The North Carolina General Assembly began the 2016 short session today and there were many North Carolinians who were in our capitol to meet them.
No doubt much of the rhetoric coming from those in power will be full of double-speak, subtle or severe spin, and void of straight-forward talk about real issues at hand like HB2, Religious Freedom, Opportunity Grants, etc.
Attempting to defend their actions, people like Sen. Berger and other GOP stalwarts have employed the wonderful power of figurative language to paint their exploits in hyperbole, understatements, and absolutes – all in an attempt to convince the rest of NC that they are right because their moral compass points straight to true north.
The following is a list of the top ten quotes from our state leaders in the last three years that display not great rhetorical skill but an oratorical mastery that only the great debaters of ancient Greece could match. (Hyperbole – get it?)
So welcome to Hyperbole, North Carolina – specifically the corner of Exaggeration Avenue and Understatement Boulevard.
- Sen. Bob Rucho – “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets, & terrorists combined.” – via Twitter in December of 2013.
Wow! That’s hyperbolic twittering if ever, never mind the major errors of subject/verb disagreement, wrongly used apostrophe, and the use of swords. Even more egregious is that Rucho was a main proponent of denying expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, a state that has as many as 25% of children in poverty. Talk about damage.
- Gov. Pat McCrory on Meet the Press – “Not with — but I’ve met with transgender people in the past, and I’ve met with them since, and have had very positive conversations. Now the conversation with a very powerful group called the Human Relations, uh, Human Rights Council, my gosh, they’re more powerful than the N.R.A., and they have millions of dollars, which makes me want to overturn United, ’cause I don’t know who their donors are either.”
Holy hyperbolics Batman! The “Human Relations, uh” group is more powerful than the NRA – so powerful are they that the governor did not remember their name. And if they have so much money, will they be able to reimburse North Carolina all the money it has lost due to business boycotts in the wake of HB2?
- Gov Pat McCrory at a recent Sheriffs Association Meeting when he referred to the HB2 issue as “the elephant in the room.”
Understatement of the year! It is one thing to talk about the real issue at hand when you have been evading it for weeks because you can’t actually defend HB2. But it’ s another to actually go up to that elephant in the room and do a visual gender check on it to see what bathroom it needs to go to.
No sir, that’s its trunk. They all have one.
- Sen. Tom Apodaca on the special session called to repeal Charlotte’s ordinance that gave way to HB2. “Charlotte brought this all upon themselves.”
Did someone play “blame game”? When elections for governor and others to replace legislators go in favor of democrats, others may just look back on this past session and say of the very GOP members who championed HB2, “they brought it all upon themselves.”
- Sen. Jerry Tillman in a conversation with Sen. Josh Stein about not having to talk about charter school legislation because “he said so”.
“I’m not going to give you the details. A good lawyer would never do that (in a meeting). No, we don’t air dirty laundry here.”
Well, just the fact that a non-lawyer explained what good lawyers do to a lawyer who may be the next state’s attorney general is enough to qualify this as bullshit. And if that bullshit is as thick as it is in this conversation, Sen. Tillman needs to go ahead and clean his pants and air his laundry or it will leave a mark.
- Sen. Phil Berger on the teacher pay raises given in 2014. He labeled them as “the largest in state history.”
This is exaggeration using the “Average Bear” technique. If you need an explanation for that, just ask any veteran public school teacher in the state. Note, that it was a ‘’average” raise.
Bill Gates moving to my neighborhood raises the average income per household significantly, but I may have never seen a raise.
- Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on PayPal’s announcement to not expand in Charlotte due to HB2 – “If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it. North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.”
This is the red herring of the year.
Oddly, the law already states that men cannot do this. And if the life of a child is so precious, then expand Medicaid, fund public schools properly, and do something about the poverty rate. If the life of a woman is so valuable, fight for equal pay for equal work. But if the Lt. Gov. thinks that taking away citizens’ rights to file discrimination suits in state court is protecting people, then this above statement make sense.
- Sen. Skip Stam – “LGBT discrimination is OK because pedophilia and bestiality are ‘sexual orientations’ too.”
Stone Age here we come! And that happened before we evolved into a society that burned witches.
- Sen. Tommy Tucker – “I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”
This misinterpretation of his role is analogous to an employee telling his employer, “Shutup! I am the boss here. You just sign my checks and have the ability to fire me in this right to work state.”
In a country where elected officials are supposed to carry the will of the people they represent and be their mouthpiece in government, isn’t it refreshing to know that one of them can think this highly of himself to tell is constituents that they are too stupid to talk?
- Sen. Phil Berger on the Religious Freedom Bill that would allow magistrates to not perform same-sex marriages in NC – “Complying with the new marriage law imposed by the courts should not require our state employees to compromise their core religious beliefs and First Amendment rights in order to protect their livelihoods.”
No matter what the constitution says or what the Supreme Court rules, I should have the First Amendment right to protect my livelihood against other people’s constitutionally given right to happiness because I can use God as a political crutch to make a futile argument.
I have no idea what I said, but I do know that I have the right to say it.
So, when someone like Rep. Tim Moore exclaims, “We’re not up here just sitting around doing whatever” (about the long session of 2015) remember that he is right. It takes a lot of time to craft statements in the General Assembly that smell like the ones just mentioned.