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The good fight

By Steve Woodward

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

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

Michael Whatley2
Michael Whatley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M Chu
Miriam Chu

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

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

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

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

Keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the Freebie?

By Steve Woodward

For most Americans it is taken for granted that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now it turns out that a new generation of Socialists disguised as Democrats envision a land where everything is free and bravery is the weapon of choice if you dare oppose them.

These same people who say they want to give us everything are, ironically, not the least bit interested in freedoms embraced by our nation’s founders. They want to strip us of self-reliance and independence in the very moment they hand over the keys to everything they say we need — and only a ruling elite class knows what that is.

The elites calculate that once they secure a vast pool of entitlement addicts, citizens and border runners alike, by doling out free education, free healthcare, and student loan forgiveness (a free diploma), and by making our nation gun-free, religion-free and speech-restricted, their power will expand and endure.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently expressed his belief that Americans of all ages must be stirred by the aspirational underpinnings of a free society (ours) rather than enslaved by a permanent entitlement state.

“When progressives promise government will pay for health care and college,” Jindal wrote, “they are really saying government will run medicine and higher education. Medicare for All explicitly calls for the abolition of private health insurance.”

If today’s students were allowed to think critically and possessed even a shred of familiarity with recent American history, they might already have concluded that entitlement addiction will never allow them to fulfill their potential or, for that matter, succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

martin-luther-king-jr
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Historian and author Shelby Steele asserts that Martin Luther King Jr. pursued freedom, not justice, but his legacy has been ignored by the left and it’s obsession with racial inequality, which meant blacks and other minorities were viewed as “victims who had to be socially engineered into equality.”

Steele is the author of Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country. The book’s title is self-explanatory, and Steele, a black scholar and expert on race relations, speaks with authority when he observes that minorities in the 21st century “suffer from underdevelopment, not racism. And, here, at last, is conservatism’s great opportunity.”

Empowering citizens makes so much sense, and is so embedded in America’s psyche, that you even can find Democrats who agree wth Jindal and Steele. Notably, Democrat policy wonk Ted Van Dyk, writing for the Journal on May 31.

In a piece entitled, “How Democrats Can Avoid Losing”, he laid out a scathing rebuke of the runaway freight train that is the far left Democrat party in 2019. Van Dyk makes the outrageous (and very obvious) observation that dismantling Confederate monuments does nothing toward addressing the “plight of black Americans in inner cities.” With black and Hispanic unemployment at historically low levels, the left, with typical media complicity, obsesses on “identity politics based on victimhood,” he laments.

As for promising a list of “free stuff”, Van Dyk correctly notes that these freebies are “out of line with most Americans’ core values.” Think about the millions of blue-collar laborers, lifelong union members and reliable Democrats who are proud of what they earned, or thrilled to have saved and paid for a child or grandchild to earn a college degree. Would they support free tuition and loan forgiveness? Not a chance. Intolerance of snowflakes seems inherently non-partisan.

“Why not go back to that perpetually workable thing,” writes Steele, “the American dream?”

 

 

 

AOC for bartender

By Steve Woodward

Democrat Presidential aspirant Joe Biden is channeling Margaret Thatcher from her grave, apparently. He says the former British Prime Minister is lamenting the United States in the age of Donald Trump. He meant to reference Theresa May, the very alive Prime Minister who probably could use an overaggressive Biden hug about now.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking to social media to explain that she is horrified by the food waste disposer in her apartment (never seen one, she says), and mystified by produce growing out of the dirt in a garden. She is, famously, an ex-bartender and gives this profession a bad name.

Electronic surveillance is not the same as spying, claims former FBI Director James Comey. But, either way, he and current FBI Director Christopher Wray express no regrets or even acknowledge that high ranking FBI personnel weaponized the Bureau in an attempt to bring down Trump’s campaign. Spying or not, scandalous.

Hillary Clinton is out on the irrelevance circuit proclaiming that the 2016 presidential election was “stolen” from her. She should have her irony meter inspected. Three years on, it is clear that Clinton’s campaign hired the opposition research firm that would aid and abet an effort to rig the election — in her favor, not Trump’s.

China is practically begging for an all-out trade war. Iran is rattling its sabers in the Middle East, targeting U.S. forces. Hamas terrorists are bombing Israel with renewed fervor. Christianity is under persecution to such a universal degree that one expert says Christians find themselves facing genocide across the globe.

But what is making headlines in the fully compliant left wing media? Outrage over President Trump presenting golf legend Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Barack Obama presented it to Biden, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey, but that was just fine.

Meanwhile, with a few exceptions by select media outlets committing inadvertent acts of journalism, reporting on the U.S. economy as the marvel of the world (even China, if its leaders had an honest bone) and a work force partying like it’s 1969, is barely a blip on mainstream media’s radar. The MSM is all over Attorney General William Barr, who released the long awaited Mueller Report but somehow is to be charged with contempt of Congress. Any red-blooded American would freely admit being contemptuous of these frauds.

If the economy remains on its current trajectory, Biden will be asking to have Thatcher exhumed, and AOC will place her quivering hand into her food disposal (because she doesn’t know any better) when it’s in the “on” position. Against this backdrop of inside-the-Beltway hysteria, consider that:

  • The unemployment rate last was at 3.6% when Richard Nixon was beginning his first term as President in 1969. It is 3.6% in 2019.
  • Wage growth, which negates Democrats’ calls for national hourly minimum wages of $15+, hit 3.2% in April, the ninth consecutive month of wage growth north of 3%. In other words, inspired laborers will be blowing past $15/hour, if they have not already.
  • The last time unemployment among women was at 3.4%, Dwight Eisenhower was President (1953).

That’s good news for Ocasio-Cortez. When she loses in 2020, bartending jobs will be plentiful. Or, in this land of prosperity, she could try her hand at  food waste disposal sales.

 

 

 

Send in the clowns

… Where are the clowns. Send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.” – Stephen Sondheim, 1973

By Steve Woodward

It is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to avoid opinion columnists who are so wrong on so many topics. Their renderings ramble on and on, littered with unsubstantiated statistics and unsourced assertions. I’m encountering these diatribes despite never, ever reading op-ed pages in The New York Times or The Washington Post.

Who needs those formerly credible publications when one can find the same extremes of anti-Republican, anti-Trump, pro-left vitriol in The Pilot? The April 28 edition showcased Robert Levy observing that illegal immigrants pouring across the southern border are the reason for the nation’s robust economy; William Shaw praising North Carolina teachers, who are not union members, for planning a union-style, May 1 March on Raleigh that will force school closures; and Don Tortorice lamenting Donald Trump’s strategy to rein in China’s intellectual property theft by imposing tariffs on its U.S. exports to trigger, for once, negotiations.

Levy’s tirade veered way off the rails in several passages, but this is the laugh-out-loud portion that is pure fantasy: “(Illegal immigrants in the workplace keep) employment numbers artificially high and unemployment, especially for blacks and Hispanics, artificially low.” Using this premise, we are supposed to believe that Democrats, who deliberately do nothing to stop illegal immigration, are nonetheless willing to let Trump get all of the credit for historically low unemployment and wage growth. Who does Levy think he is the kidding? Democrats would rather their voters (citizens, ex-cons and aliens) receive an entitlement than a job, every time.

Shaw cheers teachers who will abandon their responsibilities to swarm downtown Raleigh on May 1 during a demonstration coordinated by the National Education Association’s state affiliate (the NEA doggedly maintains presence in states without teachers’ unions). Teacher pay in North Carolina has risen steadily five consecutive years but “while progress is being made, teachers should not expect greater largesse from the General Assembly if they silence their voices.” What about the voices of parents who wonder why teacher pay always must go up regardless of student performance in the classroom? What about kids who can’t read in middle school?

In an April 29 column for RealClearEducation.com, Terry Stoops of the The John Locke Foundation observes that despite endless calls for higher teacher pay “results from state achievement tests administered last year show that only 56 percent of elementary and middle school students were proficient in math, and just 57 percent were proficient in reading.”

Why do teachers refuse to demonstrate to students that pay rises on the tide of merit, not entitlement? The students should be the ones in the streets.

Tortorice’s column is written like a textbook lecture, perhaps to be expected of a former professor at the Law School of the College of William and Mary. It is full of eye-glazing statistics and purports that tariffs are never paid by the country on which they are imposed. But Tortorice misses the essential point of the Trump-era tariffs on China. This so-called trade war is moving the two countries toward a long-term trade agreement with a goal of eliminating tariffs in both directions over time. Talks, potentially the final round, are ongoing as we speak. The imbalanced global trade system has been entrenched for too long and would never be challenged without a period of economic pain.

The columnist insists American taxpayers are paying for tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, yet the U.S. economy is growing every quarter (per a 3.2% GDP uptick in Q1), consumer confidence moved higher in a recent survey and inflation fears are off the table. Americans with a long view would rather reach an agreement that deters China from stealing intellectual property and gradually reduces tariffs.

This trio of diversions from reality pale in comparison to the unhinged column by ex-Reagan speechwriter and decades long pundit Peggy Noonan in the April 27-28 weekend editions of The Wall Street Journal.

Despite the innumerable ways in which the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have rewarded American citizens for their votes in 2016, Noonan is incensed that Trump has failed because he did not seek to pacify members of the Washington establishment (she calls them “the old ambassadors) who were willing to give him a chance. If, that is, he came around. Which Trump did not, thankfully.

“One by one,” she writes, “the ambassadors shut down and turned away. … They feared Madness of King George-ism. They’d come to think the president was, irredeemably, a screwball.”

The Swamp guards the status quo at any cost, but Trump is the one who is dangerous? The ambassadors, when they were younger, were equally skeptical of the fitness for the presidency of Noonan’s old boss, Ronald Reagan. Even when Americans cheered a booming 1980s economy long overdue, the ambassadors scowled and ordered another martini.

Now, here we are 30 years later. Noonan wrote beautiful words which once complimented the warm delivery of President Reagan. But her recent column was delivered like a manifesto written from a cabin in the woods after the meds ran out.

“There is an unarticulated wish out there to return to some past in which things were deeply imperfect and certainly divided but on some level tranquil, and not half mad,” wrote Noonan, who we assume uses “out there” and the Upper East Side of New York interchangeably, and chose not to name the deeply imperfect Barack Obama.

She reveals herself as just another horrified, well-heeled bystander peering over her bifocals, who longs for the return of a ruling elite in Washington and is incapable of understanding that this is just the opposite of what ordinary Americans between the coasts desire and will vote again to avoid in 2020 and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

A sensible Washington

Editor’s note: In this era of Trump Derangement Syndrome in which no anti-American policy idea is too radical, and during which there is a relentless movement to erase symbols of our history, the fundamental principles behind America’s founding remain entrenched. But we are left to wonder for how much longer.

By Norman Zanetti

A treasure trove of exemplary governance is found in President George Washington’s farewell address to Americans. In his letter to the American people in The American Daily Advertiser in 1796, he wrote that he hoped citizens would support a strong federal government, though Americans at the time were local in their thinking and allegiances.

He cautioned that extreme partisanship among political parties would be “divisive and disruptive”, urging voters casting future ballots to do so for candidates favoring the common good instead of supporting strict party affiliation.

Washington forewarned extreme partisanship would result in “a spirit of revenge” to maintain one’s grip on power. His greatest concern, and rightly so, was intervention of external invasion, advocating a policy favoring neutrality and friendly commerce with other nations.

For years, this farewell address was read in congress on July 4th. For some reason the practice ended years ago. I recently recommended to our U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8) that he champion a revival of this tradition in the House of Representatives, especially as newly elected representatives begin their tenure. We need a groundswell of bipartisan cooperation to assuage the polarization that has afflicted both chambers and hindered addressing our country’s vital needs.

Washington’s words, a foundry for exemplary governing, should be on the minds of all of those who represent us, as well as among media members who cover them. His message should resonate when legislation is proposed and voted on.

 

Thanks, Tiger

By Steve Woodward

Joining millions of television viewers as golf legend Tiger Woods defied insurmountable odds to win his fifth Masters green jacket, 14 years after claiming his fourth, was intensely nostalgic.

I love the game of golf. Yet Tiger’s Masters resurgence had nothing to do with golf. Close your eyes. It’s 2005. Tiger was invincible. America was great, the indispensable nation. Our kids were still kids. Our backs were not stiff and sore. The media was, mostly, committed to journalistic integrity. Saddam Hussein was defeated in Iraq. The U.S. economy had roared back from the dot-com bubble. 9/11 still united us as a nation. George W. Bush had begun his second term as our 43rd President.

Tiger 2019
Tiger Woods wins fifth Masters.

Less than two decades ago, when Tiger Woods was the undisputed No. 1 golfer in the world, we took so much for granted that today, in 2019, is up for grabs, in jeopardy of demise.

Marriage was defined, as through the ages, as a union between a man and a woman. Gay marriage was not legally recognized.

The U.S.-Mexico border was secure.

A male was a male; a female a female. He, she. Men’s and women’s rooms.

No one faced a penalty for refusing to purchase medical insurance they either did not need or could not afford.

Speakers invited to university campuses rarely were uninvited due to the threat of violence posed by other student groups; and those who fulfilled their engagements rarely required security or feared for their well being.

There were no openly anti-semitic or progressive socialists serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. Elected federal servants were duty bound to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Barack Obama was a junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, working on a book in his spare time. Hillary Clinton was a junior Senator from Arkansas representing New York.

Tattoo shops were not very busy. Men wore suits and ties to work. Comedians were funny, entertaining.

I closed my eyes on Masters Sunday. Those harmonious Augusta National birds were chirping as if outside my window. Crowds roared as Tiger moved into a lead he would not relinquish. If only for a moment, it was 2005.

 

Facts trump distortions

By Steve Woodward

Local columnist William Shaw, a regular contributor to The Pilot’s op-ed page, devotes himself to degrading the President of the United States based on his hatred of Donald Trump. The Pilot is Shaw’s enabler despite his disregard for truth.

Shaw’s March 31 rendering (Hate Crimes Can Emerge Without A Moral Compass) includes a starkly misleading assertion: Trump’s father participated in a KKK march in 1927. Thus, the President inherited that DNA and is, today, a white supremacist.

As for Fred Trump, the President’s late father, being arrested while marching with “robed” KKKers in Queens, New York, in 1927 (19 years before Donald Trump was born), turn to Google to be properly enlightened. PolitiFact, a left wing “fact checking” site, rated claims that Fred Trump was arrested marching with the KKK as “mostly false”. Vice.com allows that “none of the articles” published at the time “prove that Fred Trump was a member of the Klan” and “it’s possible he was just a bystander.” Shaw’s column fails to mention this.

Shaw then claims, without source attribution, that “more than 70 percent of violent hate crimes against Jews, Blacks, Muslims, and Hispanics have been committed by right-wing extremist groups” across the past decade. It is likely Shaw sourced this data point from the discredited Anti-Defamation League. The ADL’s Center on Extremism issued a report earlier this year linking “every extremist killing” incident in 2018 (17 in all) to right-wing extremists.

Dan Feinreich, writing for The Times of Israel, dismissed the report’s conclusion that “far right extremism is a major threat”. Factually, extremist driven murder represents a small fraction of total U.S. murders.

“We do not even know how many ‘non-far right’ extremist murders took place because, according to the ADL,” Feinreich observes, “the data is difficult to obtain.” But, apparently, data on right-wing extremists is at their fingertips?

And, finally, The Pilot permitted yet another thread to be added to the false narrative that Charlottesville 2017 was the site of a Trump-fueled hate crime. The death of a pedestrian during a rally on a Charlottesville, Virginia, street in August 2017 was linked to one deranged individual, acting alone, who plowed his car into a crowd, injuring a dozen others. He recently pled guilty to hate crimes. Charlottesville law enforcement allowed tensions to escalate over two days, and failed to tame demonstrators until a life was lost. It was a tragedy but not solely an incident stoked by right-wing extremism. Not by a long shot.