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With my vacation to the Midwest at last complete, it’s time to face the immense despair that usually accompanies my return home. For starters, I’m furious that Jesse Helms decided to surrender the carbon while I was nowhere near a computer. I neglected to include Helms in the erstwhile Worst American Birthday series; he certainly deserved the dishonor, if for no other reason than because he seeped from the womb on the very day that Charles Strite of Stillwater, Minnesota, received a patent for his pop-up electric toaster.

If I actually believed in hell, I’d envy the spit-jack who earned the duty of gently turning Helms’ carcass for eternity.

Meantime, I’ll have to content myself with mildly admiring this guy:

L.F. Eason III gave up the only job he’d ever had rather than lower a flag this week to honor former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

Eason, a 29-year veteran of the state Department of Agriculture, instructed his staff at a small Raleigh lab not to fly the U.S. or N.C. flags at half staff Monday as called for in a directive to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley.

When a superior ordered the lab to follow the directive, Eason decided to retire rather than pay tribute to Helms.

I suppose there’s an argument to be made that only an idiot would allow the mouldering remains of Jesse Helms to force him into an unplanned, early retirement. But since I don’t place much value on raising or lowering the flag on anyone’s behalf, that’s to be expected. Flying it half-mast and upside-down might have been a decent compromise, though.

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