Stimulus but no relief

By Steve Woodward

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

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Trump International employees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

Bad, really bad

By Steve Woodward

Our self-appointed intellectuals become inarticulate in the face of the unpredictable.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this (coronavirus outbreak) could be bad,” said Nancy Messonnier during a press conference on February 25. Messonnier is the Center for Disease Control’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“I’ve got a feeling (emphasis added),” writes Peggy Noonan in her weekly column for The Wall Street Journal, “the coronavirus is going to be bad, that it will have a big impact on America, more than we imagine, and therefore on its politics.”

As former Obama enabler and ex-Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel once observed, “We can’t let a crisis go to waste.” This is classic Sal Alinsky (Rules for Radicals) thinking. If it takes a global virus to bring into lockstep the masses, so be it. Embrace it. Encourage despair.

We can presume that Ms. Messonnier has a duty to project a “bad” scenario, but what a choice of words. She and the CDC might have moderated this dire outlook by saying that the United States is prepared to minimize the spread and severity of the virus which, no doubt, it is. That seems less “bad”.

Certainly a CDC director carries more credibility than Noonan in the Journal citing her “feeling” that we are all doomed. From her hermetically sealed fortress in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Noonan gets to the heart of her premise deep into the column. I doubt many made it that far.

Trump Closeup2“If you want to talk about what could make a progressive (Bernie Sanders, of course) win the presidency it couldn’t be a better constellation than this: an epidemic, a economic downturn, a broad sense of public anxiety, and an incumbent (Donald Trump) looking small.”

The elite ruling class have condensed it to this: Virus bad; Trump really bad. A New York Times op-ed column came right out and said it, Trumpvirus. It was then repeated in a one-liner in the WSJ column by the former Reagan speechwriter, Noonan: “It couldn’t be a better constellation.” Translation: we will take as much collateral damage from a runaway (we hope) virus if it kills the Trump presidency. If David Brooks is the New York Times’ fake conservative, he is getting a run for his money from Noonan in the WSJ, the Mother Superior of the Republican establishment. Her former boss, anti-establishment President Reagan, surely is frowning from the heavens.

But we do not have Reagan in 2020. What we do have is a uniquely equipped iconoclast to guide us through Corona-gate. Trump already has been condemned by the corrupt media as completely ill-prepared to address our nation’s response to the presumed epidemic. It’s convenient. Yet it dismisses America’s tradition of resolve. We have turned back or faced down every dire inevitability the world has placed at our feet. Tyranny. Plague. Depression. Military attack. Energy dependence. HIV. Terrorism on our shores. Deep recession. Extreme weather. And, lately, we’ve faced the next challenge, revolution within our political system, the coming of age of the Deep State.

The Deep State loves viruses and disruption; it thrives on chaos, fear. Consider this chilling conclusion in a headline in The Washington Free Beacon: “The only predictable fallout of this coronavirus? Partisanship.”

Matthew Continetti, writing for the Beacon: “The pundits are having difficulty settling on a historical analogy for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Will the spread of the disease be President Trump’s Katrina or his financial crisis? Now that it is interested in coronavirus, a familiar pattern will set in. Data will be publicized without the slightest sense of proportion. … Speculation will be paraded as fact. And every conceivable negative outcome, from infections to deaths to plunging stock values, from reasonable and warranted travel bans to unanticipated diplomatic and economic fallout, will be related back to the president in an effort to damage his reelection.”

In this five-minute clip on YouTube, Dr. Drew Pinsky condemns the left (media) for absolutely salivating. Or is it celebrating?

The takeaway is that Pinsky, a board certified doctor of internal medicine, contends if we must have hysteria let it be driven by other data. “Let me frame it this way: we have in the United States 24 million cases of flu-like illness, 180,000 hospitalizations, 16,000 dead from influenza,” Pinsky said on the streaming news show Daily Blast Live. “Why is that not being reported? Why isn’t the message: get your flu shot?”

The people in the trenches, trying to understand the degrees to which COVID-19 is “bad”, are experts. The people hoarding air time are not experts. They are shameless politicians like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who want to throw breathtaking sums of money (that we do not have) at the badness.

“Schumer asked for $8 billion,” Pinsky said. “My response is, hey man we (have) got a homeless problem in Southern California and in Denver, would you please give us some of that $8 billion and forget about the coronavirus?”

Which has me wondering how terribly Peggy Noonan and the ruling elites must feel about the nation’s homeless crisis. Not bad enough, I’m guessing.

 

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.

Freedom, on the brink

By Steve Woodward

The question arose without provocation: “Is it true that we are supposed to be the best country?”

It was posed by a middle school teen-ager with whom I spend time as a mentor. He lives in poverty among three younger siblings. He has been homeless. He is often hungry. But he is cheerful and inquisitive, conversant and funny. And despite having little reason to be optimistic, and despite the strong likelihood he never has been told by a teacher or any other adult about American exceptionalism, the young man’s intuition is that he is the citizen of a remarkable country, the best one.

Given this unexpected opportunity, this “teachable moment”, I needed to deliver a quick answer, something that would resonate within his impressionable mind.

We are the most free country, I said first. No other country comes close. We are a country where anything is possible, where dreams come true every day. I might have added to this, I might have embellished further, maybe by citing a rags-to-riches story. But I also wanted to impress upon him that dreams come true because work is rewarded and opportunities to work are plentiful.

It no longer is a reasonable assumption that kids are aware that being an American is a blessing and a privilege. The narratives tell them we are a nation born of racist slave owners, who left an indelible stain; that capitalism is rigged and excludes almost everyone, and, worse, is the principal cause of climate change; that our military tortures the innocent and kills indiscriminately; and that our immigration policies are inhumane because our borders are not open.

We know the educational environment is increasingly hostile toward free speech, debate, Christianity, and toward our nation’s founding principles. Rarely a week goes by during which we fail to learn of another example of manufactured outrage or political correctness gone wild on a campus. North Carolina State recently eliminated Good Friday from its university calendar, despite enormous backlash.

In our backyard, a few teachers at The O’Neal School in Southern Pines walked out during a January speech by black civil rights legend Clarence Henderson, an avowed conservative Republican and supporter of President Trump.

These snowflake teachers apparently never considered how their decision will be interpreted by their students, but the big take away is that disrespecting American icons is OK if you disagree with them ideologically. Is O’Neal suspending these teachers or is it reprimanding the ones who did not walk out?

My mentee is in seventh grade at Southern Middle School. I ask almost every time we get together about his classes and teachers. He mentioned learning about World War I, and about Germany’s Adolf Hitler. What he remembers about Hitler is that he wore a funny mustache because the ends of it were damaged while Hitler wore a gas mask. (Actually, historians write that Hitler cropped his mustache to accommodate wearing a gas mask). There was no mention by the teenager that Hitler ordered the slaughter of millions of Jews, leaving me to wonder if this is excluded from the textbook.

This lone conversation reinforced why I mentor. It’s not my job to take his mind off his dire living conditions, his hunger and his uncertainty, although I hope I do. It is my job to focus his mind on his future, on where paths before him can lead, on why he needs to make smart decisions, and on why there is eternal hope because God loves him and because he dwells in a land that is free and prosperous.

President Reagan reminded us that freedom is but one generation removed from extinction, and that the tenants of what make us free must be rigorously handed down to future generations. He said, “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.”

Mentoring is one of the best opportunities an American adult can seize upon to counter the tide of anti-Americanism, anti-religion and anti-capitalism driven by the sinister and mentally unstable radical left, by educators, the media and the entertainment industry.

The teenager who sits to my right as we drive along is remarkably sunny, polite and articulate. But our nation is increasingly plagued by unhappy, disrespectful, mumbling teens. The why is disheartening but, perhaps, not irreversible.

“The reason so many young people are depressed, unhappy, and angry,” writes radio talk host and columnist Dennis Prager, “is the left has told them that God and Judeo-Christian religions are nonsense; their country is largely evil; their past is deplorable; and their future is hopeless.”

Nancy Pelosi rips in half a story of America’s comeback on national television. And why? Because she and her compliant radical army on the left would rather nurture hungry, deprived teens pouring across our Southern border, leaving desperate teens in Moore County to languish under the oppressive boot heel of government subsidies, which guarantee to keep them right where they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.