Former Iraq viceroy L. Paul Bremer's heels had barely scuttered across the tarmac to his plane Monday when the new Iraqi government proudly unfurled the nation's flag.
But wait a minute! That's not the flag the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council agreed on after an extensive artistic competition. Remember that snappy blue Islamic crescent on a field of pure white, with two blue stripes representing the Tigris and Euphrates and a third stripe to symbolize the country's Kurdish minority? The pale blue was just like the main color of the flag of Israel.
It was deemed a beautiful symbol of the New Iraq. But for some reason the Iraqis, probably because they aren't used to democracy, objected.
So the flags surrounding the new interim government are the same old red-and-green and-black flag of yore. They even have the "God Is Great" writing, which Saddam Hussein added after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Makes you wonder how many of Bremer's final pre-departure edicts will make it into next week.
Are Bikinis Okay Now?
Then there's the new Coalition Provisional Authority dress code. A Loop Fan forwarded a May 2 "Administrative Notice" that said the code, "effective immediately," was to be followed by all military and civilian folks. The new rules are:
"a. When wearing physical training gear inside the Palace it will be modest in appearance, not form-fitting or extremely short."
"b. Swimwear is not to be worn inside the Palace or to and from the pool without additional outer clothing."
"c. Revealing clothing, such as sheer (see-through) clothes, will not be worn in any public place without additional undergarments, preferably a color complimentary to the wearer's skin tone. Wearing short miniskirts and tank tops in the Palace is not authorized."
"d. Clothing which displays offensive messages [is] not authorized and will not be worn. This includes T-shirts containing sexually explicit, vulgar, racial or theologically extreme graphics or language."
Well, no more CPA, so no more dress code? Couldn't get an answer from the CPA yesterday. Or from the embassy either.
Turning Down the Heat
Speaking of dress codes . . . some folks at the Interior Department are miffed at the new "Summer Business Casual Dress Policy" issued last week by P. Lynn Scarlett, assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.
D.C. summers and energy-conservation efforts argue for everyone to dress "in cooler and more comfortable attire," she said.
So "effective July 6, 2004, I am extending the current business casual dress policy from Fridays only to every working day" for D.C. area employees. But don't get too comfortable. After Labor Day, "we will return to wearing business casual attire on Fridays only."
"Acceptable business casual attire includes slacks, skirts, shirts, blouses, and casual dresses," she said. It's "not appropriate to wear to work . . . jeans of any type," or T-shirts or shorts or sneakers. Supervisors can make exceptions, of course -- say, for those "in manual labor positions."
Seems a lot of other employees not on the Interior Department's sixth floor -- the geologists, hydrologists, biologists, historians and others -- have been going "casual" for many years.
Well, come Labor Day, they'd better break out the suits.
Turning Up the Heat
Dress codes are also very important at the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC met last week in a closed-door meeting to consider the merger of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. The senior staff opposed the merger, but the commissioners favored it.
As they gathered at the long table -- commissioners on one side, staff on the other -- Robert S. Tovsky, the lead attorney investigating the merger, showed up in shirt and tie, but no jacket.
FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris loudly took him to task, our colleague Caroline E. Mayer tells us. Tovsky said his jacket was in his office, blocks away. Muris then offered -- not kindly -- to lend Tovsky a spare. Some commissioners and staff were taken aback by Muris's outburst.
The next day, Muris, a professorial type not known for his sartorial splendor, sent Tovsky a note: "I should have had someone approach you quietly and offer a coat from my office. For my heavy-handedness, I apologize."
Muris said that when he was in the Reagan administration, the late president "wanted everyone to wear a coat and tie when in the Oval Office, as a sign of respect" for the presidency. "Obviously, we are not at the White House," he said, but coats and ties should be worn when meeting with outsiders and during formal FTC meetings.
And "to repeat what I said yesterday," Muris wrote, with copies to the commissioners and senior staff, great job on the Reynolds investigation.
But the commission approved the merger anyway.
Finally, a Results-Oriented Election
The Labor Department announced last week that the third class of MBA fellows is showing up for a two-year training program. The program, which began two years ago, is designed to recruit people with degrees in business as part of President Bush's "call for a more results-oriented government," the announcement said.
Of course, the Democrats could capture the White House on Nov. 2, so the fellows might want to work real fast for a while.