Indignation contagion

By Steve Woodward

Masks are being worn by compliant citizens in our community at an ever increasing rate. Some motorists are even donning masks while driving. In their own vehicles. Without passengers.

masksThe upside to this rather odd habit is that said drivers are masking expressions of indignation, which has become a permanent facial condition for many. Even as the Wuhan Virus continues to disrupt daily life and destroy small businesses, a secondary illness has come to the fore — staggering numbers are foregoing personal freedom and unalienable rights in the name of “safety”. Stay safe. What does it mean? Nobody really knows. But it’s the right thing to say in “uncertain times”, apparently. A media driven narrative strikes again. Those who do not assume safety is a birthright have targets on our backs.

The presumption of safety and the delusion of certainty are woven more deeply into the fabric of the American culture than we knew, as demonstrated by the hysteria and tyranny-to-the-rescue solutions of recent weeks. The United States was not founded on either presumption. In fact, it could not have been founded by men paralyzed by fear. They viewed the world in quite opposite terms. Thomas Jefferson specified a preference for dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

A tee shirt enshrining Jefferson’s words can be purchased via Amazon. Sadly, fewer Americans than ever seem inclined to wear one. It now appears certain that the weapons unleashed to battle the Wuhan Virus will remain intact long after virus hysteria has subsided. Democrat governors such as North Carolina’s Roy Cooper will feed on a permanent indignant class that embraces peaceful slavery in the name of safety.

Masks forever. Social distancing as a norm. No handshakes. No hugs. No salad bars. No buffets. Permanent requirements to register body temperatures of airline passengers and sports fans. No high fives, or low fives. No church communion. And these are merely the behavioral issues that some will want to impose, even absent edicts from Democrat lawmakers. Just because they know best.

The comfortably enslaved also will cheer for punishing lawsuits post-Wuhan aimed at everything imaginable, but especially products and companies that might have exposed innocent souls to the “deadly” virus. Also: higher hourly wages for employees of businesses that were bailed out (and falsely presumed to be awash with cash); or, permanent $600-a-week federal unemployment benefits for those who prefer to make a minimum of $15 per hour by staying at home. Which raises another one. Staying at home as a way of life? Just in case. No cozy cafes. No theaters. No street fairs. No cruise ships. No pilates classes. Heck, no classes, period.

A government large enough to give you everything we (think we) need, including absolute safety via rolling quarantines, is large enough to take everything we have, materially and ideologically, especially if we fail to stand up to it.

“The absolute worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possibly its most unrecoverable damage, is the massive power that Americans have given to their federal, state and local governments to regulate our lives in the name of protecting our health,” writes syndicated columnist and George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams. “Taking back that power should be the most urgent component of our recovery efforts.”

Aided by hysterical throngs, Democrat governors Cooper, Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gavin Newsom (CA), Ralph Northam (VA) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI), to name some of the worst, are demonstrating they will be hesitant to relinquish the power they’ve claimed in recent weeks. In Michigan, a Republican-led legislature filed suit May 6 against Whitmer, seeking to force an end to orders that have closed down many nonessential businesses and largely confined residents to their homes. Whitmer is a power grabber.

In California, Newsom faces no such legal challenge. Knowing that, he moved the goalposts this week just as restrictions on citizens and the economy were about to ease. He declared nothing will be normal until such time as immunity to and a vaccine against the Wuhan Virus becomes reality. Newsom encouraged counties to override any easing of behavioral restrictions as they see fit. He has ceded martial law to the counties. Now that’s leadership.

Will Cooper be next? Friday, North Carolina enters “Phase One” of his plan to re-open the state’s economy. This will “allow” more retail activity for small businesses, but it keeps restaurants closed for at least two more weeks. Restaurant owners are pleading with Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to help, but they have largely been met with silence. Lawmakers simply do not seem to have the will to take on the indignant class, which clearly has drawn people from both parties. They know best.

The reality is that freedom, too, is essential to health and welfare and is far more powerful than government responses to a pandemic. This was driven home by a letter in the Wall Street Journal by a Michigan reader. He quoted patriot John Locke: “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it.”

World history largely has been defined by human suffering, plague and tyranny. The American experiment proves that this does not have to be. Those who will yield everything to government to achieve “safety” in the 21st century ignore this history. Draw the battle lines. Let’s get on with it.

Fraud unmasked

By Steve Woodward

Stay at home in your senior care facility this fall. And vote. Someone you’ve never seen before will show up and collect your absentee ballot, removing the danger of licking a stamp or walking to the mailbox. If you do not know for whom to vote, we can help with that, too. Just leave it to us.

Oh, and do not worry about finding your state issued ID. The collector will not ask for it. He will not even ask for your name. It will be added to the ballot in advance.

Although this proposed scenario reads like something out of a Soviet-era proclamation, it seems perfectly logical to the director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Director Brisson Bell outlined a lengthy wish list of statutory changes as to how we vote in a memo to Governor Roy Cooper and the General Assembly to “address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our elections.”

The memo — perhaps we should call it the Bell Dossier — was dated March 26, authored only nine days after Cooper’s St. Patrick’s Day Massacre that shut down restaurants at 5 p.m., thus it was released at the initial onset of corona-steria. The timing strongly suggests Bell and her “voter reform” gang had this list ready to roll out long before a few bad servings of bat tartar rocked Wuhan, China.

The eternal struggle to rig our elections to give the left permanent power is not unique to North Carolina. In fact, erstwhile presidential pretender Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) this week submitted a bill, the VoteSafe Act of 2020, that proposes to spend $5 billion of taxpayers’ dollars “to ensure that voting is safe and accessible.” And easily compromised by teams of fraudsters long after the masks and gloves come off.

The Harris plan is dead on arrival. In hindsight we should be thankful it was not quietly inserted in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Closer to home, it will surprise no Republican that Gov. Cooper will do everything in his power to enable Bell and the state BOE to drag her reforms across the finish line.

Bell’s memo runs five single-spaced pages, laying out 14 specific recommendations that she insists are vital because election season is close at hand. Voting as we have known it could kill us all if we do not act. In reality, early voting will not begin until October, half a year from now. Cooper might have opened and closed the state two or three times by then but the threat of the Wuhan Virus carrying over into the fall is unlikely, even if that is the dream of the Left and their media soldiers. Don’t forget, the New York Times early on called it the Trump Virus. They’s rather see Trump go away and the virus stick around for as long as it’s useful. Unfortunately, a few “experts” have suggested a second outbreak later in the year, but these were the same people urging us to fill movie theaters in February.

Some minor aspects of how we live might permanently change when this horror is behind us. Bell’s memo addresses permanency, too. A majority of the changes she proposes would be permanent with a few exceptions. In the same breath, Bell says she is merely reacting to the virus, for the greater good don’t you know, in the short term even as she schemes rigging elections into perpetuity. Her lack of sincerity is almost amusing.

Voter Integrity Project / North Carolina (VIP/NC) provided the public service of reviewing the Bell memo, point by point, and providing analysis of where the red flags are lurking. There are nearly as many as in a Chinese military parade. Here are some of the more reviling elements:

Expand options for absentee ballot requests. Allow fax and email absentee ballot requests. Allow county boards of elections to pre-fill a voter’s information on an absentee request form (and usher in future ballot harvesting).

Reduce or eliminate the witness requirement. Bell uses terms like “social distancing” and again, “COVID-19”, in (explaining) her dream to reduce the ballot witness requirement to one or even none. Let’s see how long this full-blown panic keeps everybody homebound before you allow something this stupid.

“Temporarily” modify restrictions on (ballot) assistance in care facilities. 

In the name of COVID-19, Bell wants county BOEs to be allowed to rig (early voting) operating hours as they did in 2012. We cannot speak for all counties, but the abuses in Wake County were extremely heavy-handed. The Wake BOE also only allowed certain Republican-leaning sites to be open for 10 days while the Democrat sites were open all 17 days.

The bottom line, concludes VIP/NC, is that this is not a response to a rampant virus. This is a page out of a yellowed, dog-eared playbook: Overwhelm the system and then exploit the chaos.

Virus, bad. Remedies, worse.

 

 

 

Liberty and death

By Steve Woodward

A physician and UCLA academic writing in The Wall Street Journal lays out the near future in the clearest terms: “If we can’t shut down (the United States) for 18 months on the gamble that an effective (COVID-19) vaccine will arrive, how long will it be worth committing millions of families to poverty and uprooting lives, education and every other part of the economy?

If a life is not worth living, is it worth saving?

This is the question no one wants to ask in a thriving free society. But is must be asked.

Give me liberty or give me death. This is the original bumper sticker assigned to the American experiment. But does anyone actually embrace it? We will know soon.

Because liberty is being drained even as the Swamp stands strong. Americans are yielding rights and freedom because one person in a community, a person with many health issues, might contract COVID-19 and die. This is the justification for governors — who are more capable of denying us liberty than we previously knew — decreeing shut downs of churches, restaurants and other thriving businesses. Stay safe! Yet America was not built on the presumption of safety. We are a strong nation because we believe in God and his will, which will deliver different fates across humanity. We are a great nation because we have sent young men and women into battle, knowing many would not come back, We did not assure them of safety. We did not say, “Sign up and stay safe”.

If a life is not worth living, is it worth saving? Ronald Reagan famously said, “Our’s is a rendezvous with destiny.” And if you doubt it, look up and face destiny. Reagan didn’t say we would like it, the rendezvous. But here we are.

Is it a choice or an obligation? To preserve liberty even in the face of a health crisis? Do we stand by as the federal government plunges our society into debt? Do we stand by as governments prohibit us to assemble to worship on Easter Sunday, and beyond? Do we relinquish our God given right to be free of government tyranny?

No one knows how many will die in the weeks ahead. But now is not the time to cower in fear. Our founding fathers risked everything, their careers, their riches, their way of life, and very lives, to give birth to our nation. Today, our nation is just getting started, and again it faces turmoil.

We must ask, as did our founders, why do we want to live if life is shackled by tyrants who claim to know better than we, who threaten penalties if we hug a fellow human being, visit a restaurant or worship inside a church?

Give me liberty. Death is inevitable.

 

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.