Indignation contagion

By Steve Woodward

Masks are being worn by compliant citizens in our community at an ever increasing rate. Some motorists are even donning masks while driving. In their own vehicles. Without passengers.

masksThe upside to this rather odd habit is that said drivers are masking expressions of indignation, which has become a permanent facial condition for many. Even as the Wuhan Virus continues to disrupt daily life and destroy small businesses, a secondary illness has come to the fore — staggering numbers are foregoing personal freedom and unalienable rights in the name of “safety”. Stay safe. What does it mean? Nobody really knows. But it’s the right thing to say in “uncertain times”, apparently. A media driven narrative strikes again. Those who do not assume safety is a birthright have targets on our backs.

The presumption of safety and the delusion of certainty are woven more deeply into the fabric of the American culture than we knew, as demonstrated by the hysteria and tyranny-to-the-rescue solutions of recent weeks. The United States was not founded on either presumption. In fact, it could not have been founded by men paralyzed by fear. They viewed the world in quite opposite terms. Thomas Jefferson specified a preference for dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

A tee shirt enshrining Jefferson’s words can be purchased via Amazon. Sadly, fewer Americans than ever seem inclined to wear one. It now appears certain that the weapons unleashed to battle the Wuhan Virus will remain intact long after virus hysteria has subsided. Democrat governors such as North Carolina’s Roy Cooper will feed on a permanent indignant class that embraces peaceful slavery in the name of safety.

Masks forever. Social distancing as a norm. No handshakes. No hugs. No salad bars. No buffets. Permanent requirements to register body temperatures of airline passengers and sports fans. No high fives, or low fives. No church communion. And these are merely the behavioral issues that some will want to impose, even absent edicts from Democrat lawmakers. Just because they know best.

The comfortably enslaved also will cheer for punishing lawsuits post-Wuhan aimed at everything imaginable, but especially products and companies that might have exposed innocent souls to the “deadly” virus. Also: higher hourly wages for employees of businesses that were bailed out (and falsely presumed to be awash with cash); or, permanent $600-a-week federal unemployment benefits for those who prefer to make a minimum of $15 per hour by staying at home. Which raises another one. Staying at home as a way of life? Just in case. No cozy cafes. No theaters. No street fairs. No cruise ships. No pilates classes. Heck, no classes, period.

A government large enough to give you everything we (think we) need, including absolute safety via rolling quarantines, is large enough to take everything we have, materially and ideologically, especially if we fail to stand up to it.

“The absolute worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possibly its most unrecoverable damage, is the massive power that Americans have given to their federal, state and local governments to regulate our lives in the name of protecting our health,” writes syndicated columnist and George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams. “Taking back that power should be the most urgent component of our recovery efforts.”

Aided by hysterical throngs, Democrat governors Cooper, Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gavin Newsom (CA), Ralph Northam (VA) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI), to name some of the worst, are demonstrating they will be hesitant to relinquish the power they’ve claimed in recent weeks. In Michigan, a Republican-led legislature filed suit May 6 against Whitmer, seeking to force an end to orders that have closed down many nonessential businesses and largely confined residents to their homes. Whitmer is a power grabber.

In California, Newsom faces no such legal challenge. Knowing that, he moved the goalposts this week just as restrictions on citizens and the economy were about to ease. He declared nothing will be normal until such time as immunity to and a vaccine against the Wuhan Virus becomes reality. Newsom encouraged counties to override any easing of behavioral restrictions as they see fit. He has ceded martial law to the counties. Now that’s leadership.

Will Cooper be next? Friday, North Carolina enters “Phase One” of his plan to re-open the state’s economy. This will “allow” more retail activity for small businesses, but it keeps restaurants closed for at least two more weeks. Restaurant owners are pleading with Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to help, but they have largely been met with silence. Lawmakers simply do not seem to have the will to take on the indignant class, which clearly has drawn people from both parties. They know best.

The reality is that freedom, too, is essential to health and welfare and is far more powerful than government responses to a pandemic. This was driven home by a letter in the Wall Street Journal by a Michigan reader. He quoted patriot John Locke: “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it.”

World history largely has been defined by human suffering, plague and tyranny. The American experiment proves that this does not have to be. Those who will yield everything to government to achieve “safety” in the 21st century ignore this history. Draw the battle lines. Let’s get on with it.

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.

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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.

 

 

Soft tyranny prevails

By Steve Woodward

The presumption on the left in 2019 is that Republicans enter public service to engage in activities that advance human suffering. This despite common knowledge that politicians across the spectrum have proven themselves across the ages to be deeply flawed, and largely harmless more often than not. On this many can agree. But a recent diatribe by a fellow resident of Pinehurst serves as a reminder that, while all humans are flawed, some also are deranged.

In a July 31 letter-to-the-editor published by The Pilot, a newspaper in the Sandhills run by media lefties, Ken Owens of Pinehurst, a suspected invader from a northern state opined:

“When Gov. Roy Cooper explained why he would veto the Republican-backed budget plan, he got straight to the heart of what is wrong with our Republican legislators. … There are a lot of poor people in North Carolina, and it seems that the Republican legislators want to keep them that way. Note to Mr. Owens: The state’s poverty rate has fallen every year since 2012 after spiking to 18%, entirely during the rule of a Democrat controlled General Assembly for 140 years through 2010. Look it up.

The writer then ramped up his scolding of Republican policies.

  1. They refuse to expand Medicaid. Because it is rife with peril to do so for the people who allegedly will benefit. Gov. Cooper vetoed the 2019-21 state budget because it does not expand Medicaid. Guess what? If North Carolina covers the so-called Medicaid insurance gap and the federal government rolls back its current 90% coverage of the cost to states, NC will be rocked by a cost surge and Medicaid for All will become Medicaid for Fewer. In the shorter term physicians will cease taking on new Medicaid patients to avoid being overburdened, or simply to stay in business. Meanwhile, the Cooper veto is denying state employees and public school teachers scheduled pay raises. Look it up: States that bought into expansion when Obamacare passed are regretting the decision today. Costs have spiraled upward, limiting expansion as intended.
  2. They cut unemployment compensations. Unemployment compensation at previous levels was unsustainable and smothering the state in debt north of $2 billion. Today, the state has a budget surplus and unemployment is trending downward in step with a national trend. Do the math.
  3. By raising the sales tax, they (Republicans), in effect, raised taxes on the bottom 40 percent at the same time that they were cutting taxes for the top 5 percent. The Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed legislation in 2007 allowing counties to raise sales taxes by a quarter-cent to increase revenue as needed. Meanwhile, the state sales tax (4.75%) is lower today than it was in 2011 (5.75%). Which “they” are you accusing of political malpractice?
  4. They removed many poor people from food stamp programs. No one has been “removed”. In 2015, the state legislature took a common sense step to rein in food stamp program abuse. It reinstated a federal requirement — invoked during the Obama administration — requiring food stamp applicants to demonstrate they are working, volunteering or taking classes a minimum of 20 hours a week. And it impacted only adults under 50 who do not have children. As usual, Democrats eventually opposed these minimum standards because they champion soft tyranny through economic enslavement of citizens. They want reliable voters to become addicted to entitlements that go on forever, no questions asked. 
  5. They cut child care subsidies and slashed dental care programs for poor kids. Another blanket, baseless accusation ignoring reality. Government funded child care is complex because no amount of subsidized care will make everyone happy, or address every need. Ever. In 2014 the General Assembly tweaked qualifications to direct more subsidized child care to children under age 6 — citing the importance child care experts place on nurturing children from infancy. There have been no “cuts”. The pending 2019 state budget adds $3.2 million to the program. Activists dismiss this because there are kids on waiting lists representing a fraction of those receiving subsidized care. Of course, under the soft tyranny of liberalism, it is out of bounds to ask why many low income families continue having children they can not afford to raise. It is not an unfair question: If a couple already has one or more children, and both parents are working full time to support their families, why is it the state and federal government’s responsibility to underwrite child care for yet another child brought into the world, planned or unplanned?  

“What I don’t understand is why “the people” keep re-electing them”, Owens laments. “They are not there ‘for the people’. They are there to please the wealthy and the corporations that donate to them.” Who donates to Democrat candidates? Homeless people and companies too small to incorporate? No, to the contrary Democrats have been known to collect from sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, socialist billionaire George Soros and sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, not to mention employees of the largest publicly held companies in America: Amazon, Facebook, Google and the list goes on.

Voter ID hangs on

By Steve Woodward

North Carolinians voted last fall to amend our state constitution to require every registered voter to present valid identification at polling places. Viewed by intelligent human beings in and beyond our state as a no-brainer, the amendment’s passage instead caused Democrat activist craniums to all but explode.

This despite the fact that, at the end of 2018, 35 states required or requested “some form of identification at the polls,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Yet there was North Carolina on a list of states holding the dubious distinction of requiring zero voter ID, including known Democrat-controlled sanctuaries for illegal immigrants such as California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Quite an exclusive club.

Opponents of voter ID view the privilege of voting through the same lens as everything else in their world — race. They believe it is inherently racist to require minorities, people of color (insert your go-to oppressed category here) and those who live in poverty to possess a form of ID. Never mind that this presumption on the left that poor minorities can’t access or don’t need an ID only magnifies their strategic scheme of imposed economic soft tyranny. This keeps certain classes of citizens reliably dependent on government entitlements and, thus, reliably dependable Democrat voters. Or so goes the theory of the past century or more.

Governor Roy Cooper pounced after the amendment won voter approval, attempting to veto what he condemned as a “sinister and cynical” effort to disenfranchise North Carolina voters. His veto was overridden. That merely set off legal challenges to the amendment. This is how the left responds to the “will of the voter” in the 21st century. If they disagree with the outcome — Donald Trump being duly elected President is their highest profile source of outrage — they wait for courts to overturn or stonewall with prolonged appeals.

The state NAACP used the same anti-Trump claim of Presidential “illegitimacy” to launch its request for judicial review of the amendment’s passage. Racist Republicans, argued the NAACP, gerrymandered their way to power and, therefore, represent an “illegal supermajority”. By extension, the votes of those who supported the voter ID amendment don’t count. Let that third-world logic sink in.

But a Wake County Superior Court judge could not see the flawed logic — the prism of racism appearing once again — and agreed with the NAACP’s outrage in a ruling last February. While he was at it Judge Bryan Collins also voided an amendment to cap the state income tax. What if entitlements for those reliable voters run short of cash? We can’t cap the income tax and protect the “rich”, aka, people who carry IDs!

Despite more than 55% voter approval of an ID amendment last November the left and their compliant activist courts were having none of it. They’ve been seething since 2010 when Republicans gained control of the General Assembly for the first time in 140 years. Hell bent on revenge, Democrats appeared to score a major victory when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 upheld a lower court ruling that erased 28 state house and senate districts that existed only for one reason — so-called “racial gerrymandering.”

That potential mess was remedied by a team led by a Stanford University academic brought in to “fix” NC’s districting lines for 2018. Meanwhile, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit in a Wake County court to keep the hope of overturning voter ID alive.

More than eight months later, a three-judge panel ruled July 19 that voter ID will be required, per the amendment, in 2019 elections. The panel dismissed five of the six claims in the suit. However, by keeping one claim on the table and deciding not to dismiss the case entirely, the panel did not enshrine voter ID and continues to ignore the will of the voters.

Democrats charge North Carolina ceased to be a functioning democracy when Republicans surged to power in 2010. But if there is a case to made for deteriorating government accountability to our citizens, it’s clear the finger points at a hijacking of democracy by activist judges and their Democrat allies.

 

The good fight

By Steve Woodward

“I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”

Among the most beautiful, meaningful sentiments ever recorded, it is found in the Holy Bible, in Second Timothy. Who would not wish to express this emotion at journey’s end?

Michael Whatley2
Michael Whatley

Michael Whatley and Miriam Chu have finished the race. They’ve kept the faith. The newly elected North Carolina Republican Party Chairman and Vice Chairman most certainly fought a good and fair fight. Now, we begin, together, the next race. Because there always is the next race.

Sausage making is unpleasant. But in the end you have sausage. After an arduous weekend in Concord, not far from a famous speedway where all of the turns go left, the NC GOP righted itself, hopefully, in preparation for the 2020 election cycle.

The stars of convention weekend in Concord’s poorly ventilated convention center were the delegates, 1,368 in total (40 from Moore County). The convention chair, a man who, empowered with a microphone and a gavel, continuously beckoned us to be silent, to be “in order”, to “suspend” (a nice word for shut up), orchestrated a 12-hour day on June 8. It felt like a nonstop flight in coach in the back of a jumbo jet from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa, except with even worse food options.

But it was worth it, I kept telling myself after the convention ran over its scheduled conclusion by 190 minutes, because we landed safely and have reason to be inspired and more optimistic than we’ve been in recent months.

Whatley, who defeated Lee County GOP chairman Jim Womack by a narrow margin with 50.78% of the weighted vote, is well connected within the national Republican party and was instrumental in coordinating Donald Trump’s 2015-16 ground game in North Carolina. Whatley, in his first political race as a candidate, ran for state chair promising to bring about a “reset in Raleigh”. What remains to be seen if he will become familiar enough with the road to Raleigh.

Womack, a former Lee County commissioner, IT sales executive and active duty military serviceman, legitimately argued during the campaign that he was prepared to be a full-time state party chairman at a time when that level of focus is needed. Womack is retired; Whatley is a 12-year partner in HBW Resources, for which he is a government lobbyist in the transportation and energy sectors. He resides in Gastonia, NC, 184 miles by car from the State Capitol, but insists his fellow HBW partners are willing to give him flexibility to chair the party. But Whatley is not retired and has not suggested he is contemplating it.

Political observer and prolific blogger Brant Clifton sizes him up thusly: “Whatley’s experience has been in influence peddling and greasing politicians’ palms. That appears to clearly be what’s most important among the power players in the NCGOP. And it’s the same preoccupation that spawned the environment that led to those five federal indictments on April 2” (and the resignation of former party chair Robin Hayes).

Misgivings about Whatley immediately diminished, however, when Moore County’s political force of nature, Miriam Chu, was narrowly elected vice chair. Everyone who knows Chu knows she does nothing half way or in her spare time because she has none. She is resolute and resilient. Chu reports she traveled 12,000 miles campaigning for the job. What was not mentioned is that much of her traveling took place while she wore a medical “boot” on her left leg.

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Miriam Chu

Chu plans to be a full-time vice chair and, in the lead up to election night, articulated that she sees herself becoming “the liaison between the Chairman and other officers and organizations across the state.”

Speaking Monday before the Moore County Republican Women’s Club, Chu expressed confidence that she and Whatley are ready to move the party into a position of strength as the 2020 election cycle approaches.

Despite a recent party leadership void, elected Republican lawmakers have kept the state on a robust course economically. In Concord, Sen. Paul Newton (NC-36), co-chairman of the N.C. Senate finance committee, reported that this is the fifth consecutive year that our state has experienced a revenue surplus. The 2019 surplus is around $643 million. Meanwhile, the state’s “rainy day” fund has topped $1.1 billion. Newton said consecutive pay raises for public school teachers — a group Democrats always portray as neglected — have resulted in real money piling up for veteran educators. Today, a teacher on track to work for 30 years in the classroom will realize an additional $237,000 in pay as a result of continuous annual raises over the course that career.

The convention also heard from “Right Dan” Bishop, who will square off with his Democrat opponent in a special election for U.S. House in NC-9 in three months. Numerous convention speakers urged state residents outside of NC-9 to donate and volunteer to propel Bishop to victory. A May 24 poll by JMC Analytics and Polling found Bishop leading Democrat Dan McCready 46% to 42%. Notably, 10% weighed in as undecided.

Keep the faith.