Stay solvent

By Steve Woodward
The North Carolina General Assembly unanimously allocated $1.6 billion to fund Wuhan Virus relief programs two weeks ago. The money was sourced out of a pot of $4 billion sent down from Washington through the federal CARES Act.
Although no explanation as to the timing was offered, two bills were filed in the state Senate only last Thursday to tap into those federal funds in an effort to rescue state restaurants crippled by dine-in restrictions.
Return America
A Return America rally in Raleigh, Jones Street, May 14, 2020, coincided with a lawsuit filing that later overturned Gov. Cooper’s ban on worship service gatherings.

The Save Our Restaurants Act proposes the appropriation of $125 million, with $50 million targeting “restaurant stabilization”, and $75 million targeting “hotel stabilization”. The bill for whatever reason proclaims compassion for restaurants but allocates more money to hotels, many of which never have closed. In fact hotels are open while churches subsequently were ordered to close by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper. (Saturday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order overturning church closures after a lawsuit was filed by Return America with the support of Republican state Rep. Keith Kidwell, D-79).

The genesis of the hotel-restaurant bill, and a parallel bill to support expansion of mixed beverage sales to take-out and delivery orders, will come as a surprise to Republicans, the party of small business and free-market capitalism. The two bills’ sponsors are Senate Democrats, Jay Chaudhuri (D-15, Wake County) and first-termer Harper Peterson (D-9, New Hanover), himself a restaurant owner.
Upon closer inspection, the Save bill is not likely to be a game changer for independent restaurants relegated to take-out service the past two months and facing deeply felt uncertainty going forward. If there is a forward. The most any restaurant will be loaned under the bill’s current language is $50,000. That’s right, it’s not even a typical Democrat bailout. It’s a loan at 3.5% interest. The bill is so weak that it gives Republicans an opening to counter it with a bill that actually sustains restaurants. It’s a no-brainer.
“I wish more of our (state) officials would get out and the realize the damage, and stop looking to the federal branch to fix things,” a Moore County chef told me. “They seem to think we will just bounce back.”
A glimmer of optimism was delivered Monday by Gov. Cooper, who described himself as “hopeful” that his incremental re-opening plan for small business will move into a long awaited Phase 2 this Saturday. Cooper also, for the first time, said he would consider regional re-openings as he stated the obvious, that “it’s important to cushion the blow to the economy.”
The blow was struck weeks ago, in reality, and will only come into sharper view as state tax revenues begin to crater. Furthermore, Cooper continues to insist that Phase 2 would extend four to six weeks, leaving already suffocating restaurants, salons and fitness clubs operating at reduced capacity. For eateries, dine-in or patio seating at 50% for an excruciating month or longer will hardly launch a turnaround and will keep employment way down.
The worst case scenario is not that people will die indefinitely from complications from the Wuhan Virus. Even the most extreme doomsayers are not pushing that narrative. Worst case is that businesses of longstanding close, never to return, even as the state sits on billions of federal relief that has not been allocated, and even as state lawmakers flirt with crushing debt by the temptation of receiving another round. The Democrats in Washington have created a new bailout monstrosity carrying a $3 trillion price tag (but it never will clear the Senate).
“When considering how best to structure federal aid, I think the best image to keep in mind is a shock absorber,” wrote John Hood, chairman of the Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation. “As a condition for accepting any new round of federal funds, (state) governments should be required to restate their unfunded liabilities using honest accounting and then submit a clear plan for discharging the debt.”
This is essentially what legitimately small businesses are required to do if they were among those who managed to apply for and receive funds under the bungled Paycheck Protection Program via the original $2.2 trillion CARES Act. If it turns out they do not have enough employees left to use 75% of the PPP for payroll, the money received converts from a grant to a loan. For many, it’s not a matter of staying safe but staying solvent.

Socialism distancing

By Steve Woodward

A famous insurance company jingle repeats in my head as the iron boot of government imposes ever more suffocating restraints except where federal spending is concerned.

“Liberty, liberty, liberty. Liberty!”

In that vein, let us revisit the origin of the acronym used to identify our blog. RESOLVE: Republicans for Security, Opportunity, Liberty and Victory that Endures. More than at any point in post-World War II America, we are in dire need of resolve in its literal sense. By contrast, the acronym is not holding up. Security, opportunity and liberty do not co-exist at all with our invisible enemy spawned in China, COVID-19. Enduring victory will come. But when?

We all have had time, way too much time, to read and ponder how, as proud Americans, Republicans, Conservatives and freedom warriors, we should be responding to the unfathomable things besetting our nation, and the world. My conclusion is that liberty, speech and prosperity are worth fighting for in the best of times, when they can be taken for granted, but are especially worth fighting for when times are dire, when leadership is tested and waning, and when hysteria is spreading.

That time is here. Curl up and shut up, the conventional wisdom shouts. Be afraid. Do what you are told. Stay home. People are dying. Don’t complain about losing your job, about sports events being cancelled. And, please, stop whining about not being able to worship in your church. This is not a time to turn to God. This is a time for government.

People have been dying since the day each of us was born. They died en masse during plagues throughout history, when man had no medical weapons. They died in wars, when man invented weapons. They die when they are young, in their prime. (We’ve lost two young professionals in our community in the past few months to mysterious, fluke deaths). They die in tragic aviation crashes on a foggy Sunday morning (Kobie Bryant and his teen-aged daughter and her friends). They die in the middle of the night, stricken by acute asthma (my mother-in-law, age 54).  They die of natural causes. They die because they want to (suicide; two in my family). And the opposite holds true. I was acquainted with a woman who lived through the 1917-18 epidemic, went on to compete for the United States as an Olympian in 1920 and 1924, and survived to age 100 after attending the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

We live amid death on earth. It is part of life. That’s the perspective I am adopting. That gives me a green light to express concerns, to be downright ornery, about what is playing out here aside from escalating virus statistics.

First and foremost, please exercise socialism distancing. In other words, do not be a COVID-iot. With that in mind, do not fear you lack compassion if you, like me, are leery of the $2.2 trillion CARE stimulus. We will rue the day Republicans caved on this. We will rue the day Democrat Governor Cooper shut down bars and restaurants in our state without a plan to sustain them, leaving it to the feds. Anecdotally, I can report that local restaurants open for take out have had to downsize menus because suppliers are prioritizing deliveries to grocery stores, which are open without restrictions. Another blow to restaurants. How many body shots can they take?

None other than John Hood addresses the growing small business calamity in his latest column for Carolina Journal:

“Our government hasn’t just shut down businesses (some potentially for good), thrown hundreds of thousands out of work, and disrupted the daily lives of millions of North Carolinians with no clearly articulated standard for when the dictates will be lifted. Our government has also suspended our basic liberties as citizens of a free society.”

A church can not assemble for an outdoor service. A restaurant with a patio can not allow take out customers to sit on the patio under a blue Carolina sky. If we decide to challenge these baseless restrictions, what will happen. Will a Moore County sheriffs’ deputy drag a senior off the lawn in mid-sermon? Will a Pinehurst PD officer cuff me on the Lisi Italian patio?

Many of us wish we could arrest our Republican members of Congress for caving and voting to approve a $2.2 trillion EMERGENCY stimulus. There is much needed relief in the bill, but the add-ons are infuriating. It might well have been a $1 billion bill instead. Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-8) casually presented them in his weekly Sunday email. Hudson is a stellar public servant, but why advertise that the “stimulus” funds things that do not stimulate the economy?

  • Community Development Block Grants – $5 billion
  • Homelessness Grants – $4 billion
  • Transit Agencies – $24 billion
  • Airports – $10 billion
  • Assistance to Tribal Communities (Indian Health Service, Bureaus of Indian Education/Affairs, and Food Distribution) – $1.7 billion
  • Disaster Relief Fund – $45 billion
  • Emergency Food and Shelter Grants – $200 million
  • First Responder (FIRE) Grants – $100 million
  • Emergency Management Program Grants – $100 million
  • Byrne Justice Assistance Grants – $850 million
  • Economic Assistance Development Grants – $1.5 billion
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Grants – $50 million
  • Child nutrition – $8.8 billion
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – $15.8 billion
  • Community Services Block Grant – $1 billion
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – $900 million
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant – $3.5 billion
  • CDC Funding for State Public Health Departments – $1.5 billion

These programs are funded. Now, thanks to Democrats leveraging a crisis, they will be hyper-funded. By money the federal government does not have.

Finally, as this national crisis unfolds, I am sure fellow Republicans are thinking, “How much of this martial law BS do we have to put up with?”

Fox News senior legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano has the answer, to which I suggest you cling to like God and the Second Amendment (to quote ex-President Obama):

“To our question of whether the government – state or federal – can confine persons against their will in order to protect public health. The short answer is yes, but the Constitution requires procedural due process. That means a trial for every person confined.

“Thus, a government-ordered quarantine of all persons in a city block or a postal ZIP code or a telephone area code would be an egregious violation of due process, both substantive and procedural. Substantively, no government in America has the lawful power to curtail natural rights by decree.”

In case anyone asks, there you have it.

 

Socialism = misery

By Norman Zanetti

People in countries throughout the world have lived and continue to live amid the ruins and failings of a socialistic system of government. Why then do Democratic party contenders for President find it a promising path for America to undertake?
Socialism has proven to be a system uniquely adept at the equal distribution of misery.  On the other hand, capitalism and the vast wealth it generates has made America the envy of the world. Our constitutional principles bind us to ancestors who had great foresight in promoting the American dream. It has fueled innovation, risk taking, and invention. With that comes wealth and prosperity.
Our wealth has allowed us to assist impoverished nations with financial and medical aid, and offer protection for them against unlawful aggression. Our success only has been nurtured by competing truths and opposing ideas.
Today’s world might seem too complicated to fit into one rigid political system; one ideology can’t be applied to all problems. But America could not have existed and expanded if it had been founded on economic redistribution. It took hard work and determination, with all citizens taking part. Free market capitalism is adaptable and resilient.
Socialism is a deeply unpopular domestic agenda for those who truly understand it. It affords draconian controls over liberties. It escalates into a government that gives the masses what they feel they deserve, forgetting that someone has to pay for it, borrow it,
tax for it and print money to cover it. To think millionaires, billionaires and corporations can pay for these excesses is ludicrous. Every strata of tax payer will be impacted.
A January Gallup poll supports the presumption that Americans know this intuitively. Gallup asked if voters would support a well-qualified candidate who is Muslim, or atheist, or a socialist. Sixty-six percent would vote for a Muslim; while 60 percent would vote for a self-described atheist. Support for a socialist drops to 45 percent.
Those touting socialism — including but not limited to Democrat presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders — reveal an inexperience in governing we can’t afford to adopt in any way, shape, or form.

Bloom-b-que

By Steve Woodward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liberty first

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

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

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

Body (politic) shaming

By Steve Woodward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like the Steele Dossier, riveting, and completely false.

 

 

War on democracy

By Steve Woodward

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

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

E Holder
Obama AG Eric Holder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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