Auto-Pilot defends failures

By Steve Woodward

The (Southern Pines) Pilot’s beat writer Mary Kate Murphy seems to view public education in Moore County as a sailing vessel with a few leaks, readily plugged, that has encountered a tsunami of contempt by citizens, who are nothing more than rabid ideologues looking to pick fights and draw attention to themselves.

Her January 2, 2022, attempted magnum opus, “The Polarization of Public Education”, is a rambling compilation that reads as though the reporter is pouring out an embarrassing admission: county school board meetings confuse her. She doesn’t understand what all of the fighting is about. “What’s going on here”? Murphy writes.

As published, the work also is a poorly veiled effort to defend four entrenched board members and a feckless superintendent against numerous examples demonstrating that they have failed students, teachers, parents and other concerned taxpayers. The education universe is polarized, she contends by inference, because too many locals merely wish to echo a broader national conversation about issues (genuine issues, as it turns out) plaguing schools; because they focus too much attention on student aptitude test scores; because David Hensley, Philip Homes and Bob Levy were elected to the board, and because their supporters are mean spirited by nature.

The 4,415-word summary of the past 18 months since the arrival of pandemic lockdowns and fear mongering is rife with flimsy conclusions and glaring omissions. Murphy does not address the tendency of then-board chair Libby Carter and her board puppets to demean members of the community. Who will soon forget when board member Stacey Caldwell complained in a meeting that protracted public comments had meetings ending too late at night, which, for her, was a problem because she has a job? When a recording of that was played back at a subsequent meeting, Caldwell denied her own words and shouted from the stage, “that’s a lie”, violating board policy that prohibits engaging the public during board meetings. Grumpy Ed Dennison, on another occasion, dismissively said that citizens desired to make public comments “to see themselves on (YouTube) TV”. 

In both cases, disdain prevailed rather than listening to constituents.

Murphy’s piece opens with a dramatic revisiting of a September profanity filled voicemail recorded to a Moore Schools central office phone line. The caller said she would find the homes of board members and would not “play nice” unless classroom mask mandates were lifted. The insinuation, never proven to this day, is that the caller was associated with groups that had been gathering ahead of board meetings to display signs and demonstrate unity. The reporter ignores the key fact that a so-called “investigation” to reveal the caller’s identity was abandoned, or that parents and citizens attending these rallies never spewed profanity or made threats, despite being mistreated as potential threats by armed security and being forced to assemble far removed from the Moore County School central office building’s entrance.

The piece further ignores that board chair Carter stoked an atmosphere of hostility in a span of board meetings by refusing to accommodate growing numbers of citizens signing in to deliver three-minute speeches, forcing people to wait outside in inclement weather and pass through metal detectors. Requests to move the meetings to larger venues by Hensley repeatedly were ignored by Carter. She seemed to relish wielding her power to discourage or enrage fellow citizens, as if hopeful her restrictions would inflame visitors and result in physical removal by her cadre of armed security.

These are some of the many other inane gems littering a classic demonstration of journalistic malpractice by The Pilot:

A lament that 2021 board meetings presented a “stark contrast to past years, when board meetings were largely conducted in perfunctory style and played to largely empty rooms.” Read: The good old days when Grimesey reigned supreme over a rubber-stamp board.

“Politics have taken hold of public education.” Nice try. Public education has been exposed as flawed and subverted by unaccountable third parties.

“Protests against Critical Race Theory were a nationally motivated political device to try to unite people against our traditional public schools,” Carter said. Oops. Carter, who claims not to be a left wing Democrat by virtue of how she registers to vote, was caught in a rare moment of transparency. What is traditional in a public school is NOT to teach children that our nation as founded is deeply flawed, and NOT to impose upon young white children that they were born racist.

“Our schools aren’t performing well, but that’s a function of the fact that they’ve been defunded for years.” The quote is attributed to one of the dumbest elected officials in Moore County, Whispering Pines mayor Alexa Roberts. Teachers receive generous annual raises and have for years on end. Has Lexy forgotten what taxpayers contributed to building Pinehurst Elementary School and Aberdeen Elementary School? Pinehurst Elementary ranks as the most expensive new school built in the state’s history, at $47,500 per student seat, with Aberdeen not far behind. The Pinehurst construction tab was $38 million. Who or what is being defunded? A legit reporter would have asked this question before publishing an erroneous quote. In recent memory, the one defunded line item was seat belts for Moore County Schools activity buses.

“The rally at the Moore County Schools central office had already been advertised in a recent Moore County Republican Party newsletter.” Read: Oh, no, some folks organized a rally and had the nerve to let people know when and where it was happening.

Parents and citizens who are not aware that their children are used as pawns by the radical Left, as experiments to determine how far educators can subvert public schools, and reshape them as indoctrination centers, these parents are the “majority”. Those who challenge the current board and its superintendent, those who have filed to run for school board seats in 2022, are fringe radicals.

Everyone else, Carter’s friends and neighbors, “just want their kids to be able to go to school and be happy and enjoy their teachers,” said Alexa Roberts, the mayor of Whispering Pines. “They don’t feel that there’s a problem in their school.”

It’s always about how they feel, is it not? That’s why they love their student surveys. How do you feel today, Lexy?

Lastly, a photo that accompanied Murphy’s diatribe showed board members Hensley, Holmes and Levy standing outdoors in an open space seemingly looking for an encounter. But The Pilot does not mention that the photo was captured one fine morning a few days after a bus accident on Highway 5 near the Aberdeen Elementary School. It had come to their attention that the speed limit along that stretch, 45, had not been adjusted to accommodate school buses turning left toward the school out of a lane without a turn light. The board members showed up early that day to draw attention to the dereliction of Moore County Schools with regard to organizing law enforcement traffic control at the intersection. 

Perhaps, Murphy might some day report, this was yet another example of polarization. A divide between common sense and dereliction. Something to keep in mind when we vote to replace the Carter Four in November.

Make or break

By Steve Woodward

Let us begin a post-Christmas review of the condition of our great United States by remembering something that is important. Jesus Christ as an infant was not wrapped in Gore-Tex, and his parents were not offered free breakfast in the Bethlehem Hampton Inn. 

In other words, as we await the arrival of 2022, the year that will make or break us as a nation, we probably should drop all pretense that the next 11 months will be business as usual, cozy and well-nourished. We can knock on our neighbor’s doors but we will be called upon to kick in doors that separate our citizens from free and fair elections. Any Republican, even a fence-sitter, who is counting on business-as-usual has not been paying close enough attention. This will not be an election based on substance. It will not be enough to attend fundraisers inside gated communities to drop off $1,000 checks (but please do). This will be an election in which we engage using Guerrilla warfare. Blazers off, gloves on. 

We are facing a brutal year in defense of a basic presumption of freedom. Of course, we will get out of the vote. We know how to do that. But the challenge is to become confident that when the vote comes out it has not been compromised to the point that we will have toiled in vain. 

In the months ahead, our mission is not familiar. It’s a new calling. A patchwork of well funded organizations that are not tied to ideology will be working night and day to compromise the American electorate. Our foes do not care to go head to head on progressivism over Capitalism. They’ve long ago decided that they are unconquerable. They will win by sending so many votes into the ballot boxes and voting machines that no withering Conservative realism can prevail. The votes that count will be the votes that THEY count. It’s Stalinism, writ large. 

Their voters no nothing of low unemployment, upward mobility, freedom of expression, unlimited possibilities. They are instead attracted to no employment, confined mobility, freedom from responsibility and unlimited entitlements. These parasites live among us in the United States, but they shun unity and are decidedly un-American. They might well be huddled masses longing to be free, but their longings are readily bought and paid for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. They’ll gladly take that over freedom. 

This is a harsh pill to swallow for many Republicans. We might have to scuff up our loafers. Things might have to get messy in 2022. The throngs assembled in Washington on January 6, 2021, might not have been large enough to take on the enemies that lay before us. But let us be clear. We do not win by storming buildings. We do not win in the streets because that is where the Left would be delighted to engage us. We win by allocating resources wisely and combating their endless networks of well funded community organizers with benign sounding titles. We win by overthrowing Marxist school boards and progressive village councils, such as those in our backyards here in Moore County. We topple these tyrants as a step in the right direction, then watch the dominoes fall from coast to coast.

We win by doing all of things we’ve always done — precinct meetings, county and state conventions, poll watching — as a minimum. But, it is time to acknowledge that these old school commitments are inadequate. The Left mocks these because it mocks the tenets that define us as Americans. So very racist, sexist, homophobic. We are accused of protecting election integrity to protect white supremacy. 

Of course, this presumption is as false as a COVID-19 positive test. The speech that launched the political career of Ronald Reagan was girded by a timeless line, that “ours is a time for choosing.” Yes, our time is that time.

He gave that speech in 1964 but did not see it through until an eight-year presidency beginning in 1981. Today, we face a time for choosing. We should not calculate the consequences of failure to make the right choices using months or years. Indeed, we might not live to see the fruits of our labors in 2022, but labor we must. As Reagan said, we are the last best hope for man on Earth. It was as true in 1964 as in 2022. But less reassuring, perhaps.

We are fighting the evil of the Left on every front. In courts. In classrooms. In the digital universe of public opinion. We are further surrounded by forces wishing to compromise the integrity of every aspect of the electoral system, from registration, to campaigning, to voting and counting. 

Please prepare your hearts and stir the smoldering embers in your souls to ignite a fire within as we enter a crossroads for American liberty. Let us pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder, as many of us did one year ago on January 6, 2021, to ensure that the radical Left is destined for the ash heap of American history.

Be uplifted by and act upon the words of English philosopher John Stuart Mill, who in 1867 proclaimed:

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”

Honoring 6 January

By Steve Woodward

On a glorious December Monday morning, five days ahead of Christmas Day 2021, Moore County citizens stood shivering under a brilliant, blue Carolina sky, unified and inspired. We gathered to watch retired U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Bartel and his family (including four children) receive a ceremonial key to their new home and the beginning of a new chapter in their often turbulent lives.

Ground was broken on the site off of Linden Road in Aberdeen last August, and was built collaboratively through a program launched by Helping A Hero. It is the first North Carolina home completed for a wounded veteran connected to a “100 Homes Challenge” whereby Bass Pro Shops has pledged to cover 25% of the cost of Helping A Hero’s next 100 home builds. Monday’s celebration was attended by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris of Springfield, MO, and vocal legend Lee Greenwood, Helping A Hero’s national ambassador. 

The mood and the weather sparked a memory flashback to another wintery day, more than 11 months ago, when a crowd of tens of thousands shivered under brisk conditions near the White House ellipse in Washington. The day was January 6 and, among a roster of speakers, was President Donald Trump. I journeyed from Pinehurst the night before, as did many of my fellow Republicans, some by air, some by car, another group by buses.

Bitter cold caught many off guard as winds gusted and clouds gathered. But this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds, which stood shoulder to shoulder, from across the nation, unified by their love of our country, their pride in President Trump and his administration’s considerable achievements, and their deep and abiding concern that a virus unleashed by communist China had been leveraged to compromise the integrity of votes received and counted before and after November 3, 2020. 

Despite the media’s intent to set in stone a narrative that January 6 was planned and carried out as a violent insurrection to overtake the U.S. Capitol and threaten the lives of member of Congress, anyone who was there knows that this is pure delusion. The aura never was violent. You can feel that kind of tension. It was non-existent. There was no discussion of attacking anyone or any property. The major source of aggravation was that the mayor of Washington deliberately limited the number of restroom facilities in the area.

When the time came, around 1 p.m. — after Trump’s lengthy, impassioned speech that never called for “insurrection” or anything close — to move toward the Capitol, thousands bailed out to seek shelter and warmth. I had every intention of heading that direction and, though my spirit was strong, my flesh was weak. And what would have been the point of slogging a mile up the street? Look back at the groups that coalesced to organize the rally. The point of gathering at the Capitol was to hear from a lineup of speakers, crowd pleasers such as Rep. Jim Jordan and other staunch conservatives. There is no doubt that almost everyone assembled — almost everyone because there is strong evidence that a brigade that entered the Capitol at the outset was inserted to infuse mob mentality into the proceedings — desired to postpone the certification of the vote that would secure the Biden presidency and his swearing in 13 days hence.

These memories came back vividly on Monday, during the Helping A Hero event, but later at lunch with my wife and daughter in Drum & Quill. Part of its charm is that it is cozy. The booths are a tad tight. A booming voice in the booth behind me, for which eavesdropping was unnecessary, launched into a diatribe about none other than Donald Trump, whom he called “the worst President this country has ever had”.  This 60-something who ought to know better would go on to dismiss the building of a southern border wall as a marketing gimmick by Trump. He said Trump only cares “about himself”. Then he pushed me over the edge. He said those assembled on January 6 threatened to end our democracy, a democracy “that people died for”.  (And, loud mouth was not referring to the unarmed military veteran, Ashli Babbitt, 35, who was shot January 6 by a Capitol police officer who never has been identified).

As my blood boiled, I stood and gestured to loud mouth and his less talkative lunch guest. Please quiet down. On his way out, loud mouth’s guest apologized. “Sorry,” he said. 

Had I confronted loud mouth, I would have reminded him that Ms. Babbitt died on January 6, not as an insurrectionist but as a patriot who traveled from California to stand for fair and free elections in these United States. And, I would have told him about my new Linden Road neighbor, Sgt. Bartel, who had his left leg blown off during a deployment with U.S. Army forces in Iraq after — after — retiring from the U.S. Marines and re-enlisting in the Army. 

Donald Trump backed a strong military, thus a strong America. Loud mouth is a hypocrite. He’s sleeping well at night because Joe Biden is sleep walking through his presidency, presiding over a “woke” military and weakening our nation by every measure. Let’s hope loud mouth was merely visiting for the holidays. 

Global coup d’etat

By Steve Woodward

Vaunted mRNA vaccines, brought to the fore by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, have disappointed millions who were assured (as was Trump) by their makers that these shots were a “one and done” solution to protection from the Wuhan Virus.

This has proven to be wildly inaccurate, but available data did not stop The Wall Street Journal from devoting three-quarters of its December 4-5, 2021, opinion page to “The Vast Promise of mRNA Technology”.

Broadly, this vast promise might in fact be realized in years to come but the Journal’s unpaid advertisement for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna overlooks warnings about unintended or unforeseen consequences of vaccines and endless boosters. (Click here to watch an excellent deep dive into mRNA shortcomings by local investigative reporter Bill Still).

Mainstream media and heavily censored social media platforms have zero tolerance for vaccine debates. Recently, Twitter red flagged a link to an American Heart Association Journal site, where a physician posted an abstract linking mRNA shots to acute coronary syndrome. Read more.

One might assume mRNA pioneer Robert Malone would be held up as a leading authority on the vaccines’ evolution before our eyes, but Malone has been forced to rely on alternative media platforms to share his dire warning: COVID/Wuhan virus vaccination has become subverted by a global totalitarian movement that has no interest in restoring public health or confidence.

In recent appearances on the Real America’s Voice streaming network’s “War Room”, including on December 4, 2021, Malone echoes a largely ignored warning by Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano of “a global coup d’etat in which a financial and ideological elite has succeeded in seizing control of … media, the judiciary, politicians and religious leaders (by assuring) power, money and social affirmation.” This is must viewing. Click here.

There is subtle evidence here in the U.S. that absolute mandates and deprivation of personal and medical liberty is becoming the norm, with a constant drumbeat of vaccine requirements but never discussion of how to treat cases of the Wuhan virus with proven therapeutics. Anecdotally, in Moore County, it is all but impossible to find a prescription of the proven therapeutic Ivermectin.

An example of this iron boot approach comes to us from the National Football League. A member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently was the target of snitching by a personal assistant, who was suspicious about Antonio Brown’s vaccine documentation. The NFL launched an “investigation” and determined the snitcher was on to something. Brown and two other players were suspended for three games for daring to evade a vaccine they do not want in their (very) healthy bodies.

Two “sportswriters” with The Wall Street Journal decided the story was less about Brown and mostly about a most regrettable reality, that “it’s actually quite difficult in the U.S. to determine whether someone’s paper vaccination record is authentic — even for a mighty power like the NFL.”

They lament further that “there’s no single database tracking Covid-19 vaccination in the U.S.” and that “the biggest issue for employers is that they can’t go to any of these databases to double check that a card is real. Vaccine records are generally considered confidential.”

Before the archbishop’s warning of a totalitarian plot spawned by a war on Covid-19 goes global it will take root right here, beneath our noses, trampling freedom and medical confidentiality.

Ashe heap

By Steve Woodward

I’ve recently escaped the encampment known as Asheville, North Carolina, where masking is pronounced and pronouns are never masked.

Asheville reminded me of remote Japanese islands after Japan surrendered to end World War II. Its people are walking around in masks as if the war on the Wuhan Virus is still raging, and we’re only one bad data point removed from returning to 100% lockdowns, vaccines at gun point and citizen street patrols.

And, I sensed they’d actually prefer this scenario. Dude, c’mon! Mask up. My spouse was scolded entering a restaurant in the “arts district” for her failure to wear a mask during the six-step walk to our table. Fortunately, I was parking the car, or we would have moved along. (I snuck in, undetected by the mask cops).

Before there we mask mandates in Asheville, it appears there were stringent tattoo, body piercing and gender reassignment mandates. It’s a population grounded in government control and “woke” culture. But behold, says the tourism bureau, don’t miss breathtaking autumn colors and horizons dominated by mountain peaks. So we lowlanders flock annually.

I, too, enjoyed the scenery, and the confines of the Grove Park Inn, where unmasked weekend guests crowded the grand lobby even as the staff was suffocating behind “mandatory” face diapers per a county mandate. The young adult crowd seemed comfortable spending $10 for a lobby bar beer, and untold thousands of dollars for rooms and amenities to accommodate wedding guests, even as all complied with masking while meandering, but never when seated, talking, eating, drinking, and hugging. Some day, will they look back and regret their complicity after history unveils the farcical conditions under which we now live? The mask surely will join the ranks of the 1970s leisure suit. No one will admit to having worn one. But, alas they did not have iPhones in the ’70s.

Face coverings are not the lone weapon against societal norms. Did you know that hotel guests are destroying the planet and starving people? At The Grove Park, an Omni property, guests are urged to “opt out” of housekeeping services. By passing up on clean sheets and towels, you authorize Omni to donate a meal to a community organization. (No details about who coordinates it; are we talking a cheese sandwich or a four-course feast? No clue.). If you insist on being a jerk and expecting housekeeping, a guest still can earn “green” points by hanging a used towel. Or, leave it on the floor, you planet killer, and the staff begrudgingly supplies a fresh towel.

As with many hotel chains, green initiatives are marketing schemes designed to reduce operational costs. These cutbacks only have escalated during the Wuhan virus era. The Grove Park’s many corridor walls are covered by photos of the rich and famous who’ve stayed in the hotel since 1913, guests who were welcomed with deference and denied nothing. In 2021, if you want coffee in the morning forget about room service. There is no such service. But please brew your own cup in a Keurig device. It’s a paper cup, of course. Did Thomas Edison sip his coffee from a paper cup?

Closer to home, The Pilot, a newspaper serving Southern Pines but ideally suited to an Asheville constituency, complained in an editorial that the county school board is being derailed by “politics”. The editorial proclaims a school board is a “nonpartisan arena”. Sure, and Jeffrey Epstein’s island was a spa and spiritual retreat.

Apparently, there is nothing partisan about nonchalance toward “Critical Race Theory” as a continuous anti-American thread woven into social studies curricula. Nothing partisan about pandering to a “land trust” shaming Moore County Schools until it accepted a racially motivated plea to purchase a former school property on the cheap. The three newly elected, “political” school board members voted against the land grab; and even brought a member over to their side in a 4-3 vote to ban CRT from curricula in Moore schools.

Everything is political, and always has been. Everything is not perverse, however. You would not know that given the intent of so-called local Republicans in waging recent campaigns to defame Lydia Boesch and Kevin Drum, Pinehurst Village Council members, and Maureen Krueger, the former district attorney.

Political cannibalism is an enduring trait of the Republican Party for reasons that remain elusive. But there he was, Pinehurst Mayor John Strickland, recently claiming council members Boesch and Drum committed “ethics violations” on the flimsiest charges since the Steele Dossier was used to target Donald Trump’s presidency. In the case of Drum, the charge was made weeks ahead of his re-election bid on November 2. Drum lost to a pair of first-time, novice candidates, including Strickland crony Patrick Pizzella.

Krueger made the fatal mistake of accepting a nomination to become President of the Moore Republican Women’s club, an award winning club regionally and nationally, and the state’s largest. The spouse of the current district attorney, Michael Hardin, whom Krueger did not endorse in 2020, mounted an expensive campaign to oppose Krueger for the club presidency. In a secret-ballot election on November 3 Krueger received two-thirds of the vote to easily secure the position. But if she was trying to sow seeds of division in the club, Victoria Hardin also scored a victory, perverse though it was.

Republicans at all levels of government have to figure out how to be more skeptical of the many frauds who slither into our midst. Consider the 13 House Republicans who last week voted in favor of the Biden administration’s $1 trillion “infrastructure” bill that will allocate a scant $110 billion for legitimate infrastructure projects (The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2021).

The Village Council’s perversion may yet bring down its conspirators. Boesch, whose ethics violation is alleged to be talking to a village employee without permission, correctly sensed that Strickland and two fellow council members colluded to prepare a statement denouncing her before a scheduled October public meeting. Member Jane Hogeman was reading “her” statement rather matter-of-factly when Boesch interrupted to ask who had authored it. Hogeman was caught off guard and soon acknowledged that it has been “passed around”.

Boesch hired a well established attorney, who warned the council that it very likely violated state opening meetings laws by meeting on the sly to craft its denunciation of Boesch, herself an attorney.

Even the most betrayal minded Republicans can not mask their intentions forever.