Liberty first

By Steve Woodward
As we say so long to 2019, just off the top of my head …

  • Wage increases within the workforce rising at their fastest rate in more than a decade, faster than for supervisors (bosses).
  • Record or near-record setting gains for the Nasdaq (35%) and S&P 500 (28%).
  • Dramatic declines in illegal US-Mexico border crossings. The mayor of Yuma, Ariz., recently lifted a state of emergency declared last April because “the release of migrant families into the Yuma area has ceased.”

    Labor surge
    Wages rose 4.5% year-over-year in November among bottom 25% of earners.
  • Record low unemployment among black and Hispanic populations.
  • Lowest unemployment overall since 1969.
  • Energy independence from foreign sources.
  • Trade deal set with Canada and Mexico.
  • Pending trade deal with China that will end decades of trade abuse by the Chinese.
  • Record federal judicial confirmations of Trump nominees (48 in three years).
I’m beginning to think it might be safe, finally, to retrieve the gold, cash and firearms I buried in anticipation of Y2K!
Conservative bulldog Sean Hannity repeatedly urges, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Many of us are not there yet. Democrats present much about which to be perpetually troubled. (The drums of impeachment will awaken us from our New Year’s hangovers soon enough). But, consider more positive awakenings such as two I discovered with pleasant shock in The Wall Street Journal‘s December 28 letters to the editor.
They are letters written by residents of California and Illinois, no less, where the radical lefts reigns. They are direct smackdowns of columnist Peggy Noonan, a Never Trumper and out-of-touch Upper East Side New Yorker. Noonan is all for impeaching President Donald Trump if for no other reason than he is an objectionable character.
From Evanston, Ill.: “Ms. Noonan writes that many ‘serious’ witnesses of ‘obvious stature’ in the House impeachment hearings said the president abused his power. I don’t see it that way. Those bureaucrats said they disagreed with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, which they think they (emphasis added), rather than the president, get to determine. Ms. Noonan should not mistake their arrogance for seriousness.”
From Mill Valley, Calif.: “We want the craziness of the left highlighted plainly. We want the corruption of elected politicians, permanent bureaucracy, intelligence services, judiciary and media exposed and cornered. We are tired of the politically correct speech codes and the protected classes for whom there can be no consequences. We prefer liberty.”
That is as powerful a mantra as I can think of to sustain us in the battles ahead in 2020. Republicans prefer liberty.

Hurricane Deception

By Steve Woodward

The tweet was snarky, as is to be expected. It speculated that President Donald Trump cancelled a scheduled trip to Poland, not because of the looming threat of Hurricane Dorian, but because he is lazy and needed an excuse to spend the holiday weekend playing golf, as usual.

Imagine the false outrage had Trump made the trip to Poland? The twitter-sphere would have condemned him for abandoning the homeland amid yet another climate change-generated natural disaster. Dorian is Trump’s Katrina!

Over on Facebook, we’ve encountered a chorus of whiners reacting to Trump’s forthcoming appearance in Fayetteville, NC (Sept. 9), on the eve of a special election for a U.S. congressional seat in NC-9. The outrage centers on a narrative that Trump’s 2020 campaign is saddling municipalities with unprecedented costs, closing in on $1 million, for additional security and other logistical needs when he rolls into to town for his signature rallies.

Naturally, no one mentions how the campaigns of sitting presidents seeking re-election handled these costs in the past. George W. Bush and Barack Obama were called out for similar fiscal “abuses”. Obama used Air Force One to travel with then Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for a 2016 joint campaign appearance, but a Bush era ethics lawyer had no issues with the arrangement.

It’s an unavoidable problem, Richard Painter said in an interview with ABC News, for presidents who are simultaneously commanders-in-chiefs and the leaders of their respective political parties.

“I don’t think this is controversial,” Painter said. “A president that won’t campaign for his own party isn’t the leader of his own party. If someone claimed that President Bush was abusing taxpayer money to campaign, we would have laughed at that.”

But in the era of Trump this type of reasoned analysis is no longer possible. The narratives build one upon the other in the media’s endless quest to diminish him and marginalize his administration and supporters. His campaign doesn’t reimburse? Of course not, as a businessman he was famous, or so it goes, for refusing to pay contractors what they were owed.  Everybody knows that (because it has been repeated for three years running). He’s lazy because he plays rounds of golf despite working more hours than any president since perhaps Abe Lincoln (never mentioned), and granting more media access than any president ever (not even close).

Authors Gary Marcus and Annie Duke explain how unrelenting fake news perpetuates Trump delusion syndrome in a piece they co-authored for The Wall Street Journal, which lays out how the Left and its compliant media hold the truth hostage so effectively. It is a simple matter of exploiting behavior.

In a world of information overload and distraction wrought by technology and daily life as we know it “we tend to assume that whatever we hear is true.” Admittedly, this is an objectionable generalization but it is not aimed at readers of this blog. It is aimed at the growing sector of society identified by Rush Limbaugh as the “low information voter.”

The authors site numerous studies that have demonstrated how vulnerable human beings are to being snookered. A 2017 study by faculty at New York University examined around 500,000 social media messages. Subtle words such as “hate”, “destroy” or “blame” accelerate the spread of these messages by 20% per emotional word.

“Fake news tends to avoid nuance or neutral language and frequently adds layers of emotion and moralizing — all of which makes false items spread much faster than the real thing,” Marcus and Duke wrote. They conclude a war can be waged on fake news by teaching “information literacy” across all age groups.

In WSJ August 31 – September 1 editions, the newspaper profiles prolific novelist Salmon Rushdie. His 14th just-published novel is a contemporary version of a 17th-century classic, “Don Quixote”. His motivation for writing it partially draws on the fake news and reality TV phenomena from which almost no one readily escapes.

“We live in a moment in which truth is stranger than fiction,” Rushdie says, “and so the fiction has to decide how strange it needs to be in order to get close to the truth.”

This week’s fictional thread, which inevitably will work its way back to the Trump White House, is that Hurricane Dorian is another in a series of monster storms delivering “unprecedented” fury.

“The truth is that the storms that are hitting the Caribbean with this intense magnitude are historic, unprecedented, and these storms are manmade storms,” contends Emory University Prof. Tiphanie Yanique in a televised interview with the independent news hour Democracy Now.

The guest and her interviewer, both clearly in lockstep with the climate change narrative, failed to address a well documented chronology of Category 5 hurricanes. The first Cat 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin was recorded in 1924, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), followed by 34 more through this year. Only four have hit the United States as a Cat 5 across 95 years.

Now, test your information literacy as you read this concluding sentence: The most intense Cat 5 hurricane to make U.S. landfall hit the Florida Keys on Labor Day 1935. President Roosevelt was blamed, along with climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re a racist. Probably.

By Steve Woodward

Not long ago, two people in complete disagreement might have exchanged accusations of one being misinformed or closed-minded, or one simply would dismiss the other as a “jerk”. Then, on to the next tee. But when this author’s reputation was compromised recently by The Pilot newspaper, which published a private e-mail communication from me as a “letter-to-the-editor”, I experienced for myself the new age of 24/7 identity politics.

In subsequent published letters by readers, and elsewhere, I was labeled “racist, bigoted, angry, intolerant, ignorant, vile, hateful, and ugly” and my email content was called out as “discriminatory” and “inflammatory”.

And, because people are increasingly paralyzed by a fear of being associated with such labels, fellow members of a community service organization urged that I apologize or be reprimanded so they would not be seen as “complicit” with my viewpoints.

Although nothing in my exposed private commentary so much as bordered on racially charged rhetoric, and certainly did not include ethnic slurs of any kind — it was merely pointed, verifiable criticism — we are learning that this demonstrates the new normal of how the left and its socialist fringe members move to swiftly punish ideological opponents. Destroy, don’t denounce. Assassinate character, ask questions later. The late Saul Alinsky, author of “Rules for Radicals”, urged unrelenting ridicule of Americans and their values.

Frequent readers of The Pilot know that I am an avowed defender of American values, the Constitution, Conservatism, the Republican Party and President Trump. So it is logical that a recent flurry of criticism by these same readers would contain all of the left’s favorite buzzwords intended to silence people with whom they disagree.

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Heather Mac Donald observes that Trump, his supporters and the so-called white privileged in general, are persistently accused of racially charged divisiveness. Yet, “it is the media and Democrat leaders who routinely characterize individuals and groups by race and issue race-based denunciations of large parts of the American polity.”

As baseless accusations escalate the sad truth is that most Americans, even the most proud and loyal, will shrink into silence, afraid of earning a label, albeit unwarranted. Where does it end? Someone posts a scathing critique of a restaurant after a terrible dining experience. It’s an Asian sushi house or a black-owned BBQ joint. Racist! An employer asks an employee to cover garish tattoos on his arms and wash his hair. Bigot! Get out and vote for a pro-Christian, pro-traditional marriage, anti-abortion Republican. Inflammatory! Hate speech! Co-exist!

You are not even safe at church. This week, a 49-person delegation comprised of Brownson Presbyterian Church members, along with local black faith leaders, is traveling by bus to Washington, DC. Brownson is a predominantly white church, but to my knowledge has no history of prohibiting black or Hispanic congregants. Nonetheless, the stated itinerary of the trip focuses on visits to “civil rights monuments and museums … and a daily Bible study … to improve lines of communications within our community.” No time for the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials, or The Smithsonian. Nothing to see there.

The promotion of the bus trip was kicked off over a period of several weeks from the pulpit, and included a guest sermon by the author of  a book entitled, “Waking Up White”. It is an apologetic tome in which she regrets her upbringing amidst “white privilege.” Left unsaid by religious leaders, black and white, is the obvious reality that God determines the race of everyone of us. Furthermore, American society has long accepted the existence of the “black church” absent a hint of malice. But God help anyone who identifies as a member of a “white church”.

A former newspaper known as The New York Times recently announced it is launching The 1619 Project. It is not actually a project, it is a take down, the ultimate denunciation of the legitimacy of the United States of America, and the expansion of a narrative that Trump and his past and future supporters are virulent racists. Here’s the premise:

“The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

What, you do not subscribe to The New York Times? Racist.

 

 

 

Soft tyranny prevails

By Steve Woodward

The presumption on the left in 2019 is that Republicans enter public service to engage in activities that advance human suffering. This despite common knowledge that politicians across the spectrum have proven themselves across the ages to be deeply flawed, and largely harmless more often than not. On this many can agree. But a recent diatribe by a fellow resident of Pinehurst serves as a reminder that, while all humans are flawed, some also are deranged.

In a July 31 letter-to-the-editor published by The Pilot, a newspaper in the Sandhills run by media lefties, Ken Owens of Pinehurst, a suspected invader from a northern state opined:

“When Gov. Roy Cooper explained why he would veto the Republican-backed budget plan, he got straight to the heart of what is wrong with our Republican legislators. … There are a lot of poor people in North Carolina, and it seems that the Republican legislators want to keep them that way. Note to Mr. Owens: The state’s poverty rate has fallen every year since 2012 after spiking to 18%, entirely during the rule of a Democrat controlled General Assembly for 140 years through 2010. Look it up.

The writer then ramped up his scolding of Republican policies.

  1. They refuse to expand Medicaid. Because it is rife with peril to do so for the people who allegedly will benefit. Gov. Cooper vetoed the 2019-21 state budget because it does not expand Medicaid. Guess what? If North Carolina covers the so-called Medicaid insurance gap and the federal government rolls back its current 90% coverage of the cost to states, NC will be rocked by a cost surge and Medicaid for All will become Medicaid for Fewer. In the shorter term physicians will cease taking on new Medicaid patients to avoid being overburdened, or simply to stay in business. Meanwhile, the Cooper veto is denying state employees and public school teachers scheduled pay raises. Look it up: States that bought into expansion when Obamacare passed are regretting the decision today. Costs have spiraled upward, limiting expansion as intended.
  2. They cut unemployment compensations. Unemployment compensation at previous levels was unsustainable and smothering the state in debt north of $2 billion. Today, the state has a budget surplus and unemployment is trending downward in step with a national trend. Do the math.
  3. By raising the sales tax, they (Republicans), in effect, raised taxes on the bottom 40 percent at the same time that they were cutting taxes for the top 5 percent. The Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed legislation in 2007 allowing counties to raise sales taxes by a quarter-cent to increase revenue as needed. Meanwhile, the state sales tax (4.75%) is lower today than it was in 2011 (5.75%). Which “they” are you accusing of political malpractice?
  4. They removed many poor people from food stamp programs. No one has been “removed”. In 2015, the state legislature took a common sense step to rein in food stamp program abuse. It reinstated a federal requirement — invoked during the Obama administration — requiring food stamp applicants to demonstrate they are working, volunteering or taking classes a minimum of 20 hours a week. And it impacted only adults under 50 who do not have children. As usual, Democrats eventually opposed these minimum standards because they champion soft tyranny through economic enslavement of citizens. They want reliable voters to become addicted to entitlements that go on forever, no questions asked. 
  5. They cut child care subsidies and slashed dental care programs for poor kids. Another blanket, baseless accusation ignoring reality. Government funded child care is complex because no amount of subsidized care will make everyone happy, or address every need. Ever. In 2014 the General Assembly tweaked qualifications to direct more subsidized child care to children under age 6 — citing the importance child care experts place on nurturing children from infancy. There have been no “cuts”. The pending 2019 state budget adds $3.2 million to the program. Activists dismiss this because there are kids on waiting lists representing a fraction of those receiving subsidized care. Of course, under the soft tyranny of liberalism, it is out of bounds to ask why many low income families continue having children they can not afford to raise. It is not an unfair question: If a couple already has one or more children, and both parents are working full time to support their families, why is it the state and federal government’s responsibility to underwrite child care for yet another child brought into the world, planned or unplanned?  

“What I don’t understand is why “the people” keep re-electing them”, Owens laments. “They are not there ‘for the people’. They are there to please the wealthy and the corporations that donate to them.” Who donates to Democrat candidates? Homeless people and companies too small to incorporate? No, to the contrary Democrats have been known to collect from sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, socialist billionaire George Soros and sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, not to mention employees of the largest publicly held companies in America: Amazon, Facebook, Google and the list goes on.

Is our flag next?

By Steve Woodward

As do many, I have a friend who tries persistently to view everything around him through an apolitical lens. I suppose it’s his alternative plan for managing blood pressure.

When I mentioned my outraged reaction to Nike’s willful compliance with the left’s poster child for oppressed millionaires, Colin Kaepernick, in connection with withdrawing Betsy Ross flag emblazoned Nike footwear, my friend did not concur. He does not agree that Nike caved to one of its highest profile, most radical endorsers, and therefore should be called out. Quite to the contrary, my friend sees Nike’s decision as a stone cold business decision intended to inspire an important target audience of consumers — the growing number of Americans who no longer are sure they really want to be (Americans).

Nike-air-max-1If absorbing the very good possibility that his assessment is correct does not turn your outrage into sadness, we’ll assume you are standing in line as we speak at a Nike store. In fact it is more than a possibility. Forbes.com reports a 2% increase in Nike’s stock price after the Ross decision, adding $3 billion to the company’s market value virtually overnight.

Observing the socialist-leaning, anti-American left routinely hijacking formerly enjoyable holidays, such as Independence Day, or global sports events, such as the just concluded soccer Women’s World Cup, only deepens my profound sadness. At the same time, I do not equate sadness with defeat. The remaining 45% of citizens who are extremely proud to be American are also extremely likely to continue defending our nation’s core values, to denounce Nike and other consumer brands which applaud the decline of patriotism and leverage it as a sales strategy, and to feel ashamed of American athletes such as Team USA soccer star Megan Rapinoe for using a world stage to f-bomb the nation’s majestic White House, trample an American flag in plain sight and infer that her talents stem from her identifying as a lesbian.

Are we to accept that celebrating American independence on the Fourth of July, celebrating historic women like Betsy Ross and celebrating dominant American athletes wearing the red, white and blue are tied to a bygone era?

The corrupt U.S. media are more than determined to extract the joy out of everything to damage Donald Trump and diminish long standing traditions. The “Salute to America” parade, military flyovers and fireworks in Washington were derided as an obscenely expensive production and a platform for a Trump campaign event. It instead attracted a sea of patriotic humanity on the Mall in inclement weather, but the washout thunderstorms the media predicted never happened. America happened.

And now we are scolded by agenda-driven sports “journalists” for daring to be uncomfortable about behavior by U.S. team members during the World Cup in France. A good many Americans looking on recall a time not so long ago when our athletes competing in international events were required to “represent our country” with dignity and class. (In the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow, members of the U.S. women’s basketball team were derided for draping themselves in American flags after a victory).

With Nike rooting them on, the American women’s World Cup team spent much of the tournament drawing attention to themselves. Rapinoe kneels during the National Anthem. President Trump kindly invites the team to the White House before knowing if it would win a fourth Cup, and Rapinoe responds, “I’m not going to the f—ing White House”. They spend inordinate time talking, not about soccer strategy, but about how unfair it is they are not paid as much as U.S. men when they qualify for the national team, ignoring basic economics.

But instead of suggesting these unhappy campers tone it down, publications such anti-USA Today continued to applaud their self-absorption.

“(It was) a group that confronted the issues that have roiled our society – gender equity, sexism, what we stand for as a country – head on, making sure these much-needed conversations keep going,” wrote cheerleading Nancy Armour.

“Eventually, (Rapinoe) will endorse someone in the Democratic presidential race,” Christine Brennan wrote, nearly short-circuiting her keyboard with torrents of saliva. “Rapinoe is going to become as a big a person in our culture as she wants to be.”

More than likely, she will become a footnote by next week. Always happens. But should she venture into the political arena, how will Rapinoe explain post-victory video capturing her shoving away an American flag, leaving it on the pitch and partially trampling it as she and two teammates performed an obnoxious routine that might have been choreographed by street thugs?

It’s a good guess she’ll never be asked for an explanation. And it’s an even better guess that the revulsion Nike customers feel toward the Ross flag some day will be directed toward our modern day stars and bars. We’ve already seen Kaepernick’s kneeling replaced by violence in our streets by America hating, Trump loathing marchers and rioters. “Our media and popular culture institutions portray love of country as inherently racist and xenophobic,” writes Jarrett Stepman for The Daily Signal.

If the American flag, and by extension a secure and prosperous America, are the next targets in the left’s war on all things sacred, let us pray that the sadness filling our hearts quickly will engender in us the courage of our founders to draw battle lines and defend our freedom. We are, as Ronald Reagan warned, but one generation removed from losing it.