Well, we thought we were home for good last time. But, complications from my recent surgery sent me back into the hospital for a little more work. Everyone involved seems to think we have fixed the outstanding issues — for now.
Let’s look a little bit at some of what we missed during our extended “vacation”:
- Budget Time: Judging from what I’ve seen in the media, and in my inbox, shenanigans were in motion big time. Preach conservatism, but spend through your nose. The solar snake-oil types are still on the government teat. The Hollywood crowd is still on the government teat. The honorables are even buying freezers for convenience stores so they can sell fresh vegetables. *Great.*I’ve been in convenience stores across North Carolina that look not too different from the zombie hideouts in The Walking Dead. I’ve seen stores with holes in the wall exposing them to the elements outside, and I’ve seen trailer-park children climbing inside some of the very kind of freezers the honorables hope vegetables will be sold from. *Yummy.*
- Leading from the Middle: That, apparently, is the new marketing slogan for House Republicans. Mr. Orwell would have been so proud of that one. How do you lead ANYTHING or ANYONE from the middle of the pack?
- Donor revolt? : At least two major donors to the NCGOP have announced they are redirecting their contributions to Americans For Prosperity and state Rep. Chris Millis — apparently, the only entities left in Raleigh still willing to fight the good fight for limited government.
- Craig Collins on the record: The establishment favorite for NCGOP chairman took some rather interesting questions from conservatives in Caldwell County.
- Going off the “deep end” for Christianity: Our failing local paper here in yellow-dog Republican Moore County (owned by the folks who used to run the N&O) is at it again:
What is it about county commissioners and religion? Since they’re civil officers, one might assume they would confine themselves to secular matters. But not so. Every time you turn around, another commissioner in another North Carolina county is causing controversy by jumping unwisely into churchly issues.
Just last fall, our own Moore County Board of Commissioners — at least some of whose members were clearly acting on their own fundamentalist convictions — voted to support the effort to overturn a federal court’s recent ruling striking down North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban.
At that same meeting, outgoing Commissioner Jimmy Melton raised some eyebrows when he said that what made his board service so enjoyable was serving “with the right people, Christian people.” The others, apparently, were less of a pleasure to be around.
Rowan, Then Lincoln
More recently, a federal court ruled that the commissioners over in Rowan County had violated the U.S. Constitution by consistently holding prayers specific to one religion — which was, of course, the Christian one.
The idea behind such rulings is not that there is something wrong with prayer at a public meeting — as long as said prayers generally tend to be generic and nonsectarian in nature. It is only when the prayers constantly invoke the name of Jesus that they are considered to violate the First Amendment, which forbids Congress — and by extension, other public bodies — from taking actions “respecting an establishment of religion.”
And now comes the latest and perhaps most egregious example of insensitivity and offensiveness from a county commissioner — this time one in Lincoln County. The board there, it seems, has also been holding Christian prayers to launch its meetings. Asked what he thought about the Rowan ruling, Commissioners Chairman Carrol Mitchem made it clear that no non-Christian prayers would be delivered as long as he was in charge.
A Benighted Tirade
“A Muslim?” he said. “He comes in here to say a prayer, I’m going to tell him to leave. I have no use for those people. They don’t need to be here praying to Allah or whoever the hell they pray to. I’m not going to listen to a Muslim pray.”
For good (or worse) measure, he added: “We’re fighting Muslims every day. … They believe in a different God than I do. If that’s what they want to do, that’s fine. But they don’t need to be telling us, as Christians, what we need to be doing. They don’t need to be rubbing our faces in it.”
In the first place, it is not clear that anyone said anything in favor of Muslim prayers — just ones that weren’t quite so blatantly and exclusively Christian in nature. Also, when Mr. Mitchem referred to “us, as Christians,” he seemed to think he was speaking for the entire county. But surely the population there includes quite a few Jews, Hindus, atheists — and maybe even a Druid or two — who are not comfortable being included in that narrowly defined “us.”
A fellow commissioner, Alex Patton, took issue, saying: “I am a Christian, but I do not agree with Commissioner Mitchem. Our country was founded on freedom of religion.”
Exactly. Jesus preached understanding and tolerance. He would be embarrassed by such a benighted and bigoted tirade.