A joyful place

Peggy Grande is keynoting the annual Ronald Reagan dinner, hosted by the Moore County Republican Party, on Tuesday, February 6, President Reagan’s 107th birthday.

Who is Peggy Grande? She arguably experienced the best first-job-after-college in American history. After earning her undergraduate degree at Pepperdine University, the Los Angeles-area native applied for and was granted an internship in the Office of Ronald Reagan, whose second term as U.S. President ended in January 1989. By 1990, Peggy was employed as a member of the President’s post-White House era staff and became his Executive Assistant from 1993 to 1999.

Just last year she published the incredible stories and memories of those years working for and traveling with President Reagan. The President Will See You Now is must-reading for Americans who remember the Reagan era as one of the greatest chapters in our nation’s evolution. Peggy remembers the Reagan post-White House office as “a joyful place”, where the President’s optimism and curiosity uplifted all with whom he crossed paths. She marveled at his inclination to read and understand ideological positions that differed from his own. She remembers how meticulously he prepared for engagements with world leaders, but how he also was well equipped to make a brief interaction with an ordinary citizen personal and memorable.

Today, Peggy tours the U.S., sharing her behind-the-scenes memories of an American icon, all the while looking forward to heading home to her husband and their four children.

Recently, we recorded an interview with Peggy and recommend these audio clips as a preview of her speech next month in Pinehurst:

A $5.7m windfall

Christmas is arriving early in 2018. About 11 months early, to be precise. On Thursday, January 25, North Carolina retirees began receiving their monthly state retirement benefit payments.

According to the office of North Carolina State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, payments to retirees have increased by a total of $5.7 million this month. The windfall was triggered by two developments. One is the very well publicized federal tax reform signed by President Donald Trump after Congressional Republicans came through with a bill late last year.

The other development flew under the radar. An obscure state entity, the Retirement Systems Division (RSD), simply did its job beating the clock on an IRS deadline that was set after Trump signed sweeping tax cuts into law.

Among those cuts are federal taxes deducted from 2018 benefit payments to North Carolina retirees and benefit recipients. The RSD Operations Team within the N.C. Department of State Treasurer was able to update the tables ahead of the IRS’s deadline.

“I’m very proud of our team for taking the initiative so quickly after the new tax law was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. While we are in the check delivery business, it involves more than just buying ink and stamps,” said Treasurer Folwell. “This is a testament to the outstanding job that our career public servants do to serve government workers.”

More than $500 million is paid out each month to more than 312,000 retirees and benefit recipients.

“Our team, led by Tom Causey and Susan Fordham, decided not to wait until February to enact this increase in our members’ benefit payments,” explained Steve Toole, Executive Director of RSD. “By updating these tax schedules sooner, our members will see larger January benefit payments.”

Supreme timing

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday (January 18) suspended a lower court ruling that should eliminate drama and confusion leading to this November’s U.S. House of Representatives races across North Carolina.

Reports North State Journal, the SCOTUS’s decision “reduces the chance that the current district lines will be altered ahead of the November mid-term Congressional elections.”

The action voids a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge federal panel that imposed a January 24 deadline on North Carolina. This was the date by which legislators would have had to submit re-drawn maps for U.S. House districts. The lower court’s panel alleged that the state’s existing maps were unfair to “non-Republican” voters.

Re-districting committee chairmen Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) thanked the SCOTUS for giving potential candidates clarity as to filing and campaigning in the months ahead.

“We are grateful that a bipartisan U.S. Supreme Court has overwhelmingly halted the lower court’s 11th-hour attempt to intervene in election outcomes, restored certainty to voters, and ensured that, in the coming days, candidates for office can file in the least gerrymandered and most compact Congressional districts in modern state history.”

Washed away

“For centuries,” writes our frequent RESOLVE contributor Walter B. Bull Jr., “rapid radical change has been designated as a sea-change.” In fact, William Shakespeare used the phrase as long ago as 1610 when penning a lyric.

American society is witnessing a dramatic sea-change that has been intensified by the election of President Donald Trump and the mainstream media’s intent to derail, if not end, his presidency. But the change, writes Bull, began toward the end of the previous century.

“Various electronic devices were developed to record, categorize, store and analyze large amounts of data at light speed. … At the same time, information delivery systems, mainly televisions, became available to most households for use as an entertainment gathering focal point.”

Radio and television changed the way we experienced historic, including tragic, events, such as the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the space shuttle Challenger’s mid-air explosion and, most chillingly, Sept. 11, 2001.

Now, in the era of Trump, news and analysis delivery, extending to laptops, tablets and smartphones, is being de-emphasized, replaced, Bull points out, by “brash claims or subtle messaging (Trump is mentally unstable) with an intent that goes beyond delivery of basic facts.”

The sea change playing out before us as 2018 begins is driven by two forces working in lockstep. The Democrat Party, now completely devoid of moderates, is lurching further and further into a state of frothing-at-the-mouth, radical progressivism. And the mainstream media, of similar mindset, questions nothing and gleefully advances the agenda.

These two camps, so obsessed with diminishing Trump, seem no longer to care they are diminishing themselves. The FBI and Justice Department, as evidenced by the existence of the phony “Steele dossier”, apparently are not afraid of being diminished, as well.

No single news story demonstrates the impact of the media-fueled Democrat agenda to obstruct Trump and the Republican Congressional majority more than the passage of tax cuts at year’s end.

The media’s forecast on corporate and household tax cuts looked like this: Tax-Reform Bill is Unpopular Because Media Mislead Americans (National Review, Dec. 20, 2017).

It’s very clear that the tax bill passed by both the House and Senate (Dec. 19) is indisputably unpopular among Americans. But the reasons for that unpopularity are much less clear. Left-wing bias in the media likely has a lot to do with it.

National Review further pointed out that formerly reliable wire service Associated Press reported passage of the bill via Twitter as providing “steep tax cuts for businesses, the wealthy”. Talking points, not journalism.

As we move into mid-January, about a month after the bill’s passage, most media outlets are straining to avoid almost daily evidence that tax cuts for businesses are having the effect Republicans forecast all along (even as polls reflected a skeptical public). Thankfully, the Washington Examiner shared what its reporters learned when they reviewed a meticulous bit of tallying by Americans for Tax Reform.

list of 40 firms offering millions of employees bonuses and customers fee cuts has surged to 164 in just 10 days as the likely financial benefit of President Trump’s tax reform has started to settle in.

Perhaps, retorts the media’s mainstreamers, adrift in their turbulent sea. On to other narratives they turn even as Americans rejoice in economic liberation. Trump is a racist, an insane one at that.

And, of course, Russia, Russia, Russia.

Beyond politics

Does everything have to be political? Does it always have to be about waging the battle to protect and, perhaps, save American values and Constitutional principles? Conservative Republicans can never give up the fight, not in an age that finds the Democrat party lurching toward unabashed socialism.

But, to answer the original question: No, party affiliation is not exclusively about political identity. We elect fellow citizens to serve the greater good, to help those in need and to keep our homeland safe. These are bipartisan objectives, or at least they should be. The most vicious lie perpetrated by the Left is that those of us across the aisle are heartless (thus, tax cuts “are for the rich” and real healthcare reform “takes your healthcare away” because “they want Granny to die, fast”).

Thus, we never can become indifferent toward whom we elect to make and uphold our laws — the fabric of our republic. But we also must support the unsung heroes in our communities, who serve the greater good by helping the many in need. Here in the Moore County Sandhills, citizens seeking no accolades wake up every morning committed to making a difference in these lives.

Aiming to broaden awareness of these people and the organizations they support, the Moore County Republican Party is proud to sponsor local radio vignettes produced by Connie Lovell for Community in Action. One recent segment describes how Southern Pines-based Bethany House provided a clean, sober living environment for a young woman named Jessica after she struggled for years with drug addiction. Today, Jessica is a nursing student at Sandhills Community College after residing in Bethany House for 11 months and liberating herself from the shackles of addiction.

This is Jessica’s story.

Community in Action introduces local agencies that offer assistance that builds opportunity. Spots air at 10:20 a.m. Saturdays on 102.5 FM, and at 12:50 p.m. Saturdays on 550 AM.

NC leads on free speech

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and fellow state Republicans go into 2018 with considerable momentum, owed to last year’s numerous legislative victories and despite ever looming veto threats and lawsuits courtesy of Democrat Governor Roy Cooper.

In a December 31 op-ed for North State Journal, Forest summarized legislation that originated in his office in 2017. In particular, he heralded adoption of a Campus Free Speech Act by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina system, which “helps restore and preserve free speech on our public university campuses.”

While this objective might strike some as common sense and overdue, the law places North Carolina and its public universities squarely in a position of national leadership at a time when disrupting campus speech — in classrooms and in public forums, or by forcing speakers to be “disinvited” — has emerged as a core tactic in the left’s so-called “resist” movement. As the Democrat party moves further left and pursues an ever more radically progressive agenda, college campuses are devolving into battlegrounds, thick with tension.

The NC law (HB527), sponsored by Rep. Chris Mills (R-Pender), inevitably will become a substantive pillar on which Forest can campaign in his likely run for the Governor’s mansion in 2020, especially if Forest is forced to contend with a field of other Republicans — Phil Berger, Pat McCrory, or U.S. Senator Thom Tillis — for the nomination. When he hits the campaign trail, Forest would be wise to repeat the words he wrote in his North State Journal op-ed last month.

The job of government and our universities is not to shield individuals from speech they might find offensive, but to commit to the principles of free speech, including spontaneous demonstration and access to campus consistent with the First Amendment.

Forest and fellow Republicans also have a golden opportunity to remind voters — often — that the bill passed into law without Cooper’s signature. His inaction was not unintentional. Cooper didn’t forget to sign it. So what was his underlying message to Democrats in North Carolina and beyond?

In its reporting on the bill’s passage, Generation Opportunity state director Anna Beavon Gravely told Carolina Journal that it appears Cooper supports campus environments “where unelected employees of state government are able to intimidate into silence the views that are not their own.”

If the sitting Governor of North Carolina believes that, it is never too early to begin working to unseat him. Let it begin now.

 

Tired of winning yet?

The Washington Examiner unwrapped an early Christmas present today, publishing a list of 81 major victories by the Trump administration in 12 categories since President Donald Trump was inaugurated last January 20.

Jobs and the economy

  • Passage of the tax reform bill providing $5.5 billion in cuts and repealing the Obamacare mandate.
  • Increase of the GDP above 3 percent.
  • Creation of 1.7 million new jobs, cutting unemployment to 4.1 percent.
  • Saw the Dow Jones reach record highs.
  • A rebound in economic confidence to a 17-year high.
  • A new executive order to boost apprenticeships.
  • A move to boost computer sciences in Education Department programs.
  • Prioritizing women-owned businesses for some $500 million in SBA loans.

Killing job-stifling regulations

  • Signed an Executive Order demanding that two regulations be killed for every new one creates. He beat that big and cut 16 rules and regulations for every one created, saving $8.1 billion.
  • Signed 15 congressional regulatory cuts.
  • Withdrew from the Obama-era Paris Climate Agreement, ending the threat of environmental regulations.
  • Signed an Executive Order cutting the time for infrastructure permit approvals.
  • Eliminated an Obama rule on streams that Trump felt unfairly targeted the coal industry.

Fair trade

  • Made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Opened up the North American Free Trade Agreement for talks to better the deal for the U.S.
  • Worked to bring companies back to the U.S., and companies like Toyota, Mazda, Broadcom Limited, and Foxconn announced plans to open U.S. plants.
  • Worked to promote the sale of U.S products abroad.
  • Made enforcement of U.S. trade laws, especially those that involve national security, a priority.
  • Ended Obama’s deal with Cuba.

Boosting U.S. energy dominance

  • The Department of Interior, which has led the way in cutting regulations, opened plans to lease 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling.
  • Trump traveled the world to promote the sale and use of U.S. energy.
  • Expanded energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline snubbed by Obama.
  • Ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
  • EPA is reconsidering Obama rules on methane emissions.

Protecting the U.S. homeland

  • Laid out new principles for reforming immigration and announced plan to end “chain migration,” which lets one legal immigrant to bring in dozens of family members.
  • Made progress to build the border wall with Mexico.
  • Ended the Obama-era “catch and release” of illegal immigrants.
  • Boosted the arrests of illegals inside the U.S.
  • Doubled the number of counties participating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement charged with deporting illegals.
  • Removed 36 percent more criminal gang members than in fiscal 2016.
  • Started the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program.
  • Ditto for other amnesty programs like Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.
  • Cracking down on some 300 sanctuary cities that defy ICE but still get federal dollars.
  • Added some 100 new immigration judges.

Protecting communities

  • Justice announced grants of $98 million to fund 802 new cops.
  • Justice worked with Central American nations to arrest and charge 4,000 MS-13 members.
  • Homeland rounded up nearly 800 MS-13 members, an 83 percent one-year increase.
  • Signed three executive orders aimed at cracking down on international criminal organizations.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions created new National Public Safety Partnership, a cooperative initiative with cities to reduce violent crimes.

Accountability

  • Trump has nominated 73 federal judges and won his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • Ordered ethical standards including a lobbying ban.
  • Called for a comprehensive plan to reorganize the executive branch.
  • Ordered an overhaul to modernize the digital government.
  • Called for a full audit of the Pentagon and its spending.

Combatting opioids

  • First, the president declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency on opioids.
  • His Council of Economic Advisors played a role in determining that overdoses are underreported by as much as 24 percent.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services laid out a new five-point strategy to fight the crisis.
  • Justice announced it was scheduling fentanyl substances as a drug class under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Justice started a fraud crackdown, arresting more than 400.
  • The administration added $500 million to fight the crisis.
  • On National Drug Take Back Day, the Drug Enforcement Agency collected 456 tons.

Protecting life

  • In his first week, Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy that blocks some $9 billion in foreign aid being used for abortions.
  • Worked with Congress on a bill overturning an Obama regulation that blocked states from defunding abortion providers.
  • Published guidance to block Obamacare money from supporting abortion.

Helping veterans

  • Signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to allow senior officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire failing employees and establish safeguards to protect whistleblowers.
  • Signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act.
  • Signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, to provide support.
  • Signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 to authorize $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program.
  • Created a VA hotline.
  • Had the VA launch an online “Access and Quality Tool,” providing veterans with a way to access wait time and quality of care data.
  • With VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, announced three initiatives to expand access to healthcare for veterans using telehealth technology.

Promoting peace through strength

  • Directed the rebuilding of the military and ordered a new national strategy and nuclear posture review.
  • Worked to increase defense spending.
  • Empowered military leaders to “seize the initiative and win,” reducing the need for a White House sign off on every mission.
  • Directed the revival of the National Space Council to develop space war strategies.
  • Elevated U.S. Cyber Command into a major warfighting command.
  • Withdrew from the U.N. Global Compact on Migration, which Trump saw as a threat to borders.
  • Imposed a travel ban on nations that lack border and anti-terrorism security.
  • Saw ISIS lose virtually all of its territory.
  • Pushed for strong action against global outlaw North Korea and its development of nuclear weapons.
  • Announced a new Afghanistan strategy that strengthens support for U.S. forces at war with terrorism.
  • NATO increased support for the war in Afghanistan.
  • Approved a new Iran strategy plan focused on neutralizing the country’s influence in the region.
  • Ordered missile strikes against a Syrian airbase used in a chemical weapons attack.
  • Prevented subsequent chemical attacks by announcing a plan to detect them better and warned of future strikes if they were used.
  • Ordered new sanctions on the dictatorship in Venezuela.

Restoring confidence in and respect for America

  • Trump won the release of Americans held abroad, often using his personal relationships with world leaders.
  • Made good on a campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • Conducted a historic 12-day trip through Asia, winning new cooperative deals. On the trip, he attended three regional summits to promote American interests.
  • He traveled to the Middle East and Europe to build new relationships with leaders.
  • Traveled to Poland and on to German for the G-20 meeting where he pushed again for funding of women entrepreneurs.