Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Belt Buckles: The New Paradigm of Patriotism

For many years now, we Americans have been able to measure one another's patriotism by the presence or absence of an American flag pin on a lapel.  And the bigger a pin, the more patriotic.  

But perhaps we'd become complacent and so lost sight of the original intent of the Founders.

One man, David H Brooks, has shown that we can not only renew our patriotism but take it to a higher level:  the US$100,000 American flag themed belt buckle shown in the above picture.

Even though this idea was his, David didn't shrink from giving average citizens - at least those who pay taxes - the opportunity to join in making his vision a reality by defraying the cost along with $6 million in other expenditures.

As the NY Times reports:
DHB, which specialized in making body armor used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, paid for more than $6 million in personal expenses on behalf of Mr. Brooks, covering items as expensive as luxury cars and as prosaic as party invitations, Ms. Schlegel testified.

Also included were university textbooks for his daughter, pornographic videos for his son, plastic surgery for his wife, a burial plot for his mother, prostitutes for his employees, and, for him, a $100,000 American-flag belt buckle encrusted with rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

The expense-account abuse, the prosecution has said, represented a pittance compared with the $190 million that Mr. Brooks and another top employee are accused of making through a stock fraud scheme in which he falsified information about his company’s performance — including significantly overstating the inventory of bulletproof vests — to inflate the price of the stock before selling his shares in 2004.
Patriotism and family values!

Mr. Brooks appears to be using the Abdullah Brothers' defense.  And I suspect this may all turn out to be a tempest in a teapot.  A failure - if one were to be so uncharitable to use the term "failure" - to properly document some transactions. 

I'm also guessing - but don't know for sure - that the buckle is from Damas' Bur Dubai store.

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