This was the year of "WikiLeaks," "refudiate," and "don't touch my junk." Every year, Americans learn new words, terms and phrases from the news, but the long, dreadful year 2010 offered a particularly rich supply of catchphrases and made-up words. Charlotte had its share of phrases to get used to during the past 12 months. Grab a pen and see how many of these were permanently lodged in your skull in 2010.
Anchor baby: An American-born child of undocumented immigrants, so called because the child, through its automatic U.S. citizenship, can supposedly "anchor" its undocumented parents in America. County Commissioner Bill James proposed that the Department of Social Services should have to report anchor babies' parents to Homeland Security when they seek medical help for the child. Unfortunately for James, it's illegal for DSS to do what he wanted.
The "Bear Your Rapist's Baby" Caucus: A name coined by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for politicians, including at least 80 GOP candidates for national office in 2010, who say that if a woman is raped, she should not be allowed to get an abortion. The only state official who thinks he should be able to decide what a woman does with her body after she's been raped is Rep. Patrick McHenry of the 10th District.
Government action figures: People were surprised when the previously unknown Alvin Greene won the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Senate from South Carolina. They were even more surprised when Greene suggested that S.C. create jobs by making action figure dolls of himself. Greene ran against eventual winner Sen. Jim DeMint, so voters in that state would have probably been better off voting for an action figure doll than either "real" candidate.
Inflated attendance projections: Tim Newman, head of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, admitted to City Council that during the CRVA's campaign to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame for Charlotte, he deliberately exaggerated the number of potential visitors to the site. This explained one reason the Hall has fallen far, far below Newman's projections, although Newman didn't explain why he never told Council about the exaggerations. Newman somehow still has his job, for which he is paid more than $300K per year.
Machine gun social: A dubious innovation in political fundraising, launched by Tim D'Annunzio, a far-right GOP candidate for Congress. D'Annunzio, who became famous for his bad temper and calling his political opponents "evil," handed out automatic weapons to donors at the "social," who then shot at targets.
"Make them disappear": When newly elected County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph was executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of State and Local Coordination, he spoke at a conference of police and sheriffs, where he touted ICE's 287(g) program. That program lets local law enforcement check the immigration status of individuals arrested for supposedly serious crimes. Pendergraph told the assembled lawmen that, "If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear." There is probably no truth to the rumor that Pendergraph borrowed heavily from a speech by a former commander of the KGB.
No justice, no peace: A commonly heard phrase at various liberal events, it was chanted by protesters at a school board meeting, when they found out they would not be allowed to speak. Former Mayor Pat McCrory made the ridiculous claim that the chant amounted to "violent words" and were intended to threaten violence if protesters didn't get their way, which led to a public tiff between Mayor Fratboy and local NAACP leader Kojo Nantambu.
Offshore wind power: An authoritative study predicted that North Carolina could generate all the power it needs via offshore wind energy, while creating thousands of jobs. The U.S. is currently lagging far behind other countries that rely on wind power now. As blogger S.C. Harrison reminds us, "We're not talking about a 'theoretical' source of clean energy; Europe has been eating our lunch on this for years."
Porno scanner: Also called "naked scanners," these are overly efficient X-ray machines used to check out airline passengers. They produce a near-nude image, which many people objected to, particularly after they heard that some airports are storing the images. Just what you want to see in the next WikiLeaks dump: your big gut or droopy breasts on display to the whole world.
Trolley line starter kit: A term coined by yours truly for a trolley line planned to run from the Uptown transit station, all the way to Presbyterian Hospital — a whopping 1.5 miles away. Charlotte is getting a $25 million federal grant to help build the starter kit, which Mayor Foxx hopes will be the first leg of a west-to-east trolley line designed to increase development in those two parts of town.
Voice double: Someone who sounds like a famous person, and records commercials in the celebrity's voice. The term was popularized when B.J. Lawson, the 4th District GOP congressional candidate, claimed that Morgan Freeman had recorded a commercial for Lawson's campaign. Freeman, a longtime Democrat, issued a terse statement saying, "These people are lying. I have never recorded any campaign ads for B.J. Lawson, and I do not support his candidacy." Lawson said he'd been duped. He lost anyway.
Thanks to Samuel P. Jacobs of The Daily Beast for the idea for this column.