HullaBaloo 2: You’re Being Played. 

By hoop or dupe, you will be made to care. 

Regardless of what side of the House Bill 2 (HB2) debate you fall on, put that aside for a minute. This is not about the actual bill (which, for the record I thought was a horrible idea from the get go). This is about how this whole fiasco was plotted out and continues to be carried out, by a group of people, not to “protect” anyone, but solely for political gain. This is yet another example of people that are supposed to be doing what is right for constituents, doing the exact opposite, for no other reason than getting the butts that they like in the seats they want. So, before you start feverishly telling me how Republicans want to put the gays back in the closet or how the Democrats want to force everyone to be gay…hear me out. This discussion is not about the bill, but about how we got here and what you need to do about it.

As some background, let’s go over the timeline real quick like…In early ’16 the City of Charlotte decided they were going to pass an ordinance. The State legislature and Governor (who in case you didn’t know spent quite some time sitting in the Mayoral seat of Charlotte) caught wind of Charlotte’s intentions and decided to reach out to City leadership. In fact Governor McCrory called Mayor Roberts to inform her that, as per the North Carolina Constitution, Charlotte did not have the ability to pass this type of ordnance. During this call Governor McCrory and Mayor Roberts had a very constructive conversation about the proposed ordinance, pig pickins, and the Dillon Rule. Just kidding. Mayor Roberts, reportedly abruptly hung up on Governor McCrory and then went full steam ahead with the train wreck that we North Carolinians are a part of today. After Charlotte passed the ordinance, the legislature debated about how to respond. They decided to call themselves back in to session in order to pass a bill to nullify the unconstitutional actions of Charlotte. While in session they wrote and passed HB2. Then bovine excrement started to hit the fan, people started freaking out, the sky started falling, and even our pet’s heads were falling off (ok, maybe just the first one).

That is the basic timeline, but let’s rewind a little before that. In a very contentious election cycle, it looked like NC Republicans were going to be able to hold what they had. As one could assume, that did not sit well with NC Democrats or the DNC. But, what could they do? Well, they needed a controversy. So the NCDP, Charlotte Officials, Roy Cooper (current NC AG and candidate for Governor), DNC, and others got to conspirin’. Please note that I cannot say that this is exactly how this all played out or that I have my events in the correct order, but through leaked emails, history, and common sense, it is pretty easy to piece together what really happened. So, here is my semi-educated opinion of how this all went down in addition to the timeline I wrote out above…Seeing their chances at returning North Carolina to Democrats slip away, Democrat leadership pushed Charlotte to pass the ordinance, because they believed that the ordinance would result in Republicans acting foolishly and in turn return control of at least the Governor’s mansion to them. Knowing full well that the ordinance went against NC law, Democrats pushed a very willing Charlotte to act as bait to lure in the GOP. The risks they took were that 1. The GOP would act smartly and only go the legal route (which they should have done, in my not so humble opinion) and 2. That people wouldn’t care enough. Well the GOP went after the cheese, but the trap only snapped down on their collective tail. They were still alive and after the initial uproar, it was evident that the vast majority of people didn’t care enough. But, as often happens the NCDP, DNC, and Roy Cooper decided that the citizenry would be made to care. So, behind the scenes Ol’ Roy and company were corresponding with businesses to push them to make it hurt. A few companies played their part in this dirty little game, so did washed up artists like Boston and a bunch of people that I have never heard of. People started caring again! But, Americans will be Americans. The short attention span resulted in dwindling levels of outrage, McCrory and GOP polling numbers started rebounding and it was back to the well for the Democrats. So, the Democrats, yet again worked behind the scenes to inflict pain on the hearts and wallets of North Carolinians. The NCAA (probably one of the most hypocritical organizations in existence) kowtowed to the pleas of the Democrats and took away sporting events. Then the ACC followed suit (there is also a Carolina blue link between the ACC commish and Cooper, but we will leave that Tar Heel conspiracy for another day). In the land of Michael Jordan, Jimmy V, and Dean Smith, you don’t get round ball taken away without repercussions. People were/are pissed. What started as an ordinance written by a convicted sex offender in Charlotte, NC, was now world news. The plan was working. North Carolinians be damned; Democrats need control. The ends justify the means.

To these actions, I call BS. I scream BS. You should be just as outraged. Before you respond with, “well Republicans are to blame!” or “Republicans do it too!”, please take a deep breath and stop. I am patently against any elected official doing anything that harms the citizenry, with the sole purpose of winning elections. Period. Full stop. While reports of economic impact have been widely over inflated (never trust an economic impact “study”), the state has been negatively impacted by this chain of events. The state will continue face negative impacts from this whole Charlie Foxtrot, until it is resolved. The Democrats are not only ok with that, they are actively pushing for it to continue. The Governor and Legislature had the votes to repeal the bill if Charlotte would repeal their ordinance, as per multiple news sources and conversations that I have had with legislature members. According to news sources, Charlotte’s city council was leaning towards playing along until NC Democrats pushed them to stay the course. Why? Because they wanted HB2 to remain in play. They wanted a pissed off citizenry. They wanted people to still be feeling the squeeze, because all of those things increase the chances of their own reelections and picking up important seats at the table. Forgive my French, but that is utter bull shit. If you aren’t pissed off about how you are being manipulated, well, bless your heart. For those of you that have a pulse and more than two brain cells to rub together, this should be a party agnostic issue. This shouldn’t be red or blue outrage; this should be purple outrage.

As I said, I was against how the GOP handled this. I am, yet again infuriated by their lack of foresight (some Sun Tzu would do them well). I have held that opinion from the very beginning. And unlike many people I do not live in an echo chamber, I have friends that span the spectrum of politics. I also believe that if the shoe were on the other foot, I would be as outraged at Republicans if they were carrying out an abomination like this. I would like to believe that you too are able to take a step back and take a look at this situation, void of party affiliation, or opinion on the actual bill at hand. Why? Because we continue to get manipulated by politicians, whose only aim is to increase their ability to gain power. They continually use us as emotionally driven and uneducated (meaning uneducated on the issues, not just in schoolin’) pawns to serve their selfish purposes. WE let them. Hell, WE encourage it many times. WE, not just Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians have to end the cycle. When Republicans pushed the idea that gay marriage would lead to bestiality or polygamy! WE should have stood up and said “No!” When a certain President’s administration wanted to make it hurt in order to curry favor of the plebes by shutting down open air memorials unnecessarily and placing the blame on the opposition, WE should have said “No more!” When politicians and the media spread outright lies as if they were fact to increase their chances of expanding their “kingdoms”, WE have to say “Absolutely, no more!”

 While this specific example is about the actions of one specific party, the overarching issue should not be partisan and our response should be bi-partisan. But, until WE as a citizenry decide that enough is enough and WE as a people decide that politicians and pundits will no longer get a free pass and stand up as one against them…WE will continue to feel the pain. WE will enable this despicable cycle to continue. WE will continue to feed the beast. And WE will be made to care.

So, instead of allowing yourself to be manipulated, try and look behind the curtain. Question the motives. Fight back. Don’t fall prey to the belief that, no matter what, the ends justify the means as long as it helps your “team.” We are better than this…at least I would like to believe that we are. 



Close your mouth and open your ears. 

We live in the same house, but look out different windows in to the same world. What I see from mine, is not what you see from yours. 

I am tired. So. Very. Tired. I am tired of people getting killed needlessly. I am tired of racism. I am tired of uneducated, emotionally driven people acting like fools. I am tired of safe spaces, triggering, and weak minded people. I am tired of finger pointing and an utter lack of personal responsibility. I am tired of people putting their political affiliations, demographics, and unfounded opinions above what is right. I am tired of charlatans, demagogues, and grifters preying on these people to widen the divide. I am tired of self-centered drama queens taking the opportunity to get their 15 minutes of fame without worrying about the real world repercussions. I am tired of weak, so called leaders kowtowing to ridiculous demands solely out of fear of what would happen if they don’t. I am tired of bullies creating an environment of their way or the highway. I am tired of hearing that we need to have this honest conversation that no one actually intends on having. I am tired of people being called racists, xenophobes, sexists, etc., just because they have a differing opinion. I am tired of the insistence of “treating” (which more times than not is actually just toothless reactions) the symptoms and failing to figure out and treating the actual disease. I am tired of cities burning and lives being shattered. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Does anyone actually want to fix these issues? Should we just get down to business and start a race or class war? Should we all just start shedding blood in the streets? Or should we come together as people and figure out the real issues and the real solutions to those issues?

Maybe I am naïve. Maybe I am completely misguided to believe that we as a people have the strength to come together and fix what ails us. But, I refuse to accept the alternative.

So what do we do? How do we do it? I will not pretend to have the whole answer. I am not even going to lay out here what I think are some solutions. What I am going to do is layout what I think we all need to do to help us get to those solutions.

I am a 30 something, white, Republican male that was raised in a semi-diverse D.C. suburb. I know what it is like to fear losing the roof over our head, because we we’re months overdue on the mortgage. I know what it is like to have my father leave us. I know what it is like to see my mother struggle to raise three hell raising boys, mostly on her own. I know what it is like to be embarrassed about getting free lunch in school, to scour the church food pantry for our next meal, and to be one of those “Angel Tree” kids. I also know what it is like to have people along the way that supported me and made it possible for me to succeed in life. That is my experience (well, a much pared down version of it). I am not a black person and outside of my junior high years I have never pretended to be one. I have no idea what it is like to grow up as a black man. I don’t fully understand firsthand what the trials that black people encounter in this world are. I can’t. However, I do want to try and understand better. We all should.

As humans, we have a natural instinct to be very tribal. We have clubs, teams, and cliques. We gravitate towards people that are like us. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. However, when that natural occurrence manifests itself in a manner that produces negative outcomes, like a widening divide between races and classes…that is an issue. When that natural progression insulates us from the reality of others…that is an issue. We are facing that today (as we have throughout most of history). So to bridge that gap we have to break down those silos. We have to find common ground and gain a deeper understanding of each other in order to develop solutions to stamp out the cancers that cause so many issues in our society. 

The other day before my beloved ECU Pirates performed abysmally on the football field, some of the marching band members decided to do their version of the Colin Kaepernick (no not sitting on the bench) instead of playing the national anthem. I have my thoughts on this, but what is important to this discussion is what happened next. Grown adults, on both sides of the argument acted like idiots. The band members and people that supported them were called pieces of bovine excrement. People that were angered by the band members’ actions, even the respectful ones and members of the band that, instead kneeling held up flags, were called racists and fascists. This is why we can’t have nice things, people. If we are going to fix the actual issues we need to be able to have conversations like actual grownups and not spoiled toddlers. That also means we need to stop giving the mic and spotlight to those that only want to spew hate and stupidity.

We also have to stop the finger pointing and pretending that our “team” is completely innocent of contributing to the issues that brought us here. This can’t be about blame. This can’t be about finding a scape goat. Not to spoil the movie for you, but the race and class issues that we are facing today were set in motion long ago. Along the way white people, black people, Republicans, Democrats, and a bunch of other groups all made the problems worse in some way. In all honesty, who did what doesn’t matter nearly as much as how we come together to fix it. So, white people stop pretending this is just a black people problem. This issues didn’t start and they won’t end in Chicago. Stop pretending that the idea that white people may be put on better ground, to any extent than black people in life has zero merit. At the same time black people need to stop casting all the blame on white people or Republicans, or cops. If we are to fix the cultural, economic, and education issues, both sides need to realize that the blame is shared, the solution must be shared as well.

This is an emotionally charged state of affairs. Therefore, many of the reactions are emotionally driven. That is understandable, but we need to stop letting emotions alone drive us. Anger and feckless, feel good “solutions,” don’t help. Fact based, logical, open discussions that lead to actionable and measurable solutions need to occur or we will never make progress. We need to stop allowing knee jerk reactions, often times based on little to no evidence drive our actions. We also need to stop allowing the media, pundits, politicians, and other bad actors drive the narrative and further divide between us. For people like Sean Hannity and Al Sharpton strife and unrest is good for business…and business is good. It is time to shut them down.

I am just a middle class white guy in North Carolina who wants to help foster change, because I want my children and your children to live in a better world. That change is going to require much more than just me. That change is going to take entire culture shifts and generations of work, and involve many hurt feelings and a lot of pain. We need to step outside of our respective echo chambers and take it upon ourselves to work together to make things better. We need to have open discussions, void of hyperbole and vitriol to get to the root cause. We need to elect politicians that care less about getting re-elected and manipulating voters than they do about pushing policy that will help make this country what it could and should be. We need to cross aisles, streets, and neighborhoods to meet as Americans to gain insights from different perspectives. We need communities, faith groups, and other organizations to work together to drive change. We need to call out those that wish to further divide us and remove their power. We need to view each other as Americans first and all of those other identifiers second.

So that is my view/lunch time vent. That is some of what has been weighing on my heart. That is my invitation to start a conversation…with me at least. Take it or leave it, but we have to do something. The alternative should not be an option.