Freedom, on the brink

By Steve Woodward

The question arose without provocation: “Is it true that we are supposed to be the best country?”

It was posed by a middle school teen-ager with whom I spend time as a mentor. He lives in poverty among three younger siblings. He has been homeless. He is often hungry. But he is cheerful and inquisitive, conversant and funny. And despite having little reason to be optimistic, and despite the strong likelihood he never has been told by a teacher or any other adult about American exceptionalism, the young man’s intuition is that he is the citizen of a remarkable country, the best one.

Given this unexpected opportunity, this “teachable moment”, I needed to deliver a quick answer, something that would resonate within his impressionable mind.

We are the most free country, I said first. No other country comes close. We are a country where anything is possible, where dreams come true every day. I might have added to this, I might have embellished further, maybe by citing a rags-to-riches story. But I also wanted to impress upon him that dreams come true because work is rewarded and opportunities to work are plentiful.

It no longer is a reasonable assumption that kids are aware that being an American is a blessing and a privilege. The narratives tell them we are a nation born of racist slave owners, who left an indelible stain; that capitalism is rigged and excludes almost everyone, and, worse, is the principal cause of climate change; that our military tortures the innocent and kills indiscriminately; and that our immigration policies are inhumane because our borders are not open.

We know the educational environment is increasingly hostile toward free speech, debate, Christianity, and toward our nation’s founding principles. Rarely a week goes by during which we fail to learn of another example of manufactured outrage or political correctness gone wild on a campus. North Carolina State recently eliminated Good Friday from its university calendar, despite enormous backlash.

In our backyard, a few teachers at The O’Neal School in Southern Pines walked out during a January speech by black civil rights legend Clarence Henderson, an avowed conservative Republican and supporter of President Trump.

These snowflake teachers apparently never considered how their decision will be interpreted by their students, but the big take away is that disrespecting American icons is OK if you disagree with them ideologically. Is O’Neal suspending these teachers or is it reprimanding the ones who did not walk out?

My mentee is in seventh grade at Southern Middle School. I ask almost every time we get together about his classes and teachers. He mentioned learning about World War I, and about Germany’s Adolf Hitler. What he remembers about Hitler is that he wore a funny mustache because the ends of it were damaged while Hitler wore a gas mask. (Actually, historians write that Hitler cropped his mustache to accommodate wearing a gas mask). There was no mention by the teenager that Hitler ordered the slaughter of millions of Jews, leaving me to wonder if this is excluded from the textbook.

This lone conversation reinforced why I mentor. It’s not my job to take his mind off his dire living conditions, his hunger and his uncertainty, although I hope I do. It is my job to focus his mind on his future, on where paths before him can lead, on why he needs to make smart decisions, and on why there is eternal hope because God loves him and because he dwells in a land that is free and prosperous.

President Reagan reminded us that freedom is but one generation removed from extinction, and that the tenants of what make us free must be rigorously handed down to future generations. He said, “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.”

Mentoring is one of the best opportunities an American adult can seize upon to counter the tide of anti-Americanism, anti-religion and anti-capitalism driven by the sinister and mentally unstable radical left, by educators, the media and the entertainment industry.

The teenager who sits to my right as we drive along is remarkably sunny, polite and articulate. But our nation is increasingly plagued by unhappy, disrespectful, mumbling teens. The why is disheartening but, perhaps, not irreversible.

“The reason so many young people are depressed, unhappy, and angry,” writes radio talk host and columnist Dennis Prager, “is the left has told them that God and Judeo-Christian religions are nonsense; their country is largely evil; their past is deplorable; and their future is hopeless.”

Nancy Pelosi rips in half a story of America’s comeback on national television. And why? Because she and her compliant radical army on the left would rather nurture hungry, deprived teens pouring across our Southern border, leaving desperate teens in Moore County to languish under the oppressive boot heel of government subsidies, which guarantee to keep them right where they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloom-b-que

By Steve Woodward

Former “Republican” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg walks into a North Carolina barbeque joint …

All were abuzz at Sweet Lew’s in Charlotte recently when Jewish billionaire and Democrat candidate for President of the United States Bloomberg arrived with an entourage to mingle with the regular folks.

More than 350 Instagram users immediately “liked” the post of Bloomy being handed a piece of ‘que, on the house. Any business owner would be foolish not to leverage the free publicity generated by the arrival of a celebrity through his door, although this did not occur to owners of restaurants visited in the past by Republicans Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Eric Trump. But let’s not digress.

Beneath the surface of an appearance by Bloomberg, or any number of his fellow leftists claiming to be worthy running for President and leader of the free world, are the inconvenient things they disdain about a place like Sweet Lew’s.

The joint smokes and grills meat, which means it is operating in direct opposition to the left’s crusade to ensure we all consume plant-based protein sooner than later.

Sweet Lew’s carbon foot print, although minuscule in contrast to Bloomberg’s private jet, is more than likely a threat to someone, somewhere. Just ask the enviro-Nazis.

Sweet tea — a staple beverage in southern BBQ joints and other eateries — would be banned if Bloomberg caught wind of its similarities to sugary soft drinks.

Plastic straws. Evil. Prevalent in BBQ joints. What were you thinking, Mayor?

Beef consumption. Pork consumption. Consumption in general. Bloomberg would otherwise stand on a campaign stump to declare that Sweet Lew’s is killing the planet — except when he needs a campaign backdrop to appeal to southern voters.

Smokers. Beef and pork is served as barbecue after it’s smoked — in a smoker, which spews smoke into the atmosphere. Just an observation. As mayor, Bloomberg banned smoking, and just about everything.

In the south, before tipping back a 32-ounce beverage, or devouring fried side dishes with their BBQ, folks in restaurants pause to pray. To God. Oops. Fire your advance team.

Mike Bloomberg might not have though twice, but some of Sweet Lew’s customers probably were armed when he burst through the doors in his tailored suit, placing him eye to eye with dangerous practitioners of conceal-carry ordinances. In other words, Mayor, you nibbled BBQ among violent 2nd Amendment defenders.

Right after Bloomberg’s Charlotte visit, the keepers of the Golden Globes Awards announced January 4 that this year’s gala would be meatless to “raise environmental awareness about food consumption and waste.”

Mayor Mike’s Golden Globe for representing liberal tolerance toward the southern BBQ culture has been withdrawn. Pass the slaw.

Liberty first

By Steve Woodward
As we say so long to 2019, just off the top of my head …

  • Wage increases within the workforce rising at their fastest rate in more than a decade, faster than for supervisors (bosses).
  • Record or near-record setting gains for the Nasdaq (35%) and S&P 500 (28%).
  • Dramatic declines in illegal US-Mexico border crossings. The mayor of Yuma, Ariz., recently lifted a state of emergency declared last April because “the release of migrant families into the Yuma area has ceased.”

    Labor surge
    Wages rose 4.5% year-over-year in November among bottom 25% of earners.
  • Record low unemployment among black and Hispanic populations.
  • Lowest unemployment overall since 1969.
  • Energy independence from foreign sources.
  • Trade deal set with Canada and Mexico.
  • Pending trade deal with China that will end decades of trade abuse by the Chinese.
  • Record federal judicial confirmations of Trump nominees (48 in three years).
I’m beginning to think it might be safe, finally, to retrieve the gold, cash and firearms I buried in anticipation of Y2K!
Conservative bulldog Sean Hannity repeatedly urges, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Many of us are not there yet. Democrats present much about which to be perpetually troubled. (The drums of impeachment will awaken us from our New Year’s hangovers soon enough). But, consider more positive awakenings such as two I discovered with pleasant shock in The Wall Street Journal‘s December 28 letters to the editor.
They are letters written by residents of California and Illinois, no less, where the radical lefts reigns. They are direct smackdowns of columnist Peggy Noonan, a Never Trumper and out-of-touch Upper East Side New Yorker. Noonan is all for impeaching President Donald Trump if for no other reason than he is an objectionable character.
From Evanston, Ill.: “Ms. Noonan writes that many ‘serious’ witnesses of ‘obvious stature’ in the House impeachment hearings said the president abused his power. I don’t see it that way. Those bureaucrats said they disagreed with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, which they think they (emphasis added), rather than the president, get to determine. Ms. Noonan should not mistake their arrogance for seriousness.”
From Mill Valley, Calif.: “We want the craziness of the left highlighted plainly. We want the corruption of elected politicians, permanent bureaucracy, intelligence services, judiciary and media exposed and cornered. We are tired of the politically correct speech codes and the protected classes for whom there can be no consequences. We prefer liberty.”
That is as powerful a mantra as I can think of to sustain us in the battles ahead in 2020. Republicans prefer liberty.

Body (politic) shaming

By Steve Woodward

The Pilot, a newspaper, sometimes, persists in allowing miserable William Shaw to write gloom-and-doom columns appearing on its op-ed pages. Shaw’s keyboard must be by now nearly drowning in a steady stream of his spittle as he shrieks and flails while hunched over an IBM Selectric, ever true to his ongoing campaign to attempt to diminish a President and the Presidency of the United States.

A recent submission contends that those who dare to support, or even tolerate, President Donald Trump believe that a sinister “deep state” conspires to destroy or remove Trump. Shaw pooh-poohs these deep state influences. Yet, toward the end of his December 7 column Shaw laments that Trump offends the “body politic” that, asserts Shaw, defines a stable United States. I think it’s also known as the establishment, and “the Swamp”.

In other words, you are right, Bill. (First time for everything). The deep state, aka, the body politic, is indeed threatened by the Trump presidency because it disrupts conventional “equilibrium” and “scuttles democratic norms” imposed by the ruling elite, quoting the words of the expert you cited. To which I say, amen, and pass another helping of the Schiff-Nadler impeachment charade, which will damage Democrats for years to come.

Meanwhile, our nation is thriving as Shaw’s wrists ache from wringing. He contends Trump’s style is scuttling the status quo. You mean that glorious stagnant Obama-era economy for which the Left pines? In our scuttled state of chaos the U.S. finally has a robust economy, unprecedented calm and dramatically fewer illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico southern border, advancing trade negotiations with China, Canada and Mexico, historically low unemployment rates and historically high monthly job creation and wage gains. Many investors believe the success of Trump’s negotiators in lifting the cloud of a so-called trade war with China opens the floodgates to an even longer run of gains on the trading floors.

If there really is a deep state, why have the assaults on the Trump presidency been carried out far removed from murky shadows, with the media cheering? These assaults actually flourished in full view. Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff and the FBI’s leadership (ex-director James Comey) lied about the validity of the “Steele Dossier” and its role in securing a FISA warrant to spy on Trump surrogate Carter Page in 2016. The so-called dossier was opposition research underwritten by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, not by shadowy operatives. It was commissioned in the full light of day. Christopher Steele could not wait to run to the press. Last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his long awaited report. It vindicates Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, who went public in February 2018 with proof that FISA application “materials” omitted relevant information and relied almost entirely on a discredited Steele dossier. Even The Washington Post begrudgingly acknowledges Nunes was onto something back then.

Lastly, there is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia to compromise our 2016 elections. This could not have been a higher profile spectacle (because it was all the corrupt media had left to bring Trump down), especially after Mueller’s team concluded that said collusion never happened. The Horowitz report further reveals that law enforcement and intelligence communities went after Trump with brazen zeal.

Back here in the Sandhills, we can only imagine what Shaw’s next dire missive will contain. We hope Pilot editors will clean up some of the whoppers Shaw floated in the December 7 piece. Including: the Mueller report concludes that Trump obstructed justice; Trump is a racist because he supports immigration enforcement, and reacted improperly to “Charlottesville” (refuted more times than all of the lies about Trump, combined); Trump’s White House is a “hive of feuding factions”; Trump “tampered” with our electoral system; and Trump’s is a “shadow” foreign policy.

Like the Steele Dossier, riveting, and completely false.

 

 

Pre-socialism

By Steve Woodward

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (to be a member of the ruling government elite). It’s the end of another long year (for the thousands of Americans who live in the shadows, in despair, far removed from anything wonderful).

Here in Moore County we are surrounded by poverty within rural hamlets that are so close and yet so far. So far removed from our daily lives. So frequently ignored. But in Moore, and across North Carolina generally, we take on poverty across political lines through many faith-based and charitable organizations committed to providing services and hope to those in need, those in the grip of addiction, those who are victims of domestic and street violence. This has not been eradicated, not by a long shot, but we soldier on even as human trafficking and drug smuggling courtesy of illegal immigrants strain our defenses.

Common sense and human decency dictate that citizens must engage in a relentless war on poverty. But the hard socialist Left, specifically its leaders, would prefer that we stand down. Look no further than the state most associated with the Democrat party, California. Known for it’s breathtaking beauty and year-round mild weather (interrupted by deadly wildfires and mudslides), California’s major cities are, in fact, cesspools of human suffering. No matter how many hearts are left in San Francisco, lawmakers and leaders are not prone to affection or compassion when faced with acute homelessness

homeless_fig-2_web

I have a personal connection to the futile war on homelessness in Los Angeles. My take is that the war being waged is losing. I say this with regret because a former college roommate is the one waging it, and he has for two decades. The Giving Spirit enlists throngs of successful, healthy L.A.-area women and men to look the homeless in the eye, offer a glimpse of hope and supply them with life-critical sustenance kits. More than 53,000 have received these kits since 1999, during which TGS has deployed more than 18,000 volunteers and raised north of $3.7 million.

Despite a fractional 1% decline overall in  California’s homeless population in 2017-18, one quarter of the nation’s homeless — close to 140,000 people — are found in California, 50,000 in Los Angeles County alone. This year upon receiving TGS’s annual email soliciting a donation, I paused to wonder if, despite loyalty to my ex-college roomie and my admiration for his dedication, writing another check made any sense. The organization is addressing the immediate needs of people without shelter and basic needs fulfillment, but state lawmakers have for years done little to get them off the streets once and for all. I replied to the email something to effect of, “God bless you, but when are you Californians finally going to wise up and free yourselves from Democrat control?”

I meant it. My friend replied, “We don’t get stuck on policy and partisan rancor.” I reconsidered and submitted my donation. But is it not deeply troubling that my friend likely reflects the thinking of many fellow Californians? This is how the thinly veiled threat of socialism creeping into political agendas on the Left make advances.

Despite benefiting from robust tax revenue, California “is far from flourishing,” wrote  Manhattan Institute scholar Steve Malanga in The Wall Street Journal on November 23. The state is “increasingly beset by social and economic problems, from homeless encampments to rubbish-strewn streets to (Pacific Gas & Electric) blackouts.”

Meanwhile, California Democrats take pride in having transformed The Golden State into The Sanctuary State, with politicians earlier this year even considering Medicaid for all undocumented aliens. Brilliant. (Not even Medicaid expansion warrior Gov. Roy Cooper in Raleigh has dared go that far!) Meanwhile, there are plenty of bad policies already in place, wrote Malanga. Decriminalization of property crimes and drug offenses. Shelters that welcome pets. Free needles. All resulting in California becoming “a magnet for unstable street people from around the country, and disorder is growing.”

In June, California’s uber-liberal Governor, Gavin Newsom, approved a staggering $215 billion budget for the state. Money has been flowing for decades to address every need imaginable, but signs of improvement, even progress, are hard to find. This is socialism on full display. It fails every time.

 

War on democracy

By Steve Woodward

From both ends of the political spectrum a narrative is spinning in response to North Carolina’s embattled U.S Congressional districts. The essence is that the time has come for state Republicans to yield any presumption of controlling how districts are drawn despite their majority status in the statehouse and the U.S. House of Representatives.

This new “logic” dictates that Republicans must yield because the world has changed. Gerrymandering simply has become too precise, too data driven and, thus, overtly racist and unfair. Just ask former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, the ringleader of a national campaign to weaken Republican control of gubernatorial, state legislative and state court seats. Holder’s organization filed the lawsuit that just a few days ago received a favorable ruling from a three-judge NC superior court panel (two members are Democrats, of course): re-draw your U.S. Congressional maps immediately, or else. Republicans hold 10 of the 13 North Carolina seats in Congress. Not acceptable, say the Holderites. The wrong voters voted to impose an unfair imbalance.

E Holder
Obama AG Eric Holder

Now what? Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8) whose district includes Moore County very likely will be assigned to another district, or Moore will end up in another district. A member of Hudson’s staff acknowledges Republicans are powerless to stop what’s coming. The spokesman said the redrawing easily could result in 10-3 flipping to 6-7, the worst case scenario. This upheaval also handicaps fundraising by candidates like Hudson because he’ll find himself an unknown among new constituents.

Democrats claim they want to kill gerrymandering once and for all by taking map drawing out of the hands of politicians from parties in power, the American way for decades and a fact of life in our state during 140 years of Democrat control of the General Assembly until 2011. Confident in the public’s short memory span, Holder told The New York Times North Carolinians were “forced to vote on manipulated electoral maps … drawn to create a partisan outcome.”

Once a “fair” system of map drawing by independent bodies is in place, Democrats want us to believe they’ll never again try to leverage gerrymandering should they seize power in North Carolina, or elsewhere. (If you buy that, look at what happened in Virginia on Election Day 2019 as a result of new independent maps approved last February shifting Republicans into six Democrat dominated districts).

The Pilot‘s editorial board in November 6 editions declares “it’s time finally to bring meaningful reform to the redistricting process.” In fact, there is a bill pending (HB 140), known as the FAIR Act, proposing a constitutional amendment placed on a future ballot that would afford voters the opportunity to make a choice. The left claims passage would lead to “transparent” map drawing by independent panels. But who will form the panels, and what will stop well funded organizations like Holder’s from packing them with radicals? Nothing.

From the right comes another call for a serious look at the FAIR Act, and from none other than John Hood, author, television commentator and chairman of the Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank. Hood’s November 6 column in The Pilot declares “the handwriting is on the wall”, pointing to how the court-ordered redrawing of General Assembly maps played out in October. “North Carolina now has fairer legislative districts because a court ordered the General Assembly to open up the process and stick to neutral criteria,” Hood writes.

Hood, who should know better, inexplicably gives “court ordered” maps a presumption of purity. Since when are courts devoid of activist Democrat judges? Since when are lawsuits by well funded far Left entities acting in the best interest of all voters rather than Democrat voters and candidates?

The former Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has a ready answer. Since never. Now chair of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, Walker says Democrats have toiled for a decade using power grabs disguised as well intentioned state lawsuits.

“They pick a state, they sue until it’s blue,” Walker told National Public Radio’s Miles Parks. “Sooner or later their goal is to make those states blue and add as many House seats as they can, to keep Democrats in power for the next decade or more.”

The forthcoming 2020 Census data will bring a new round of redistricting opportunities across the country in 2021. This scenario comes around once every decade. North Carolinians very well might end up living with a FAIR Act and its unaccountable map drawing panels, but numerous states where Democrats are in control will go right back to gerrymandering traditions that are abusive only when Republicans apply them.

 

 

An October surprise

By Steve Woodward

What spell did Democrats cast over Republicans when both sides, by a nearly unanimous joint-session vote, approved three nominees to the State Board of Education on October 2? Before that date, Republican majorities within the House and Senate refused to vote on Governor Roy Cooper’s nominees, and had declined to put forth nominees of their own.

In fact, a post on the Governor’s web site dated January 2019, accuses the GOP-controlled General Assembly of holding up approval of nominees as a tactic to postpone a January 11 hearing on allegations of voter fraud in the 9th Congressional district.

Prior to October 2, it seemed perfectly logical that a Republican-controlled legislature in Raleigh would stop a Democrat governor from attempting to stack the deck within the Board of Education. These days, the classroom is where American values go to die.

What changed in October? Even a left wing site, The Progressive Pulse, had no tangible explanation, characterizing the board confirmation as “a major turnaround.” This blog (RESOLVE) derives its name from an acronym: “Republicans for Security, Opportunity, Liberty and Victory that Endures”. Liberty requires transparency. Victory endures only when the victors prevail in the day to day of legislating.

In this case, it looks as if the Republicans caved. But, if that’s true, what leverage did Democrats bring to the joint session?

We asked Carolina Journal reporter Lindsay Marchello through an email exchange. Marchello reported the approval of J.D. Buxton, Wendell Hall and Donna Tipton-Rogers in a piece entitled, What You Might Have Missed. But it did not delve into an explanation for the about-face among all but a handful of Republicans.

“I assume Republicans liked the batch of nominations this year better than last year,” she replied by email. “As for J.B. Buxton’s nomination—which was denied last year with no explanation—I assume they approved him this year as a sort of olive branch to the Governor while the budget stalemate continues.”

It’s certainly a possible scenario, but why wave an olive branch at a governor who refuses to recognize the financial peril of Medicaid expansion, the cause of the budget stalemate? We are awaiting a reply from the office of NC-25 Sen. Tom McInnis in an effort to unravel this mystery. Also mysterious was a post on the web site of Republican House Speaker Tim Moore following the vote. It reported the General Assembly’s approval of the trio of board nominees, while introducing another surprising thread:

“Two other current board members re-nominated by the Governor (our emphasis) – James Ford and Jill Camnetz – were not voted on and will continue to serve on the SBOE pending further action by the General Assembly.” Do the math. Five Cooper supported board members now preside on the 12-member Board of Education. That’s five Democrats. A sixth is Reginald Kenan, a Southeast region board member. A seventh is SBOE vice chairman and Cooper appointee Alan Duncan, former chair of the Guilford County BOE. In other words, Republicans inexplicably helped tip the scales toward Democrat control of the SBOE.

And lastly, why were Republican lawmakers quoted within Tim Moore’s web site post gushing about the newly elected board members?

Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union): “I am happy the General Assembly is moving forward in confirming the Governor’s appointments.”

Rep. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga): “Each of the nominees confirmed today have distinguished backgrounds in education and are qualified for the role.”

Let us RESOLVE to keep asking questions about the October 2 surprise.