Master of Ceremonies Hal Weatherman, chief of staff to Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest by day, told of his boss’ victory. It was an improbable race. Forest campaigned in all 100 counties, racking up 300,000 miles. In a race where close to 4.4 million votes were cast, Forest won by fewer than 7000, which is less than a smidgeon of 1 percent of the vote. A victory so narrow would not have been possible but for each and every effort of campaigners.
Attention was called to Drew West, who many said put them to shame. West is chairman of the Buncombe County Teenage Republicans, and he’s running for chairman of the North Carolina Teenage Republicans. During the last election, West alone placed about 34,500 get out the vote calls. Anyone starting today and making 63 calls a day could give that number a run for the money in 2016 election tallies.
Meadows kept things light and airy because, he said, things would soon get serious enough. He wore a pair of sunglasses to make fun of a meme catching on with high-ranking Democrats. After cracking a few jokes, he objected to the way Hillary Clinton was campaigning. She announced via social media, instead of in front of a real crowd with real applause. He repeated what has been in the media about her scrubbed personal emails, offering to help her if she really can’t figure out how to merge email accounts. He brought up the scandal about the many millions of dollars the Clinton Foundation had received from the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia while she was serving as Secretary of State and running for president, and the candidate’s current stance that she has cut off the funding even though it still streams into the Foundation. He then repeated reports about her being dead broke when she left the White House. “We all know people who are dead broke, and she’s not one of them,” he said. He then expressed his wishes that those present work to “return the truth to Washington.”
Meadows closed reading an actual obituary. He deleted names, but the text is still available on the web site of Whitley’s Funeral Home in Kannapolis. It began, “Larry Darrell Upright, 81, passed away Monday, April 13, 2015 . . . ,” and ended, “In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Shriners Hospital for Children at 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607. Also, the family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. RIP Grandaddy.”
Since Meadows had opened a can of worms, the MC had to add a joke he had heard. It was about a teacher going around the class asking children what their mommies did for a living. Kids were giving the usual answers, but Little Billy was being unusually quiet, so the teacher nudged him, and he replied, “She’s an exotic dancer in the red light district.” The teacher was mortified, and so she held Little Billy after class to apologize for putting him in the awkward situation. At that, Little Billy informed the teacher that his mother actually worked for Hillary Clinton for President, but he was embarrassed to tell his classmates.
Next up was Patrick McHenry. He said the reason President Obama was not making any of his executive orders permanent was because of Republicans serving in Congress and because of the American people standing up for their rights. He told the story of the president’s recent attempt to outlaw 5.56 M855 ball ammunition. Word got out rather suddenly, and was seen for what it was, “backdoor arms control, one caliber at a time.” 80,000 Americans wrote to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and such a deluge was not to be ignored. McHenry says he now has legislation backed by the NRA and the Gunners of America. The gist of it, McHenry shared, was that “Never again will a president try to ban any type of ammunition forevermore.”
Meadows had described Buncombe County as Ground Zero. McHenry pointed out that when Republicans were winning in a landslide across the state, Buncombe County Republicans lost two very capable leaders in the state house: Nathan Ramsey and Tim Moffitt. Only four house seats were lost to Republicans in the 2014 landslide. North Carolinian Republicans now outnumber Democrats in the state senate, state house, US Senate, and US House. The party also claims the governorship, lieutenant governorship, and a number of judgeships. Meadows said Senator Burr had been surprised to learn Buncombe County had Republican commissioners.
Burr’s Keynote –
Honoring two of the speakers that night, members of the audience had been told Buncombe County had the privilege, thanks to gerrymandering, of having two Republican Congressmen. Burr added it may not be the biggest delegation in the country, but it is the “most respectful group in the House.” He said whereas folks back home might appreciate the work Meadows and McHenry are doing, the two are nothing compared to the 5th District’s Virginia Foxx. Her teeth, he said, were constantly in his shorts.
Burr began his remarks by saying he was too old to enjoy the benefits of the causes for which he was fighting; He was working for the children of the future. Like many before him, he feels an obligation to make sure the next generation has more opportunity. He told of a veteran close to home who apologized to his daughter with the words, “I fought a war so you wouldn’t have to go through this.” Burr honored soldiers past and present who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for what used to be known as the American way of life. In particular, he mentioned seven marines and four reservists who died March 10 when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a Florida training exercise.
Burr spoke as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said he is often asked what the highlight of his day is, and he replies it comes around 8:30 in the morning when, after reading reports and receiving staff presentations, he takes a break to read the obituaries.
Burr said one issue he deals with is cyber security. He offered a variation on the adage, “There are two types of businesses: Those that have been attacked and those that have yet to find out.” He told of a bill he is pushing, the Cyber Security Information Sharing Act. It proposes protections by opening avenues for private businesses to discuss with each other and government potential hacks. Currently, the law does not allow such communications. Burr indicated the bill would do nothing to stop hacks, but it would expedite damage control. The Senate Intelligence Committee gave the bill bipartisan support with a 14-1 vote last month. Dissenter Ron Wyden (D-OR) had called it “a surveillance bill by another name.”
A threat Burr believes others are de-emphasizing to the country’s detriment is ISIL/Daesh/ISIS. Having sprung into existence less than a year ago, the group now has a presence in fourteen countries. It has more money and more weapons than any terrorist group in world history. Slighting the president’s famous characterization of the group, Burr said he sure would hate to meet the varsity team. After touching on atrocities foisted on the psyches of innocents worldwide, he repeated a theme in saying his father had fought in World War II to make sure his sons would not have to deal with the same kind of threats. In a way his father was successful, as ISIS’ meteoric rise was made possible through new technology; namely, social media.
The third and final threat Burr wished to discuss was nuclear proliferation. It was preposterous that the United States, which claims to be in the business of eliminating terrorism, could take itself seriously when it wants to support giving Iran, the greatest funder of terrorist activities in the world, by allowing that country to develop nuclear capability. He describe the United States’ approach to a nuclear deal with that country as, “We will do anything you want. Where do we sign?” It was mystifying that leaders wanted to “sit and talk and believe all [Iranian negotiators] say they’ll do.”
As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he had a different perspective on proliferation than most. US intelligence efforts depend on informants from other countries. If Iran and other rogue nations join the ranks of nations with nuclear capability, he argued, those countries will not have to rely on the United States for protections, and they will therefore be less prone to cooperate in sharing intel. What may sound like control freakery was judged by Burr to be essential for national security.
Switching to politics, Burr commended his partisans for building momentum. With the election of Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), he found it nice to have somebody voting with him. A majority in the Senate was good, but the current 54 votes are not enough to invoke cloture or prevent filibuster. The party would need six more seats. Burr therefore said the next election cycle would be, “the most important in my life, the most important in your life, and maybe the most important in your children’s lives and your grandchildren’s lives.” As Meadows had indicated, the progressive social media machine was already running full-swing. Burr therefore urged those present to start campaigning that night. If they didn’t feel motivated, he asked them to visualize the face of somebody that would be impacted by decisions the legislature would be making.
Other Speakers –
Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Michell Hicks provided the invocation and opening remarks. He was a natural at praying, speaking as if well-acquainted with the Lord he addressed. He prayed for a return to morals and values. In a brief statement, he encouraged those present to build respect for self, family, state and country and support the election of good people. Hicks will not be seeking re-election as chief.
NC House Majority Leader Mike Hager went over some state statistics that were hard to believe. He said unemployment in his district, Rutherford County, had shrunk from 19.2 percent in 2011 to 7 percent, now. He attributed the turnaround to the General Assembly’s bold decision to amend the qualifications for unemployment compensation. Others spoke of how changes to corporate and individual taxes had elevated the state’s rankings somewhere around thirty notches in business-friendly lists. Hager told Ramsey, who was present, he and Moffitt could, “get rested and start again.”
Weatherman said the dinner started on time, and it would end the same way. To be certain, he brought an air horn to inform speakers when their time was up. McHenry blew it later in the meeting to wake everybody up for his remarks. Host Nathan West, the newly-elected chair of the Buncombe County party and no relation to Drew, couldn’t say enough about his predecessor, Henry Mitchell. Mitchell and other committee members had spent six months organizing the dinner. West advocated for making Mitchell permanent chair of the dinner committee.
The Lincoln-Reagan dinner is the Buncombe County GOP’s largest annual fundraiser. Tickets for dinner ran $125 each, and more was raised with a silent auction. Auction items included jewelry supplied by Alan’s Jewelry and Pawn, dog beds, a dinner date with Patrick Henry, a dinner date with Mark Meadows, and a truckload of mulch. Continuing the tradition of Guns N’ Roses, Miss Western North Carolina, Madison Tweed, was on-hand selling the red long-stems for a chance to win two American-made handguns.