Moral Monday and taxpayer dollars

The Moral Monday protests are really getting under the skin of NC conservatives and the Civitas Institute in particular.  I find the latest attack especially pathetic.  It turns out that Rev William Barber, leader of the NC NCAAP and a driving force behind the protests, takes government grants for faith-based organizations to help people!!  They write:

While the Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, likes to call opponents extremists and rant about the immorality of legislative actions, he never mentions one important detail concerning his personal interest. An organization associated with his church, Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corporation, of which he is the founder and still chairman, has bellied up to the taxpayer buffet to the tune of over $1.15 million in recent years. A quick search shows some but not all of the taxpayer dollars garnered by his organization (State Agencies come from NC Open Book:

As the head of the NCNAACP and the organizer of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), he is the originator and ringmaster of the “Moral Money Monday” protests. Barber has said in many places that the HKonJ organizations are the organizers and force behind the “Moral Money Monday” protests.

It is a collection of groups that, like Barber’s group, has benefited handsomely from taxpayer dollars. While he cloaks his actions in morality and even the trappings of Christianity, going as far as wearing religious garb at the protests, his interest is really about that least religious of concerns – Mammon, or money.

Firstly, isn’t it conservatives who have long wanted government to act through faith-based organizations? More notably, exactly how does getting grants to prevent student drop-outs and improve child nutrition suggest Barber is all about money?  Truly pathetic.

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How to (not) run a health insurer

Let’s stick with a theme this afternoon.  Okay, maybe this is somehow all Obamacare’s fault, but, for years I have had a single health insurance card which listed me as well as all my dependents on the same card.  Quite convenient.  For some reason, BCBS NC decided this year that each of my children need their very own health insurance card.  So, now, I theoretically need to carry 5 health insurance cards around whereas I previously just needed 1.  Do my kids need to keep their health information private from each other or something?  So stupid.  So, I emailed my insurer to complain and inquire about getting the old style card.  After setting up an account to access their secure communication to me (I was not exactly receiving the results of an HIV test) I was informed that, well, they told us this change was coming in the annual enrollment materials sent a couple months ago.  Oooooh, you told me it was coming.  Well, then, in that case it makes complete sense to have a separate card for each of my kids.   Argh, the stupid!

How to (not) run a museum

A few years ago I attended a meeting of the NC Advisory Board of the US Civil Rights Commission (of which I am a member) in a conference room at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, NC.  Our meeting finished early, so I was excited to have the opportunity to tour the museum.  But no.  The museum only offered guided tours and they did not fit my schedule for making it home to Cary.  That’s nuts, I though, but what can you do.  Surprise, surprise, this great museum (by all accounts I’ve heard) is not getting nearly the number of visitors it would like.  Just read today that they have finally awakened to reality:

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum opened in Greensboro nearly three and a half years ago.  A national sit-in movement began on February 1st, 1960 at an F.W. Woolworth lunch counter on Elm Street, and today that site remains a commemoration and celebration of a chapter in American history.

By some metrics the museum has struggled to gain visitors and grow its footprint since it opened. Now, leaders of the museum are planning an optimistic initiative and one significant change.

Since the grand opening in 2010 there has been only one way to tour the exhibits at the museum – with a guide.  The museum doesn’t allow photography or recordings in the exhibit space, but made an exception one afternoon last week.  The hour-long tour chronicles much of the Civil Rights Movement as well as some temporary displays…

Perhaps the biggest criticism by museum-goers has been that a guide is required. Leaders have long said this is to maximize the experience and they haven’t wavered on the policy, until now.

“I like to be able to wonder and read and just reminisce myself when I go to museums,” says Melvin “Skip” Alston, a co-founder of the museum who remains on the board of directors. He said in an interview last week the museum will soon begin allowing visitors to do self-guided tours.

“There are a lot of people that like to take their time and not to be rushed through an exhibit. And we recognize that,” he said.

Alston didn’t have a specific date, but he said self-guided tours would be available by the end of the year.

I think that’s great for a museum to offer guided tours, but to insist that their particular guided tour is the only way you can enjoy the museum is just nuts.  Next time I am in Greensboro I will enjoy a self-guided tour of this museum.

Photo of the day

Really enjoyed this summer-themed gallery at Big Picture.  Last week there was quite the lighting storm and I thought I’d record a HD video and then hopefully get a good still from it.  Capture several flashed but then ended up being far too small a portion of the image for a decent capture.  Now, this, however, is awesome:

A lightning storm rolls across the sky on June 17 in Odessa, Texas. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which collects its information at the Odessa-Schlemeyer Field, there will be chances of thunderstorms all day Tuesday then returns to sunny skies with the temperature in the mid to high 90s. (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American via Associated Press)

The non gay marriage liberal agenda

I’ve written on several occasions that I’m quite frustrated about how gay marriage has become the sine qua non of liberal politics.  As I wrote on Dahlia Lithwick’s FB page today, I’m glad that somebody smarter and a better writer has taken on writing about this (with Barry Friedman):

But did you notice that, on the way to this victory, the left, as a movement, seemed to abandon almost everythingelse for which it once stood? That while gay marriage rose like cream to the top of the liberal agenda, the rest of what the left once cherished was shoved aside, ignored, or “it’s complicated” to oblivion? Stipulate: Gay rights is an unequivocally just cause. But this win, however deserved, addresses no more than a small fraction of what the left once believed essential.

It didn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Progressives could have pushed marriage equality without ditching all the causes and ideas on which their movement was founded.  It’s not like anyone in the gay community ever asked them to abandon the rest of their agenda. But progressives did. Perhaps it was battle fatigue, or a loss of confidence in how to fix things. Or maybe issues like poverty and education seem intractable, and it just got too hard to keep trying.

And somehow, somewhere along the line, to be progressive also stopped meaning a commitment to help the poor. The central problems that defined the left from the early history of the Progressive movement through the Great Society are as urgent today as they ever were: Economic fairness; a war on poverty, meaningful education reform, voting rights, workers’ rights, racial justice, women’s rights, equal access to child care and health care. But while none of these social ills has been remedied in modern America (and manyare now worse) all that talk about “welfare queens” seems to have scared folks off.  Face it: There is not, and never has been, anything sexy about the minimum wage.

Now, personally, I don’t post a lot of political stuff on FB (that’s what the blog is for), but I really enjoy all the political postings I come across and I love it as an insight into the liberal mind (just not enough conservative FB friends for the same insight– but I can watch 5 minutes of Fox News for that).  And it frustrates me.  Dozens and dozens of friends change their profile picture or make excited status proclamations over gay marriage but have nothing to say about poverty, unemployment, health care, etc.  (Not John F., though!)  Heck, if there was even a quarter of the enthusiasm for these other issues, I’d feel much better, but as it is, it’s just depressing.  Yes, these issues are harder– all the more reason we need people to get strongly behind them.  And let me risk apostasy by saying I do think the fact that American children are literally hungry and good hard-working people cannot find jobs and Americans are literally dying because of the inadequacies of our health care system is more important than the legal status of relationships of same-sex couples.  Again, not that these couples don’t deserve rights and legal protection, but relative to these other issues, I just don’t think this is where such a disproportionate share of the energy of the liberal project should be focused.

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