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.

 

 

The $300 million elephant

By Steve Woodward

State Treasurer Dale Folwell has identified with tremendous clarity his next mission to keep North Carolina financially secure. He wants to prevent healthcare providers, UNC Health foremost among them, from fleecing the health plan for state employees to the tune of $300 million in the next several years.

Folwell, the first Republican state treasurer in 142 years, is sounding alarms in Raleigh. Many knew it was coming and yet still do not want to hear them.

Dale Folwell.111918He brought his message to Moore County Republican Men’s Club members and guests on November 19 in Pinehurst by raising a question that is both query and disparagement of the current system. “I know what you’re charging (the plan),” Folwell said. “What am I supposed to pay you?”

In other words, why don’t I know what I’m paying for before I decide on a course of treatment? This is otherwise known as competitive pricing. Capitalism, actually.

Reports the Winston-Salem Journal:

“Folwell wants to change how health care providers are reimbursed in an initiative that could save SHP members up to $60 million initially and $300 million overall. The plan is North Carolina’s largest purchaser of medical and pharmaceutical services at $3.2 billion in 2017. It represents more than 720,000 teachers, state employees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel and their dependents, and non-Medicare retirees and their dependents.”

When Folwell asked UNC Healthcare to provide documentation it hid behind patient privacy concerns. He asked a simple question and received redacted documents in reply. Folwell challenged UNC Healthcare to detail what medical procedures and pharmaceuticals actually cost and to prove that the state is receiving the discounts it negotiated. At the recent Men’s Club luncheon, Folwell displayed the thick stack of documents which appeared to have been generated by a faulty printer. No data, just page after page of blacked-out information. UNC Healthcare has raised a finger to the state treasurer. It’s the middle digit.

Why does Folwell persist? He knows waste and excess when he sees it. The state’s pension funds were paying Wall Street custodians $700 million in management fees when Folwell took office in 2016. He already has trimmed those fees by $100 million. Real money.

Currently, the state budget covers around four percent of the state health plan’s $3.3 billion — with a B — annual budget, even as annual healthcare costs are rising by 6.5 percent and pharmaceutical costs are projected to increase by 9 percent.

“The track we are on is not sustainable,” Folwell said in Pinehurst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Republicans will vote

By Steve Woodward

Data coming in after one week of early, or one-stop, voting in two Moore County locations indicates Republicans are, as predicted, motivated and energized as the countdown to Election Day, November 6, continues.

Nearly 41% of early voters as of October 27 were registered Republicans, outpacing registered Democrats (who represent 30% of early voters). The remaining 30% are unaffiliated, also known as “independent” voters. The numbers are significant for another, perhaps more important reason. Greater numbers of Republicans have voted early (4,622) in 2018 than at this point in the last mid-term election in 2014. That was not expected to happen, experts assured us. (Thank you, volunteer data guru Josh Lowery, who is tracking numbers provided daily by the Moore County Board of Elections).

The necessity of getting out the vote is obvious to those who are engaged in political trend watching and who consume news (and know the difference between it and proliferating fake news). If effective GOP members of the U.S. House, such as our congressman, Richard Hudson, are defeated in 23 or more mid-term races, the House will be controlled by Democrats who will stall and derail the Trump agenda with every fiber of their beings for at least two years.

In state elections, Republicans Tom McInnis (Senate 25), Jamie Boles (House 52), and Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson are up against well-funded opponents. Millions of dollars are flowing in from sources outside of North Carolina. Encourage your neighbors and friends to fixate on the down-ballot races, especially Jackson’s race where Democrats are fired up about securing a solid majority on the court, and have employed a sinister tactic to make it happen. (Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin is a Democrat who switched affiliation before filing with the state to confuse voters and help fellow Democrat candidate Anita Earls).

We are acutely aware that many fellow citizens simply tune out mid-term campaigning and can’t wait for the yard signs to disappear on November 7. So what can we say to motivate them? Start by reminding them what Americans lose if Democrats win — lower tax rates, fewer regulations, and freedom to choose when it comes to their healthcare options.

In the era of Trump, the Democrat party is turning harder to the left. It’s leadership seeks open borders, abolishment of the Second Amendment, marginalized law enforcement, rule by intimidation and a lust for destroying people they disagree with, beginning with President Donald Trump.

Another President, Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale (MI) College, recently spoke before an audience of local Hillsdale supporters attending a luncheon at Pinehurst’s Carolina Hotel. Arnn is one of America’s greatest living historians, but he does not speak using dramatic flourishes. Arnn is a soft spoken, deeply thoughtful orator. His message to those assembled in Pinehurst was sobering, alarming and precisely what Americans need to be thinking about as we go to the polls, and encourage others to join us.

The question Arnn asked is the question we must ask our neighbors and friends who express indifference toward voting.

“Are you concerned about the times?” Arnn asked as he opened his remarks on October 22. “The crisis we are in, I think it’s deep, myself.”

No student graduates from Hillsdale, founded in 1844, without acquiring thorough understanding of the U.S. Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. Hillsdale produces Constitutional scholars. One graduate currently is a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The political climate at Hillsdale is quite different than what is now common across the country, as institutions of higher learning continue to deteriorate into incubation centers ruled by the hard Left. Tolerance and debate are out of style. Arnn referred to recent campus unrest at a liberal arts college in Portland, OR, Reed College, where a group of students denounced a reading curriculum as being “racist”. Professors were subjected to threats and gangs of students as they walked to their cars.

“At Reed College, they have cancelled half of that curriculum,” Arnn said. “And that means the other half is soon to go.

“We (at Hillsdale) think there is something abiding and worthwhile that can be known (by studying history). And if you give up on that, just think what happens to this (Constitutional) doctrine that we have our rights according to eternal principles, and (that) no power can take them away?

“Do you see why that kind of idea would have young people demanding things by force? Because force is all that’s left. That’s why members of Congress, if they happen to be in the wrong (Republican) party, they get hazed and heckled in public restaurants in the Nation’s Capitol. And that’s the kind of thing that used to happen in 1850, and we know what that was tending to. It’s like a cold Civil War.”

In this time of heightened conflict, voting emerges as a more fatal weapon than physical violence or public intimidation. We must find a way to win, as Americans, as patriots, as Republicans, because of what the opposition intends.

“What’s against that today,” Arnn said, “is just the assertion of the raw, human will. (The Left says) we must have things the way we want them, and if we go further down this line we are going to be shooting people. That’s the conflict.

“(Hillsdale) lives in reverence of and in the activity of knowing things that are beautiful, and fine, and true, and it labors against all opposition to keep them alive, as it did when it was born through the Civil War. This is not the first time people at our college saw this kind of thing. Are we going to rally? The answer is, come what may, yes we are.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid-terms begin NOW!

A determined team of Moore County Republican volunteers already is planning, strategizing and counting down to the 2018 mid-term elections, which will determine if Republicans continue to build a greater America under the leadership of President Donald Trump’s administration. If too many seats are yielded to Democrats in state and federal showdowns — historically a possibility — there will be years of gridlock and intensified attempts to undermine Trump’s credibility and his presidency.

Absentee voting by mail begins in one month, on September 7. That means there is precious little time to prepare to place your vote. Preparing to vote, not unlike preparing for an exam, is especially vital in 2018 because there will be six proposed amendments to the North Carolina constitution on the ballot. They are rather straightforward, such as returning to the requirement of voters producing valid identification before casting a ballot. Common sense.

Writes Mitch Kokai in Carolina Journal this week, “When people vote on amendments, they do not give up power. They exercise power.”

Learn more about these amendments and the candidates you will be selecting for various seats in the weeks to come by visiting Moore County’s Board of Elections Election Notice page. (Please note that Chris Anglin is listed as a Republican in the race for NC Supreme Court Associate Justice. He is a Democrat who registered as a Republican, last minute. On the actual ballot, his name will appear without affiliation. Republicans must turn out to re-elect Barbara Jackson to the Supreme Court).

This also is a great time to get reacquainted with U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8), a stalwart supporter of our military personnel and proponent of strengthening their abilities to defend our freedoms. Go to his Hudson for Congress website.

State Sen. Tom McInnis is new to District 25 but no novice in the corridors of the N.C. General Assembly. He has a particularly influential role as Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, focusing on the need to keep our state competitive with our coastal neighbors as a commercial hub. Learn about his priorities at McInnis for NC.

All of this is about laying the groundwork for a victorious November 2018. That’s why we Moore Republicans gathered on a warm day in Robbins last Saturday to be visible during the Farmers Day Parade. We hosted a tent with wall-to-wall information about candidates, plus bumper stickers, yard signs and t-shirts promoting the Great Red Tsunami that will overwhelm the so-called Democrat “blue wave” this fall. And, during the tractor parade, we proudly displayed one very athletic elephant surfing a red wave toward November, “Donald Trunk”. Donald was conceived and fabricated by one amazingly dedicated volunteer and many helpers. This is just one example of what we can accomplish if we dedicate ourselves to the task that lies ahead.

Donald Trunk

The President of the United States has pledged to campaign around the clock. We must follow that lead, doing what we can, lending a hand, knocking on doors and leveraging email to share sample ballots with friends and neighbors across the county.

If we do not drive a substantial voting block to the polls through early voting, absentee voting and on Election Day, we will be courting disaster for our country’s future, which is today shining bright, Reagan’s City on a Hill. We have a Republic, founder Benjamin Franklin once said, if we can keep it.

Barbara Bush

By Jonathan Wackrow

Former first lady Barbara Bush once said, “Nobody likes, you know, the ugly parts of politics.” On Tuesday night, the ugliness of our current political landscape dissipated for a moment as people reflected on the life of this remarkable woman. We quietly smiled at the pictures flashing across our screens of her with her famous family, her turns in the national spotlight and the testimonials about her grit and forthright warmth.

As a special agent with the United States Secret Service, I had the opportunity to work on many protective assignments with Mrs. Bush. While I was never permanently assigned to her detail, I am thankful for two specific moments with Mrs. Bush, ones I will cherish as defining experiences in my career and testaments to her legacy, her candor and grace.

The first occurred when I was a new agent, assigned to work a midnight shift at the Bush family’s summer residence in Kennebunkport, Maine. I was walking in the front yard at daybreak, preparing to end my shift, when Mrs. Bush suddenly appeared.

In my world, it was better to be unseen, but in this instant, I was in the former first lady’s full view with nowhere to hide. Mrs. Bush gave me the warmest smile and said, “Well, it is good morning for me, but it looks like you have been up all night, so I will wish you a good night’s sleep.” Stunned, I thanked her.

She was the first Secret Service protectee I had ever spoken to. That encounter is only one of scores of examples my fellow agents could give of the genuine admiration and respect Barbara Bush showed to the people who protected her and her family — and her recognition of the sacrifices the agents made for the presidential security operation. I can report that this ethos and gratitude resonates within the entire Bush family.

Many years later, I encountered Mrs. Bush again when she made a visit to the New Jersey area. This time, I was driving her limo from New York City to an appointment in New Jersey. The motorcade was small and unassuming — traits that Mrs. Bush appreciated — consisting of a few Secret Service vehicles and one unmarked New York police vehicle. But upon exiting the Holland Tunnel into New Jersey, we were joined by an assortment of New Jersey State Police vehicles and motorcycles operating with full lights and sirens.

Typically, this was not the way that the former first lady liked to travel, as it drew undue attention. However, in this instance — with her husband’s presidency behind her — she was thrilled. Taking a quick glance in the rear-view mirror, I could see an amazing smile illuminating her face as she turned to her staff in the back seat, exclaiming, “They remember me! We have not had this much excitement since the White House!”

After her meeting, as the motorcade started to travel back to New York, Mrs. Bush leaned forward and asked the head of her protective detail if we could stop before getting back into New York City, as she wanted to thank all the police officers who, she said, “so warmly welcomed me to New Jersey.”

Peering out the limo’s back windshield, I will never forget the image of Mrs. Bush shaking hands with the officers. It was a genuine moment of sincerity and unguarded kindness delivered out of the public eye, which, to me, defined this great woman.

When I was selected to the Presidential Protective Division, I attributed my desire to join the first lady’s detail to those moments with Mrs. Bush. I wanted to protect the institution of the first lady to ensure that an administration’s compassion and conscience would never be jeopardized.

With the utmost seriousness, Secret Service agents assigned to the first lady take the sacred responsibility of protecting a political and cultural icon, knowing full well that any harm that comes to the first lady could impede the President’s ability to govern.

The United States Secret Service code name for Barbara Bush was “Tranquility.” It exemplified her demeanor and its calming, humanizing and gentle effect on those around her. She will be forever missed.

Jonathan Wackrow is a CNN law enforcement analyst and former agent with the US Secret Service, serving in the Presidential Protection division. He is a managing director at Teneo Risk, a strategic risk mitigation advisory firm.

Power outage

Coming to Southern Pines on May 2, The Power of the Press is promoted as a conversation between local newspaper publishing executives. It is hosted by the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities. It surely will be enlightening to hear from former Raleigh News & Observer publisher Frank Daniels Jr., currently chairman of The Pilot, and the paper’s current publisher, David Woronoff.

The presumption that the press wields power has, through much of America’s history, been premised on a commitment to objective reporting about current events. In its relentless pursuit of the truth, the press would curry no favor with powerful people and expose deceit, ethical lapses, corruption, and crimes.

A powerful press bears a tremendous burden of responsibility, and in many communities across the land, publishers and editors remain vigilant in demanding objectivity and fairness. But any pretense of same within large, corporate-owned news organizations, both in print and broadcast “journalism”, has been deteriorating at an alarming rate. Some have declared a legitimate American mass media already deceased.

It has been death by insanity. The major news networks, and cable’s CNN and MSNBC (MSDNC, as it is known within some Washington circles), along with formerly iconic newspapers, foremost among them The New York Times and The Washington Post, have become delusional about their reason for existence. It is rooted in a singular mission: to rid the White House and the U.S. Presidency of Donald J. Trump.

What is frustrating about this pretense of legitimacy among the mainstream media among Washington lawmakers, policy influencers and at least half of the voting-age population is that it obscures real legislative progress inside the gates of “The Swamp”. The mainstreamers are drowning in breathless accounts of collusion, special counselors, dossiers, hookers, porn actors, and pre-dawn raids on citizens, even as the nation and its economy are riding a rising tide.

Consider recent developments that ought to encourage Republicans and independent voters, who still believe America’s strength lies in embracing her values and free-market capitalism.

The Washington Examiner reported late last week thusly: Manufacturing hiring rises to highest level since before the recession.

“Hiring in the manufacturing sector in February rose to the highest level since before the Great Recession began, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (April 13). Manufacturing hires rose to 380,000 in the month, the most of any month since November of 2007, the month before the recession officially began.”

On another significant initiative, U.S. House Republicans are weathering fierce opposition to reducing by millions the numbers of Americans dependent on food stamps. Reports Politico.com:

“House Republicans unveiled on (April 12) a farm bill that would impose stricter work requirements on millions of low-income Americans receiving food stamps — a bid to enact a small slice of the GOP welfare overhaul.”

It is a sticky debate owed to the inclusion of food stamp allocation in what is essentially longstanding legislation intended to address farming industry support. Food stamps account for 80% of funding to the legislation. But entitlement reform is a battle worth fighting. It will unfold largely ignored by the mainstreamers, who will note in passing that Republicans are merely vying to “take away” food stamps from the poor. The alternative, unreported, is to liberate Americans from needing food stamps to buy food.

If the press presumes to have power it would literally press lawmakers to make their cases on key policymaking debates. Instead, it shamelessly ignores any news that might vindicate Trump era policies, and acts as an accomplice to the radical left when it attacks spending reforms as assaults on helpless citizens (which some Republicans have buckled to as evidenced by the recently passed obscene omnibus spending bill). Bottom line: The MSM allocates almost no time to policy reporting.

Across human history, every socialist government that has seized power and sought to make its citizenry 100% dependent eventually has crumbled into chaos and unimaginable poverty. And they share one other common denominator: a press entirely lacking in power, owned and operated by ruling elites.