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.

 

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.