An Open Letter to Gov. McCrory Complete With a Song Dedication – Apologies to Gerry Rafferty

Dear Governor McCrory,

Knowing that you just celebrated your 60th birthday, I thought I would send a song dedication to you.

Specifically a rewritten version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” recorded with the group Stealers Wheel.

stealersstuck

It’s a classic from the 70’s and it seems to really sum up the situation that I perceive you are in with the upcoming election and the issue of HB2 casting a long shadow on your campaign.

That, and it’s a catchy tune.

Well, I don’t know why I’m promoting this law.
It’s caused more trouble than I foresaw.
I’m so scared and I publicly whine.
Cause I didn’t veto; don’t have any spine.
I claim “Charlotte’s to the left” of me,
Berger’s to the right, and here I am
Defending HB2.

Rick Rothacker’s October 18th news story in the Charlotte Observer (“In email, McCrory’s general counsel said governor fought against HB2”), you seem to insist that you may have secretly opposed HB2 during its radical adoption in last spring’s secret, special session.

Rothacker reported,

“Three days after Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, his general counsel told a former legal colleague that the governor battled the legislature over the bill that limited protections for LGBT individuals, according to emails obtained by the Observer.

“Bob, here are the facts: We fought against this bill,” Bob Stephens said in a March 26 email to Bob Turner, a lawyer in Charlotte. “You have no idea how hard the Governor worked to limit it. He told the legislature that it went too far. We lobbied against it and even drafted our own version of the bill but it was not accepted.”

Stephens’ comments contrast with McCrory’s defense of the measure in recent months, even in the face of major sports boycotts of the state.”

That is rather eye-opening considering the effort that you have made to defend the controversial “bathroom bill” that has seen millions of dollars taken away from North Carolina’s economy through the loss of business expansion, cancellations of sports and entertainment events, and lost tourism in protest the discriminatory law.

Bob Stephens, your general counsel, later “defended” your complicit nature by stating,

“And don’t tell me the Governor should have vetoed the bill. His veto would have been overridden in a matter of days and we’d be right where we are now. If you have other ideas about what the Governor should have done, let me know.”

Actually, you should have vetoed.

Governor, in a re-election campaign that is literally becoming more of an uphill climb, you could have done more positive for your image than any commercial, political ad, website, testimonial, or explanation defending HB2 could have ever done. You could have vetoed it and shown some spine in confronting your own party.

Yes, I know that I’m vouching for HB2,
But I’m really wondering should I continue.
It’s so hard to keep this smile on my face.
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place.
NCAA’s to the left of me.
Tim Moore’s to the right, but here I am
Stuck with HB2.

Instead, you became a puppet for someone else’s discriminatory agenda and a mouthpiece of a fallacious and illogical argument.

If you had vetoed the bill as Mr. Stephens’s email hints at, you might have been able to show that you are not a rubber stamp for the policies of the GOP General Assembly.

You may have been able to distinguish yourself as your own person who keeps the best interests of all North Carolinians in mind, not just the ones who lead the GOP on West Jones Street.

And yes, your veto would have been overridden, but you would have made a statement and a stand that would have firmed up a rather shaky foundation of an administration.

But you willingly allowed yourself and your tenure as governor to be forever haunted with the albatross that is HB2 to go along with the Voter ID law and all of the other actions that have welcomed public education in NC.

Bob Stephens did say one other thing that seems very eye-opening in this storm of an election season.

He said,

“The Governor is always the lightning rod for these things. Not fair.”

Your blaming others for a law that cannot even be enforced and is hurting our state is not fair.

Being the lightning rod comes with the office; however, in this case you covered yourself with aluminum foil, held up a golfing putter, and climbed an even higher peak in the middle of a political and social tempest.

But no worries, if you don’t like the weather in North Carolina, just wait a while. It will change.

Hopefully on November 8th.

Trying to make some sense of it all.
But I can see that it makes no sense at all.
Can I now issue that veto?
Cause this issue won’t let me go.
Springsteen’s to the left of me,
My politics to the right, but here I am
Drowning because of HB2.

“A Confederacy of Redundancies” – McCrory, Berger, and Moore’s Weak Responses to Voter ID Ruling

If you have never read the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, then do yourself a favor and get a copy. It’s exquisite. It’s about an out-of-shape anti-hero who sells hot dogs and frets over a supposed heart-condition in New Orleans who is courting a radical gal from New York and ultimately survives a parrot attack. No kidding.

A top-five all time book for me.

It’s the nonsensical element that drives this book and its ability to showcase a lot of the meaningless fodder that we as humans give so much power to.

We seem to be living in our own alternate reality here in NC as well, but maybe with the recent ruling to overturn the Voter ID law, reality may be coming back to the real.

However, if you listen to the responses from our governor and leading lawmakers in the General Assembly, then you can see why in some ways we are still in that alternate reality, one called “A Confederacy of Redundancies”.

After the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling and opinion, the governor’s office released the following statement from Gov. McCrory (http://governor.nc.gov/press-release/governor-mccrory-releases-statement-voter-id-ruling).

“Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal court room. Yet, three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal and also review other potential options.”

Why is this redundant? It is the same red-herring argument that was used for the “Bathroom Bill” (HB2), when a nonexistent circumstance like transgender sexual assault in locker rooms for school children was used to validate the removal of LGBT rights across the state. In the case for this response, the governor is referring to non-existent voter fraud. If he can make people focus on voter fraud, then it takes the focus off the fact that the Voter ID law really is discriminatory.

The governor is responding with a lot of words that seemingly do not have much substance. When he shines a light on the Photo ID aspect, he tries to shadow over the fact that the law also lifted early voting, same day registration, and out of precinct voting. All of those directly affect minority voters and in this election cycle it is not a stretch to see that those citizens will primarily vote for the Democrats.

Also, there is that using an ID to buy Sudafed, cash a check, board and airplane, and enter federal court argument. Well, most of those are legal transactions that now need ID because of actual (not nonexistent) fraud committed – Sudafed for the meth problem, check cashing because of identity theft, airplanes because of terrorism threats, all of which are very real.

Entering a federal court usually means you are entering a federal building. There’s security measures used for all federal building – ALWAYS. ID would be a sensible way to enter; however, the last time I went to go vote in my precinct, I was not asked for an ID to get in the building. Security measures do not necessitate it. It is a church. God already knows my ID.

And if the governor was really worried about ID’s maybe he should see how easily it is to get a gun without an ID.

The joint statement released by Sen. Berger and Rep. Moore offers more rich redundancies. It says,

 “Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election. We will obviously be appealing this politically-motivated decision to the Supreme Court.”

“Partisan”? From these two people? Really?

North Carolina as a model? Tell that to Wisconsin and Texas. Both of those states were just ruled upon too for their Voter ID laws – by different court officials.

“Reopening the door for voter fraud?” You mean the nonexistent instances of voter fraud that occurred before you changed the laws to help “steal the election” for GOP members in NC in this election cycle?

Furthermore, Berger’s website offered more explanation of his position (http://www.philberger.org/berger_moore_respond_to_politically_motivated_ruling_blocking_voter_id).

“The voter ID law ensures any North Carolina citizen who wants to vote will have that opportunity. The law establishes a list of valid government-issued photo IDs that voters can present at their polling places, allows anyone without a photo ID to obtain one at no cost through the Department of Motor Vehicles, and allows anyone who still has difficulty obtaining a valid ID to fill out a reasonable impediment affidavit and still have their vote counted. It also brings North Carolina into the mainstream of other states on matters of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting.

More than 30 other states have voter ID requirements, and a similar law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 2008.

Polls – including those commissioned by groups challenging the law – consistently show the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians support voter ID. And political opponents of the law failed to produce a single witness who would be unable to vote under the law in court. “

Isn’t it ironic that the response from these two gentlemen from rural counties would be produced after the ruling in about the same time frame as it took for them to ram through the Voter ID law after the federal courts loosened voter discrimination rulings? Hell, look at how quickly HB2 was conceived and passed.

If Berger and Moore want to cite polls, then that means they may want to get more public input in their decision making. Where was that with HB2? Would they have allowed voters to actually give input to voting? No, I think not. Besides, if you talk about polls, then allow polls to rule everything else.

Furthermore, some people cannot get one of those “ID’s” without a birth certificate, which is really the only form of
ID that shows proof of citizenry. Just ask Donald Trump with his obsessive birther scandal with Obama. Many older people do not have birth certificates. Minorities and poorer people do not have access to medical records easily.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals also took into account another item that Berger and Moore do not explain. An NPR report stated,

“The appeals court noted that the North Carolina Legislature “requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices” — then, data in hand, “enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.”

The changes to the voting process “target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” the circuit court wrote, and “impose cures for problems that did not exist”(http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/07/29/487935700/u-s-appeals-court-strikes-down-north-carolinas-voter-id-law ).

That sounds more like voter fraud to me.

Oh, my valve!

Governor McCrory, You are No “Eisenhower Republican”

Dear Governor,

I have heard many national GOP candidates make mention of their affinity for President Reagan when addressing audiences. Simply channeling “The Gipper” has become almost a necessity to make a good impression especially on those who remember the two-term president from California. His calm voice, his presence, his speech on the Berlin Wall, and his being the last POTUS to survive an assassination attempt are forever etched in my memory.

And I am not even a registered republican.

Governor, you have invoked the spirit of another beloved republican U.S. President when you began to define yourself as an “Eisenhower Republican” early in your term. And just like people such as Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz when they summon the ghost of Reagan, you are donning yourself in borrowed robes.

Why? Because you are nothing like Eisenhower.

Eisenhower built roads. Literally built roads. He oversaw the creation of the interstate highway system that linked communities and cities together. While you claim to want to create a similar infrastructure, it is odd that there are many metaphorical roads that you have allowed to erode. With supporting a Voter ID law, HB2, and tax breaks for the wealthy, you are actually enabling the burning of social bridges that is further dividing people in our state.

President Eisenhower expanded the New Deal programs started by FDR. He created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to implement programs to help needy individuals. “HEW” eventually gave rise to two mainstays in federal government: the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, two federal agencies that you seem to shun.

Oddly enough, your administration has enabled privatization efforts in public education with Opportunity Grants and rampant growth of for-profit charter schools. Furthermore, your decision to reject Medicaid expansion for people in your own state shows a glaring disconnect to the spirit of Eisenhower especially when almost one in four children here in NC live in poverty. Your policies have even led to reduction in unemployment benefits for many who needed them.

The former president also was known for his many press conferences. He held more of them than any president up until his tenure. He had no fear of talking to the media or reaching out to the people of the country through the press. You will not even answer questions from the media concerning HB2 and other matters that directly affect our citizens.

The late president was once quoted as saying, “I have just one purpose … and that is to build up a strong progressive Republican Party in this country. If the right wing wants a fight, they are going to get it … before I end up, either this Republican Party will reflect progressivism or I won’t be with them anymore.” He made that statement in response to a growing faction in his party of ultra-conservative, Tea-Party like politicians who wanted to drive the Republican Party further to the right.

President Eisenhower stood up to people in his own political party for the sake of principle rather than bowing to personality. But I do not see that same type of character in you, Governor. You rarely issue a veto, and you regularly kowtow to GOP cogs such as Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore. You seem more of the enabler than the leader when compared to the ultra-right-wing faction in North Carolina.

President Eisenhower helped to defeat the scourge of Nazism. He faced a growing threat of communism and the Cold War with stern principles, yet still maintained peace. He helped in desegregation, believing that there were “no second class citizens of this country.”

He was a man of action, not of empty words.

So, how can you truly call yourself an “Eisenhower Republican?”

Hyperbole, North Carolina – On the Corner of Exaggeration Avenue and Understatement Boulevard

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

 

 

 

A Pot to Piss in – Open Letter to Rep. Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

Dear Rep. Moore and Lt. Gov. Forest,

The special legislative session convening on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 is a perfect example of one of the many lessons that I am asked to teach my students each and every year as a public high school English teacher. That lesson is in the use of irony.

The common core standards that ironically you helped place in our schools and are now debating on replacing are specific in teaching irony. Consider these examples:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.6
Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.5.A
Interpret figures of speech (e.g. verbal irony, puns) in context.

One of the greatest teachers I have ever known used to say, “Irony makes the world go round.” Well, it sure is fueling the North Carolina General Assembly’s actions in this short special session, a session which will surely become a wonderful example to use when teaching irony.

There are three basic types of irony we teach in schools: situational, verbal, and dramatic.

Verbal irony is when you say one thing, but mean another. Take for instance your quote, Rep. Moore, on the cost of holding these special sessions of the General Assembly. You were quoted in a Feb. 25th report by Jim Morrill in the Charlotte News and Observer (“NC House speaker weighs special session on Charlotte LGBT ordinance”) as saying, “While special sessions are costly we cannot put a price tag on the safety of women and children.”

Rep. Moore, you are right from an ethical point of view. Nothing is more important than the safety of our loved ones. But where was that sentiment when the General Assembly and the governor decided not to expand Medicaid for many of the very women and children you are alluding to? Maybe many of those very same women look to Planned Parenthood for health and pre-natal support, but you have stated a very strong stance on Planned Parenthood.

You said in an August 2015 statement during the “long” session of the NCGA,

“As we continue the development of our state budget, I will work to include language in the final document that states in no uncertain terms, no state funds will go to organizations that are involved in the reprehensible practice of profiting from the sale of a baby’s remains.”

This very statement was made with the assumption that the videos made by The Center for Medical Progress secretly in Planned Parenthood offices were actually valid. Ironically, those videos were doctored. (Pardon the pun, but we teach the use of puns in school as well).

Even you, Lt. Gov. Forest, use the women and children of our state as a reason for the special session. You stated with Rep. Moore in another report (March 21) by the Charlotte News and Observer’s Jim Morrill ( “NC lawmakers heading for the special session Wednesday”), “We aim to repeal this ordinance before it goes into effect to provide for the privacy and protection of the women and children of our state.”

What you both are really saying is that you are offended that a local government has stepped up to protect rights of some of its citizens without asking you and others in Raleigh first. It seems that you want to exert control over a situation that really does not affect you. Furthermore, it is ironic that the political party to which you both are aligned favors small government and less regulation from a larger government body when the very opposite is occurring here.

 

Want some more irony? This special session deals with Charlotte, the place where Gov. McCrory was a four-time mayor, and a successful one according to him because he was so adept at reaching across the aisle and working with both parties. One would think that that would translate to his current job where he works with both parties to construct legislation that truly benefits women and children. But that sadly is a case of situational irony, when what was expected is totally opposite to what actually happened.

 

Many cities have enacted the same ordinances in defense of the LGBT community as Charlotte, and I have yet to hear how those have caused in those locales the very problems you claim will happen in Charlotte when April 1 comes. This sounds a lot like the need to prevent non-existent voter fraud with a voter ID bill that was enacted. You made the claim that there were problems, but in reality you wanted to make it harder for those who align themselves with the Democratic Party to vote. Isn’t that ironic?

 

The cost of the special session is estimated at $ 42,000 a day. Is that not a little too much for a “fiscally frugal” crowd on the heels of an extra-long summer session that really did not produce a fantastic budget? That’s even more ironic.

 

Yet, perhaps the most ironic aspect of this special session is a wonderful example of dramatic irony, when the audience (in this case the citizens) knows more than the actors on stage (legislators).

 

You say that you are going to protect our women and children, yet most all of us know that behind closed doors on West Jones Street more will be done to further the current General Assembly’s grip on this state during an important election year.

 

You say that you are protecting the public, but history has shown that you will surreptitiously enact more policy that will further damage our state’s health. Even Rob Schofield’s recent March 23 post on NC Policy Watch (“Bathroom bill will be far ranging…”) has a copy of the bill being considered in this special session. And it does not limit itself to the Charlotte ordinance. It is far reaching.

 

When I teach irony, I inform my students that it is not always funny and humorous. In fact, it is many times cruel in nature.

 

And this particular example of irony is definitely cruel, considering that you are stating you are more concerned with where people go to the bathroom when you should consider that too many people in this state do not even have a pot to piss in.