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.




Open Letter to Sen. Tom Apodaca concerning HB2 – You Brought it all Upon Yourself

Dear Sen. Apodaca,

Last week I wrote an open letter to both Rep. Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on their active roles in convening a special session of the General Assembly to craft, push, and pass the most prejudiced piece of legislation in recent memory. I noted that it was sadistically ironic that their claim to “protect women and children” actually went out of its way to discriminate citizens.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention your role in creating the venomous HB2, its fallout, and the continuing national backlash that threatens to hurt North Carolina not only economically but in how the rest of our nation views us through a different lens.

If Friday’s (3/25) report by Derek Lacey on BlueRidgeNow.com is read correctly, you actually wanted to charge the city of Charlotte the cost of having the special session to overturn its ordinance (http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20160324/NEWS/160329873/1151?Title=Apodaca-calls-for-Charlotte-to-cover-cost-of-special-session&tc=ar.) Even you seem to be taking a turn at sardonic irony with what may be the most egregious notion of the last three years to come from West Jones Street.

Mr. Lacey reported that you asked your staff to “look and see how the General Assembly can charge Charlotte to cover the costs of Wednesday’s special session, including the possibility of withholding the city’s sales tax revenues.” And why? You claimed because “Charlotte brought this all upon themselves.”

For someone rated “the second most effective legislator the past two sessions” according to the Henderson Lightning (“Apodaca bowing out”), you allowed your puritan ideology to cloud sound judgement over what is best for the state. You allowed your personality to override principles. You became the antithesis of what an elected official should be. You became a walking contradiction of the very representative you claim to be.

Sen. Apodaca, you (and many other senior GOP state legislators) have indicated that you will not seek reelection for another term. You therefore have one more “long session” left in your career as a state senator, and with the winds blowing so erratically this election season, there may be some method to your madness and the madness of other GOP lawmakers in having this special short session to pass HB2.

If I view this in a certain lens, your actions last week just might have been a brilliant maneuver to create more business opportunities for your post-legislative days.

Taking a look at your biography on your personal website, www.senatorapodaca.com, you talk of your success as a businessman. Now that you will not be seeking reelection you will be able to concentrate on your “current interests” including “bond insurance, real estate investment, and a travel agency.”

Think about it. First, with the overturning of the Charlotte ordinance you have brought to light the amazing amount of illegal activity concerning people intentionally going to the wrong bathroom to prey on women and children (emphasis on the tongue-in-cheek tone). While I do not have empirical evidence of this, it obviously was going to occur so much that you had to have a special session of the NCGA to do something about it (kind like all of that voter fraud that has been stopped witht eh voter ID law). Now those people can be brought to justice and many of them will need to have bail posted.

As a bails bondman, you may profit from that.

Secondly, with the passing of HB2, we may see real estate (especially commercial real estate) start to become a buyer’s market. Since untold numbers of industries and companies are voicing disapproval of the bill and refusing to continue commerce here, there will be less business taking place in North Carolina because of boycotting. But the buildings will still be there. Maybe buy cheap and sell later when the courts overturn HB2 because of its unconstitutionality and we start to regain some of that lost business?

Again, more profit for you.

Lastly, your travel agency venture will probably do fantastically as many from NC seek to vacation in other parts of the country like South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and possibly Georgia (to name the closest destinations) where LBGTQ people are not discriminated against by law like they are now in North Carolina. In fact some of those vacations may be permanent.

Once more, more profit for you.

While that might be farfetched to even imagine as a possible motive for you in helping pass HB2, what is more mindboggling is that you actually suggested that Charlotte pay for your actions by withholding some of the city’s tax revenues.  You even had the nerve to admonish them for making you convene a special session. You stated in Lacey’s article that  they knew exactly what “this” would cause.

But for someone who has been garnered numerous awards for “pro-business” politics (http://www.senatorapodaca.com/awards3.html), you may have done more with those words and with that legislative vote to drive away business from the Old North State than can be remedied in many years to come. And that’s not just ironic; that’s corrosive.

If Charlotte’s mayor and city council could have consulted a crystal ball and seen what their actions would have “caused,” then I know they would still have voted to pass a protective ordinance for the LGBT community anyway because they were acting in the best interests of the very people they represent.  They would have also seen that you and other GOP members would have outlawed the use of crystal balls because that is not specifically covered under religious freedom legislation.

Yet, while the GOP-led NCGA (with you as its second most effective legislator) has moved to strike down Charlotte’s ordinance, HB2 will be overturned. No crystal ball is needed to see that. A Federal lawsuit is already been filed and the governor is already showing that he has no viable way of defending the bill.

In the court of public opinion in this state and in the entire country, a verdict has already been reached in this matter. It is only a matter of time that the courts follow.

And if it costs the taxpayers money to defend this bill because the NCGA stubbornly tries to defend it, maybe the citizens should look to see if you and other legislators who voted in favor of HB2 could be charge to cover the costs.

And when elections for governor and others to replace legislators (like yourself) go in favor of democrats, I may just look back on this past week and say of the very GOP members who championed HB2, “they brought it all upon themselves.”