GET US
Before we close the chapters of Ronald Kessler's new book, "Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady," let's revisit October 2002, when National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was standing with President Bush in the Oval Office discussing new terrorist threats against the White House and other key targets.
Vice President Dick Cheney had been taken to an undisclosed location. Bush straightened and stood a little taller as he said to Rice: "You know, they're going to have to come get me right here."
One year earlier, we now read for the first time, on Oct. 19, 2001, Laura Bush was at the Crawford, Texas, ranch with her friend Debbie Francis, while the president was in China. The first lady's Secret Service detail informed them of a new threat.
"They had me move from the guest house into the main house in case we had to evacuate quickly," Francis recalled. "I stayed in one of the girl's rooms. For that one night, they didn't want us to have any lights on in the house. So we closed all the curtains and just had a little candle burning."
Throughout the ordeal, she said, Laura Bush remained "totally calm."
It was movie night last Wednesday at the White House, where President Bush and first lady Laura Bush invited friends to a screening of "Voyage to Kure," a documentary by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau, about the Pacific Northwest Hawaiian Islands, called one of the nation's greatest and largely unknown national treasures.
And why did the president choose this documentary over, say, a screening of "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" or "The Shaggy Dog"?
The White House reminds us that Bush is in the process of proposing a maritime sanctuary for what happens to be the most remote archipelago in the world. The islands stretch for more than 1,000 miles; have significant archaeological, cultural, economic and historic significance; and are home to more than 7,000 species, a quarter of which are found nowhere else on earth.
TO YOUR HEALTH
The crowd was toasting health the other night at Bistro Bis in the Hotel George, gathered for the launch of Health Care America, which is dedicated to promoting consumer choice in health care.
Advisory board members of the advocacy group include President Bush's former Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy G. Thompson, and former Bush communications deputy Tucker Eskew.
TWO TO GO
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has signed Legislative Bill 454 into law, allowing law-abiding citizens of his state the right to carry a concealed firearm for self-protection.
In neighboring Kansas, meanwhile, legislators two weeks ago overrode Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto to bring the "right-to-carry" concealed arms to that state as well.
Now, according to the National Rifle Association, of all the 50 states, only Wisconsin and Illinois flatly refuse to recognize the right of law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms for protection against attacks.