Nice try

By Steve Woodward

I was wrong. After Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide restaurant lockdown order — without consent as required by the state’s constitution — on March 17, 2020, I was asked to articulate my greatest fear about what was to come.

The topic was local restaurants. All of them were shut down at 5 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. Some immediately accommodated carry-out only. Others were not ready for an overnight transition.

My biggest fear was “that they won’t be here” in a few months. I feared many of our restaurants, both long established and newcomers, would go out of business. I was wrong. We lost very few in comparison to the nationwide averages; several reinvented themselves and soldiered on, adding delivery options, improving carry-out operations. A few new places opened despite the lockdowns and are thriving.

In early 2020, local restaurants battled to survive on take-out orders and gift cards.

They did so despite promises of federal support evaporating. They did so despite banks demonstrating they were ill prepared to keep up with demand for funds moving through the pipeline from Capitol Hill to Main Street. They did so even as fattened unemployment checks disincentivized staffs from returning to work as restrictions on dining eased.

Local government finally awakened to the dire circumstances after a few vocal elected leaders stood up and proposed expanded outdoor dining, using parking spaces that often are unoccupied during evening hours. Southern Pines led the way; Pinehurst soon followed.

My forecast was wrong because I did not give enough credit to living in Moore County. We were under the same tyrannical lockdowns as the other 99 counties, but, apparently, we are blessed to live in communities with fewer hysterical residents than those who bowed at Cooper’s feet in places like Mecklenburg and Wake. Our locals recognized that adhering to a stay-at-home “order” was not practical and, potentially, the first step toward economic suicide and sweeping malaise.

Many, not all, ventured out to visit restaurants they’d never tried before. They learned that carry-out dining is not such a bizarre alternative, and when local dining spots added delivery options using smartphone apps we all discovered ever more great places across our dining spectrum. Additionally, customers heeded the call to buy gift cards with every order, to infuse more cash into the restaurants. Our Moore Republican Party then collected stacks of those cards and delivered them to frontline healthcare professionals at FirstHealth. A classic win-win.

Restaurant owners and chefs rarely wear their ideological persuasions on their sleeves. But we staunch conservatives share in common with these now heroic figures qualities that surely brought us together during the slog that began one year ago this week. We are capitalists. We believe in and defend personal responsibility, loyalty and liberty as protection from the iron boot of government. We prefer to earn a living, rather than living to be bailed out.

This story does not have a feel-good happy ending. Not by a long shot. One owner told me his retirement plans were set back five years. Many of the charitable pursuits that bind our restaurants to the community have ground to a halt, which means those in need have been temporarily left wanting. Some restaurants that closed temporarily are now closed forever, taking jobs with them. And owners of dining establishments and other retail businesses now know how easy it is for government tyrants to lock us down without regard for consequences, immediate or long term. American resilience proved too much for the tyrants this time. Nice try.

Thankfully, that is not the only awakening trigged by China’s unleashing of a global virus. There is this: The pursuit of absolute safety is the enemy of freedom, and a futile pursuit, indeed.

Betrayal

By Steve Woodward

North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley described Sen. Richard Burr’s vote to convict President Donald Trump after his Senate impeachment trial as “shocking and disappointing”.

Allow me to respectfully disagree. Burr’s track record during the Trump era strongly suggested he would, ultimately, join six other Republicans in voting against Trump’s certain acquittal. Nothing shocking about it. Disappointing? How about revolting? Or, vile. And, perhaps worst of all, calculated.

Who can doubt that a career swamp creature such as Burr would be tempted by a deal with the Devil? Consider this sheer coincidence: an investigation of Burr’s trading of 33 stocks timed around Wuhan Virus vaccine development was dropped by the Department of Justice the moment the Biden administration seized power. Or, perhaps, no coincidence. Wink, wink.

While the media and the Left conveniently forget about events of a week, or a month, or even years ago, as if they never happened (Ukraine’s extortion of $1 billion through then-Vice President Biden), even Republicans seem to not recall the manner in which the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Burr before his forced resignation amid insider trading allegations, aided and abetted the Russian hoax.

The Federalist’s Tristan Justice, writing in May 2020, referred to the revelations about the committee’s conduct in an early 2018 column put forth by a Federalist colleague.

Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway wrote in March that the recent (stock trading) scandal is only the latest reason Burr should be stripped of his powerful chairmanship after perpetuating the grand Russian collusion conspiracy theory implicating President Donald Trump was an agent of the Kremlin.

“The only notable thing to have happened in that committee over the course of the Russia collusion hoax was the arrest of one of its staffers for lying regarding his leaks of information to reporters he was intimate with,” Hemingway wrote.

But Burr assured Americans in an April 2020 statement that the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Russian “collusion” was solid and indisputable.

Burr: “In reviewing the ICA, the Senate Intelligence Committee looked at two key questions: first, did the final product meet the initial task given by the President, and second, was the analysis supported by the intelligence presented? We found the ICA met both criteria. The ICA reflects strong tradecraft, sound analytical reasoning, and proper justification of disagreement in the one analytical line where it occurred.”

The fatal flaw in this assessment is that the ICA was informed from the outset by an infamous document known as the Steele Dossier. The genesis of the Steele Dossier discredited it from day one.

“The Clinton campaign and the (Democrat National Committee) paid 12 million dollars to an American company called Fusion GPS for the purpose of digging up dirt on then candidate, Donald Trump,” writes former CIA station chief Brad Johnson, founder of Americans for Intelligence Reform. “It was Fusion GPS that then hired Steele. In so doing GPS would have obviously kept much of that $12 million for themselves. Neither the Clinton campaign, nor the DNC directly hired Steele.

“There has never been any announcement, or evidence presented, as to how much of the $12 million GPS kept for itself, and how much it paid Steele to further the ‘opposition research project’.”

Here is the bottom line on Richard Burr. Career politician. Complicit in advancing the Russia collusion hoax to bring down President Trump. Although not alone on Capitol Hill, not opposed to “selling off up to $1.7 million in stocks following classified congressional briefings on the coming pandemic from the novel Wuhan coronavirus” (The Federalist, May 14 2020).  One of seven Senate Republicans whom history will record as voting to impeach a private citizen in defiance of the Constitution.

Just be glad you are not his book agent.

Channeling C.S. Lewis

By Steve Woodward

Following Nazi Germany’s relentless bombing campaign in 1940 and 1941, Londoners would face many more years of hardship until World War II ended in 1945. There was fear of occupation. There was rationing. And, everywhere, there was destruction.

Through it all, Brits had come to depend on the reassuring counsel of C.S. Lewis, arguably among the most famous writers of the era, first as a novelist and by the 1940s owed to his writings on Christianity. The Irish-born, former atheist was an accidental celebrity to say the least. The Village Chapel’s Pastor John Jacobs, a Lewis expert, says he seemed to appeal to readers across the spectrum of religious allegiances because he wrote about his newfound faith as a lay person, not as a theologian.

In 1941 the British Broadcasting Corporation, through its director of religious broadcasting, asked Lewis if he would agree to deliver brief radio commentaries to its listening audience. He accepted. In the years to follow, the 15 minutes Londoners spent with Lewis on Sunday nights were viewed as sacred; an appointment not to be missed.

The gift Lewis gave to his war-weary citizens was quite the opposite of the inspiring, rhetorical flourishes delivered by Winston Churchill. Lewis made common sense out of Christianity and made it relevant to the vulnerable.

“What’s the sense of saying the enemy is in the wrong,” Lewis said, “unless right is a real thing?”

Here in 2021, do we not repeatedly ask this question, knowing that it is the central question? But I would ask another question first. Do we have a yet undiscovered C.S. Lewis in our midst in the 21st Century in America?

We have Anthony Fauci, a Swamp creature annoyed by all of us because we want to live as free citizens. We have Rush Limbaugh. We as conservatives are blessed to have Rush as our ideological voice but the other side was thrilled by Limbaugh’s lung cancer diagnosis a year ago. We have Franklin Graham, who honors his father’s legacy by delivering God’s love tangibly to the world’s suffering. We have Tucker Carlson, to whom we owe our gratitude for crushing hypocrites and exposing deception at every turn.

But what America desperately needs today is a C.S. Lewis, a scholar who dreaded the scholarly, an author who wrote not for peers but for real people, and who stepped forward as a servant of God at a moment in history when no else could have served as well. Imagine, today, fringe talk show host Bill Maher, a witty, far Left atheist, converting to Christianity. That would be a wake up call.

First, it must be said that Great Britain, in 1941, identified entirely as a Christian nation. In 2021, the U.S. is a Judeo-Christian nation teetering on the brink of becoming a Socialist nation in which religion has long been marginalized and is increasingly persecuted, even despised.

If we have in our midst a C.S. Lewis he will not be invited by the establishment media to come forward to console us. He will emerge at a considerable risk to his livelihood, his security and his reputation.

Perhaps we delude ourselves thinking there is one such person in this social media age. Perhaps the answer to our dilemma is not found in a person but in a chorus.

RIP journalism

By Steve Woodward

In another lifetime I was a young newspaper journalist who had fallen in love with the profession as a teen after reading The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn. It was a book about the 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers, but it also was a book about Kahn’s experiences as a cub newspaperman who eventually covered the team during a bygone, or more precisely, long gone era.

The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957, and Brooklyn never was the same. It was part of a decaying New York City in the 1960s and ‘70s. Today, pre-Wuhan virus, Brooklyn has made a ferocious comeback. All the cool New Yorkers want to live there, real estate is (was) sky rocketing. Brooklyn once again has a professional sports team, the NBA Brooklyn Nets. 

Journalism is not making a Brooklyn style comeback. Sportswriters are, today, cultural commentators. They have no time for games, box scores or the crack of the bat. Journalists generally have forsaken everything that moored a Roger Kahn.  Apart from sportswriters, newspaper legends such as Jimmy Breslin, or Jack Anderson, or even, in his prime Bob Woodward, are not being replaced. 

Unlike Don McLean who can pinpoint “the day the music died” (1959), I cannot say for sure when journalism died. It’s demise probably is similar to a senior relative who is the life of the party until, one day, he’s not. It just happens and you do not see it coming. 

Journalism’s illness probably was undiagnosed, or, in the current vernacular, asymptomatic, around the time that the political media dropped all pretense of objectivity to worship at the altar of Barack Obama. And, thus, began the revolution that would deem all of American life irredeemable and racist. Before we knew what had hit us, journalism was compromised and became an agenda driven cause, no longer a legitimate profession (although they’ll still take the money to masquerade as hard-hitting reporters).

This is a rather lengthy pretext to explain why I am not capable of being shocked by the revelation, reported by our new generation of citizen journalists, that the editor of The Pilot, John A. Nagy, and the Director of Communications of Moore County Schools, Catherine Murphy, are partners in a real estate transaction that will result in ownership of a lot on which, presumably, a home will be built. 

If you are surprised that journalists are readily compromised by the company they keep, you have not been paying attention. This is small time collusion, friends. In Washington, the celebrity journos are married to scions of power and influence. Their children attend the same private schools. They attend the same parties in the Hamptons and on Martha’s Vineyard. And at 6 am weekdays, they all receive the “talking points” issued by the keepers of the Deep State. This is not conspiracy theory. This is certainty. But be not dismayed. Journalism is committing suicide right before our eyes. Knowing this, we can do their jobs for them until there are no more jobs. For them. 

Miscalculation

By Steve Woodward

Set this scene in your mind. Two high level Chinese government apparatchiks, chain smoking in a conference room. Their frustration levels are high.

What is it about this “American spirit”? These American farmers keep farming even when we punish their exporting potential with tariffs. Their manufacturers keep producing. Their consumers keep buying. Their citizens keep worshipping a god. And they elected Donald Trump, a man who mocks us, as their President.

We have flooded the United States with addictive fentanyl. We have flooded their pharmaceutical industry with tainted generic drugs. We have robbed their corporations of intellectual property. We have compromised them at the highest levels of their government. We own Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And Biden’s son.

What more can we do? Cigarettes at the ready, they contemplate more deeply.

One inhales a cloud of nicotine. “We have the lab in Wuhan.”

Seven months into the Great Wuhan Virus Lockdown in the United States and across the world, intelligent people have attempted to connect the dots between the origin of the virus and the objectives of its perpetrators. These attempts repeatedly are shot down by the Left in our country as conspiratorial, anti-science and, in all cases, irrelevant because the virus is here, and we’re all doomed. And, since it’s convenient let’s just blame President Trump.

Maybe Chinese researchers were not actually so evil to the core that they willfully unleashed a mysterious virus across the planet. Maybe it was accidental. But what is no accident is how quickly the Left and the corrupt American media turned on a dime to exploit the virus right on cue in an election year.

The Biden “campaign” is calculating that it can run out the clock, blame Trump for all of the collateral damage inflicted by the Wuhan Virus, then sit back and let the media pile on. It is so confident that this will play out that even the emergence of Hunter Biden’s scandalous business deals with China and Ukraine have been no cause for overt panic. (Hopefully, this week’s presidential debate will force Joe Biden to explain why he brokered these deals for his son and the Biden family).

Federal, state and local Democrat candidates, incumbents and challengers alike, are supremely confident as well. As long as they have a death toll and daily cases to magnify, they will assure themselves that Americans will oblige and vote for Democrats as a vote for life and a permanent presumption of absolute safety. They’re just as certain voters will ignore the Left’s endorsement of Black Lives Matter’s Marxist anarchists. 

We watched last week, during a pro-freedom rally ahead of the Moore County Board of Education’s scheduled meeting as Democrat U.S. House candidate (NC-52) Lowell Simon shouted down a registered nurse for daring to inform the assembled of his recent experiences. The nurse said cases of patients being treated for Wuhan Virus minus accompanying health conditions at Moore Regional numbered no more than eight. “That’s a lie,” retorted Simon, his rage masked, literally. 

The Left can swarm our communities with virtue signaling mask police all it wants, but it will never succeed at masking the carnage imposed on our country and its largely healthy people when it leveraged the Wuhan Virus so deceptively so many months ago.

There is something else spreading as a result: Outrage among people lining up even now at early voting sites. Citizens are outraged by a crippled economy that was robust seven months ago; outraged by the devastation of Governor Roy Cooper’s savage lockdowns, which are compromising public education, forcing parents to quit jobs to stay home with their kids; and outraged by a Democrat-infested Moore school board that says K-5 students will not return to school on a regular schedule until January 2021, at the earliest.

We are “science deniers,” scolds the Left, hiding behind science-driven theories proven wrong so often. But what they cannot hide has been their lust to impose tyranny on the American people, and they’ve miscalculated the fallout. You read it here.