Here we are

By Steve Woodward

In our upside down world, a Pinehurst resident last week unfurled and mounted a “BIDEN President” flag inconspicuously, almost out of view. For a few days it literally was hanging upside down, difficult to decipher, as if Joe Biden himself might have done the job.

Another Pinehurst resident said she admired thematic yard signs your humble author plants in his front yard, conspicuously, in full view of a busy road. They suggest highly controversial ideas. Socialism Distancing. Unmask Tyranny. Dethrone King Cooper. She was offered one but declined, fearing it would provoke property damage. Her words.

4 July.5The most upside down moment came last Saturday after a joyous parade on Independence Day through the heart of the Village of Pinehurst, organized after Mayor John Strickland predictably cancelled the annual parade operated by local government. In its place was the “oh really, just watch us” July 4th parade brought to life by our Moore County Republican Women and their many supporters. There were classic convertibles, red pickups, golf carts, a vintage Jeep, signs, flags, blaring music from car audio systems, and proud marchers armed with copies of the U.S. Constitution, not sledge hammers and bricks. So very right side up.

The parade was brief but exhilarating. It attracted a photographer from The Pilot. A news report and photos were posted later Saturday on The Pilot‘s Facebook page. Reaction was swift. Of the many upside down laments and criticisms aimed at our rogue parade, one man captured the award for best encapsulating the misery that defines today’s Left. He posted a one-word comment about the parade. “Yuck.”

Many of us hear that word in our heads as we open our eyes each morning to face another day of across-the-board hysteria. The Left has mounted an overwhelming campaign, years in the making, to tear apart our nation. The Wuhan Virus was perhaps not expected but easy enough to exploit on a dime to crater a robust Trump-era economy and, as a silver lining, restrict worship and foment government dependency. Quite a trifecta.

So, too, the death under (white) police arrest of a (black) Minneapolis man a couple of months later. Perfect storm. An easily stoked health crisis on a parallel track with an eruption of violence to decry “systemic racism.” And a bonus: If you oppose wearing a mask in crowds, just become an anarchist. Masks not required.

Any denunciation of race-baiting by pointing to systemic freedom, systemic prosperity or systemic innovation, is taboo. Do not even dare to suggest that all lives matter. The latter will earn you a “I’m a Racist” tee shirt.

As expected, corrupt media cheerleaders finally arrived at the moment when every case and every death tied to the Wuhan Virus — which time will tell include false cases and falsely attributed deaths — is blamed on President Donald Trump. (So, to be clear, he colluded with China, not Russia?) Then along came nationwide Marxist-led Black Lives Matter uprisings intersecting with traditional Independence Day celebrations. The media took its cue and echoed the words of Marxism’s highly paid spokesman, Colin Kaepernick. A celebration of American Independence is a celebration of “white supremacy”. Americans must re-think the Fourth of July. While wearing masks and fearing one another’s next sneeze.

But the collapse of our nation is not, and cannot be, inevitable. Because that was the essence of President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech, the Left predictably denounced it. “Divisive and dark” read the headlines. Let’s hope so. Why would we seek unity with college indoctrinated, white guilt infused zombies who would erase our history, one monument at a time? And they won’t stop with physical destruction. The primary targets are religion, law enforcement and free enterprise. And the Washington Redskins.

Patriotic Americans have quoted adoringly, and for generations, President Ronald Reagan’s characterizations of the United States. “A shining City on a Hill.” “The last, best hope for man on Earth.” In 2020, we will find out if these words are destined to ring hollow, or if individuals are willing to fight to sustain them, not with weapons, not with parades, not with yard signs but with relentless determination to get out the vote and win elections, from Trump-Pence and Congress, to the courts and statehouses.

At the conclusion of Saturday’s parade, a military veteran who resides among us climbed atop a pickup truck to read, word for word, the Declaration of Independence. Dozens gathered around to listen. The final sentence reminds us today what we must be willing to do. “With a firm reliance of the protection on divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Many founders lost their lives and their fortunes, but not one his honor.

Reagan also said that “our’s is a rendezvous with destiny.” Here we are.

 

 

 

Stay safe, Mr. Columbus

By Steve Woodward

The next time you walk past a statue honoring a historic figure, you might consider uttering a phrase now very much in vogue: Stay safe. Seems an odd thing to say to one as courageous as Christopher Columbus but, suddenly, statues are almost as endangered as city storefronts and American flags. Portraits and plaques, you’re next.

Destroying private property and erasing American history are part of Antifa’s far left, two-pronged assault strategy, with plenty of backup from Democrat mayors, governors and their fellow radicals in Congress. A mob in Birmingham, Ala., was struggling to tear down a Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument when none other than the city’s Democrat mayor showed up to help them finish the job.

Meanwhile, how about the corporate virtue signaling? Perhaps the day soon will come when all of the images on grocery store packaging will be masked, just in case someone decides the Keebler elves are offensive to short people. Will Col. Sanders be transitioning to gray or beige suits? Or maybe the solution is East German-era generic shelf stocking. There will be an aisle on which every box is labeled RICE; another where your choices are SYRUP or SYRUP.

And no more choosing between Mattel’s Barbie and Ken. This just in: Ken is Barbie. Woke.

Such crass chuckling will get your house burned to the ground in 2020. But what honest person can deny needing a break from the unrelenting madness sweeping our besieged nation?

It would all be laugh out loud hilarious if it was not so dangerous. Conservative author and former Republican Presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan published in 2011 a book entitled “Suicide of a Superpower: Will American Survive to 2025?” He wrote, “America will be gone” in a few decades. “In its place will arise a country unrecognizable to our parents.”

His question targeting 2025 now appears prophetic. Remember how mainstream media shrieked when, during an earlier round of statue toppling a few years ago, President Donald Trump remarked that monuments to Washington and Jefferson would be next? That will never happen, said these keen cultural observers. Don’t be ridiculous, Orange Man.

Sadly, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have both gone down with a thud in Portland, Ore.  Jefferson soon will disappear in Decatur, Ga., and New York City Hall. A Washington statue in Chicago was vandalized amid calls for its removal. (How about removing the Democrats who preside, week after week, over black versus black violence in the streets?)

Columbus has not been spared. He was torn from a pedestal in St. Paul, Minn. He was beheaded in Boston. And submerged in a lake in Richmond, Va.

The destruction is not limited to the famous. Three plaques honoring confederate soldiers have been removed from the University of Alabama’s campus library. A monument commemorating more than 1,600 confederate soldiers who died in Civil War prisoner camps controlled by the Union army is coming down in Indianapolis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the removal of portraits of four former Speakers to wrap up her week. The corrupt media will not mention that all four are Democrats who defended slavery. So what took so long, Nance? Howell Cobb of Georgia was born on a plantation and became a raging secessionist. James Orr of South Carolina was a member of a three-person commission sent to Washington in 1861 to negotiate a truce with President James Buchanan to avert civil war. Before they left town, artillery fire was tearing apart Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor. The war had begun.

The chapters of American history represented by these many suddenly repulsive monuments and portraits across our land have been in place, in many cases, for a century or more. The rage that suddenly casts them as unbearable and offensive drips with hypocrisy. But if virtually everything is, as the mobs insist, blatantly racist, from Washington, Jefferson, Columbus, Robert E. Lee, and anyone who ever wore a Confederate uniform or raised the Confederacy’s flag, where does it end? The next growing movement is the renaming of every building ever dedicated to honor a person’s memory.

If this folly absolutely must happen to quell vandalism and violence, might we suggest starting with the Russell Senate office building. Richard B. Russell, Jr., was a lifelong Democrat who was Governor of Georgia and a U.S. Senator for nearly four decades. He was twice a candidate for President (1948 and ’52). He opposed civil rights legislation at every turn, and led a Southern boycott of the 1964 Democrat National Convention to protest the signing into law of the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson.

If not the Russell building, then what? A suggestion floating around is to name it the Hiram Revels building. Revels, a Republican, was our nation’s first black U.S. Senator (1870), representing Mississippi, although he was born a free man in Fayetteville, N.C. He spent much of his adult life as a minister, following in the footsteps of his father. Revels surely would have applauded the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

He paved the way forward as the Republican Party emerged as the anti-slavery, civil rights party. In fact, the 1964 Act never would have made it to Johnson’s desk without 80 percent-plus support by Republicans in the House and Senate.

 

The long game

By Steve Woodward

It is impossible to understand what religious persecution feels like until it comes home to a free land. It feels surreal. Worshipping inside the four walls of a church this past Sunday with a small gathering of Christians marked the first time I have experienced this horrible feeling. We were where we were not supposed to be, doing what we were not supposed to do in the company of others — praying, singing, contemplating scripture.

“Stay at home,” decreed North Carolina Democrat tyrant and Governor Roy Cooper back in March, joining governors across the nation imposing mass shutdowns to slow the spread of the Wuhan Virus. Cooper’s order specifically prohibits gathering for religious services in churches, or for that matter, anywhere. Dutifully, the churches closed and adopted streaming video services, excluding those most in need of their church community, the ones without internet or the know-how to use a device to access it.

There was so much outrage about businesses that were forcibly closed, hospital procedures that were deemed unnecessary and the suspension of education inside classrooms that the trampling of a Constitutional right to assemble and worship God was all but overlooked. This should never have happened. Churches should have been granted the freedom to make their own decisions about how to conduct services amid virus hysteria, using the same formula that determines how many people can enter a grocery store.

We know the left has poisoned higher education and K-12 education. We know the corporate-owned media has been coopted and is corrupt and compliant. We know voting integrity is increasingly at risk as the left becomes ever more brash about rigging elections. We know the courts have been packed with activist judges to render the will of the American voter meaningless (see NC voter ID lawsuits). And now, sadly, we must acknowledge that clergy and denominational governing bodies apparently have been similarly hijacked. Where was the outrage when Cooper abruptly banned church services? There was none expressed by the church where I am a member.

Thankfully, along came one pastor who stood up, opened the doors of his church and exercised his rights as a U.S. citizen.

This came in stark contrast to John Nagy’s Sunday column in The Pilot. The virus is “everywhere,” he wrote, failing to specify his source, scientific or otherwise, behind this declaration. Nagy’s was a tone of doom, of resignation that North Carolinians should not expect to live the lives we knew only a few weeks ago. Ever again. I sensed an underlying motive for writing it. This is what they’ve always hoped for in America on the left. Less freedom. More governance by edict. More social shaming of anyone who fails to comply with orders, no matter how extreme.

These ambitions were forecast as long ago as 1963 when a member of the U.S. House of Representatives placed into the Congressional Record the 45 goals of communism derived from a book recently published at the time, entitled “The Naked Communist”. Read the list here. It is clear the left has played the long game. More than a half century later the unthinkable goals they articulated are being achieved, one by one.

If we are being honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge, as Americans and as Republicans, and as North Carolinians, the Wuhan Virus appears increasingly to have spread across our world deliberately with a lot of collateral damage but one target, the United States. The U.S. economy, our health care system, our food supply, President Donald Trump, our Constitutional freedom, religious and speech freedom specifically (who will soon forget a Raleigh police officer announcing that protests are “non-essential” activities under Cooper’s iron boot orders?), and anything else the virus can disrupt along the way. Note the surge of nodding heads as the State Board of Elections turns up the volume on the necessity of 100% mail-in voting this fall. For our safety, of course.

The Wuhan Virus is exacting a sad but hardly unprecedented human toll. The broader death toll remains to be seen. The left is counting on historic carnage. God empowers us to win the war now being waged outside of labs working on vaccines, the war on liberty. Let us pray we have the courage to leverage that power so that churches, like some American businesses, do not close their doors forever.

Death sentence

Cooper death knell.031720

By Steve Woodward

On St. Patrick’s Day last Tuesday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order that imposes sweeping economic oppression on thousands of members of our community, particularly owners and employees who earn a living within the Sandhills’ thriving restaurant and bar scene. In a matter of days, restaurant owners witnessed a stunning decline in sales as it became immediately evident that take-out and delivery — “allowed” by Democrat dictator Cooper — could not sustain their businesses. Tips? Dead. Alcohol sales? Gone. Average dollar amount per order? Way down. The executive order undoubtedly sent locals dashing to supermarkets to stock up on food and beverage to be consumed at home as many self-quarantine while watching COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

Soon to follow came the layoffs. Dozens at a time. Entire staffs, including longtime employees. It is devastating to drive around town to witness the empty parking lots. Some of the restaurants announcing modified take-out and delivery menus soon shut that down, too, and closed altogether. And many never will re-open unless the Governor lifts his disastrous order and acknowledges that dining customers and restaurant operators will do what they would have done in the first place, self-regulate.

A coalition formed by Chef Mark Elliott, founder of Elliott’s on Linden, which observed its 20th anniversary last year, launched an electronic petition. An accompanying letter, signed by 59 area restaurant and bar owners, managers and employees, warns that many operators will face bankruptcy in 30 days. It asks Cooper to allow businesses to re-open immediately, operating at half-capacity to limit crowd sizes. Failing that, it asks for complete compensation of lost wages, not merely pre-existent unemployment payments. It calls for deferrals of loan payments, tax payments, liquor license payments and rent.

No one will know until months have passed if COVID-19 precautions were effective. But we do know that media-driven fear mongering has been highly effective. And, we know that real people are watching their livelihoods vanish and their dreams die in real time. These are some of the many stories posted to a new Facebook Group, which citizens can join by searching Facebook for #SaveOurServiceIndustry:

“My name is Michael Carey. After 28 (years) I retired from the Army and opened Hatchet Brewing Company (in Southern Pines) with a fellow Veteran and friend Greg Walker. We opened on 02 November 2019 and we were forced to close on 17 March 2020. At the time we had to release all 6 staff members. Obviously, we have alot of loans, costs, and payroll and ask that somehow we are ALL, small business owners, given a grace period to where our loans are excused and costs are covered. … Saying we are all upset, overwhelmed, stressed, angry and anxious are all understatements!”

From Chef Elliott: “I have laid off approximately 80 personnel. There are thousands of restaurant owners like me in North Carolina and beyond. We need to hear from our Governor, Roy Cooper. … At present our employees get unemployment (an entitlement already in place) and no jobs prospects if I’m bankrupt. To date Roy Cooper has allowed us to file our sales tax late with interest and pay our liquor licenses in June; it’s just not enough. Please send us meaningful lifelines so we can confidently rebuild our industry.”

“My name is Tony Cross. I own and operate Reverie Cocktails out of Southern Pines, NC. We’re the first in the country to batch, carbonate, and deliver kegs of cocktails for businesses to pour on draught — local and out of town/state. We’ve been fortunate enough to be represented everywhere from dive bars to country clubs. Now that they’re all closed, we can not provide a product that is our main source of income.”

“Hola, my name is Sammy and I’ve been a server/bartender at the Pinecrest Inn for the past 17 (years). I’m a single father of three girls, ages 6, 7 and 15. I have dedicated myself to the Pinecrest Inn because of my love for the owners. This place is a staple in Pinehurst and my fear is watching (it) close its doors for good because of the current, unfortunate pandemic the world is facing. I just purchased a home with closing due at the end of this month.”

From Luke Black: “I have been in the food business my whole life and watched my mom, Bonnie Chriscoe Black, run/own The Market Place Restaurant for nearly 30 years, and I recently bought and took over ownership 1/1/2020 after working with her for years. She has (taught) me everything I know but no one can teach how to get through something devastating like this. I am praying everyday for every small business and restaurant and their owners and staff that we all make it through this.”

Gov. Cooper ordered apocalypse. As local citizens, we can fight this by ordering take-out. Often.

 

 

King Cooper

By Steve Woodward

A random tweet brought everything into focus. Twitter is derided by many but it is often a dispensary of common sense. The tweeter recognized we are going to have to come to grips as a nation with prioritizing how we help those vulnerable to COVID-19 versus how we mitigate the economic impact we impose on everybody else.

Forest Official PhotoEverybody else will take a much greater and longer lasting hit. But wait, you say. People will die. Yes, people do. Die. Every day. That’s not part of our context here. Restaurants closing under Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s iron-fisted executive order might never re-open. In fact, a majority will not. Jobs lost will never come back. The chains will survive, but your locally owned eateries and cafes will die, slowly, under the current scenario. I know these people. They are in disbelief.

North Carolina’s Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest, a formidable opponent of Gov. Cooper in this fall’s election showdown, recognizes this. Forest called it out.

Earlier today Governor Cooper announced, via a press release, that all North Carolina restaurants and bars must close in-restaurant seating by 5 this evening. His mandate will devastate our economy, shutter many small businesses, and leave many people unemployed, especially in the rural areas of our state where food supply is already critical.

After the press release, and shortly before a scheduled press conference, I, along with other Council of State members, was asked to concur with the Governor’s decision with no discussion. The Governor held his press conference and made the announcement even after a majority of the Council of State voted not to concur with the Governor. Thus, he does not have the authority to issue this part of his executive order.

While I understand that all actions in a time of crisis are very difficult decisions and have many consequences, some decisions are so serious they require, by law, discussion with, and approval of, other state leaders.

Lt. Governor Dan Forest makes an important point. The necessity of closing all NC restaurants and bars might be debatable — especially if you own one — but there is no debate about this: the Governor is not a dictator who can ignore legal protocol, even in a crisis.

After his office issued a statement Forest elaborated via Twitter (@LtGovDanForest): “My statement today was about the rule of law, not about the rightness of the decision made by the Governor. Had a majority of council of state concurred with the governor, I would be in full support. … But a pandemic should not lead to unquestioned acceptance of every decision a Governor makes, especially when (his) authority to do so is anything but certain.” The Council of State has 10 members. Six opposed Cooper’s decision. All six are Republicans. He ignored them. Cooper presumes he is a king.

Roy Cooper was born into a tobacco family. He worked in the family law firm after earning his law degree from the University of North Carolina. Cooper was elected to the General Assembly in 1987. He has not held a job most of his adult life, never had to make a payroll, never had to adapt to government imposed regulations. The irony in 2020 is that Cooper is afforded the luxury of ruling by fiat because the GOP-led Assembly since 2011 has taken steps fiscally which find North Carolina sitting on a multi-billion dollar “rainy day fund”.

We are living in a time of marked extremism. We have a governor in North Carolina who would rather drain our budget surplus than let people keep their jobs and sustain their livelihoods. The suspicion — the reality — is he is taking advantage of an opportunity to expand  government control and reduce self reliance. It’s straight out of the American Left’s playbook. They’ve been waiting. China obliged.