Another of those ideas that just pops into ones head. The symbolism is blatant, but I wanted it to be very visceral too.
So I really amped the luminosity on the US Flag "blood drop" ... so that what was bleeding out was bright and shiny. The blood at the tip of the blade was also cranked up so it'd contrast well and help grab the viewer's attention. Everything kind of becomes duller as it moves away from the flag-drop - the thumbprint is nearly flat.
I carved the NDAA initials into the blade using standard Photoshop text masking techniques. The background was built with several gradient fills blended. This started out as a stark white background, but it looked so much better against black that I reworked it. An overhead lighting effect helps bring the whole thing to life.
* NDAA == "National Defense Authorization Act", a vile bill trying to be pushed through which would, among other things, allow indefinite detainment of US citizens on suspicion alone.