Liberty and death

By Steve Woodward

A physician and UCLA academic writing in The Wall Street Journal lays out the near future in the clearest terms: “If we can’t shut down (the United States) for 18 months on the gamble that an effective (COVID-19) vaccine will arrive, how long will it be worth committing millions of families to poverty and uprooting lives, education and every other part of the economy?

If a life is not worth living, is it worth saving?

This is the question no one wants to ask in a thriving free society. But is must be asked.

Give me liberty or give me death. This is the original bumper sticker assigned to the American experiment. But does anyone actually embrace it? We will know soon.

Because liberty is being drained even as the Swamp stands strong. Americans are yielding rights and freedom because one person in a community, a person with many health issues, might contract COVID-19 and die. This is the justification for governors — who are more capable of denying us liberty than we previously knew — decreeing shut downs of churches, restaurants and other thriving businesses. Stay safe! Yet America was not built on the presumption of safety. We are a strong nation because we believe in God and his will, which will deliver different fates across humanity. We are a great nation because we have sent young men and women into battle, knowing many would not come back, We did not assure them of safety. We did not say, “Sign up and stay safe”.

If a life is not worth living, is it worth saving? Ronald Reagan famously said, “Our’s is a rendezvous with destiny.” And if you doubt it, look up and face destiny. Reagan didn’t say we would like it, the rendezvous. But here we are.

Is it a choice or an obligation? To preserve liberty even in the face of a health crisis? Do we stand by as the federal government plunges our society into debt? Do we stand by as governments prohibit us to assemble to worship on Easter Sunday, and beyond? Do we relinquish our God given right to be free of government tyranny?

No one knows how many will die in the weeks ahead. But now is not the time to cower in fear. Our founding fathers risked everything, their careers, their riches, their way of life, and very lives, to give birth to our nation. Today, our nation is just getting started, and again it faces turmoil.

We must ask, as did our founders, why do we want to live if life is shackled by tyrants who claim to know better than we, who threaten penalties if we hug a fellow human being, visit a restaurant or worship inside a church?

Give me liberty. Death is inevitable.

 

Stimulus but no relief

By Steve Woodward

A headline proclaims, “Senate Coronavirus Bill Prohibits Trump’s Hotels From Receiving Bailouts”.

v9b1x0lvaibyc9gjto6q
Trump International employees

What a relief, unless you happen to be a “worker” (the Left’s favorite word) in a Trump property currently shut down and taking a financial hit along with every other major hotel operator in the world. Which has us thinking about the surprise expressed by the mainstream media when President Trump said he hoped to resume economic activity across the country after Easter Sunday, April 12.

The reason this $2 trillion Corona-stimulus seems so randomly doled out is that many of the lawmakers behind it, especially the entrenched, career defenders of the status quo, have no idea how businesses are run, how they manage costs, manage labor and engage every day in staving off strangling regulations, which typically are chock full of unintended consequences.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the now notorious visionary Jim Clyborne, the South Carolina Rep. salivating on TV at the opportunity to hijack actual stimulus goals in favor of underwriting social re-engineering, do not employ people and are not dependent on a transactional economy. They rarely have run anything other than staffs paid for by taxpayers.

And although it comes as no surprise that petty Democrats in Congress would insist that Trump International be specifically shut out from the “stimulus” package, it also comes as we observe Trump understanding, intuitively, that a sick economy will do more damage to real people over time than a spreading virus that threatens a fraction of the population.

It is indisputable that Trump is perhaps the first modern U.S. President wired to empathize with a local restaurant owner who has grown from operating a small cafe to running numerous eateries, employing hundreds of people earning much more than a minimum wage. Trump’s hotels and golf resorts employ many times more than a multi-unit restaurateur but both face the same challenges, especially now.

The media pounced as soon as Trump suggested he foresaw the country “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” “Reckless”, trumpeted The Washington Post, failing to note that it and other former news organizations delight in seeing the U.S. economy decimated. In the long run, the media will not blame Chinese bats.

As days of closures begin to threaten even the most robust businesses, owners are speaking up and shouting down the “solutions” coming out of Washington. One is Raleigh, NC-based caterer Houston Loper, who released a letter he forwarded to members of Congress that was published by North State Journal. Loper echoes what Moore County chef-owners such as Mark Elliott are espousing. Forget stimulus; let us get back to work.

This is Loper’s summation: “The goal should be to keep as many people employed and businesses running as possible. This pay-out decision (aka, stimulus) would cause businesses to close and more people to be unemployed and reliant on government assistance. If the government helped small businesses first, fewer people would be out of work.”

Mr. Loper is correct. The problem is this: the dignity of work is not well understood by the ruling elite in Washington. They pay lip service to the American spirit.

 

 

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.

 

 

AOC for bartender

By Steve Woodward

Democrat Presidential aspirant Joe Biden is channeling Margaret Thatcher from her grave, apparently. He says the former British Prime Minister is lamenting the United States in the age of Donald Trump. He meant to reference Theresa May, the very alive Prime Minister who probably could use an overaggressive Biden hug about now.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking to social media to explain that she is horrified by the food waste disposer in her apartment (never seen one, she says), and mystified by produce growing out of the dirt in a garden. She is, famously, an ex-bartender and gives this profession a bad name.

Electronic surveillance is not the same as spying, claims former FBI Director James Comey. But, either way, he and current FBI Director Christopher Wray express no regrets or even acknowledge that high ranking FBI personnel weaponized the Bureau in an attempt to bring down Trump’s campaign. Spying or not, scandalous.

Hillary Clinton is out on the irrelevance circuit proclaiming that the 2016 presidential election was “stolen” from her. She should have her irony meter inspected. Three years on, it is clear that Clinton’s campaign hired the opposition research firm that would aid and abet an effort to rig the election — in her favor, not Trump’s.

China is practically begging for an all-out trade war. Iran is rattling its sabers in the Middle East, targeting U.S. forces. Hamas terrorists are bombing Israel with renewed fervor. Christianity is under persecution to such a universal degree that one expert says Christians find themselves facing genocide across the globe.

But what is making headlines in the fully compliant left wing media? Outrage over President Trump presenting golf legend Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Barack Obama presented it to Biden, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey, but that was just fine.

Meanwhile, with a few exceptions by select media outlets committing inadvertent acts of journalism, reporting on the U.S. economy as the marvel of the world (even China, if its leaders had an honest bone) and a work force partying like it’s 1969, is barely a blip on mainstream media’s radar. The MSM is all over Attorney General William Barr, who released the long awaited Mueller Report but somehow is to be charged with contempt of Congress. Any red-blooded American would freely admit being contemptuous of these frauds.

If the economy remains on its current trajectory, Biden will be asking to have Thatcher exhumed, and AOC will place her quivering hand into her food disposal (because she doesn’t know any better) when it’s in the “on” position. Against this backdrop of inside-the-Beltway hysteria, consider that:

  • The unemployment rate last was at 3.6% when Richard Nixon was beginning his first term as President in 1969. It is 3.6% in 2019.
  • Wage growth, which negates Democrats’ calls for national hourly minimum wages of $15+, hit 3.2% in April, the ninth consecutive month of wage growth north of 3%. In other words, inspired laborers will be blowing past $15/hour, if they have not already.
  • The last time unemployment among women was at 3.4%, Dwight Eisenhower was President (1953).

That’s good news for Ocasio-Cortez. When she loses in 2020, bartending jobs will be plentiful. Or, in this land of prosperity, she could try her hand at  food waste disposal sales.

 

 

 

Send in the clowns

… Where are the clowns. Send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.” – Stephen Sondheim, 1973

By Steve Woodward

It is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to avoid opinion columnists who are so wrong on so many topics. Their renderings ramble on and on, littered with unsubstantiated statistics and unsourced assertions. I’m encountering these diatribes despite never, ever reading op-ed pages in The New York Times or The Washington Post.

Who needs those formerly credible publications when one can find the same extremes of anti-Republican, anti-Trump, pro-left vitriol in The Pilot? The April 28 edition showcased Robert Levy observing that illegal immigrants pouring across the southern border are the reason for the nation’s robust economy; William Shaw praising North Carolina teachers, who are not union members, for planning a union-style, May 1 March on Raleigh that will force school closures; and Don Tortorice lamenting Donald Trump’s strategy to rein in China’s intellectual property theft by imposing tariffs on its U.S. exports to trigger, for once, negotiations.

Levy’s tirade veered way off the rails in several passages, but this is the laugh-out-loud portion that is pure fantasy: “(Illegal immigrants in the workplace keep) employment numbers artificially high and unemployment, especially for blacks and Hispanics, artificially low.” Using this premise, we are supposed to believe that Democrats, who deliberately do nothing to stop illegal immigration, are nonetheless willing to let Trump get all of the credit for historically low unemployment and wage growth. Who does Levy think he is the kidding? Democrats would rather their voters (citizens, ex-cons and aliens) receive an entitlement than a job, every time.

Shaw cheers teachers who will abandon their responsibilities to swarm downtown Raleigh on May 1 during a demonstration coordinated by the National Education Association’s state affiliate (the NEA doggedly maintains presence in states without teachers’ unions). Teacher pay in North Carolina has risen steadily five consecutive years but “while progress is being made, teachers should not expect greater largesse from the General Assembly if they silence their voices.” What about the voices of parents who wonder why teacher pay always must go up regardless of student performance in the classroom? What about kids who can’t read in middle school?

In an April 29 column for RealClearEducation.com, Terry Stoops of the The John Locke Foundation observes that despite endless calls for higher teacher pay “results from state achievement tests administered last year show that only 56 percent of elementary and middle school students were proficient in math, and just 57 percent were proficient in reading.”

Why do teachers refuse to demonstrate to students that pay rises on the tide of merit, not entitlement? The students should be the ones in the streets.

Tortorice’s column is written like a textbook lecture, perhaps to be expected of a former professor at the Law School of the College of William and Mary. It is full of eye-glazing statistics and purports that tariffs are never paid by the country on which they are imposed. But Tortorice misses the essential point of the Trump-era tariffs on China. This so-called trade war is moving the two countries toward a long-term trade agreement with a goal of eliminating tariffs in both directions over time. Talks, potentially the final round, are ongoing as we speak. The imbalanced global trade system has been entrenched for too long and would never be challenged without a period of economic pain.

The columnist insists American taxpayers are paying for tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, yet the U.S. economy is growing every quarter (per a 3.2% GDP uptick in Q1), consumer confidence moved higher in a recent survey and inflation fears are off the table. Americans with a long view would rather reach an agreement that deters China from stealing intellectual property and gradually reduces tariffs.

This trio of diversions from reality pale in comparison to the unhinged column by ex-Reagan speechwriter and decades long pundit Peggy Noonan in the April 27-28 weekend editions of The Wall Street Journal.

Despite the innumerable ways in which the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have rewarded American citizens for their votes in 2016, Noonan is incensed that Trump has failed because he did not seek to pacify members of the Washington establishment (she calls them “the old ambassadors) who were willing to give him a chance. If, that is, he came around. Which Trump did not, thankfully.

“One by one,” she writes, “the ambassadors shut down and turned away. … They feared Madness of King George-ism. They’d come to think the president was, irredeemably, a screwball.”

The Swamp guards the status quo at any cost, but Trump is the one who is dangerous? The ambassadors, when they were younger, were equally skeptical of the fitness for the presidency of Noonan’s old boss, Ronald Reagan. Even when Americans cheered a booming 1980s economy long overdue, the ambassadors scowled and ordered another martini.

Now, here we are 30 years later. Noonan wrote beautiful words which once complimented the warm delivery of President Reagan. But her recent column was delivered like a manifesto written from a cabin in the woods after the meds ran out.

“There is an unarticulated wish out there to return to some past in which things were deeply imperfect and certainly divided but on some level tranquil, and not half mad,” wrote Noonan, who we assume uses “out there” and the Upper East Side of New York interchangeably, and chose not to name the deeply imperfect Barack Obama.

She reveals herself as just another horrified, well-heeled bystander peering over her bifocals, who longs for the return of a ruling elite in Washington and is incapable of understanding that this is just the opposite of what ordinary Americans between the coasts desire and will vote again to avoid in 2020 and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

NC judge: Voters, what voters?

By Steve Woodward

It would be all too easy to sit back beneath the pines and shrug in disbelief about the uncertain direction in which our great nation is headed in 2019. Democracy is messy. Turbulence is the norm. No other sovereign nation has tried what our founders set into motion.

Yet, in this age of Trump Derangement, forces have been unleashed (forces emboldened and expanded during the Obama years) which are taking direct aim at our core principles. Christianity. Rule of law. Sanctity of life. Capitalism. Legal immigration.  Or, as newly unapologetic Socialist Democrats might put it, “their core principles, not ours.”

Once the Left became certain that President Trump, his voters, Republicans, Conservatives and, yes, even some Democrats, are on the wrong side of history everything changed. Right before our eyes. The Left now believes that a bloodless coup is justified. Robert Mueller be damned. And the Left also believes that free elections and their outcomes are mere inconveniences that can be worked around. Or ignored.

Up Highway 1, in Wake County, a superior court judge last week ignored North Carolina voters’ approval of two mandates on the 2018 ballot. Judge Bryan Collins, who it goes without saying is an activist pro-Left judge, ruled as unconstitutional two majority-supported amendments. One now requires voters to present a valid ID at polling places; the other caps the state income tax rate at seven percent.

Like federal judges who have exercised their (abused) power to overturn Trump executive orders or laws passed by elected federal lawmakers, Collins engaged in semantic and ideological gamesmanship to issue his ruling. He said the General Assembly was “illegally constituted” because 2016 district voting maps were declared racially gerrymandered by yet another activist judge.

Will of the voter? Voters can go to hell (if we’re not living in one already). The 55 percent supporting the voter ID amendment and the 58 percent in favor of a reduced income tax cap are of no consequence. They’re a bunch of racists. The state constitution doesn’t belong to them.

Because it’s common sense (another Republican principal under siege), 35 states have voter ID laws on the books. And states with low or no state income tax are watching the floodgates open to new residents, high-tax refugees pouring across their borders from California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. Recently, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo openly acknowledged the mass exodus triggered by his state’s commitment to “tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich.” But a judge in North Carolina has decided we’re better off if we have a state income tax rate capped at 10 percent, rather than seven percent. This, in a state with a budget surplus fueled by Republican policies.

Whether here under Carolina blue skies, or to our north in The Swamp, all efforts to derail prosperity and freedom, economic and religious, rally around one common goal: destroy Trump. It is breathtaking.

A U.S. Senate bill to put lawmakers on record opposing the abortion of babies after birth goes down, 53-44. Democrats in Congress and judges are hell bent on stopping President Trump from declaring a national emergency along our Southern border. The House voted Feb. 26 to terminate Trump’s declaration, the first time in history that has happened. Meanwhile, the Green New Deal is the hottest talking point on Democrat-aligned cable and network news. Advises the radical pop star masquerading as a member of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), our country’s future is so bleak due to “climate change” that millennials must question whether they should re-produce. It might soon be immoral to have a baby.

And Bernie Sanders is running for President. Again. More emboldened than ever. Benjamin Franklin famously said the founders bestowed upon us “a Republican, if you can keep it.” Can we?

 

 

 

The left’s scheme theme

By Steve Woodward

A well-financed activist group intends to counter the North Carolina treasurer’s plan to reduce health care costs accrued by state employees, active and retired, by pushing an alternative plan that encourages citizens to adopt healthier lifestyles. (Insert laugh track here).

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the Left’s playbook: Demand more spending to ensure better outcomes, which, eventually, will pay for themselves (except they never do). Any competing effort to reduce health care costs is dismissed as yet another heartless, “push Granny over the cliff” scheme.

In fact, radio spots paid for by Partners for Innovation in Health Care make three references to State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s “risky scheme” to trim spending by up to $400 million annually. The spots rely on semantic nuances that make their claims sound perfectly logical, if not reasonable, such as “ration care”, “jeopardize quality”, and “cripple operations”. These evoke memories of the deceitful claim by then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in 2017 that “hundreds of thousands of people will die” if ObamaCare was ever repealed. Who could possibly support rationing, jeopardizing, crippling or genocide?

Folwell is on record repeatedly saying that spending on state employees’ healthcare continues to rise, that providers such as UNC Health Care rebuke his efforts to examine actual costs, and that the snowballing effect is unsustainable. Folwell has emphasized his concern about North Carolina’s promise to provide more than $30 billion in health care coverage for retired state employees, of which less than 5% has been set aside, reported Business North Carolina in a Jan. 25 overview of growing opposition to Folwell.

Partners for Innovation is enlisting donors to help it spread its message that healthcare costs are not negotiable. It plans to raise $2.5 million toward that goal in coming years. Democrats in the General Assembly are floating plans to limit the treasurer’s ability to control health care costs.

The Socialist Left despises big corporations, but embraces government largesse and big healthcare with arms wide open. Rather than answering Folwell’s question — “I know what you are charging (the state) but how much am I supposed to pay you?” — Democrats and their activist supporters in the health care industry want to direct even more funds toward insane initiatives to coerce individual state employees to take better care of themselves.

Radio spots contend the treasurer disregards the dire need for a state health plan that will “provide (preventative) services”. Without these services, activists will not be able to encourage (force) state employees and retirees to manage their own chronic diseases, stop smoking, lose weight and adopt “active lifestyle solutions”.

Polarization in politics increasingly leaves responsible citizens with choices so blatantly absurd that only Democrats view them as black and white. The state’s first Republican treasurer in 142 years is determined to demand accountability by health care giants for the services they provide. What a monster, this Folwell!

His opposition sees more spending on coercion as the only option. Guard fast food drive-throughs with Dietician Police. Shutter ABC liquor stores. Deliver treadmills to every home. Ban smoking in the workplace. (Oops, already tried that. Didn’t stop smokers from smoking elsewhere). Make all restaurant parking remote but without shuttles. Finally, an “active lifestyle solution” if ever there was one.

The only consolation for donors to Partners for Innovation in Health Care pushing for more, not smarter, spending, is this: Their ideas are positively benign compared to their progressive brethren on Capitol Hill, who have unveiled the Green New Deal. This proposal does not merely seek to alter lifestyles, but life as we know it. No air travel tops the list. Elimination of fossil fuels, of course. And it goes on, all to be achieved in 10 years at a projected cost of $6.6 trillion annually.

Writing in February 11 editions of The Wall Street Journal, Barton Swaim observes that the Green New Deal “is an expression of dreams, but that doesn’t make it pointless or merely comical.” Economic freedom for individuals is not the aim of progressives. Whether here in North Carolina or in The Swamp, unchecked economic control and collectivism are their guiding principles. Swaim quotes the haunting, timeless words of political philosopher Michael Oakeshott, who warned that “the conjunction of dreaming and ruling generates tyranny.”

Then, there is this to ponder when next the anti-Folwell spots air. Oakeshott instructed that the political dream “is a vision of a condition of human circumstance from which the occasion of conflict has been removed, a vision of human activity coordinated and set going in a single direction and of every resource being used to the full.”

Until every resource is depleted.